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We went to New York’s premiere electronic music festival, Electric Zoo. What follows is the bits we sort of remember, and the photos we found on our camera afterwards.

3:55PM: Get to Randall’s Island. From half a mile away, we can feel the ground shaking under our feet and hear a noise like an infinitely dense swarm of angry hornets crammed into a small trumpet made of other angry hornets, aimed at our ears. The festival is in full swing.

4:18PM: Discover that the dress code for this year is “one part neon and two parts naked”. Sadly, this does not just apply to women.

Before we go any further, we’d like to make it clear that we’re not suggesting in any way whatsoever that absolutely everyone at Electric Zoo is constantly mangled beyond recognition on vast quantities of drugs. 

Outside the Riverside stage, we encounter a gentleman who seems better able to cope with the events of the day upside down.

A couple wearing matching pink and blue spandex outfits sit, cross-legged, eating huge bowls of noodles with chopsticks. They both appear to be absolutely amazed - amazed - by the fact that they’re still able to use the chopsticks.

Pass by an alarming Day-Glo, disco-infused Bubba Ho-Tep. Several people sprawled on the grass nearby look frightened.

It turns out that there are a lot of attractive women at the Zoo this year.

A lot.

Really a lot.

Speaking of attractive women, who should we run into in the VIP tent but 2011 Hometown Hottie champ Melanie Iglesias?

Back inside the Riverside Stage, where Bart B More is laying waste to the crowd, we discover that some of the finest dancing imaginable is on display at the very back of the tent, which has the space required for such moves as “hopping from one foot to the other while gurning”, “flailing around wildly while gurning” and “standing very still with your eyes closed and gurning”.

Get sudden urge to do crossword puzzles.

A man dances excitably with who we are introduced to as his girlfriend, Nancy, who is completely naked and, we can’t help noticing, inflatable. “I didn’t need to buy her a ticket to get her in”, he explains, “So that was pretty sweet.” He offers her hand for us to shake, and we politely back away.

Yeah, that seems like a reasonable place for a nap.

Every single person who walks out of the bathrooms shares the same, “You weren’t there, man” thousand-yard stare.

For some, the memory of those porta-potties will not easily be erased.

We head for the main stage, where Tiesto’s fans are already waiting. Waiting and showing other people their armpits.

This is difficult to do in ordinary situations, so how she managed it while being crushed against the railings by several thousand wild-eyed, madly-dancing ravers is anyone’s guess.

Only 15 minutes into Knife Party’s set and the crowd is dripping with sweat. The festival’s staff thoughtfully hose them down.

Maxim gets given control of one of the water cannons. It is one of the greatest moments of our lives.

We really thought we’d imagined this until we saw the photo the next morning.

Smooching, Electric Zoo style.

Nailed the dress code.

For some reason, this gave us the fear, badly. We had to stagger back to the VIP tent and try to feel normal.

This girl screaming, “I’m a fucking fairy princess!” at us didn’t help very much.

The sun sets, and a sense of euphoric, bass-whomping tranquility settles over the festival, only broken by the several dozen people who immediately feel the urge to show off their glow-in-the-dark hula hoop skills.

As Tiesto rules over the main stage, we admire the set designs of the unsung hero of Electric Zoo, production designer Jonathan Goldstein, of Starlight Visual. The Zoo’s regular set and lighting mastermind, he’s the guy that makes the festival such an eye-popping experience every year. Seriously, try to imagine watching three days’ worth of DJing without the giant, crazy lightshows to be mesmerized by…

Despite night falling, absolutely no one feels the need to put on any clothes. This is a good thing.

A very good thing.

As Diplo begins his headline set in the Riverside tent, Goldstein’s masterpiece unfolds: an entire hour and twenty minute set of 3D visuals. When it starts, there is a strange, wet popping sound loud enough to be heard even over the thunderous rumble of the music: it’s the sounds of several thousand people’s brains spontaneously turning themselves inside out as they try to figure out what their eyes are looking at. Still, we can’t hang around here, we have… to… go…

…and…do that… that thing that… ohhhhh maaaaaaannn…

…this is… amaaaazing… wooooooooooooooo



…oh God spaaaaceshiiiiips are flying at usssss…


Finally clutching onto a vague strand of sanity, we stagger outside, eyeballs spinning. “We have to get to the main stage and see Squirrelex”, manages our photographer. “You mean Skrillex, right?” “SQUIRRELEX.” “Okay…” On the ground, a man with glowing fingertip gloves causes a hypnotized young girl’s brains to dribble quietly out of her ears.

Brains thoroughly mangled, we take a moment to lie under one of the many illuminated trees, feeling the last day of summer spiral joyously out of everyone’s control, “carried off into the night like a giant glowing ball of whirling, unruly, amphetamine-fuelled energy”. At least, that appears to be what was scribbled on our notepad from that moment. It might be a picture of a dog, it’s hard to tell.

Skrillex arrives on the main stage in a spaceship and proceeds to do a dubstep remix of the theme to Fresh Prince Of Bel Air. It is greeted by the sound of 110,000 people literally being happier than anyone else in the world has ever been, ever.

This is the last picture we found. It pretty much sums it all up. Till next year, Electric Zoo!

Electric Zoo 2012