An Amateur’s Guide to Surviving TomorrowWorld

Our first time at North America’s biggest EDM festival will probably be our last. Here’s why.

The TomorrowWorld music festival in Chattahoochee, Georgia, turned into complete and utter chaos this past weekend. Overwhelmed by rain (because who could have possibly predicted the sudden descent of millions of tiny water droplets from the sky?), the festival organizers found themselves overwhelmed. As the second day’s concerts ended, tens of thousands were left stranded, forced to trek down pitch black highways, some for close to seven hours, while others chose to sleep in shrubs and make camp on the side of the Georgia roads. 

It was awesome.

TomorrowWorld’s organizers, who have yet to say much about what happened, have begun to issue refunds to those who were unable to return for Day Three. 

They seem like good people. They were gracious enough to host a pair of Maxim editors at the festival this year—and for at least part of the time, we were grateful for their hospitality. As of yet, there’s no word on whether TomorrowWorld will ever show its face in Georgia again, but we hope it does. Because while music festivals are a dime a dozen these days, very few of them can offer the kind of life-altering experience festivalgoers secretly crave. The kind that bonds music fans together for decades. The kind that offers an authentic taste of the refugee lifestlye. The kind that real memories are made of. With that in mind, we bring you our biggest lessons from this year’s festival to help you make the most of TomorrowWorld 2016.

1. Beds Are Essential

TomorrowWorld is exhausting. Attendees must be prepared to rub shoulders with 180,000 sweaty EDM fans who are all pretty much there for the same reason: to dance, jump and rave their asses off. After hopping between seven monstrously elaborate stages spanning several acres of land, I was ready to call it quits.

A large portion of attendees spent their nights in the “DreamVille,” a festival camp ground. DreamVille is awesome for anyone who might enjoy bedding down in a mud-soaked, swamp-like tent that would not be out of place in a refugee camp. For anyone else (you wusses know who you are), I would recommend shelling out the big bucks and relocating back to a hotel in town to catch some z’s. Like the W Downtown in Atlanta, for instance. They have Tropical Skittles.  – Sean 

2. Stack Cash

TomorrowWorld has its own currency, because fuck money, right? Instead, attendees must pay in “Pearls.” Pearls are magical, and they are the only way to purchase anything on the grounds, including food, water and swag. For just twenty pearls, you could buy yourself a whole can of beer. What can’t you buy with Pearls? Your self respect. But that will only become an issue when you check out your credit card bill and realize that your beer actually set you back $17. Since going into debt for a drink could really impact your good time, TomorrowWorld is thoughtful enough to protect fans from confronting that unfortunate reality until later. Our suggestion? Either pregame your face off or ingest something that will keep you going for hours on end.  – Cara 

3. Don’t Miss the Bus

When it comes to transportation at TomorrowWorld, it’s important to keep two things in mind: Nothing is sacred and no one is safe.  Long story short, if you don’t get your ass onto a shuttle, you’re either left to walk miles in the dark towards some semblance of civilization, forced to wait hours in a line of thousands for an Uber or a cab (see image below), or, in our case, obliged to push your ride out of the mud in which it’s become stuck. Regardless, you’re not getting home before sunrise. Which is kind of awesome when you think about it. This is life! There’s plenty of time to sleep when you’re dead. – Cara

4. Make Friends 

Remember when I said “nothing is sacred”? That also applies to the VIP areas of TomorrowWorld. Want to hang in the press tent? Want to booze in the artist mansion? Just make friends with the right people and the TomorrowWorld is your oyster. I personally had one friend who got into the exclusive artist-only mansion simply by threatening to call “Miles,” a very imaginary dude. Don’t make eye contact, act like you belong and you’re in there like swimwear. – Cara 

5. Think About It

Despite the festival’s tagline, “The Key To Happiness,” there was no smile to be found on my face at the conclusion TomorrowWorld. Not even a $17 beer could soothe my anger as I argued my way out of the festival when things starting going haywire, feeling extremely empathetic for those who crawled their way home Walking Dead style after some very laissez-faire management left thousands stranded. Even the artists were unhappy. Sure, the DJs played great sets but I can listen to them from the comfort of my desk at work. Or literally anywhere else. At this point, I doubt I’ll return to TomorrowWorld—even if the organizers are again kind enough to invite me. That said, it was quite an experience. And there’s always tomorrow… – Sean

Photos by Jeff Kravtiz / FilmMagic