Monday, June 11, 2012

Getting Wild in the Middle of America: Dancefestopia's Maiden Voyage


  For those in the market for a different type of music festival, look to the country’s heartland and put your rage pants on. There is no shortage of people looking to let loose – wild, raging festival-goers in neon-green beach tops just looking for a good time. All gathered at the Richard L. Berkley Riverfront Park in Kansas City, Missouri, no one could fully grasp what would happen in the two days of music madness that was the first annual Dancefestopia – an abbreviated hip-hop, rap, house and EDM festival that would drive an eclectic mix of people to party the night away in a showing of Midwest pride, and to reaffirm the commonly-shared belief that a city straddling Kansas and Missouri can hold its own in the summer festival scene. The Frag Out Marketing Media Crew arrived Friday shortly before Matisyahu was slated to take the stage, and immediately we were overwhelmed with the energy of the attendees setting up camp to stay overnight.

 “Tonight's gonna get buck wild,” one of the nearby campers assured us. “You’re not even going to be able to move when you’re in the crowd tonight; it’s going to be so ridiculous!” 

The dual-span, cable-stayed Christopher S. Bond Bridge, which does not interfere with the flight paths of planes entering Kansas City Downtown Airport after the FAA altered their guidelines to allow for 700 feet of clearance for aircraft flying over the bridge.
  A short distance from the famed Power and Light District in downtown Kansas City, the quiet Richard L. Berkley Riverfront Park makes for an ideal location for its view of the city skyline to the west and the newly-reconstructed Christopher S. Bond Bridge to the east, whose central pylon rises 316 feet above the Missouri, acting almost as a beacon for the Midwest. The park is flanked by the Heart of America Bridge at its western point, adding even more symbolism to the importance of the festival’s success. 

 “It’s a beautiful park. I mean, I’m glad they’re doing something like this here because it’s right in the middle of the city,” a member of the event staff told us. “Plus, it’s pretty close to the train tracks.”

 The festival combines various elements of a traditional music festival with some of the perks of an indoor hip-hop and dance concert. Tents litter the eastern end of the riverfront, which from particular angles gives it the look of a Wakarusa-esque camping metropolis. And yet, a hundred yards away from the camp ground sits the full-service RedBull VIP lounge where those with the right pass get free drinks, various DJ performances and the opportunity to party with the event’s hottest performers and staff. 

Tent City: Home to many, calm to none.

 “Coming to a place where you camp out, but still walk thirty seconds to the VIP section with some of the hottest bartenders around is pretty awesome,” a young, blonde-haired gentleman named Jorge told us when asked about the setup. “My girlfriend would be so jealous if she knew I was here right now.” 

 We had the opportunity to speak with Mitchell Irving, known more commonly throughout the Kansas City area as Irv Da Phenom, after his electrifying performance on opening day. 

 “It’s crazy man, it’s just a whole lot of people partying. This is my type of environment,” he explained. 

  When asked about the significance of the festival, and the impact it could have on future performances in the area, Irving shared in the optimism of the crowd. 

 “I could see this turning into, you’ve got the South-by-Southwests, the Coachellas…I would love to see this turn into that, because in the Midwest there’s no specific festival for that,” Irving said. “And I can see it though, it’s just growing.” 

Our exclusive interview with Irv Da Phenom, bodyguard in flat bill pictured in background.

 The first day of the weekend kicked off in full festival fashion with Matisyahu headlining the day crowd sporting a freshly-shaven face, and a topless Flo Rida taking the stage at 11:30 to bring the night crowd to its knees with an hour-long performance. 

  The festival’s second day saw an even larger influx of concert-goers than witnessed the night prior. Whether recovering from an entire day of raging performances and booming RedBull bass-thumping, or entering the park for the first time, people flocked to the main stage for an entire Saturday of head-pounding madness. The adjacent food and drink trucks were jam-packed between performances, offering the hydration and chicken burritos necessary to continue raving throughout the night. 

Happy recipients of BOGO burrito cards courtesy of Chipotle Mexican Grill, squirting with excitement.

 “These might be the best curly fries I've ever eaten at a concert,” said one of the attendees, burying his face in the basket of fried potatoes in front of him. “I haven’t eaten in two straight days, so having a lot of food here is an amazing idea.” 

 The final night of the event culminated in the Holy Trinity performances of Wiz Khalifa, 3OH!3, and Yelawolf, each creating a swaying tide of bodies as the evening reached its climax. 

 “Who in here got the best weed?!” Wiz Khalifa half-asked, half-commanded as the crowded masses roared. 

Wiz Khalifa

  Morgan Page finished out the night with a performance lasting well past two in the morning, as the mass of festival-goers slowly dispersed and wandered back to their tents and vehicles that signified the end of Dancefestopia. The festival proved to be a success, and numerous videos and reviews of the two-day party-thon will bear testament to this. Gathering several thousand people into an unassuming park in the heart of Kansas City spend two days and nights reveling in true Midwest form may have seemed a difficult task to accomplish, but those who bled and sweated for months to make the event a success deserve an above-passing grade for their work. Dancefestopia proved to be one of the most unique, exciting experiences the Frag Out Marketing team had ever experienced, and should continue to enjoy great success in the future. As one seasoned festival attendee told us on our way out, 

 “When the going gets tough, the tough put their rage pants on and roll up with Wiz Khalifa.”

Man dancing on grass, fifteen feet from "Do Not Walk on Grass" sign.