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[Event Review] Grooving Through Wonderland

Looking at the NOS Event Center from the outside, you’d never think that Insomniac would be able to transform the traditional fairgrounds into the Alice & Wonderland themed massive event that it is.

It was somewhere between walking into the Queen’s Domain Stage for the first time, with royal banners draped down from a regal dome and the stained-glass windows of a virtual castle dance on the huge Main Stage LED screens; Between fairytale teapot art cars that stood comically 15ft high just outside with their caretakers fresh out of mind-bending tea party with the mad hatter himself; and between watching every rendition of Wonderland’s vibrant characters stream into the venue all around me that I realized I had already I had already tripped and fallen deep into the Rabbit Hole.

The event was outstanding, even through a chilly rain the first day. If anything the stages had even more memorable crowds with everyone dancing and staying in cover to keep warm and dry.

The Mad Hatter’s Castle was the favorite music stage this year, featuring outrageous sets from the likes of R3HAB, Electric Mantis, Black Tiger Sex Machine, & Australian artist Just A Gent. Christofi dropped an awesome, intimate set early on Day 2 at the Queens Domain that went off too. Personal best set of the weekend? Valentino Khan.

With VIP experiences being hit or miss, I was excited to see what this years looked like. The Gypsy Shrine was there in all their glitter & jewels making people fabulous and there was a massive recreated mad hatter tea party table for photo ops. What truly stood out as I explored the space was an explosion of what was referred to as “wellness technology”.

A massive spinning bed that rotated 13 times per minute to balance the body’s equilibrium. Light therapy masks. Vibrating beds known as SoundLounges. Virtual Reality Experiences. Live Art. An Augmented Reality wall. The list goes on, but I was blown away.

The Courtiers were brought in by Insomniac to curate the space known as ‘The Quantum Lounge’ and they partnered with a company in the emerging cryptocurrency space called Swarm Fund to do it. The Virtual Reality was using the game Sound Self, where the object is to fill objects with your voice. Using tones, fractal patterns actually respond to the user’s voice to create intricate, hypnotic patterns. It was a trip watching how people interacted with the game, with one girl singing into the game creating incredible patterns.

After my experience there, I moved onto the SoundLounge. I was given headphones and laid down on a futuristic black bed, choosing a 5 minute audio track called “Abundance” that had been designed by a doctor to facilitate relaxation in the body. Almost instantly after I was placed in the lounge and the track started, I could feel a massive bass wave pulse through the my body and drop all tension away. It was way beyond my expectations, with one guest sitting up saying it was one of the best festival experiences they’d ever had.

I spent more time here engaged than any other VIP space I can remember. The live art was truly outstanding and left plenty of room to lounge around on light-up, fiberglass pods that were essentially art installations and seating at the same time. The Quantum Lounge was a perfect recharge and entertainment experience that every VIP experience could look to for inspiration. Truly the last piece of the puzzle to bring me fully into Wonderland and send me back onto the festival dance floor feeling my best.

All in all Beyond Wonderland was an awesome event, and a perfect introductory experience for me – showcasing how far they’ve come in the event’s 8yr run. With an amazing lineup, art installations, stages, and an outrageous VIP I left remembering why I come to these events. To connect with myself and the other amazing humans that call this otherworldly combination of music and immersive art home.

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