The Tea on Camp EDC
Sometimes, too much of a good thing is a bad thing. Sometimes, excess is great. Sometimes, it’s just the way it is. At Camp EDC, it was hard to tell which of these statements was true. The whole weekend I felt like I was simultaneously having the best time of my life and the worst time of my life.
As I parked my car, met my friends, and hauled my luggage across the dusty parking lot towards my tent, I felt my worries fade away. At the same time, I dreaded the days ahead, the lack of sleep, and the nonstop action. Yet even though I was surrounded by pandemonium, as I explored the campground on the first night, I was enveloped by a strong sense of inner peace. Camp EDC was such a contradiction, it’s still hard to parse how to feel about it. Regardless, here’s the good, the bad, and the downright chaotic of Camp EDC:
Stay busy, or sleep on the ground?
The first thing you need to know about Camp EDC: you will be overwhelmed. The day starts at 6 am with the official afterparty, followed by activities on the mesa — Camp EDC’s central, communal area — beginning at 10. You can choose between the likes of goat yoga, a massage, or a class in terrarium building and succulent gardens. Plus, there’s the pool parties, the carnival rides, the food vendors, the shops, the roller disco, and most importantly, the frozen lemonade. And somehow, you have to find time to sleep. Which is — most often — what I elected to do.
Wandering around Camp EDC by daylight, you wouldn’t be hard-pressed to find campers sprawled out — glitter still on their faces from the night before — sleeping in the full light of day. Mattress pads were hauled out of hot, stuffy Shiftpod tents, and beds were fashioned atop the fake grass that blanketed the campground. Walking around was sometimes a shocking sight and — out of respect — a quiet activity. Previously my opinion was that sleeping is a private matter, not to be displayed in front of strangers. This weekend changed that. At Camp EDC, we do what we can and what we must.
Be part of the community or leave
Camp EDC really feels like a small community. You live in close quarters, share the same smelly restrooms, and inform one another which showerhead actually works, which one’s water pressure will give you bruises, and which one has the same effect as the misting fan you plan to bring into the rave. As someone who hates being alone, it was great to have people around all the time. One thing I didn’t like so much, though, was that I was literally forced to stay. That’s right. Once we parked our car in the campground lot, the only way out was via very expensive Uber, lest we want to be barred from returning for the duration of the weekend.
Logistically, I understand. It would be a mess if everyone decided a late night or early morning food run was the move. But, I don’t like having my mobility restricted.
While waiting for the bathrooms I met a girl who hurt her knee and was immobile. Her boyfriend was pulling her around in a wagon. We started chatting and she told me she couldn’t leave camp because she couldn't afford an ambulance or an Uber. I may have handled that situation differently, but it’s still a bit messed up. She did seem to be having a good time, though. And I think it’s a testament to the festival that not even an unexpected injury and the resulting immobility could prevent her from enjoying herself.
Convenience is key
When I purchased my tickets to EDC — and decided to camp — I was two years younger and considerably more vital. Now, I value my sleep and my wholehearted attempts at a healthy diet so much that I can no longer survive on a plate of fries and four hours of cumulative sleep during a festival weekend. My old lifestyle was much more conducive to EDC than my new one, and I knew that going in. Camping, however, was a bit of a game-changer in that regard.
My friends are a lot cooler than me, and therefore like to stay up later. By choosing to camp at EDC, I risked no frustrated sighs or sly side-eyes when I inevitably wanted to go home earlier than they did. And it was not logistically difficult, either. I just had to drag my aching body up the bleachers at Cosmic Meadow, through the festival gates, and across the parking lot of the speedway right to my waiting bed.
Aesthetics over logistics
Let me just say, the Instagram posts you see from Camp EDC are close to reality. The Mesa is decorated gorgeously, complete with larger-than-life art installations, state-of-the-art stages, and small, whimsical details that are meticulously planned and fun to discover. I loved walking around, frozen lemonade in hand, just taking everything in.
When you got to the Shiftpods – especially on day three — it got rough. Trash dotted the turf due to an unexpected windstorm on night one. Personal items were strewn about. I was lucky that I didn't camp adjacent to the porta-potties, but some people were not. There was also a break in the water main that resulted in the trailer bathrooms — the “good” bathrooms — being closed for nearly the entire first day of camping. The tents did not have AC. It might seem like I’m complaining a lot. And don’t get me wrong, my friends and I did complain a lot. But, with the complaints came laughter and an added closeness that can only come from communal pain.
At Camp EDC, our experiences ran the gamut. We exalted in the feeling of being back under the electric sky after 2 ½ years and three postponements. But we also wretched at the bathrooms and bemoaned the lack of promised air conditioning. We loved to be together but were also upset that should we leave, we’d be forbidden from returning. We wanted to do more, experience more, but we also wanted to sleep. We hated some moments, but we loved the experience. We thrived, we barely survived. But despite the physical pain, unpleasant smells, and exhaustion, as we look through our photos from the weekend, we’re already dreaming about next time.