The first time I heard that Pitbull was calling state senators to lend his support for Dirtybird Campout, I laughed and brushed it off. The festival had been shut down due to noise complaints from the early arrival party and a lack of proper permits. My friends were sitting on the roof of their RV and told me the tale of a man running through the campgrounds proclaiming that Campout was back on and it was all thanks to Pitbull and Senator Marco Rubio. It all sounded absurd, and I figured someone was just having fun with the situation at hand. Even with all the rumors flying around and no official announcement yet, my spirits stayed high. Call it blind faith in a label that has never let me down, but I just had a feeling that things were going to work out.
Fast forward a few hours later to the press interview and Claude VonStroke is telling us that he thought the festival was 99.999% done. The permits were rescinded and there were even injunctions put in place so that even if they somehow got the permits back, they could be taken away again. With the festival on life support, a series of events (thanks largely in part to the support of a few people from JOOX) led to calls from Pitbull to people like Senator Marco Rubio to bring this festival back to life. Yes, that part was real. Even with the help of Mr. Worldwide though, there are a lot of other reasons why Dirtybird and Campout really survived this incident.
When news first broke out about the permits being rescinded, there was of course that initial shock reaction but what happened after was a thing of beauty. The party didn’t stop, the vibes didn’t stop, the people just kept going with whatever they had. You could walk into the festival and find a block rocker set up in the Superb Owl bar or you could walk around the campgrounds and stumble across a number of different renegade sets. The renegade stages weren’t messing around either. The level of effort was unreal. You had stages that looked like airplanes and an Arctic Cat that was decked out Dirtybird style.
Everywhere you went, people were dressed up for a festival they were convinced was still happening. I think the crowd was truly indicative of that family style culture Dirtybird has always put an emphasis on. That culture was put to the test and it passed with flying colors.
“Just put me in coach”. That was the mantra of every DJ booked to play at Dirtybird Campout. Missing a day and having the festival end at 10 pm was likely a logistical nightmare for whoever had to rearrange the schedule but they made it happen. On one side, we missed the opportunity to see acts like Get Real and Destructo but on the other side we got some unlikely B2B’s that we would’ve never seen had this situation never happened. The whole festival felt like one long family set.
To make up for some lost time, the Birdhouse Stage started at 7 AM on Sunday. DJs like Dateless and Vangelis Kostoxenakis (one of my personal favorite sets) who would’ve normally seen evening time slots kicked off the party providing music to wake you up that was fresher than a cup of Folgers Coffee. That led into the Brazil Team showcase (Danny Kolk, DJ Glen, Cizak, Bruno Furlan) turning up the party to another notch. While the Birdhouse Stage was pumping, another legendary set not originally in the lineup was happening on the other side of the venue at the Bass Lodge. Justin Martin vs. DJ Tree. DJ Tree being Claude’s old jungle DnB alias from way back in the day. The music kept going until the actual family set closed things off in a proper fashion.
One highlight of the festival was all the games and activities. It was always a differentiating factor from other festivals. On a day with no music running, the activities were especially highlighted. Any other festival, you may be sitting there twiddling your thumbs waiting for an announcement. At Campout, no music meant you had more time for team activities, canoeing or bingo. Heck I even heard DJ Tennis took the opportunity to go zip-lining with the added free time!
One unique aspect of the activities are the color teams and their respective color leaders. The leaders do an excellent job of hyping everyone up, keeping the games competitive, yet always reminding you that no matter the color we rep we are all a part of the same family. They continue to be a special part of the festival and this year was no different.
I have had the pleasure of attending every Campout hosted to date. While the first ever will always hold a special place in my heart, I have to say that this one stands closely as one of the more memorable ones. West Coast Campout 2017 had lost some of that intimacy due to its growing size and new venue. I felt like East Coast Campout recaptured that magical feeling. The venue was beautiful, the weather was great, and the staff were top-notch. Dirtybird continues to bring that family vibe and I’m already looking forward to the next reunion.