In October I created a 101 in 1001 list of goals and to-dos and I’ve slowly checked items off the list over the past eight months. Last weekend Jordan and I decided to join two of our friends, last minute, at Paradiso an EDM festival in eastern Washington. To be honest I haven’t attended an EDM show since I was newly 21 and I was fully convinced it was no longer my scene. Most nights I feel pretty incoherent by 9:30 and its a rarity that I am able to form comprehensible sentences past 10:00. But between finals, wedding planning, my internship and journal applications the past few months drained me mentally. A weekend dancing in the sunshine with the friends who introduced us sounded like exactly what I needed. To my complete and utter shock, Jordan agreed and on Friday night we found ourselves happily cuddled up in my friend’s family cabin near crescent bar playing Monopoly Deal and chatting about our excitement for the festival the next day.
We were shocked to wake up to gray skies and wind on Saturday morning. I attended Paradiso, the same festival roughly 5 years prior and ran around in a bikini all day in an attempt to stay cool, none of us really packed for cool weather. We huddled indoors playing games all day (Splendor, SO MUCH FUN)and crossed our fingers praying for the rain and wind to stop.
When we finally caught a shuttle to the gorge the sun seemed to be breaking through the clouds. We bid our driver adieu and headed into the festival grounds ready to dance the night away happily together. No more than an hour after we arrived thunder rumbled and cold, heavy raindrops splashed down from the sky. An echoy voice from the main stage warned the crowd of ravers in teeny tiny bikinis and rainbow beaded bracelets to make their way back to their cars. The main stage was a giant metal structure (as most stages are) in the middle of an open field and lighting struck in the distance. The show was cancelled.
We tried not to panic but my friend’s cabin was almost forty minutes away and our shuttle driver wasn’t answering the phone. We huddled under booths with vendors as the festival security made their way through the venue ordering everyone to leave. Slightly paniced but doing my best to remain positive in the cold and dreary conditions I started singing Imagine Dragons’ “Thunder” (all 8 words of it I knew) as I danced around trying to keep warm. My friend Kaila joined in and our little group of four remained optimistic that the show would reopen. The rides all stopped, the vendors cleared out and security frantically tried to herd 29,000 confused concert-goers into the field of tents where many of them would likely return to soaked belongings and muddy surrondings. Just about an hour later the Paradiso app alerted attendees that the festival would reopen and the whole crowd seemed to cheer all at once.
The skies stayed clear for the rest of the night and we froliced, pranced and cartwheeled around Paradiso like our tennis shoes weren’t flooded with water and our once flawless makeup wasn’t runny and ruined. We danced, hugged, met up with both new friends and old. We toasted with champagne as DJ Snake played his last song and we stared happily up at the stars as glittering confetti fluttered down from the sky.
Back to my 101 in 1001 list, one of the simplest tasks on my list was to dance as confetti falls. Though confetti is quite literally shredded paper it never fails to mesmerize me and make me smile. As I danced beside my friends and fiancé Saturday night I was filled with glee. The night somehow felt more special because the thunder and rain transformed the relatively ordinary concert experience into a triumphant adventure.
If I’ve learned anything in the five years since the last Paradiso I attended, it’s that life doesn’t usually go as you anticipated. It’s the unexpected experiences, overcoming struggles, the surprise encounters with strangers who become friends and the sunsets that only come after a thunder storm that make the journey all the more beautiful. This weekend taught me a valuable lesson, cliché as it may be, life isn’t always about dancing in confetti, sometimes life is about learning to dance in the rain (and sometimes that is just as magical).