There's a word in Dutch that describes the feeling of excitement you get before an event takes place. It literally translates to “pre-fun.” Anyone who’s been to a festival - especially in the early days - knows these stomach-butterflies, too-excited-to-sleep- "voorpret" feelings all too well.
Four years ago, the third return of Electric Zoo had all of New York buzzing. A relatively new, hiccup-free electronic music festival, EZoo was NYC’s EDM crown jewel. If there was a word to describe the buildup to Labor Day, all dance fans in the tristate area would agree: voorpret, to the fullest degree.
The weekend came and went, as festivals do, in a frenetic, electric blur. Even with an extra day - Made Event having expanded the festival into three days from its original two - festival goers were left wanting more. After all, it was just the beginning of the local EDM event boom, and if you had to put a cap on festival season, Labor Day surely meant it was nearing the end.
In apartments and hotel rooms around the city, we woke up on Monday morning and recapped the weekend’s events. We talked sets and shared stories, browsing through our digital cameras before we even had Instagram filters to choose from. In one particular LES apartment, I lay sprawled out on the couch, scrolling through Twitter when something caught my eye.
“Upstairs at Kimberly Hotel in New York to play a set for @SiriusXMArea,” Armin van Buuren had tweeted. It was Monday, Labor Day, and my favorite DJ was playing. Again. Cue voorpret. Fuck yes.
I immediately started searching for an outfit, while my friends gawked at me like I was a crazy person. Maybe I was. Nevermind that I actually wasn’t invited to said event, or even knew where the Kimberly Hotel was. Or that he had tweeted it an hour prior, and it would take a good amount of time to even get to midtown. “Guys, it’s Armin. I literally do not care.”
So after perhaps the shortest amount of time I have ever taken to get ready, I flew out the door, compass pointed to midtown east. I had zero gameplan, but an excessive amount of confidence to compensate. Of course, this started to waver as I pulled up to the larger-thanlife red carpet lining the walkway to the hotel. Security guards, hotel staff, and a man at a podium were all that stood between me and the event of a lifetime. Fine. No problem.
My adrenaline and tunnel vision guided me at this point -- my subconscious no doubt realizing that I might be in for a very embarrassing rejection. But that realization fell on deaf ears. I approached:
“Hi, I’m on the list.”
“Uh, Sirius XM,” I lied, going off of the only information I had.
I told him my name and watched as he fruitlessly searched the list. I felt like we both knew this was a hopeless endeavor. Time was either moving at an uncontrollably slow rate or the world was ending...probably a combination of the two. The guy proceeded to radio up to the top floor, saying god knows what, and before I knew it, 20 minutes had passed. I had spelled my name out several times, tried changing my identity to match a random person's on the list, and considered literally running away in pure defeat.
He finally looked up at me at one point, and said actual magic words:
“Right through here, miss. Walk down to the elevator and press PH for penthouse.”
Is this real life? I walked through the doors, attempting to not make an outburst, unable to believe that I just pulled off my first stunt of this kind. Just as I approached the elevator, a guy with a similar radio greeted me to take me upstairs.
“Hi, right through here. You’re on the Sirius list?” he asked, as he got into the elevator behind me.
“Yep!” I responded, actually believing that I was. Adrenaline can cloud your judgment.
“Well that’s funny,” he said, as the elevator doors closed. “Because I work for Sirius, and I don’t know who the fuck you are.”
Yikes. Time stopped. Can I push the rescue button? Literally SOS.
So I did precisely what I’ve conditioned myself not to do in such situations: panic. The incoherent babble that dribbled out of my mouth was some mixture of professing my love for Armin, apologizing for not being honest, and trying to generally keep it together...at least outwardly. I desperately looked around for a line to take. "You're on your own with this one, kid" the elevator said as it slowed to a crawl, enjoying my palpable discomfort.
My sense of self tumbled downward as the elevator crawled upward. Defeat. Shame. Embarrassment. Why did I even fucking try?! The elevator refused my glances, knowing we were in for a long journey going the other direction.
“Really not cool” said the striped-shirt Sirius XM Armin-referee. “This is a private event. I don’t even know how you heard about this.”
Armin told me, I considered saying - but abruptly reconsidered.
“But I gotta say, you have balls and I respect that. So....I’m gonna let you stay. Just don’t be weird. And don’t talk to Armin.”
I prepared to make my exit, the mission having failed, the story not being as good as it was in my head, the -- wait...what did he say?! Don't be weird?? What just happened?
The elevator dinged in approval and threw open its doors, a glorious punctuation mark on an arduous journey. Wide-eyed, I stared at the most incredible setting laid out in front of me. No more than 40 people were on this rooftop, lined with trays of chocolate covered strawberries and champagne flutes. EDX was mingling on the balcony, while Gabriel and Dresden posed at the step and repeat. A bite-sized Hardwell stood off to the side, taking a video of the scene, barely recognizable in the backdrop.
And there....there was Armin van fucking Buuren, five feet from me, playing a casual, killer trance set in front of a NYC skyline backdrop. I don’t think I’ve ever loved anyone as much as I loved that striped-shirt asshole at that moment.
I stammered some semblance of a “thank you” (which was probably closer to "thaak!!”) and dove into the most epic Monday of my EDM life to that point. Voorpret validated.
We've come a long way from this now four-year-old story, but it served as the beginning of my foray into these types of ridiculous situations - the emergence of my confidence as a Bad Kid. Sneaking into Space Ibiza alone, crashing Coachella by pretending to be a guest vocalist, literally forcing my favorite DJ into being my friend - these things don’t come with reservations. At the end of the day, if you don’t put yourself out there, you’ll never know what can happen. You may be a fan girl wearing the only ASOT shirt at an industry party, but you may also be the happiest person in the room. Just...try not to be weird.
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