Months before the tickets were even on sale, my friends had been raving about last week’s A State of Trance (ASOT) event. Frankly, I was not aware of the significance of Armin van Buuren’s trance radio show or his worldwide mega events. The name of the Dutch musician popped up every now and then through collaborations with British singer, Sophie Ellis-Bextor and with Deadmau5.
I discovered a large chunk of dance music when I was nineteen. Unfortunately, regular visits to superclubs like Fabric and Berghain or yearly pilgrimage to Ibiza were not exactly a financially sustainable lifestyle for a student. I had only been to such places on a #YOLO basis and ASOT 600 Kuala Lumpur was no different.
My friends and I barely escaped the five o’clock traffic as we drove from KL, only to be caught in an even worse jam on our way to Sepang International Circuit (SIC). Along the Maju Expressway, we saw a bunch of guys had already started partying, music thumping from their car audio, with shades on, bobbing their heads. We saw more of this as we got closer to the venue. The journey quite strangely felt like some sort of a pilgrimage, except everyone was in cars.
It was hard not to notice how cosmopolitan the crowd was. With cheap flights and close proximity to airports, it was no surprise to find a lot of people from Indonesia, Singapore and Australia but we also met people who came from as far as Mumbai and Dubai. The graveled ground at SIC, which would usually be quiet and empty outside motorsports season, turned into a mecca of music surrounded by oil palm plantations.
That Friday night was quite eventful because I had to drive back to KL to fetch my identification: it seemed they were serious about enforcing the 18+ restriction. When I got back to SIC, I had already missed most of the acts before van Buuren. For my trance veteran friends, Cosmic Gate and W&W were simply “fucking good, man!” They were very impressed with the production value of the whole show, which, according to one, was far superior to other trance events KL had seen before.
The real highlight of the night was, of course, van Buuren. He milked excitement out of the crowd, leaving them with an insatiable thirst. He would then give them more than they had had before, resulting in euphoric eruption of cheers and pure joy. Everyone around me was spinning quite literally in trance to the beat, like whirling Turkish Sufis. I had an added adrenaline rush from driving at top speed to the venue. I don’t know what everyone else was on.
Judging by the many piles of trash that I had to dance on, there was an unhealthy, possibly life-threatening amount of energy drinks consumed by more than 80,000 people that night. But despite all the Red Bull, it bummed me out a little that some of these people chose to enjoy the show sitting down in the middle of the crowd. Perhaps they were already worn out.
It took us about two hours to get out of the chaos outside SIC after the show. Everyone pretty much lost their voice from screaming in excitement and talking too loudly to communicate with each other. In the midst of cursing at and being annoyed by errant drivers around us, we talked about how much we enjoyed it, our ears still ringing.
Khairil Zhafri is Poskod.my’s Writer in Progress.