The largest annual summer music festival in the Rocky Mountains returned to Colorado with even more stages and carnival rides than before.
Despite living in Colorado my entire life, I somehow have never made it to Global Dance Festival until this year. Global Dance Festival got its start at Red Rocks Amphitheatre, hosting a three-day experience there for over ten years. Beginning just last year, it moved locations to Sports Authority Field at Mile High so that it could greatly expand by adding even more stages with larger production, a silent disco, art installations, booths, food trucks, and carnival rides.
When I first entered the event on both Friday and Saturday, I got to go through the separate VIP entrance which leads right into the Global VIP Village. VIP ticket holders at this festival get access to private bars and food trucks, separate air-conditioned bathrooms, and plenty of comfy, shaded seating. I didn’t spend much time here, but it was the perfect place to step out of the crowds for a second and take a well-needed break.
Before I headed out to see some music, I made sure to stop by one of the water stations to fill up my Vibedration pack. Staying hydrated is so important, especially when dancing for hours in the 95-degree Colorado summer heat. Global Dance Festival provided two different water stations on opposite sides of the festival. Each station had multiple jugs of water where you could self-fill your empty water bottles or hydration packs. For festival-goers that didn’t bring either of these in, each water station did provide reusable cups as well.
Finally, I was ready to head to one of the five stages Global Dance provided. The first stage that I visited was the Summit Stage, which was the main stage at the festival. This stage was by far the largest and was the only one not underneath a tent. This provided access to the largest production as well as insane visuals including CO2 bursts, sparks, pyrotechnics, and fireworks. VIP ticket holders also got access to a separate viewing space right at the front of the stage, giving them a chance to ride the rail for their favorite artists. Jai Wolf, Illenium B2B Said The Sky, Machine Gun Kelly, Tiësto, and more graced this stage during the weekend.
After that, I journeyed to what quickly became my favorite stage: the Amazon Stage. I stayed here most of the weekend for two reasons. First, it was the most intricately decorated stage. The ceiling and columns holding the tent up were covered in flower-filled vines and leaves, making festival-goers feel like they were dancing in the jungle (or, should I say, the Amazon). The view was great from any part of the crowd, and it was almost hypnotic watching how the lasers hit the decorations. The second reason that the Amazon Stage quickly became my home was because it was where all of the house-heads, including me, gravitated. BIJOU, Claptone, Gorgon City, and more made the Amazon Stage shuffle heaven.
Another stage that I spent a lot of time at was the Northern Lights Stage. This stage was definitely the favorite for headbangers and anyone else that loves hard, dirty, dubstep. There was a lot of room for attendees at this stage, and it backed right up to the Genesis. As far as decorations go, the ceiling of the long tent above the stage had multiple light bars and geometric shapes that changed colors and flashed, along with lights that would shine right down into the audience. DECADON (who broke the rail opening day two of the festival), ATLiens, Riot Ten, SoDown, Adventure Club, and more made for multiple memorable sets at this stage.
A few times throughout the weekend, I made sure to check out one of the smaller stages located in one of the corners of the festival: the Tundra Stage. This stage attracted a wide variety of people, as there were sets of almost every genre that took place here. I mostly caught some trance, but house, techno, and electropop were also showcased here. Not many decorations adorned this small tent aside from some icicles hanging around the screen used for visuals. AViVA, Darude, BlackGummy, Breathe Carolina, Cosmic Gate, and more could be found at this stage.
The fifth and final stage I made sure to head over to was the Crystal Cavern Silent Disco Stage. Being a Denver local, a lot of people and friends that I had met in the industry were performing during the weekend, so I obviously wanted to show my support for them. This is a great place to catch up-and-coming artists! Who knows, some of them might be on one of the other stages next summer! This stage was inside, underneath Sports Authority Field. Three DJs played at a time, so there were three different channels that you could switch between. Red Comet, PUNJAHBAE, Mport, Freddy Rule, and more kept this stage bumping all weekend long.
When I wasn’t wandering from stage to stage, there were plenty of other things to do to keep me busy. Seven different carnival rides were scattered around the festival grounds, including the Vertigo, Supershot, and Sky Fire. I was definitely tempted to take a spin on the Vertigo to get a birds eye view of the festival. However, the lines were a bit too long for me and I was much more excited to catch as many sets as I could before the weekend was over.
There were also a lot of art installations to see and take photos with throughout the venue. The Dragonfly Art Park was a nice grassy area that had, you guessed it, large inflatable dragonflies and tall metal flowers bringing life to the area and providing some shade for breaks and/or short naps. Art installations could also be found inside the Global VIP Village, near water stations, and along walking paths. Some of these pieces were brought back from last year, and some were curated especially for the 2018 edition of the festival. As the sun went down, the art pieces came to life and lit up with neon lighting or small flames.
The festival took place from 3:00 PM to 11:00 PM both days, which ran right through dinner time. The Food Truck Marketplace provided a handful of different trucks, giving festivalgoers plenty of options for snacks, meals, and drinks. During my stop on the second day, I came during the busiest time and the lines for the food trucks were too long for my liking (you can see where my priorities lie again), so I decided to get food after the event instead. However, I absolutely wished I had stopped by earlier for Mac and Noodles, Sunshine Bowls, or The Orange Crush.
If eight hours of dancing, exploring, shopping at merch booths, and attending meet and greets wasn’t enough, Global Dance made sure to keep the party going until the early morning hours at various different nightclubs in downtown Denver. After Parties took place each night at Bar Standard, Beta Nightclub, The Church, and Temple Denver. Artists at these parties weren’t announced in advance, and were only listed as “Surprise Guests” – so attendees had to go with their gut or pick their favorite club to keep the ball rolling.
A handful of different artists that performed at the festival made appearances at these clubs, but the most insane B2B happened on Saturday night at Beta Nightclub. Adventure Club was the surprise guest, but Illenium, Terravita, Francis Derelle, Bear Grillz, Riot Ten, Figure, Savoy, ATLiens, and JayKode all managed to squeeze into the DJ booth that night. Fans were reeling on social media, sharing their utter shock and happiness with everyone that couldn’t come. I learned that next year, it’s totally worth it to sacrifice some sleep and attend at least one official after party. You never know who could show up!
Overall, Global Dance Festival 2018 was absolutely amazing. The stages were beautiful, I never once felt overcrowded, there was room to relax, and plenty of things to do. This event undoubtably catered to everyone, and I’m so glad that I got to be a part of it. Even though I was roaming around solo, I felt like I was part of the community. Everyone was so kind and easy to talk to, plus I ran into a bunch of local friends and artists (shoutout to the Global Dance team!).
If you’re looking to spend a weekend in Denver, Colorado next summer, I highly recommend it! This festival doesn’t have camping, so I suggest looking through their official website in advance to secure hotels and transportation along with tickets. I already can’t wait for next year!
***READ MORE HERE: Join Us at Global Dance Festival for Sunshine, Art, and Dancing [Review]