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Sara Al Mheiri: What the kids are up to
September 05, 2014
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My arms are aching, shoes are caked in mud and I can no longer hear out of my left ear. All I want to do is go home, shower a few times and then crash on the floor. Maybe summon what energy I have left and drag myself to bed. But I’ve reached the point where I am no longer picky. Where am I, you ask? At Electric Zoo. A three-day Electronic Dance Music (EDM) festival on the outskirts of New York City where DJs perform throughout the day on four different stages in one venue.

This is not my scene at all. Yet it is for hundreds of thousands of people my age including my brother and his childhood best friends. Each one arriving from a different city, state and even country. However, one friend backed out at the last second due to personal circumstances. So, the spare tickets were bestowed upon yours truly!

I decided to join them on the second day as I felt I wasn’t mentally or physically prepared for what I was about to endure. I had stayed up the night before googling pictures of the event last year and noting the girls’ makeup and clothing choices. The theme I understood from the pictures was anything goes really. Just be the you society won’t let you be in normal day life. So I decided to let my creative side flow and placed gold dots all around my eyebrows and cheeks. Then a straight gold line from my nose all the way to my chin with a dark plume lipstick to finish. I looked pretty sick, if I say so myself. Finally, we were on our way!

The security line lasted about two hours with an extensive search through your bag and your body. The woman even made me take off my shoes whilst she roughly turned my bag over and let everything fall out. All whilst another woman invaded my personal space and even put her hands to feel my innerwear lining to see if I was hiding anything there. No airport has this much security! All because last year two people passed away during the festival from an overdose of Molly, the new EDM drug that is basically ecstasy!

I let the manhandling slide and joined the boys who were practically drooling from the excitement. Their eyes darted from stage to stage as they each excitedly pointed to one and fangirled over the sight of the DJs. Thankfully they calmed down and picked the closest one. There were outdoor stages with fire shooting out of them and there were indoor tents with smoke and strobe lights, it was pretty cool. We slipped our way through the big crowd and made it to the middle. Suddenly the beat dropped and everyone started jumping up and down in sync and waving their hands in the air. As much as I liked the music and the vibe of the area, I quickly got tired of the repetition of the music and dance style. My feet actually felt stuck on the ground because my body just couldn’t move them to the weird rhythm. It was frustrating me!

Cue to four hours and three different stages later; my phone had died and I no longer had a concept of time. The sun had gone down and I was aching from “dancing” about and starving. Though one of the boys pleaded: “Just this last DJ and then we will take a break.” This time when the beat dropped, the atmosphere was different. I could no longer see the different individuals nor could I hear them (mainly because I went deaf). I started jumping up and down and closed my eyes for a second. When I opened them slowly mid-jump I saw a sign.

“We are one unit jumping for the love of music.” I have no clue why it touched me so much but for the rest of the DJ’s playlist I just let myself go. I didn’t think about how messy my apartment was or the boy who wasn’t texting me back. I wasn’t thinking about Ebola. I was just enjoying the music. No one was fighting. No one was rude. People said excuse me if they bumped into you. People were sharing food and water. It was civil unity.

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Sara Al Mheiri is a young Emirati woman who is currently living
in Boston, USA, where she is specialising in media studies with a
focus on women's studies. Sara is the ultimate nomad who flits
between countries observing new societies and their culture.

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