Photos by Christie Vuong
At 6:30 p.m. last Saturday on the TTC, a woman in white pum pum shorts and a tanktop checked her reflection and took a swig of her pre-gaming drink. She was one of over thirty thousand people (dressed in white) who descended on the Rogers Centre for Bud Light’s Sensation, the euro-styled mega-dance event that promised to be the “Cirque du Soleil” of EDM. The lineup featured Mr. White, Fedde La Grand, Sunnery James & Ryan Marciano. Muscled guys in white-framed sunglasses power-smoked en route to the event. There were to be no ins and outs.
Todd Allen, Bud Light Sensation’s marketing director, informed us that Bud Light is about young people having ‘new experiences.’ He introduced us to Tom, one of the initial founders who saw his dream of having an event in a football stadium realized in Amsterdam. It had finally landed in Canada, albeit over a decade later and with the MDMA largely supplanted by Bud Light ($10.75 per bottle). This 26th Ocean of White event had an impressive turnout of enthused crowds – pretty much guaranteeing it won’t be the last.
The Ocean of White was impressive – like the Mormon Tabernacle Choir or North Korea’s Mass Games. Sperm-like jellyfish loomed over us, and models in fishtails and bra tops perched on clam shells, obliging the men who wanted pictures with them. People on the sidelines mowed down on sloppy nachos, a daring and unconventional snack choice for an all-white clothing rave.
After being corralled to appropriate areas, the distinctions separating the haves (deluxe $250.50 tix) from the have-nots (regular priced $125.50 ticket) included an elevated platform, a security detail (for keeping out undesirable non-deluxe persons), and free coat check. The logistics of setting all of this up for one night was absolutely mind-blowing. Each new ‘show moment’ ratcheted up the visual impact: bubble girls sternly and deliberately blew bubbles (dressed only in bubbles). Jellyfish performers. Balloon performers. “Sensual performers” in water fountains. Lights and flame jets and water spurts. Confetti. 36 Fountains used the equivalent of 13,700 gallons of waters and the show used enough electricity to power 555 homes. The pyrotechnics included 54 ‘flash flare flames’ and 60 ‘ultrafast comets.’ The sound cabins generated more noise than a speeding train.
The all-white dress code was the most arresting feature of the event. The original all-white rule was initially intended as a tribute to a Sensation founder who died tragically after the first Amsterdam Sensation event. Since then, there have been 88 Sensation events in 27 countries — all jumping at the novelty of dressing uniformly. While some women wore their floral print dresses inside out, many men abandoned their white tops and proudly displayed their waxed chests. We saw police shuffle out one young man who seemed a little too tipsy — a new experience, no doubt. A portly gentleman with a rather enthusiastic dance method required at least a ten-foot radius around him at all times, nearly slamming into passersby.
The whole area was decked right out for perfect selfies, with the humble baseball field completely transformed into an enchantment-under-the-sea dance. It was nearly impossible to hold conversation, but that was not the point of the event. People bounced along to the repetitive thud of the progressive house and whooped along with each carefully strobe light-coordinated build-up. Over 30,000 people shelled out for this event, and most were pretty jacked to be there. As we left, a man in white bragged to a woman next to him; “Everywhere I go, like, everybody likes me.” The power of Bud Light.