Electronic dance music (EDM) fans who crave a little extra entertainment while they groove to their house beats have some enticing choices coming up this year. The BassLights series features Pretty Lights and Bassnectar performing with live instrumentation for two nights under the stars at Bayfront Park from Oct. 18-19. The Day Glo-splashed Life In Color show – the World’s Largest Paint Party – featuring Grammy-winning superstar DJ Calvin Harris stops at Sun Life Stadium on Dec. 27.
But by far the most spectacular and elaborate festival of the bunch hits Miami for the first time Saturday night, at the AmericanAirlines Arena. It’s called “Sensation – Ocean of White,” and it’s billed as “a global celebration of dance and music culture.” The event – originated in Amsterdam by the company ID&T, which also created the renowned festival TomorrowLand – is well-known around the world, having performed more than 90 shows in 20 countries.
Sensation combines dazzling pyrotechnics, light shows, adrenaline-pumping acrobatic performances and 20-foot-high water fountains, all synchronized to some of the world’s best house music, provided by DJs Mr. White, Nic Fanciulli, Prok & Fitch, MC Gee and Fedde le Grand.
And the crowd – 30,000 to 50,000 revelers all decked out in white – adds a pulsing sea of humanity.
“People unite together if they’re dressed in the same clothing, so we get a big “we” feeling,” says Sensation’s creative director, Gerard Zwijnenburg, who at the age of 33 has been working with ID&T in some capacity for 15 years. “It’s very important that the crowd participate – you’re watching the DJ, but you’re really also part of the show.”
To Zwijnenburg, the “Ocean of White” theme fits both the music and the Miami setting.
“It is inspirational because an ocean is organic and beautiful, and able to switch from calm water to rough waters,” he says. “And I think by using light and video and of course the house music played by the DJs, we create a seamless story line.
“We choose DJs whose sound suits Sensation,” he continues. “And we always start the evening with Mr. White, whose sound is a bit more techno-ish – it’s not minimalistic, but he brings a great amount of nice tension into the audience. And then Prok & Fitch bring a house sound with a really warm feeling to it. And to top it off we have Fedde le Grand, who has been with us for a lot of years, and always delivers.”
Le Grand, a Dutch progressive- and electro-house star since 2006, appreciates how the music in Sensation doesn’t get lost amid all the visual stimulation.
“They have a very clear view on how a night should progress,” he says. “As the night progresses, the music progresses as well. It usually starts off with kind of deep house or tech house, then works its way to more EDM stuff. Sensation essentially is a huge club night more than a festival, and it progresses slowly rather than full force right from the start.
“It’s really simple,” he continues, summing up the appeal of Sensation. “If you have two events to choose from, choose the one that has the whole package that this festival brings. It’s one of the few festivals where I always stay for the whole night after my set to enjoy the whole spectacle. There’s so much going on, and you just want to see something that you haven’t seen before.”