Written by Elizabeth Stafford
Buried deep in the almost absolute middle of nowhere in St. Cloud, Florida was one of the most bizarre events I have experienced to date. Dirty Bird Campout on the East Coast took place between February 2 and 4th and brought a full adult summer camp experience to a few thousand people. Despite some complications with getting shut down the first day due to noise complaints, I thoroughly enjoyed the chance to let loose, throw on some glitter, and dance to deep house.
One of the first things I loved about this festival was the requirement of 21+. It’s always a little awkward attending festivals and partying with people while constantly wondering if it’s even legal for them to be doing so. Plus, the age limit gave everyone the mental check that this festival was for the hard-working young adults struggling with the workforce or end of college so letting loose for a few days was THAT much more enjoyable and deserved.
With there being no music for the first full day, you would think everyone would have been depressed. For most people there, it was quite the contrary. Most people took the first day to settle in and grow close with their fellow campers. I personally made a solid group of friends I most likely would have never met if we weren’t pushed to socialize. The camp counselors and staff did a wonderful job of keeping us entertained with games such as bingo, archery, sack races, and any other game you played in the summers of your youth. This time it was just a little more fun because everyone was doing so after a couple drinks.
To give further information into the incident, here is a quote from Dirtybird’s lawyer, Leslie Zigel, about getting the permit back to party: "At the 11th hour, Dirtybird Campout East reached out to Leslie Jose Zigel who together with his partner Joe Geller of Greenspoon Marder persuaded County officials to agree to a compromise in reducing the hours and decibel level of the music to allow the festival to go on, while being sensitive to the local community noise complaints."
Once all was settled and music came back on, the intensity level of the crowd soared. People had been waiting for that moment for over 24 hours. My fellow Dirty Birdies and I were anxious to dive deep into the groove of the festival. DJs took over the two stages, and people unleashed their inner animal. Lights, sparkles, and deep beats filled the air, and the music never stopped. People were partying until the early hours of the morning, taking naps, and going all over again. When official DJs weren’t playing, the campgrounds became a playground for RV parties and dance.
During the heat of the second day, media gathered and luckily had a chance to hear from Head Counselor himself, Claude VonStroke. He kindly explained the previous day’s situation to us and kept our hopes high for the festival. When asked what’s one thing he wants campers to know, he smugly smiled and answered, “Have at least one good sexual experience.” You heard it from him, not me.
The sets and production itself was simple yet effective. With a rustic, DIY feel, you felt comfortable yet not distracted. All focus was on the experience itself. Cell service was nonexistent and the total disconnect from all outside responsibilities was refreshing and much-needed. I won’t go into much further detail of the festival because it’s something one should experience for themselves. I can say I finally understand house music and will most certainly be attending next year.