Thousands of young revelers once again ushered in the new year inside a pop-up EDM fantasy world known as Lights All Night. The electronic and dance music celebration has become the city's (possibly the state's) annual New Year's destination for the elaborately costumed and neon-clad among us.
This year the two-day fest moved to a couple of large, connected warehouse-style spaces in the Dallas Market Hall complex, giving organizers a sprawling canvas for light shows and monster staging areas. That's not to say Lights All Night's fantasy (which continues on Friday evening in the same spot) always felt complete.
There were hiccups here and there for Thursday's kickoff slate, due to constant crowd movement from space to space, winding bar lines breaking up flow, and one unfortunate plumbing malfunction that left standing water on part of the venue's floor.
Yet it seemed Lights All Night's glowing, dancing attendees took the small stuff in stride. No matter what DJ stepped in front of them, they were concerned with moving to the beat, showing off glittery garb and willing themselves to have the best night ever.
Even if I didn't achieve the same life-affirming spirit as the college kids and twenty-somethings dancing into me every second (professional hazard), the grand shindig was friendly, safe and decently organized.
Getting into the thing wasn't unlike boarding a plane, except that fellow passengers were dressed as bananas, fairies and trippy Santas.
There were cattle herds, security wands, shoe removal policies, the works. Once in, you felt secure even if you didn't know whom or what you might see next.
Hydration stations, numerous exits and a large, accessible medical tent should ease the kinds of worries that plague parents and loved ones of festgoers.
I arrived to Dutch DJ Hardwell holding court over the fest's main hall, dubbed "The Mothership." He gave a rapt crowd of thousands his best Vegas-style club set from a super-size booth, dwarfed by video projections, pyrotechnics and lasers. As so many festival DJs do, he moved from beat drop to beat drop to beat drop, creating a vibe of constant anticipation. Perfect for New Year's, really.
I preferred what was going on next door to the Mothership. Thousands more in the Satellite Stage area enjoyed the sonic surprises from LA's Jauz, including drops of KISS choruses and relevant hip-hop tracks. And if you wanted even more variety, along with some relative privacy, you could move to a silent disco area in the back. Folks were issued hi-quality wireless headphones on which they could dance with themselves while switching back and forth between two live DJ sets.
My headphones immediately gave me the best remix of Corey Hart's "Sunglasses at Night" I'd ever heard. I winced when I switched channels to hear the all-too-familiar wobbles of dubstep. The novelty wore off quickly, though, as I felt the common urge to move on, see more, embrace one more beat drop.
Although I'm probably not the target audience for Lights All Night, I admired the feast-for-all-senses aspect of it. I'm also planning to invest in the glow-products industry.