Global Dance Festival showcases DJ talent, community of Arizona's rave scene

Arizona’s electronic music community shone brightly Friday as Global Dance Festival at Rawhide Western Town in Chandler brought thousands of people together for dancing and amazing vibes.

The night started off with local talent Good Time Miller opening up the main stage. Through a mix of heavy, danceable tracks, the young DJ managed to keep the incoming crowd entertained before the rest of the artists would hit the decks.

Read more: Global Dance Festival: Come out west for these five must-see DJs

Many DJs performed throughout the night, but the early highlights were Mija, who destroyed the main stage crowd with a mix of in-your-face house grooves and subtle trap melodies, and NGHTMARE, who brought high-energy trap drops to the eager crowds of Rawhide.

People really started to go wild when Marshmello hit the stage. This mystery DJ with a marshmallow on his head used his first set in Arizona to deliver a stunning show that left the crowd wondering even more so just who the hell this guy or girl could be.

Meanwhile, the ravers of Arizona were out in full force, lighting up the darkness of the night with a display of colors and movement that kept even the most tired alive with energy.

Maxx Davey used his light up gloves to entertain a crowd of 20 people when I ran into him on the festival grounds. While not a veteran of the rave scene, he said putting on light shows like this helps cultivate a feeling of community.

“I saw other people doing it and thought it looked cool,” he said, referring to how he started performing light shows. “Everyone’s just into you and it really brings people together.”

RL Grime delivered one of the most epic and confident sets of the night. This trap aficionado provided a level of perfection that other DJs should strive to reach in terms of uniqueness and creativity.

However, if the mainstream DJs weren’t your cup of tea, the Tombstone Stage was full of beautiful nightmares and dreams to fit your obscure fantasies.

Cashmere Cat played a set that was laid back and mellow, while Gesaffelstein brought his eerie, darkness-inspired sound to a hungry crowd that was dying for something more than the average bass drop. 

Officer Karen Totlis is the administrative coordinator of Alert Security, one of the companies in charge of keeping festival-goers safe on the grounds of Rawhide. She said there were more attendees than expected, but it wasn’t problem for her and her staff.

"Things went very smoothly," she said.  "We had no serious incidents.”

With this many people, the odds were stacked in favor of finding some of the most interesting characters of Arizona. This brings me to Matthew Kirkpatrick, a 40-year-old raver that was decked out in what can only be described as giant light talons attached to his hands. 

“When I was raising kids, this wasn’t something I would’ve done,” he said. “Now that they are out of college, I can come out here and have a good time. I don’t really care what others think of me.”

Electronic music festivals undoubtedly have one of the most accepting of crowds. Dana Webb, who was dancing with a hula hoop at the event, described the atmosphere perfectly.

“I’m from Michigan and at first, I didn’t know anyone here,” she said. “Through these festivals, I’ve managed to pretty quickly meet new friends and build myself a community of people that I trust and support me.”  

Correction:  Due to a source error, a previous version of this story incorrectly stated the amount of attendees at this festival.  The correct number is 7500.  The story has been updated.  

Reach the arts editor at or follow @misterjacobgold on Twitter.

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