I was greeted with the most fantastic bit of news the Monday morning I woke up due to set off on my little 3 weeks adventure. One of my best buddies Ste aka Maloney had shipped the Bigger 11 on Pokerstars the night before and he was going to be joining us for Tomorrowland! There's not many people I can think of as a better addition to a group than Ste.
He doesn't play poker for a living so it just made it all the more sweet to book this score. I got in Monday evening, had a little bit of a catch up with my Mum and was obviously into town the next day with Ste to celebrate his win over the classic 'few quiet drinks'. Once the cocktails start flowing, apart from running into the man, the myth, the legend, Mr.Rory Browne in Coppers of all places, I don't have many memories. I stumbled out of the Fitzwilliam Casino at around 7am after a booking a nice drunken cash win and was off to crawl up into the fetal position for 24 hours in fantastic preparation for a festival.
We happened to run into Doke and Smidge (two fellow Irish professional poker players) at the airport, and had a little giggle when they were on the same flight as us. The lads were off to a $1k in Lille, with Brussels being the closest airport. I felt like we had vastly different weekends ahead of us. Classic all Irish breakfast in the airport, cheeky little Valium for Ste (was only one year ago he'd finished his 9 year stint of not being on a plane out of fear) and we were ready to take on the world. Scotty and Woody had flown over a night early to sort out the camping gear so we could get into the festival nice and early and be set up before dusk and the sun settles, to avoid making the task infinitely tougher of putting up several tents. So when we touched down and start heading to our meeting point, we were a small bit disappointed to learn that the lads had in fact gone on the rip the night before and had failed to get out of bed yet (around 1pm). Woody was the man to save the situation before any voices were raised, thanks to a Rory suggestion, Woody had taken it upon himself to buy 8 walkie talkies. How could we be mad? They claimed to have a distance of 4000m, after a few tests runs it was probably more like 1500m. Did that stop us grown men enjoying them like a bunch of 5 year olds? Of course not. Naturally we all had code names, which I would share but I couldn't have any of you infiltrate the system. Roger that.
So we had all the gang together now in an apartment in Antwerp. Myself, Kev, Jimmy, Ste, Rory, Scotty, Woody and Matty. We were all in a whatsapp group with the most ingenious and original name ever, 'Tomorrowlanders'. Everybody in the group had made it bar one person, Griffin. I'd never previously met Griffin, so the banter in the chat was that I was happy to have replaced him and delighted he couldn't make it. I felt it was getting a bit dark considering I'd never met him. They assured me it was fine, they were just messing with him and I was never likely to meet him anyway. Rory took the drastic step of asking Griffin to remove himself, as it just wasn't on to be sitting at home in Toronto attempting to live vicariously through us via this whatsapp group. The next few moments would be complete chaos due to Matty's immaculate timing. He ecstatically proclaimed to everyone in the apartment to re-read the last message Griff sent. It was several paragraphs long with a special mention for all of us, even myself who had never spoken or met with him. However, on closer inspection, if you took the first word of each sentence it read out 'I am coming to Tomorrowland'. Just as Rory was in awe of Matt's pattern recognition skills (which may have been aided by the fact he was the man in the know) in burst Griffin. Unbelievable scenes.
Once all the hugging, introductions and exclamations of 'what the fuck' were done. I got introduced to not just Griffin, but a lovely French Canadian girl who went by the name of Jean and quickly became J.V to us. The story of how she ended up in Tomorrowland probably couldn't sum up any better of what a fantastically wonderful and impulsive human being Griffin is. He had met the girl 6 days ago. Declared his love for her with 48 hours and decided he was going to fly her half way around the world to part of this fantastic surprise he had pulled on all of us. The amount of public displays of affection going on at times did remind me of a love struck teenager. And that's what Griffin, aka Peter Pan was at this moment in time. Like he said himself when I was asked was it ok to mention this part, 'Of course, who else the fuck does that Fintan??!!'
With the day getting on a bit, and no hope of getting into Tomorrowland early at this stage we actually started to make some progress. Half the group set off to get camping gear, with the rest of us going to gather alcohol and food supply's for the weekend. Once this was all done, we had time for a quick lunch/dinner and the only flip of the weekend. Naturally I lost. Thankfully the damage wasn't too bad, only around €200. FINALLY, we were on our way to Tomorrowland though. There was just one problem, Ste didn't yet have a ticket. He was taking a gambool on getting one at the entrance. The next few hours would be somewhat stressful. Ste got a ticket sorted for €550 including camping, which worked out at exactly half of what I paid at €1100. If you are willing to gamble it could be the way to do it each year. We had a little bit of drama with my own ticket and Rory's due to Scotty making a little boo boo with what he printed out. Thankfully it all got sorted eventually. However, as we were so late we really were about as far away from the camping entrance as possible when we finally found a spot we could set up shop. By the time we finished our fantastic team effort and were completely set up it was around 1am. We had two 8 man tents. A party one and a sleeping one. We sat around chatting shit for a couple of hours, along with a few cold beers and get ourselves a nice early night with anticipation of the madness that lay ahead.
Once everybody surfaced from the tents, I heard a few mumbling about how that wasn't a great night sleep. I had a little chuckle to myself. 6 hours in a field? That's about as good as it's going to get laaaads. Griff and JV had their own little love shack tent and came to join us for a few afternoon beers before we left Dreamville (the camp site) and made our way to the actual festival. I got myself involved in a game of flunkyball (google it) with German neighbors of ours. I was on the wine, which most certainly didn't play to my advantage. Safe to say after the game I was in flying spirits to head into Tomorrowland. This is already getting outrageously long, so I'm going to try and just highlight the 3 days shortly. First off, it's hard to explain how overwhelmingly big the whole festival site is. It really is like a little city in the town of Boom in Belgium. Secondly, there is an incredible feeling of positive energy about the place. I didn't see one single fight the entire weekend which upwards of 250,000 people attended. Everybody is there just to enjoy themselves in the friendliest manner possible.
Friday: We made a few South African friends through our walkie talkies with girls on the same frequency. Ended up losing them inside, but the walkie talkies continued to deliver great times. We took the ferris wheel over the site, and it was just incredible to see 10s of thousands of people raving away from a height absolutely loving life. We also met 3 of the nicest girls from Australia who would go on to form our group for the weekend. Sydney, Sophie and Zoe. They were travelling around the world and this was one of the many stops they would make. They were exactly on our level and we all hit it off from the start. The DJ highlight of Friday night for me was Jaime Jones, who myself and Jimmy disappeared off to watch alone, meaning that we missed out on possibly the best picture of the weekend with our new found friends.
Saturday: I felt Saturday was the best day to rock my Irish suit that'd I'd brought. People were absolutely loving it, getting stopped for pics constantly. Apparently I made it on to MTV.de but never managed to find the video. Hopefully we somehow sneak into the after movie. We had a stupid amount of fun back in the party tent for our after party just like every other night. We also picked up a stray koala along the way each night, aka Sydney as Sophie and Zoe were staying outside of the camping site in Antwerp. The DJ highlight of Saturday was Armin Van Buuren, simply because he was at the main stage and it was absolutely insane to witness. It's an incredible production. It really does appeal to all the senses like they say in the after-movies.
Sunday: The finale. We had to reach deep to go on again on Sunday. The whole group was struggling a little bit to go again. We all met up at the gin bar and just forced ourselves to get back on it. And what an end to the weekend it was. I sat out what many of the lads enjoyed as their favorite set of the weekend by Paul Kalkbrenner. The weekend was closed out by an Irish legend in Dave Clarke. We most certainly got featured on the live stream a good bit for him with the majority of us kitted out in Irish gear. And that was that. We went back and continued the trend of the after parties being close to the highlight of the weekend. And what a fantastic weekend it was.
The next day, the plan was put into to motion to join the Ozzy girls and keep the adventure going with a trip to Amsterdam. I made the tough decision not to join them. I absolutely love Amsterdam. But I had another week of drinking ahead of me from Thursday in Finland. There was no way I could just drink through. From the photos and the stories, it's safe to say that weekend lived on in the Dam.
I feel the I may have been a bit all over the place with writing this blog. Maybe there should have been more details of the actual weekend instead of the build up. I just felt I was getting carried away. I definitely forgot plenty of fantastic little anecdotes. As you can imagine with the lack of sleep and copious amounts of alcohol stringing it all together isn't the easiest. I'm going to my cousins wedding during the week and have a couple of days in Ireland beforehand, so I'll get the Finland section of the blog up and a little update in regards to my return to Twitch. Hope you enjoyed it somewhat and sorry for all the waffle!! xD