By Breanna Denney
Nestled among the trees and snow-capped mountains of South Lake Tahoe, California on Dec. 31 was a sight uncommon for the 8-degree weather: thousands of concertgoers were dancing the cold away at the sold-out SnowGlobe Music Festival as they rung in the New Year.
SnowGlobe, which just finished its fourth year, is a three-day event held on the Lake Tahoe Community College campus that brings in some of the biggest acts in electronic dance music.
DJs Zedd, Skrillex and Disclosure all headlined the festival. These are some of the most high-profile concert DJs in the world, helping make SnowGlobe a legitimate EDM festival.
The three of them were accompanied by 49 other acts ranging from the hip-hop powerhouse Atmosphere to the electronic rock duo Phantogram. The festival’s diverse program, combined with its snowy surroundings, has helped SnowGlobe become one of the most successful winter music festivals in the world. According to ticket sales, SnowGlobe had approximately 10,000 concertgoers each night with the attendance rates rising to 15,000 for the sold-out New Year’s Eve shows.
With thousands of people milling about the festival, attendees created flags and hoisted them above the crowd. One such flag belonged to the University of Nevada, Reno’s own Sigma Phi Epsilon chapter held by sophomore Jake Thomas. Thomas and his friends were originally drawn to the festival by the last year’s lineup (featuring acts such as Snoop Dogg, Tiësto and Cut Copy) but said that they returned because of the overall experience.
“I think it appeals to [college students] because we are at the age where we want to experience these things that we might not always be able to do,” Thomas said. “It’s a great way to become more social and relieve stress built up from school and work and every other pressing thing in our lives.”
While festivalgoers were there to experience the atmosphere, temperature was one of the biggest concerns with the festival. The first night saw temperatures as low as 21 degrees, and they only continued to fall. For some people the cold was too much, but for others such as Thomas, the amiable tone of the festival didn’t leave attendees out in the cold.
“There was a tent designated to making sure that people who were not prepared could warm up and be safe,” Thomas said. “It had paramedics and staff on site there to help people struggling with the temperature, so we weren’t worried.”
The tent belonged to Rock Medicine, a nonprofit organization based out of San Francisco that focuses on providing what they refer to as “non-judgmental event medicine” during events in California. What first started as a basic tent at Led Zeppelin and Grateful Dead concerts in 1972 has grown significantly and now has over 6,000 volunteers and comes prepared to every event, including SnowGlobe, with a fully stocked ER.
According to an unidentified medical worker from Rock Med, the tent during SnowGlobe saw approximately 40-50 people a night who mostly suffered from over intoxication and cold-related illnesses.
Rock Med was not the only tent trying to protect revelers; The Always Buddy Program was a tent set up to help people stay safe, warm and hydrated while also placing themselves on the outskirts of the festival to ensure that no one would wander off.
The Always Buddy Program was founded after the tragic death of Alyssa Byrne, who died due to being left alone and lost while on drugs during the harsh cold of SnowGlobe 2012, according to program volunteer Leandra Hale.
“It’s really important to us that no one wanders off by themselves,” said Hale. “Especially people who have been partying out here. Sometimes they won’t have proper water or won’t be dressed properly so we really try to make sure that they can get to a cab, charge their phone, warm up or whatever else they need. We want everyone to have fun, but we want them to have fun safely.”
Along with The Always Buddy Program, SnowGlobe itself has increased precautions to ensure the safety of the concertgoers. There are heating stations throughout the venue, as well as free waters offered and several police and security guards were present to help concertgoers in need of assistance.
Thomas and Hale insist that while attending a festival may be dangerous, if done responsibly, SnowGlobe can be a blast.
“I think overall it’s a very good experience,” Thomas said. “It also takes a happy and uplifting person to have the desire to go to festivals like SnowGlobe. People who aren’t willing to share their kindness and their ability to express their happiness would only be wasting a ton of money if they were to go.”
Breanna Denney can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and on Twitter @TheSagebrush.