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In early January, The Dankles crew returned to Port Everglades for the second year in a row to partake in what has become our favorite music gathering of all time. Unlike literally every other festival imaginable, this particular party is aboard a ship. Despite the fact that it’s on a boat, no other festival can honestly compare to what you have access to once aboard the MSC Poesia. Many people complain about the crowds at shows or festivals, adolescents running amuck, and the drag of having to sleep in a tent, but HOLY SHIP offers something that no other festival has capitalized on. Everyone on the boat is beyond excited to be there, you’d be hard-pressed to find someone that didn’t have a smile on their face the entire way through. As vibes are always at an all-time high, negativity finds a way of falling overboard.  Though it is next to impossible to articulate what went down over the course of those four monumental days, we’re going to try to give you our best rundown. Only the lucky few who traveled aboard the MSC Poesia this year know the craziness that occurred, so, climb on board, hang on, and get ready for a recap of the insanity that was HOLY SHIP.

While we waited in line to board the ship early on January 4th, cruisers were bumping music and exchanging high-fives left and right. Luckily, we were some of the first in line at port, which allowed for a speedy entry onto the ship. Soon after dropping off our belonging in the cabins, we acquired an excessive amount of drink tickets before exploring the vessel we would call home for the next 3 days. We headed to the bar for some tropical drinks to help us get into the spirit. We conversed with fellow passengers as the energy kept building before we officially departed Ft. Lauderdale.

We can only think of few artists who can kick off a party of that magnitude in proper fashion, none are more suited than Major Lazer. The theme of the night was “Tight and Bright” and the HOLY SHIP voyagers didn’t hesitate to light up the boat with wildly vibrant neon colors. Spandex and glowsticks littered the crowd, and many were dressed in hilarious costumes. The moment we’d all been waiting for had finally arrived and Diplo & crew got us off to a great start. Major Lazer played out their new tune with Laidback Luke titled “Sweat” along with “Hold The Line,” “Jah No Partial,” “Pon De Floor” and many other energy-packed tracks. Around mid-set, Major Lazer’s hype-man, Walshy-Fire, invited a candy-clad raver and his girlfriend onto the stage. The music stopped for a moment as the raver dropped down on one knee and proposed. It was met with a huge roar of approval.

A-Trak took the stage next as the Florida coast-line began to fade from vision. Starting his set with excellent scratching techniques, he turned the ship into a madhouse by delivering bangers after bangers. Fools Gold glorified mascot Mr. Goldbar even made a surprise appearance on stage to help amp up the crowd. Few can create the energy that A-Trak puts out in a live performance… not to mention, a patented “Fooooolssss Goooooooold” drop always helps a bit!  “Money Makin’,” “Tuna Melt,” and A-Trak’s remix of “The Night Out” played out as many artists danced away behind the decks.

Boys Noize, one artist who was greatly missed last year, finally had the chance to redeem himself and followed A-Trak’s set in a huge way. Out Of The Black was one of our favorite albums of the year, and he gave the crowd a healthy dose of his originals, past favorites, and even mixed in tunes from other artists. The poolside deck started to pack out as many of the passengers who took naps or ate first finally joined the party. (If you’re a fan of techno and electro at the same damn time, then a Boys Noize set is something you shouldn’t miss out on in the future.)

The ship was silenced in a surreal moment as a soft rain fell on the crowd while the French duo Justice opened their set with “Genesis.” The rain most certainly didn’t damper anyone’s spirits and the two kicked the boat into full-throttle. Once the brief precipitation subsided and we floated into more open water, Gaspard and Xavier gave us a classic Justice DJ set with hard-hits and huge builds. It left the crowd in awe throughout the entire performance. Many people criticize Justice for their live shows, but seeing a DJ set from this legendary tag-team is completely different and nothing short of epic! They even took the time to splice in some uncommon tracks like T.Rex’s “Bang The Gong” and Junior Seniors smash hit “Move Your Feet.”

By the end of Justice’s set, everyone on the boat was throwing out last minute guesses on who the surprise DJ would be. (For those of you who don’t know, there was a “???” on the schedule for Friday night.) Justice walked to the opposite side of the stage, reached below the DJ booth. and pulled out party-ready Skrillex to take over the decks. Skrillex surprised the crowd a bit by playing out some unusual tunes that you don’t normally hear from the dubstep king. Disclosure’s huge “Latch” was played out to huge approval among others before Skrillex returned to his signature tracks. Around 45-minutes into his set, we got to watch something very special as Boys Noize joined Skrillex on the decks to give us a very exclusive Dog Blood performance. This is one of the many great aspects of Holy Ship: artists that span different genres come together and spin together (we’ll explain more epic collaborations soon). You can bet that you won’t see these types of sets anywhere else.

After Skrillex and Boys Noize ended their fussion of techno and bass, two of our personal favorites graced the stage to keep the party going into the night. Gesaffelstein went first and put down one of his patented dark techno sets. He was one of the major highlights from last year’s HOLY SHIP and it’s easy to see why this French producer was invited back for another year. If you were on the ship, then you most definitely saw the “Viol” music video on HARD TV in your rooms (yes, there was a HARD TV channel onboard playing strictly HARD event recaps and music videos). Gesaffelstein’s music is characterized by dark, erie vibes and chain-smoking, and that’s exactly what he played out to the crowd.

We hit the bar just before Brodinski was to take the stage and actually met Brody himself. The man is too nice for words and he actually bought our whole crew tequila shots thanks to encouragement from 12th Planet. Those shots with out a doubt pumped energy into our veins for his set. Once Brodinski took the stage, the crowd was starting to dimish due to the late night parties kicking off. For those who left… terrible decision on your part! Brodinski was joined by Gesaffelstein, Boys Noize and Justice on the decks for an hour of back to back to back tunes from all four artists. As previously mentioned, there is literally nowhere else in the world that you’ll be able to see all four of these amazing artists playing around on the decks together. It was one very special part of a incredible first night.

Don’t think for a second that we forgot about the Dirty Bird Disco happening at the opposite end of the ship. S32 Disco was the place to be if you had a bird brain. The disco looks as if it could be a real club on land, outfitted with massive speakers, TVs on the dance-floor and all over the walls, and many lounge areas surrounding the room. We caught the first portion of J.Phlip’s set in the disco, and she most certainly set the tone for a sweaty disco party. Afterwards, the man himself Claude Vonstroke took to the DJ booth. Dirty bird fanatics were going wild all over the place, and a modest Claude gave the fans just what they wanted: a dirtybird onslaught. Unfortunately, we didn’t get to catch Justin Martin nor Eats Everything, but judging by the growing crowd in the disco, I’m sure that those two had wild sets.

From the disco we headed over to the Rump Shaker party in the Pigalle Lounge. We made it just in-time to catch the end of Sab0 b2b Nadastrom and things were definitely starting to heat up. One of the best parts of the ship is that among the four lounges and bars that had music playing, there was always room for everybody. The dance floor was always full, but had just the right amount of space to get your twerk on. To add to that, every lounge had seating surrounding each dance floor, we’re not talking some fold-out chair nonsense, but straight up plush seats to sit back, spit on a drink and enjoy the music. Sabo & Nadastrom went into the red with their set; bumping trap and moombahton tunes for everyone to enjoy. But, Crookers soon took the stage. The crowd took notice and smiling faces were filling in the lounge. Crookers opened up his set with “Dr. Gonzo” and the party truly erupted. He then followed up with tunes we’ve never heard before, but they were certainly bangers that had the boat rocking from side to side. We regrettably missed the RL Grime b2b Baauer, but if you’re familiar with these artists, you know what to expect. We heard from fellow HOLY SHIPers that straight booty-bouncing trap and bass came from the two young producers.

Come back tomorrow to read our Day 2 HOLY SHIP recap! Enjoy the mix of iPhone photos in the gallery below!

About Amelia Waters