warning Hi, we've moved to USCANNENBERGMEDIA.COM. Visit us there!

Neon Tommy - Annenberg digital news

White Wonderland Festival Surprises At The Anaheim Convention Center

Tanaya Ghosh |
January 4, 2012 | 10:22 a.m. PST

Staff Reporter

A sold-out crowd celebrates New Year's Eve at White Wonderland (photo by Tanaya Ghosh)
A sold-out crowd celebrates New Year's Eve at White Wonderland (photo by Tanaya Ghosh)
A white winter in Southern California was made possible after all, thanks to Insomniac's first-ever all-white New Year's dance music festival, White Wonderland.

For two days, there was more white concentrated in the Anaheim Convention Center than anywhere else in Southern California, creating a dramatic effect on New Year's Eve and New Year's Day. 

As the giant LED clock behind Benny Benassi ticked down to midnight on New Year's Eve, a pulsing sea of white covered every square foot of the massive dance floor. Snow floated down, settling on the heads of the sold-out crowd. Working its magic as usual, Insomniac Events had transformed the venue into a classy White Wonderland experience for thousands of its guests. The audience also contributed to the atmosphere by wearing fully white attire to the party.

White Wonderland 2012 Lineup
White Wonderland 2012 Lineup
On New Year's Eve, Day 1 of White Wonderland, the headliners were Dada Life, Benassi and Kaskade, who wasn't able to make it at the last minute, reportedly due to weather concerns. In fact, "Move for Me" and  tracks from his Fire & Ice album were the only traces of Kaskade to be found. Although fans were disappointed, the otherwise-stellar show went on. Via Twitter, Kaskade and Insomniac later promised to make it up to fans.

Not surprisingly, the highly-anticipated Swedish duo Dada Life was a crowd favorite with their outstanding high-energy set. The crowd literally went bananas for them, complete with the signature Dada Life giant inflatable bananas and champagne bottle, which they held up in the air and pumped along to the music.

On Saturday night the crowd collectively held its breath, waiting until midnight to bid farewell to 2011, a bittersweet year that many wouldn't mind saying goodbye to. That energy seemed to be mixed with apprehension and cautiously high hopes for 2012. Once the new year arrived, slates were wiped clean, hopes and dreams were restored, and the excited crowd let loose in celebration and anticipation for the new year.

Regardless of what 2012 holds, there was a collective feeling that it is a time for change, and the all-white theme set the tone for a mellower yet optimistic atmosphere. DJ Trent Cantrelle started the party in 2011, and Paul van Dyk closed it out in 2012 of the same night.

Special effects, dancers
Special effects, dancers
On Day 2 of the 21+ event, the Size Matters crew brought more hype and harder beats that got the crowd celebrating New Year's Day to the fullest. Steve Angello, Thomas Gold (Exclusive backstage interview here), AN21 & Max Vangeli, and Tara Brooks all contributed to an amped Sunday.

The crowd's consensus was that the second night ramped up the energy, lights, and special effects such as confetti and colorful streamers. After making our way to the front row and staying there through Steve Angello's set, we experienced the elements up close with a blizzard of foam snow straight to the face and fireworks so close we could feel the heat. It was a complete multi-sensory experience.

We enjoyed the music up close until it was time for me to go backstage to chat with Thomas Gold, a crowd favorite, after his highly interactive and energetic two-hour set. Named breakthrough DJ/Producer of 2010 by Axwell and other top artists in DJ Mag, the German DJ was a joy to speak with.

Thomas Gold's set
Thomas Gold's set
Regarding the white theme crossing over to the States from Europe, he said, "I'm familiar with the white theme, like we have in Europe, White Sensation and these winter parties around December and January, but I haven't seen it in the States yet. This is the first one I've seen and it looks great. All the decorations, it's awesome... all the details, and even backstage, they put so much love into it. It's really nice to see, and all the people are in white, they respect it." He also revealed why Escape from Wonderland was his favorite place to play thus far (his epic live Escape set can be found here), his New Year's resolution, and much more (The full interview can be found here).

Keeping with the theme, the DJs also dressed in white, as did the futuristic dancers, complete with wings, lights and masks. Also clad in white, aerialists performed acrobatics from white silks hanging from the ceiling alongside giant faux snowflakes.

When meeting up with my group after the interview, I found them by the soundstage, at our designated meeting spot (tip: soundstage is a good place to reunite if lost). Enjoying more space to dance in the back, we admired the entire scene from the opposite perspective. The only bright colors in the house were the streamers falling from the ceiling and the dazzling display of laser lights overhead, which splashed the crowd with waves of changing colors like paint on a white canvas.

Laser lights
Laser lights
In addition to many rave anthems and Skrillex tracks, "Otherside" by the Red Hot Chili Peppers and remixes of Adele's beautifully haunting songs including "Rolling in the Deep" & "Set Fire to the Rain" got big responses from the crowd on both nights.

Although it was a bit easier for girls to get creative with their white outfits and accessories, many guys went to great lengths to stand out, showing up in costumes such as Trix rabbits, deadmau5, Buzz Lightyear, white bananas, and a panda.

Once again, Insomniac went the extra mile to provide an atmosphere that transported SoCal partygoers to a foreign winter wonderland. Coupled with two nights of quality music to transition into the new year, it was undoubtedly one for the books. A new year brings with it a new beginning, a journey into the unknown, with the only sure thing being inevitable change.  As such, it will be exciting to see what new tricks the EDM scene has in store for its growing fan base in 2012 and beyond.


You can reach reporter Tanaya Ghosh here or follow her on Twitter.


Best way to find more great content from Neon Tommy?

Or join our email list below to enjoy Neon Tommy News Alerts.




Craig Gillespie directed this true story about "the most daring rescue mission in the history of the U.S. Coast Guard.”

Watch USC Annenberg Media's live State of the Union recap and analysis here.