When Holy Ship! producers Hard, Cloud 9, and The Bowery announced that their renowned nautical dance music cruise would happen on land this year, the festival's famously dedicated fanbase -- known as the Shipfam -- were concerned about how this new setting would affect party's community atmosphere.
While being out to sea on a boat for the weekend has its pros and cons, Holy Ship defined itself by putting attendees in close quarters aboard the ship. With no cell service and thousands of new friends to make, Holy Ship became famous for the bonds it forged between attendees and artists alike. After all, there were few other festivals where you'd find yourself in the elevator or cafeteria line with your favorite DJ.
This is where Holy Ship! Wrecked vastly differed. At Punta Cana's Hard Rock Hotel, every attendee was afforded their own suite, and the sixteen different buildings in which they were located sometimes required tram rides between. Because this environment didn't force Shipfam together like on the boat, the hosts of Holy Ship! Wrecked doubled-down on the activities, with the jaunty swashbucklers known as The Instigators on site to get people involved in the stacked schedule of fun and games.
When perusing the schedule and finding an activity titled “World Sumo Wrestling Federation,” a flurry of questions came about. Was there any legitimacy to this event, per the official jargon? Were there several rotund warriors on site ready to demonstrate the skills and techniques involved in this historic Japanese form of regulated combat?
The answer was a flat no, but we still had fun!
In place of seasoned veterans of Sumo, there were inflatable sumo suits that two brave participants donned per match. A plastic, circular tarp on the floor replaced the ring, upon which the eager fighters collided for an exciting five-to-ten seconds, before one or both came tumbling down. While lethargic in form, the rapid-fire bouts were massively entertaining, especially with Valentino Kahn, 12th Planet, and Snails all doing their own Michael Buffer impersonations.
Billiards with Chris Lake
Chris Lake’s time at the pool tables was certainly one of the most successful activities, in terms of giving Shipfam some face time with the artists. Watching Lake's precision with the cue, it was clear that the British house maestro was far from a billiards neophyte, but his affable demeanor made it enjoyable even when we lost to him -- just like everyone else did. With the monarch of EDM photography, Rukes, close by, Chris was also happy to pose with his vanquished foes.
New Moon Ceremony
Friday, January 24 was the first new moon of the year, and Holy Ship! Wrecked thus organized an oceanide ceremony to celebrate this celestial commencement. This was the only time attendees were allowed on the beach after dark, and the location was a welcome change of pace from the amplified music and high-energy contests throughout the rest of the weekend.
Beginning with simple guided breathing exercise, the now-silver-haired ladies of The Instigators (they were wearing wigs) prompted us to set our intentions for this new moon, this new year and this new decade through a variety of cathartic exercises. First, we releasing a collective howl into the air, liberating any caged negative feelings. Then, we wrote down some of our goals for the future, before burning them along with sage and incense. To close, volunteers shared their intentions with the group, a reminder that we are all humans working to improve ourselves every day.
Beach Beer Pong with Walker & Royce
Always a treasured activity for the professional party-goer, beer-pong on the beach with Walker & Royce was a Shipfam favorite over the weekend. While the classic house-party drinking game can often be bogged down with rules about re-racks, elbows, rebuttals and other points of contention, the joyously unorganized arrangement of Holy Ship! Wrecked beer pong negated these concerns entirely.
Rules were in fact so unimportant that teams weren’t even playing with ping pong balls. Instead, they opted for miniature rubber ducks, as at first, that’s all The Instigators had to use. But even after they produced the proper supplies, rubber ducks continued flying from hand to cup, or hand to table, or hand to sand. In our case, it was almost always hand to sand.
Bingo with Walker & Royce and VNSSA
The most fitting title for this activity would undoubtedly be “Detox Bingo.” For at 1:30 PM, on the final day of the festival, just hours after Chris Lake faded out the last track of his beachside sunrise set, the entire audience for bingo was either prone or supine in beach chairs, toes brisking the calm waters of the central pool, squinting at their cards through cracked eyes and thick sunglasses.
The announcer’s unfiltered energy was only reciprocated when they announced the winners. At that point, the bingo champion would rise, fling their body into the pool and Michael Phelps their way to the front to claim their Claude VonStroke photo, or whatever wacky prize that pure luck had delivered to them.
NGHTMRE and SLANDER present: Gud Vibrations Super Smash Bros. Tournament
This closing day activity was enjoyed equally for its nonchalant vibe and the amount of artists face time it offered. The Gud Vibrations crew closed off Los Gallos, the resort’s Mexican eatery, for an afternoon of craft cocktails, small bites, and Super Smash Bros. For the group of attendees -- who appeared to be largely between the ages of 23 and 28 -- this was likely their most anticipated activity of the event, given that this is the generation that grew up playing the first Super Smash Bros. on Nintendo 64 upon its release in 1999.
As a member of this generation myself, the excitement during this event was palpable. All of us, including Nghtmre and Slander, are a bunch of nerds at heart, and it was just plain peachy to embrace that side while at the resort. Plus, the resort provided Gamecube controllers for us to use, even though we were playing the Switch version. Everyone who really knows Super Smash Bros. knows this is the only way to play.