Imagine Coachella. Now imagine a more upscale version of it, promoted with the ritzy allure of a pricey island getaway. Got it? That’s what attendees of the inaugural Fyre Festival were expecting. Okay, now imagine the Tom Hanks movie Castaway, except with crowds and feral dogs. That’s what attendees got. Price tag? A cool $12,000. If you’re confused but intrigued, welcome to the club.
It all started in late 2016, when rapper Ja Rule began promoting a new “boutique, luxury festival” in the Bahamas. 400 “influencers” were compensated for promoting the fledgling festival on Instagram. Here, have a promotional video:
There was supposed to be music, boats, models on boats, jet skis, models on jet skis, a friendly island pig, snorkling through shipwrecks, gourmet chef tents, workouts on the beach, and workouts on the beach with models.
Poorly-constructed tents, sandwiches that are just cheese on bread with some naked lettuce, angry feral dogs, disgruntled locals and beach-garbage. One tweet used the phrase “pee everywhere.” You can’t always get what you want, even if you paid $12,000 for it.
Now, if this were a totally rad ’90s kids movies, this is when the festival-goers would fix up the site with ingenuity and elbow grease, throwing the BEST festival of all-time and making friends along the way.
Unfortunately, as I’ve known since I tried to make objects fly with my brain after watching Matilda, life is seldom like a 90s kids’ movie. The festival is effectively cancelled. The guests marooned on the island are probably getting some kind of hotel accommodations, and it looks like nobody else will be flying out to join them. It’s like reverse-Survivor: everyone just wants off the island. Or is it more like a millennial take on Lord of the Flies, an experiment to see whether Instagram influencers can convince people that Caribbean Hell is actually a good time had by all? I’d say it’s more akin to a good old-fashioned grift: planners put forth minimal cash and, well, planning and hoped things would come together well enough, earning a steep profit on everyone’s $12,000 ticket.
If you’re watching from home and wonder if you could through an even cheaper version of the Fyre Festival, the answer is yes. Here’s how you can recreate the experience at home:
Venue: Your Backyard
Sure, it’s not as flashy as the Bahamas, but to be fair it looks like nobody is really enjoying the Bahamas at this festival anyway.
Lodging: Rental Tents
The cheapest dome-style camping tents run about $10 and honestly look better than the disaster relief tents at Fyre. Cram as many as you want in the backyard.
Wildlife: Feral Dogs
It’s probably hard to find and wrangle feral dogs, but if you want to find a plain old mean dog I know just the thing. Based on my experience, all you have to do is walk your mild-mannered dog down a residential street on a nice day. At least one dirtbag dog will come charging out of its house at you. Grab it. That dog is coming to the festival.
Dinner: A Sad Cheese Sandwich With Lettuce Pile
Guests were promised custom chef-created meals and actually received a sad piece of American cheese on soggy bread next to some naked salad. We got this. You can get a pack of American cheese and a loaf of cruddy bread at the dollar store for a buck each. (I bake my own bread for less than a dollar a loaf, but that’s too nice for our purposes). A head of romaine and a few beefsteak tomatoes later, you’ve got a meal, sort of. By my estimate you could serve ten people this ‘dinner’ for a grand total of about $5-7, with the price only increasing slightly the more people you add.
Atmosphere: Some Garbage and Fire
Because I guess there are just piles of garbage everywhere? Probably also bees. Just leave an open soda out, the bees will come.
True to the festival’s name, things are on fire.
Bathrooms: Pee Everywhere
We are told there is pee everywhere, so.
Authentic Island Experience: A Sunburn
Dont’ wear sunscreen. Boom. You have the same sunburn you’d get in the Bahamas, just cheaper.*
*Oh my goodness, don’t do this.
Seating: Folding Chairs
Furniture-wise, everyone was expecting luxurious cabanas with draped canopies and artisinal woven blankets. Based on photograph evidence, they got folding chairs. I googled folding chair rentals, and the most basic model will set you back a dollar a chair. Only budget for one chair per person, or fewer if you’d like exciting tension.
Entertainment: Not Blink 182
Sure, your festival won’t have Blink 182, but you know what? As of yesterday, neither will Fyre Festival.
- Everyone competes to get the most Instagram likes. There can be Team Luxury who has to frame the experience as something more swanky than mere plebes can imagine, and Team Despair who makes everything look even shadier than it already is.
- Two teams compete to get a passing plane or helicopter to rescue them.
- Stay Away From The Feral Dogs. Prize: don’t get bit by a feral dog.
- Makeovers, maybe? Everyone can use their fashionable outfits from when they thought they were going somewhere nice to have fun.