Memories are Made Aboard the Groove Cruise LA

*written by Crystal Garcia for Electronica Life


It’s Thursday morning in Southern California on a warm October day, the sun is shining bright  and the skies are a pristine clear blue. The weather is perfect just as expected on any day in LA, but this is no ordinary Thursday. No, no, no, not at all..it’s the first day of THE GROOVE CRUISE LA. My partner in crime for the weekend Elsa, and I are cruising down the 101 highway as we discuss what we hope to experience over the course of 72 hours of non-stop music, friends and good vibes aboard the Golden Princess cruise ship. We almost miss our exit as we’re running late and beginning to stress out, but the moment we lay our eyes on the beautiful ship we’re about to board, all worries quickly fade away as uncontainable excitement kicks in.

Elsa and I are among the first “captains” to board the ship early for the media luncheon that Whet Travel, kindly hosted for us. Here we mingle with some industry friends and take a tour of the Golden Princess afterwards. The ship is so large that we decide to call it quits halfway through the tour, and opt for a power nap instead already knowing the little to no sleep that is to be had over the next few days. Power naps are a fail as not just one, but two different groups of friends come knocking on our cabin door within minutes of each other ready to get the party started. Oh well, guess naps were a logical but unfeasible idea. We roll out of bed and head to the all-inclusive buffet to fuel for a long night of who knows what’s to come.

It’s half past six, and for some reason the ship still hasn’t left the dock. Soon after, we begin to hear announcements calling the same names to the guest services desk over and over and over again. Carlos is one of the names requested as everyone quickly picks up that this is the reason we still haven’t set sail, and begins to ask Where’s Carlos? Apparently the problems resolved soon after and the Golden Princess is on it’s way, but “where’s Carlos?” quickly became the ongoing joke of the weekend throughout the ship.
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Night one begins as the sun sets over the pacific ocean horizon and the Groove Cruise has officially set sail. Branded as the “floating festival”, Groove Cruise is just that as shipmates dance the night away into the wee hours of the morning with 3,000 of their beautiful and impressively dressed friends to an assortment of electronic genres and a stellar line up including Morgan Page, DJ Dan, Borgeous, and Lee Burridge, to name just a few of the many DJ’s that rounded out the first night of festivities aboard.

I’m awaken to the sun peeking through the blinds on day two, and once I come to and remember “oh yeah, I’m on a boat!”, I immediately jump out of bed and tear apart the blinds. It’s a breathtaking sight to see nothing but ocean and clear skies on any day, but waking up to this after a night of partying is practically unbelievable. I couldn’t help but to think “Is this real life?”, in this moment and many memorable moments throughout the weekend.

Catalina Island is the first of two stops over the weekend for a private Luau themed beach party at Descanso Beach Club exclusively held for Groove Cruisers. Will Sparks properly warms up the early entrants, followed by Erick Morillo outdoing himself as the sun goes down and Dean Mason closing out the rowdy crowd. As we’re whisked away from the island in lifeboats, the dark skies are so clear that the stars twinkle and shine in a  dazzling display of lights that leaves everyone on board mesmerized.
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Once captains return to the ship, the night is in full effect at the CONTROL LA stage with Swanky Tunes and Sick Individuals. I was having a ball dancing with friends until I realized I need some deep beats in my life, so I said adios to my amigos in search. I roam the ship until I reach the very back at the open air INCORRECT MUSIC stage with Cocodrills spinnin as lasers dissect across the ocean water. The stage is packed and everyone looks to be in their own little world, I immediately know this is that somewhere I needed to be.

INCORRECT MUSIC label owner Anthony Attalla, is next to hit the decks for a set that left me speechless. I still can’t find the words to explain what,why or how it happened, but all I know is that Attalla took everyone in that crowd on a 2 ½ hour musical journey that night, or more like that morning. The bass was thumping and the beats were soulful, as I lost track of time and just about everything else. Daylight slowly began creeping in as the sun rose giving light to the world around us. I had an epiphany of sorts as I realized that I was in the middle of the ocean watching the sunrise as I grooved to the most amazing deep house. It dawned on me that moments such as these are what The Groove Cruise is all about, I now truly understood what everyone had been praising about for so long.

By 7 am my body was crying for sleep and warmth, but my heart just couldn’t bare to leave. At this point I had to force myself to stay until the very end of Attalla’s set at almost 8 am, but it was so well worth finishing out what ended up being my favorite set of the weekend. I don’t remember falling asleep that morning because it must have been immediate, but I do remember the permanent smile across my face on the walk back to the cabin and taking a moment to stare out the window at the sun kissed haze across the ocean horizon, while thinking this is an experience I will remember forever.
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I wake up to a feeling of refreshment and bliss, I’ve got that festival afterglow feeling I haven’t experienced in a really long time. I’m already stoked on life, only to realize that I just woke up in Mexico! The ship is already docked in Ensenada, and after much needed brunch and mimosas, we’re off to Papas & Beer for the Mexican Fiesta party with Deniz Koyu, Sultan + Ned Shepard, and Sex Panther. As expected after a day of drinking in Mexico, the rest of the day is somewhat of a blur, but I do know that our group made it back to the ship in time before it left us. I think you would agree with me that this achievement is really the most important part.

Feeling as though I’ve heard just about everything but trance all weekend, I chose to do things a little differently on the last night and stayed at the trance stage the entire night. Something I haven’t done in a really, really, really long time. After trying countless times to see Darude and continuously missing his sets, I finally had the chance to see this legend in action. As expected, he blew my mind and “Sandstorm” sounded even better live than I could have ever imagined. LA sweetheart Kristina Sky outdid herself this time by opening the stage, and returning for round around 4 am to close the night with uplifting and progressive trance, just as it had began. The best was most definitely saved for last.

Now in it’s 10th year, The Groove Cruise is an event like no other that can be thoroughly explained, but must be experienced to truly understand. To pull off gathering a few thousand people sharing the love and passion for the same music in the middle of the ocean, is just pure genius and magic. Don’t miss your chance to be part of the magic aboard the Groove Cruise Miami in January!
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