Dream on Dreamer: How Destructo Achieved His Magnum Opus With 2024 FriendShip Festival
On January 6th, FriendShip 2024 set sail out of Miami, taking the sea-nic route to Belize for a 24-hour private island party before docking back in Florida on the 11th. For six days, five nights, Destructo and friends took the luxurious Norwegian Joy on the ultimate joyride.
Operated by Norwegian Cruise Line (NCL), the ship comes fit with a wide array of restaurants and culinary delights to please every palate, ample bars and lounge areas throughout, a two-level speedway, award-winning casino, open-air laser tag, mini golf, waterslides and a spa, among other amenities. Not to mention the implementation of five unique stages for the festival: FriendZone, Spice H2O, Atrium, Q and Joy Theatre.
Unlike your typical festival, once you're aboard FriendShip everything is taken care of. You need not worry about where to set up camp, where the nearest bathrooms are, what to make for dinner, where to park or even what music to play during downtime.
Destructo, whose real name is Gary Richards, has thought of everything.
"I’ve been a festival promoter for most of my life and pretty much all of the logistics of what makes a festival miserable are taken out of the way," Richards explained in an intimate interview with EDM.com ahead of this year's festival.
With everything you could possibly want or need readily available, the event fosters a safe and inclusive environment where attendees can surrender to each moment and enjoy the journey. "This is the one place where you can just be goofy and no one's going to care," Richards added. "They're going to like it more."
To encourage self-expression, FriendShip 2024 had three themed nights—and the Ship Fam went all out. One day was "Pretty in Pink," post-Belize was "Slumber Party" and the last night was "Destructo had a farm."
Each morning, shipmates received an updated list of the itinerary with daily activities such as "Twerk Shop," "Salvador Daldo" strap-on painting competition, shuffling class, "Shit Show Rodeo" and more. Not to mention headlining performances from the likes of Bob Moses, Boys Noize, Chris Lake, Chris Lorenzo, Dr. Fresch and Rusko, among others.
Aside from what's listed, it's important to always be on the look out for pop-up parties too as Dial-a-DJ cards are selectively handed out, ensuring a unique experience can be had by those who are in the right place at the right time.
You could end up partying with Mikey Lion and Boys Noize in Dita Von Tease's suite.
View the original article to see embedded media.
One of the many aspects that stand out about FriendShip is that all of the performers stay onboard for the duration of the festival. This adds a layer of depth to the experience considering you will very likely run into some of the DJs while in an elevator, going for a meal, or in a room enjoying a renegade set.
This year, however, was a milestone for not only FriendShip, but also for Richards, who was finally able to bring his 24-hour island party vision to fruition.
"In all of the years that I’ve been doing it, we go to islands and we get the island to ourselves and we can have a party there, but you always have to leave at 4pm because you can't really shuffle people back and forth in the dark on an island with the boat, it's just a safety issue," he said.
By opting to cruise to NCL's Harvest Caye in Belize, the ship was able to dock overnight.
The idyllic island takeover was soundtracked by the likes of Chris Lake, Bob Moses, Justin Martin and the night's pièce de résistance, Skrillex, who played a slew of new releases and fan-favorite throwbacks, including a fiery mashup of "Chicken Soup" and "Bangarang." And to cap off an un-Belize-able day, Destructo delivered his signature "Sunrise Sermon" set for the first time at FriendShip.
A running joke amongst past FriendShip attendees was "Skrillex confirmed," as he was often rumored to be there. But 2024 was finally the year. And not only did he perform, but he and Boys Noize returned to the stage as Dog Blood for the first time in over four years.
Pulling off an island overnighter of that caliber is no small feat. It required a longer voyage, extensive preparation, and additional staffing and production, plus an unwavering dream.
We were blown away by the inclusivity of all of the fest's attendees. The term "Ship Fam" rings true. It is a family of like-minded individuals that come together with the same deep-rooted passion for the electronic dance music scene.
Hot on the heels of FriendShip 2024, Destructo since revealed that the fifth edition of his flagship festival will take place February 21-26, 2025. And the Ship Fam will once again journey from Miami to Belize’s Harvest Caye private island aboard the Norwegian Joy.
For returning shipmates, pre-booking is available now. Prospective attendees can gain exclusive access to the festival pre-booking on Tuesday, January 23rd at 9am PT by joining the waitlist here. Waitlist members will have the early opportunity to secure their cabin with a $250 deposit. Cabin deposits will open to the public later that day.