Last spring, while reveling in the smoldering pile of Fyre Fest, a luxury musical festival full of “models” and influencers and influencer-lites that ended in disaster, all I could think was damn. In a parallel universe where I had money to burn and pursued my worst impulses to wild abandon, that might have been me! While part of me thought it was absurd that anyone would pay $999 to $250,000 for the chance to caption an Instagram “Living my #bestlife BETTER than Oprah, betch,” another part of me was like, Blink-182 is kind of dope. I, too, want to swim with pigs and look as blissfully hyped as Ja Rule! What’s a sea bobble? Sounds fun!
An initial attraction to Fyre Fest is something I can understand, but while watching both Fyre Fest documentaries (Hulu’s Fyre Fraud and Netflix’s Fyre: The Greatest Party That Never Happened), I couldn’t grasp why attendees didn’t bail earlier. There were so many early red flags in the days and weeks leading up to the festival: a lack of confirmed lodging or flights, the request to put a minimum of $300 onto Festival wristbands before arriving. Over the three-plus hours (sigh) I spent watching things go from shitty to shittier for the Fyre Fest people, my question evolved from “Why didn’t they just leave?” into one far more introspective. I found myself thinking: How long would I have stayed at Fyre Fest 2017?
For the purposes of this thought exercise, which I encourage you all to join me on, I’m going to use the Cheese Sandwich as the final circle of Fyre Fest hell; it was the single most devastating image to emerge from the festival’s social-media slaughter. FestGuest Trevor DeHaas tweeted out a photo of it, and the Cheese Sandwich became emblematic of the promise and failure of the festival.
The Cheese Sandwich appeared after guests had arrived to the “private island,” which turned out to be a gravel-filled lot with a lagoon. They’d already surveyed their “luxury tents and villas” (poorly constructed FEMA tents and soggy mattresses). And then, instead of the promised high-end cuisine by celebrity chef Stephen Starr, guests were given Styrofoam boxes containing sweaty cheese on squishy bread and some undressed salad. It was too late to get a flight home, too late to book an emergency room at a nearby Sandals resort, too late to do anything but accept that the dream of Fyre wasn’t happening and drink the leftover booze.
The Cheese Sandwich is when it all fell apart. The Cheese Sandwich is when you’ve believed the dream for too long. The Cheese Sandwich is a loss of innocence. It is the point of no return.
So, back to the thought experiment. Would you have lasted at Fyre Fest until the Cheese Sandwich? Or would you have pulled out when …
… your worst finance bro friend who makes too much money hit you up and said: “GETTING A VILLAAAAA GONNA BE LIT LIT LITTTY. VENMO ME $10K?”
… the Twitter account Fyre Festival Fraud started, exposing how certain claims made by the festival’s organizers — like villas on a private island once owned by Pablo Escobar — were absolute bullshit?
… a few days before you were supposed to leave, and you hadn’t gotten flight or lodging confirmation, and nobody in “customer service” was answering your phone calls or emails?
… you were in Miami, waiting for your connecting flight, and your friend informs you Blink-182 dropped out?
… you got to Exuma and were crammed onto a yellow school bus and realized everyone was horrible?
… you went to the spillover bar and were left there for five hours drinking Casamigos?
… you were still on the bus when you saw a long line of crying white influencers, nobody manning the bar, and a bunch of FEMA tents with mattresses stacked outside, and realized you could just tell the bus to take you back to the airport?
… you’re in a long line for housing and festival organizer Billy McFarland announces everyone should just, like, “RUN to get housing,” and people start hoarding pallets of toilet paper and, for some reason, pissing on mattresses so nobody else can claim them?
If you’ve made it through all of this, you’ve made it to the Cheese Sandwich. Don’t feel bad. I for one can fully admit that I’d be right there with you on a damp mattress, coming to terms with the fact that it wasn’t just my optimism and a love of Disclosure that brought me here. It’s because I’m a little bit of a douchebag, too. Lit.