The author getting tatted. All photos courtesy of the author.
Last Thursday, amidst the web already going ballistic over Kanye interviews, fugitive llamas, and the color of a goddamn dress, EDM superduo Diplo and Skrillex set out to irreparably break the internet. As a guerrilla marketing stunt to promote the release of their new EP as Jack Ü, the two hosted #24HOURSOFJACKU at Skrillex’s loft in Los Angeles—a day-long DJ marathon slotted to run from noon Thursday to noon Friday, with the album officially dropping at midnight. The event was to be entirely livestreamed on twitch.tv.
When two figures as central to American dance music as Diplo and Skrillex come together, the synthesis of their own sounds, brands, and massive fandoms, extends their collective reach to the same point that has catapulted EDM into ubiquity. Either of the two are as influential as the other, establishing careers producing for mainstream acts and founding their own labels (Mad Decent and OWSLA) as platforms to support new artists and emerging genres—Dancehall, Dubstep, Trap, Jersey Club, K-Pop—which have defined major music trends in recent years. Whether Skrillex’s scoring in Harmony Korine’s Spring Breakers, Diplo’s former relationship with Katy Perry, or recent tirades for his questionably misogynistic actions online, the presence of the two are hard to separate from anyone’s consciousness, which makes Jack Ü as a collaborative entity and their album (which boasts vocal turns from the likes of Missy Elliott, 2 Chainz, and Justin Bieber) such a huge deal.
With everyone’s attention on them, it was only right for Diplo and Skrillex to turn the release of their album into a “once-in-a-lifetime” global social event, bringing together a cast of DJs and EDM tastemakers under one roof, and inviting their fans from around the world to participate by watching. For attendees, the stream offered exercise classes, bean bags, bubble machines, dogs, tattoos, you name it. For the media, the stream was a chance to create some quick content by, which led to write-ups in Billboard, Time, and the Guardian. For the cops, the stream was an opportunity to crash Skrillex’s loft and shut the event down 18 hours in. As someone who follows Diplo with the fervor of a Deadhead, I entered the stream to experience it firsthand, and test my physical limits to see how long I could last before abating.
I ended up at Skrillex’s loft at 7:45 pm, bummed that A-Trak’s guest DJ set was already over. Though the livestream was public, only guests of Mad Decent and OWSLA were granted full access of the premise. In an effort to keep the location secret, signs were taped along the walls that read: “Yooooo, DON’T GEOTAG this shit… we don’t want the whole world to turn up.”
I was bombarded with a near overwhelming array of sights and sounds upon entry. The crowd was composed of drunken crackheads, industry alt-bros, and, like, ten dogs, galivanting throughout the house as music blasted from every angle. The DJ booth was set up in a far corner of the living room, which was a visual clusterfuck of tacky and ironic decor: a lifesize alien figurine wearing rave kandi, a huge cardboard cutout of Barbra Streisand’s head, a picture of Lily Allen, Christmas lights, mini rainbow lanterns, and a dolphin, all meant to echo Jack Ü’s spastic, loud, and wacky aesthetic. In the kitchen across the way, there was a stack of pizza boxes that had been delivered some time before courtesy of the DJ Kaskade, and approximately 72 bottles of expensive vodka on the counter along with chasers to make unlimited D.I.Y. drinks. Because I am poor, I proceeded to inhale all of them.
The DJ setup was flanked by multiple mini-cams streaming the party from different angles in addition to camera men floating around filming close-ups. Everyone seemed to feel more than comfortable in front of the cameras, despite knowing that they were being watched and talked about by the stream’s viewers. The party was marked by a communal sense that the more ratchet we behaved, the more airtime we’d receive. I myself have a fetish for exhibitionism, so I made myself visible whenever Beyonce or Rihanna came on, as did my friend Jamila, whose nonstop ass-shaking on and next to Diplo turned her into a meme, dubbed “Ling Ling” by the commenters in the stream. By 8PM, Dinky, the celebrity dog and viral video star, showed up unannounced, driving in on the dancefloor on a mini Bentley wearing a “random white dog” tee, light-up choker, and Raybans. He was by far the most famous person there.
Dinky stunting on any and all haters
Drunk exhibitionist that I am, I decided to get a Diplo tattoo on my ass from a woman who was inking guests for free. Here I am in the middle of the party, bent over a chair, booty out, getting the same Diplodocus tattoo Diplo has on his bicep, which originated from his childhood fascination with dinosaurs. While hundreds of women have branded their asses in their own way by having sex with Diplo, no other dude can say they have a Diplo tattoo except me, which at the time of this writing makes me beyond excited.
A longtime Diplo fan spanning back to the Blog House Era, being present at this stream was significant for me. The first time went to a rave seven years ago was in San Francisco, where I saw Diplo open for Justice. Now every time I see Diplo, I’m transported to that moment. I’m going to sound like Selena Gomez in Spring Breakers here, but EDM has had a huge impact on my life and helped me become who I am at the same time it was becoming what it is now. Some of the happiest moments of my youth have been breaking onstage at music festivals to express myself for Diplo, so I have no shame in plastering those feelings on my posterior. The dinosaur in the company of my other seemingly dumb joke tattoos (#YOLO and an alien emoji) alludes to the nature of existence, a reminder of my own eventual mortality. Like dinosaurs, we’ll be gone one day too, but like aliens, maybe we’re not the only ones here.
The final result
My #diptat, which to my pleasant surprise Diplo included in one of his Snapchat stories, was done by 11 pm. I spent the next six hours into the morning partying, delirious, intermittently taking naps in a kiddie pool with OWSLA prodigy Durante, and kissing girls I met off twitter until my endurance ran out, and fatigue set in. Pair this with the claustrophobic anxiety of 200 people sardined in Skrillex’s living room, at 4:45AM I cut out, dredging through the dancefloor to evacuate the premises before I was going to have to kill myself. A web stream by its very nature is ephemeral—think of the word “stream” and its implications of flowing onward with no hope of permanence—but thanks to #24HOURSOFJACKU, I’ll be bonded to Diplo forever, whether he likes it or not.
Jazper Abellera is Noisey's West Coast Nightlife Correspondent. He's on Twitter.