The long-awaited “Storm Area 51” extravaganza finally began Thursday night — as a corporate-sponsored, beer-fueled rave at the Downtown Las Vegas Events Center.
The part where people descend on a rural Nevada desert town where they’re really not welcome starts in earnest this weekend.
Leave it to the brands to throw the Bud Light Area 51 Celebration, organized by the event-planning company Collective Zoo and enjoyed by approximately 15,000 people who wanted to get drunk in alien costumes, according to the Las Vegas-Review Journal. The beermaker, owned by the giant Anheuser-Busch company, had of course created a themed beverage for the event and has been sharing memes on its official Twitter page. For whatever reason, condom-maker Durex and Kool-Aid have also been hyping up the Area 51 events on Twitter, presumably for a bit of free marketing.
The whole thing started in July as a joke event on Facebook — ”Storm Area 51: They Can’t Stop All of Us” — but it quickly snowballed into a semi-earnest movement of approximately 2 million people who RSVP’d and said they would crash the remote Area 51 military base, long the subject of conspiracy theorists who think there’s aliens there. The Facebook event said the invasion would occur September 20, sparking weeks of law enforcement preparation and memes.
Thursday’s Bud Light rave took place about two hours south of Lincoln County, home to the Area 51 base and a lot of politicians who really, really want alien hunters to stay the hell away. Both Lincoln and neighboring Nye County have issued emergency declarations because they’re unable to handle the crowds.
Of course, two hours isn’t too far of a drive for Las Vegas visitors pumped with pure, meme-spurred energy, so people are already descending on Lincoln County regardless of whether they’re welcome. (Matty Roberts, an original organizer of the Facebook event, said he won’t go to Area 51. Lincoln County is considering legal action against him because, again, they really don’t want millions of visitors to descend upon the desolate desert town.)
Lincoln County expects to spend about $250,000 on the event they did not ask for, which is referred to as “Alienstock” and will occur all weekend. (There were doubts about the event actually happening and some outlets, including VICE, previously reported the event was canceled.) One local newscast appeared to show a lone person Naruto-running past a line of porta-potties situated in the isolated, rust-colored desert, further proving the meme lives on. And another Snapchat, tagged to Lincoln County’s town of Rachel, showed a throng of people gathered with signs in the dark — taking on the military base.
“Clap alien cheeks,” one sign read. For the uninitiated, the kids want to have sex with the aliens.
Cover: A man in an alien mask stands at an entrance to the Nevada Test and Training Range near Area 51 Friday, Sept. 20, 2019, outside of Rachel, Nev. People gathered at the gate inspired by the "Storm Area 51" internet hoax. (AP Photo/John Locher)
This article originally appeared on VICE US.