This article originally appeared on VICE US.
When Storm Area 51 went viral earlier in July, creator Matty Roberts quickly expressed that his Facebook Group was intended as a joke. That quickly shifted into a marketing stunt, and now, in a bold move, Storm Area 51 is hosting an official party called Alienstock.
“We created the Viral Event, ‘Storm Area 51, They Can't Stop All of Us.’ After receiving mass support, we decided to create an experience that celebrates Aliens and the Unknown!,” the festival website states.
The massive UFO-themed festival is slated for September 19th to the 22nd, the same weekend that the original storming of Area 51 was supposed to occur. The festival website makes some big claims, stating that attendees will “witness some incredible performance from headlining artists! Many of whom can't be named due to festival radius clauses.. but we've been contacted by huge names wanting to play for the crowd!”
Everyone loves a good time, and while I personally am down for a UFO party, the “huge names” are perhaps the least of the convener’s concerns. Alienstock will be taking place in Rachel, Nevada. With a population just shy of 100 people. The town, according to its website, is not too thrilled about the event.
“With the social media attention this event is getting we want to clarify a few points for those not familiar with this area. Other than the Little A'Le'Inn, a small bar/restaurant/motel there are no services in Rachel. There is no gas and no store,” the town’s website states, “The Inn is booked for that weekend. If you plan on attending the event you must be experienced in camping, hiking and surviving in a harsh desert environment and have a vehicle in good shape. You must be prepared to be completely on your own for food, water, gas etc.”
While most alien enthusiasts were worried about getting shot at by military personnel at Area 51, the residents of Rachel may be the bigger threat. With bolded red letters in all caps, the website reads,
“WARNING: A dubious group claiming a connection to chaotic events like Burning Man and the Las Vegas Electric Music Festival has taken over this event. They threaten to ‘take over Rachel’ and claim that the residents are ‘on board,” the town’s website notes. “The residents were not asked and are not on board and will certainly not allow their town to be taken over. Law enforcement will be overwhelmed and local residents will step up to protect their property. This is not a good time to visit and experience Rachel.”
While dying in the desert does fulfill some dark Hunter S. Thompson fantasy, some UFO researchers have proposed taking actual political action instead of raiding the desert. Ben Grob, a video game developer in Montreal and the creator of Reddit’s popular UFO subreddit, is asking people to allocate their energy to petitioning their elected leaders. His website, “Don’t Storm Area 51,” tells people to “do something smart instead” and that the UFO community can do something real to “bring us closer to the truth.”
“We can spread the message that we're not powerless in the face of this issue, and if we play our cards right, we could even begin to see real progress,” Grob told Motherboard.
Grob admits that the Storm Area 51 event, as well as the recent outing of the Pentagon’s AATIP Program and the Navy’s more public interest in UFOs has motivated people to become more engaged.
“We're seeing more and more people with no prior interest in the paranormal making their entrance in UFO discussion forums and asking ‘I want to know more, where do I start?,’” Grob said.
Grob’s website contains links and advice on how to contact local elected officials and even advice on how to frame the emails and letters. The website states, “If you’re curious about what the government knows about UFOs, don’t storm Area 51. Stay behind that keyboard and get writing!”
He admits that he is ambivalent about the festival. Grob wishes that Roberts would back more hardcore UFO-related issues, such as posting more about the Petagon AATIP program or that Luis Elizondo, a former Pentagon intelligence agent, told Tucker Carlson on Fox News that individuals were in possession of debris which allegedly came from a UFO.
“Any exposure is good if it can lead people down an inquisitive path...In my opinion, there's potential to spark some serious mainstream interest there.”