Bonnaroo Attendees Appear to Have Formed a Unicorn Figurine-Worshipping Cult

"This plastic unicorn that somebody put in the middle of the pit is just killing it."

Jun 14 2017, 8:01pm

Screenshot via Facebook

Hearing something described as "the most lit moment of any music festival" typically invokes fears of dirty, likely poly people up to some vaguely culturally insensitive, drug-induced bullshit, so imagine my surprise and delight when the moment lived up to its lofty description. In three 10-second video clips, Bonnaroo attendees can be seen gathering around a small unicorn figurine to worship the equine deity. Dozens of people encircle and venerate the unicorn, moving the toy to make it dance and even paying tithes in the form of making it rain. Anointed with the people's magic, the #roonicorn has inspired a congregation, garnering more than 4 million views and 30,000 shares.

After seeing these videos on my feed, I needed to know more about this newly-formed unicorn cult. Who are the #roonicorn's devotees, and what is their gospel? Could this spontaneous bacchanal of unicorn hypemen speak to a deeper need for irreverence and connection in our all-unicorn-corporate wasteland? I spoke with Jack Hurley, creator of the viral #roonicorn videos, to find out.

Jack, a graphic designer and music producer from Virginia, has attended Bonnaroo five times and says the unicorn gathering was "one of the funniest things [he's] ever seen" at the music festival. When he and his friends were dancing to Rezz's set on Saturday, Jack noticed a small gathering of around five or six people. As he made his way over, he saw "this person with a unicorn in the middle" and started laughing. When I asked Jack whose unicorn it was, he responded, "To be honest, I have no idea. It just popped out of nowhere."

The draw of the unicorn worked quickly, and "within 10, 15 seconds, there [were] 50 people around this unicorn all of a sudden just dancing and screaming and stuff," Jack said. "And then the guy came up and started making a breakdance. That's when things got really hot with the 720-spin. Then more and more people, there must've been more than 100 people at one point—at least it seemed like that, maybe that's an exaggeration. Then everybody started going in. People started worshipping it and stuff. People started throwing money. One of the funniest things I've ever seen at Bonnaroo. That was a great moment."

Photo by Jason Merritt via Getty Images

But not everyone laughed right away. "A lot of people were very confused because usually you see somebody breakdancing or moshing and so people were looking in the pit and they didn't see anybody dancing," Jack explained. But as soon as non-believers laid eyes upon the unicorn, they were converted. "I see them look down and start cracking up because this plastic unicorn that somebody put in the middle of the pit is just killing it."

After "a good five minutes of solid dancing" around the unicorn, Jack says that the momentum died down a bit, but "somebody picked up the dollar bills and tried to give it to whoever's unicorn it was." Although the Bonnaroo unicorn ritual was short-lived, its people-gathering effect lives on. Jack says that since he's shared the videos, he's received hundreds of friend requests along with messages from other attendees thanking him for capturing the moment on film. He added that "after the incident happened a bunch of people including myself signed the unicorn with a sharpie, so that unicorn is out there somewhere with names all over it!"

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When I ask him to try and name what made the moment so magical, Jack said, "Some people don't get it I guess but it's like there's really nothing to get. It's a plastic unicorn so it's just random and fun. I think most people can relate to that in some way." But he more succinctly described the phenomenon when I asked what he wished to say to the other unicorn worshippers or maybe even the unicorn's owner.

"I'd just thank them for being a part of that because that was one of the sweetest things that's ever happened to me," he said.