As well documented by many videos, photos and first-hand accounts, Holy Ship is a once-in-a-lifetime experience. Music festivals themselves are fun, but a music festival on a cruise crosses into absurdly amazing territory.
A few weeks ahead of Holy Ship 10 and 11, we’ve asked five Shipfam veterans, including DJ and Holy Ship 10 performer Subset, for their 10 favorite memories from the previous editions of the festival. Each Shipfam veteran gave us two memories, ranging from building an island of fluzzles to an insane b2b during the beach party in 2013.
Check out Shipfam’s 10 favorite moments from Holy Ship below:
Mark Martinez (Subset) – Seattle, WA
First memory: The final day of Holy Ship 2014 will forever be imprinted in my mind. While the first two years of Holy Ship were unbelievable, 2014 took it to an entirely different level, and that last day was the icing on the cake. A few good friends and I arrived at the private island early that day, and took a long walk around the island, far away from the party. We talked about life, our dreams and our experiences. We missed a good chunk of the party, but didn’t mind one bit. As we got back, Skrillex was throwing down one of the most amazing sets I had ever heard, then Pharrell flew in on a helicopter out of nowhere to drop a quick track to close out the party.
We made our way back to the boat for the world debut of Pharrell’s new collab with Major Lazer, “Aerosol Can,” followed by hot tub lounging on the top deck for a Shlohmo DJ set followed by Flume and Disclosure. We then spent the rest of our night literally running in circles in the Black & White for Gramatik, GRiZ, TJR, Alvin Risk, Zeds Dead and Crookers, then closed the night out with Skream in the Galaxy Disco.
Reading all that back right now, it still seems fake. It was one of the most surreal, invigorating and incredible days of my entire life and has been a catalyst for so much of my work in the music industry since.
Second memory: Last year, a video made the rounds showing two guys in Holy Ship hats pressing “the button” onstage during Above & Beyond‘s at EDC Las Vegas. Normally, this wouldn’t be too noteworthy, but for the fact that it wasn’t actually them pressing the button…it was their grandparents.
Fast forward a few months, and I saw a post from those brothers in one of the Holy Ship Facebook groups. They were bringing their grandparents on Ship! I knew immediately that we needed to do something special for them, but it took some time to figure out what. I commented on the status, messaged Anthony (one of the brothers), and we chatted a bit. I was going to be in San Francisco for a show a few weeks later, so I invited him to come meet all the Bay Area Shipfam and myself so we could brainstorm.
Somewhere along the way, we came up with the perfect idea. Anthony and Christopher went to their grandparents house when they were on vacation, grabbed a bunch of their old family photos and scanned a bunch for me to see. I picked out 10 photos spanning their life. They included their first date, their wedding, their first home, first kid, 50th wedding anniversary and so on. Anthony mailed me the original photos so I could scan them in hi resolution. Next, I sent them to a friend and fellow Shipfam (Leslie Hanson) to edit, color correct and colorize (for the black & white photos). From there, I sent them to another Shipfam (Craig Jones) to print life-size versions of each photo.
With these photos, Blake Premer, Andrew Urman and Marion Siobhan helped source costumes to recreate all the outfits in each photo. After several false starts and missed meetups, we finally put together the final project on the last day of Holy Ship 9.0.
We had a large group of friends helping out, but we still had to grab a bunch of random Shipfam to be involved with the project. We had a bunch of people dressed up in outfits, standing in front of life-size banners of key moments in their lives. We then walked Anthony and Christopher’s grandparents down “memory lane,” welcoming them into our family with a retrospective look at the creation of their own.
I will never in my life forget the moment when they turned the corner and first saw all those Shipfam dressed up in outfits recreating their lives. It was easily one of the most beautiful experiences I’ve ever had, and truly shows the ability Shipfam have to work together and create unforgettable moments.
Felicity Callow – Denver, CO
The first memory I wish to share is one of friendship and reunion. It was the third ship, we were on the first island of the first-ever back to back private island ship. We had come together and bought a collective of over 200 fluzzle tubes as a group to build ourselves “Fluzzle Island.” I was floating with the squad on our waffle (a 9-person square “waffle” looking float) towards fluzzle island when I heard my name in the distance. I looked up to see one of my Facebook friends Kazz standing up out of her fluzzle and running OVER the other fluzzles at me. I swear it was slow motion. We had yet to find each other in real life, but had been steady Facebook friends for well over a year. It was like finding a long lost sister. That was one of my favorite hugs I’ve ever gotten on a shippy venture, and Kazz is still one of my favorite shippers I’ve ever met.
The second memory I wish to share is one that is a permanent staple throughout my ship ventures. My favorite place to be on Holy Ship is on a balcony, listening to the music on the deck above and watching the lasers shoot off the pool deck and into the distance. Add a hammock swinging in the sea breeze…Yeah, that’s home for me. Holy Ship is home. Being out at sea, surrounded by nothingness and a couple thousand adults who, for just a few days, don’t have any fucks to give; where ever there is shipfam, I am home. I do always wonder what those other ships off in the distance must think about us and our lasers, though.
Jerome Tuesday – Ontario, Canada
Fatboy Slim‘s surprise DJ set in the Divina’s Atrium during the February Ship in 2015 was something out of the ordinary; much like everything on ship. Me and a group of friends spent the day doing activities. We specifically wanted to hit up Random Acts of Smileyness with Fatboy Slim and Destructo as we played fun mini games throughout the day. There was also a rumor that Fat Boy Slim was going to play a secret set and we all just had to follow him once the activities were done. Activities were crazy fun, and it was time to go follow Fat Boy Slim and everyone to where the party was next. Pretty positive no one was expecting this but he brought everyone to the atrium of the ship where it was all set up for him to throw down. Best thing about this was I was walking with him as we walked into the atrium and I managed to stand right beside Fat Boy Slim and the DJ decks so I got a really good view of the madness, being right in the center of it all.
Here we are in an unlikely place where Fatboy Slim is about to throw down in one of the most luxurious parts of the ship with the crystal stair case, the two glass elevators that look down on the atrium and the high rise ceiling that goes up like three floors with places for everyone to look down on everything. As you would look up from my point of view, it was pretty amazing to see the place jam packed. You would look up and see everybody that was staring down from the floors and stairs above just raging out; it is actually impossible to explain what was happening. Fatboy Slim threw down for a good hour or so. When you look at the atrium on a normal day, everyone is just chilling out on the couches lounging around. This is where you would see concierge to go over your reservations and what not, but Fatboy Slim just threw one of the most epic ragers and it was hands down one of the most lit times I have ever seen on ship. I managed to take an amazing video of this event and it is still one of my favorite memories to show people when it comes to talking about Holy Ship.
My last top memory, which took place on the January Ship in 2015, is more of a personal one where we had a special dinner with all the homies to celebrate 4 years together and for getting our robes as a graduation present for being on ship four times. This was our fourth ship and I was lucky enough to have gone since the first year. Holy Ship planned a private party and awarded those with robes for those that have gone all four times. After the ceremony, it only felt right for us to go have dinner together at one of the restaurants rather than the cafeteria so we gathered up some friends and headed to the Villa Rossa dining room. It was the vibes at this table that really made a special moment for all of us, well, especially for me anyway.
We drank champagne, sipped on wine and had a full course meal. We all shared stories about one another like our favorite memories, our backgrounds, how we got to ship in the first place and why we stuck together. We laughed, and even some of us got emotional as we reflected on the last 4 years of being on Holy Ship together. It was that moment where I felt incredibly proud to be a part of something like Shipfam, and it was cool to have gone through this many journeys together with these amazing people. I came here on my own the first year not knowing a single soul and I have managed to find pretty much all my closest friends on Holy Ship. I was really glad I got to share that story as we enjoyed each others company that last day at dinner. We all took one big group photo at this dinner, and every now and then I will pull it up on my phone and just smile about that special day.
Jonathan Cats – Seattle, WA
First memory: Lane 8‘s 3-hour set at Golden Jazz during Holy Ship in January 2016. This is such a fond memory for me because this was the perfect set on the last night of Holy Ship and it was such an intimate setting with perfect tunes and so many of my close Holy Ship friends. Lane 8 was feeling the love and feeding off our vibes and just put out what is still today one of my favorite sets to listen to.
Second memory: the private island party during Holy Ship 2013 with the Destructo/Brodinski/Gesaffelstein/Justice b2b. I mean—first of all—just imagine that lineup on a private beach. WOW. Not to mention this was just the 2nd year so we were at a new island and Gesaffelstein played several tracks off his then-unreleased Aleph album. A-Trak and Boys Noize hopped on for a bit too, and it was just one of those perfect days that I will always remember.
Sean Lamb – Edmonton, Canada
I would have to say that one of my most cherished memories was the beach party in 2013 as a whole (2nd Voyage for Holy Ship!, but my first beach party). So many ridiculous things happened that day. The helicopter did multiple flyovers at insanely low altitudes while we posed for the coolest selfies we could think of. It was my first time seeing that many A-list DJs B2B2B2B, andd we were on a private island with about 1,500 of the coolest, nicest people I had ever met in the Bahamas. After the party was over, there was a mass of people waiting to leave the island, but all the bars were long closed. I wasn’t really having it, and after a tense but polite 55-minute discussion, I single handedly convinced the bar manager to reopen up the bar for all the people still stuck on the island waiting for tenders. Well, that party went from 0 to 100 real quick! We were some of the first people on that island that day, and dammit, we were gonna be the last off as well. We drank and sang songs together while waiting for the last tender off that island, and while we sailed away, we sang away into the sunset; it was a truly magical moment with strangers whom I am now closer with than some of my family. Many of those strangers turned into friends that first ship and many of those friendships have led to new business and countless other endeavors.
My second favorite memory would have to be GRiZ in the theater during 2016, it was a magical place with some really magical people. The music was life changing, and I am currently learning saxophone because of GRiZ’s countless performances on ship inspiring me to do more with my performances. There was a moment where Griz was deep in one of his solos, and there were inflatable aliens, balloons and countless streamers flying throughout the entire sky. Every single person in that room was jamming and having the time of their lives. You could truly feel the energy in the room that night! I am no longer close with anyone that came with me on that year’s trip, but the feelings of togetherness from that day will never leave me, along with the hundreds of other memories that all tied for a very close third place.
Cover photo credit: Rukes