Thought Catalog

Reflections On Going to Dayglow, The Largest Paint Party In America

  • 0

Dayglow is, in its most base and fundamental terms, the most glorious and horrifying display of Bacchanalia that our generation has seen thus far. Dayglow is billed as “The World’s Largest Paint Party,” and is basically a large concert where DJs play popular electronic and dance music to a crowd of college students while simultaneously dousing them in neon, DayGlo colored paint. I went to Dayglow at the University of Illinois in Champaign with a friend I was visiting. The tickets for the concert ran between $30 and $60.

When my friend and I arrived at the venue, there was a line wrapping around the block — 400 to 500 college students dressed in white t-shirts and tank tops, white shoes, white hats, and gym shorts. Everybody seemed like they were having the greatest experience of their lives. It was rainy and cold, but I still saw at least 25 people who would be considered functionally naked by most normative social standards. Lots of sideboob.

The atmosphere of the show seemed like it was drenched in semen. In line, large pockets of muscular men led wild, massive chants of “DAY! GLOW! DAY! GLOW!” and everyone yelled and smacked each other’s hands and asses. This group contrasted the slack-jawed and glassy eyed genus of bro sloppily leaning on a frat brother or petite girlfriend. Nothing could stop them. With fists in air and MDMA soaking on their gums, these bros seemed to treat standing in line to enter Dayglow as some sort of divine religious ritual. There was a feeling of pure fantasy mixed with an overdose of masculine ecstasy, like a pre-battle rallying cry or a professional wrestling match.

Once I got to the gate, the man who frisked me down asked me to give him my freshly opened pack of cigarettes. I gave them to him and watched him put them in his pocket. “You can’t have cigarettes in the building. Sorry dude.”

The concert was being held in what I am assuming was a converted indoor ice skating rink. It was a decently large place. The stage emitted a constant, omnipresent blue glow produced by blacklights. Every white or neon surface in the building was glowing. It seemed paranormal. It was all oddly disorienting.

At the show, it took about 15 to 20 minutes for my spirits to be absolutely destroyed. The DJs — two of them, both overweight and wearing matching grey polos — were both visible from the crowd. They reminded me of the DJs I’ve seen at Bah Mitzvahs and most middle school dances. They played popular electronic/ dance songs of the past three to five years. They played house music. They played dubstep. At one point during the concert, the DJs played “The Circle of Life” from Disney’s The Lion King and “The Imperial March” from the Star Wars saga both in their entirety and in their original, unedited forms.

There were bros standing next to me aggressively fist pumping, jumping with great force into one another, literally punching each other in the face with swift swings of their arms. They had big muscles and all of them looked like exactly the same person. Every person had a white t-shirt on. It made me feel like I was at some sort of sadistic wedding reception or some failed attempt at mass scale performance art. The people I interacted with seemed awash in pure sensory overload. Their eyeballs would slink around in their head as they talked to me and then they would wiggle away, fidgeting along to the music that was so loud that it was probably harmful to pregnant mothers.

Then a countdown ensued. Everyone got psyched, started jumping, screaming. The music got louder. And then with a burst, the whole event culminated in cathartic ejaculation. Neon paint globs began dripping from the ceiling. It got in everyone’s hair, faces, eyes and mouths. Pinks and greens and yellows. People went wild — they loved it. They walked around the rest of the night in the same paint stained clothes, proudly proclaiming their youth and vigor and appetite for risk-taking by standing tall in their soaking wet, neon colored messes.

The attitude of the entire event was summed up quite vividly by the large sweaty bro in a hockey jersey that I was standing next to when he handed his friend a bottle of water and said, “Its really simple, man: Roll your face off. F-ck some sluts. Stay hydrated.”

We left after maybe an hour. I was miserable at least 95% of the time and the whole event seemed very over-done, very forced. Some people believe this to be a good time and I am honestly perplexed by that. It takes a special kind of commitment to go to something like this and people seem to take it very seriously. And I guess that is why people enjoy going. Maybe this is the only true expression of passion that these bros get; the only kind of event in their lives that has any monumentality, any real importance. Is that sad? Well yeah, but at least its something. TC mark

image – Dayglow Facebook
Powered by Revcontent

More From Thought Catalog

Reflections On Going to Dayglow, The Largest Paint Party In America is cataloged in , , , , , , , ,
  • Alix Harvey

    These things still exist?

    • jess


  • a girl

    you obviously didn’t take enough / any drugs, duh

  • Frida

    Guess I’ll be seeing some of these ‘bros’ next year, since I’m going to the U of I…

    Not gonna lie though, I would have probably had some fun, if I was with a friend, as long as I didn’t get hit or knocked down by some guy in the crowd ,in all of his excitement.

  • Erin

    I don’t know, Dayglow is honestly an awesome time. I guess it’s not everyone’s scene, but hey, if it’s not why’d you but a ticket?

  • Omegaman

    It seems that you showed up to a dance/rave party, and were disappointed that there were people dancing/raving.

    Watching the Dayglow videos on youtube would have prepared you for what Dayglow is like. And you would have saved a few bucks. 

    See you guys at Dayglow Philadelphia.

  • Tanya Salyers

    I went in Columbus, OH and it was a blast…but it took a while.  No one told me to get there three hours late. 

  • Vondy

    i just went to one in dayton last week, i had a great time.
    like omegaman said, you went to a rave expecting an actual music concert
    and didnt bring drugs, smh

    • Jenna



  • mike

    While I’m not necessarily “rolling my balls off”, I agree with previous comments. What were you expecting? Dayglow is not meant to be some musically talented performance. It’s a massive party, with paint, generally for college students. I would have hoped you were at least drunk? If not I can see why 95% of your time was miserable. For the record, I’ve never been to DayGlow, just speculating.

  • Guest

    *bar/bat mitzvah. Sorry, had to.

  • Rachel

    Well, what did you expect? it’s a giant room full of college kids and paint…in ILLINOIS. C’mon. Not the epicenter of fun, there. And from the sounds of it, you stood around scowling and getting elbowed in the jaw. So maybe you just should have left and read a book or something instead of sticking it out to write a whiny, kind of blase article about how very primitive it all was.

  • ColonoscopySuperUnicorn

    This was HYSTERICAL. Bravo. Sounds absolutely unbearable. Please write more. Reminds me of David Foster Wallace, ” A supposedly fun thing I’ll never Do Again”.

  • la

    i feel your pain i went to dada life at umass last week and felt this same way

  • Terry Conard

    You know, this article would have been a whole lot more enticing if you didn’t have foreskin and a horse’s asshole.

  • Possum12

    I have to agree with the author. I went to dayglow at lehigh and it wasnt a rave, it ws a bunch of teenagers angrily pushing each other or using other people to help them stand. Fights were breaking out left and right and the general crowd seemed to just be uncomfortable and frustrated. I personally was angry that it took about 2 hours into the concert before they started shooting out paint and that they dont shoot much off the stage. It was cool that they started handing out free paint bottles in the back towards the end so that everyone could experience it. Overall not too bad, but not as wild/exhilarating as you would think.

blog comments powered by Disqus