Diplo's Mad Decent Boat Party photos: Riding the Rave Wave
Diplo threw himself into his hosting duties with gusto, performing at least once a day—either by himself, with his hybrid EDM-dancehall group Major Lazer, or in a new partnership with the EDM superstar Skrillex called Jack U—and popping up unexpectedly at other DJs' sets to play hype man. His party-starting skills are a big reason he's so successful as a producer—the sirens and deliriously pitch-manipulated vocals and various addictively obnoxious electronic noises he litters his tracks with go straight to the brain's ''turn up'' centers. They also give him a preternatural ability to get women to get on stage with him and go crazy.
In the weird, self-contained alternate universe of the Boat Party, artists who are marginal in the real world were transformed into bona fide celebrities. A prime example is the outlandish Texan rapper Riff Raff. On the mainland he's best known as a primary influence on James Franco's character in Spring Breakers (and his subsequent feud with the actor over what Riff considered insufficient credit), but on the boat his ''Tip Toe Wing in My Jawwdinz'' was a full-blown smash, and he was regularly swarmed by fans.
Diplo's suite offered panoramic views of the pool deck that was converted into the largest of the four venues on board, plus plenty of space for entertaining. While he's been romantically attached to Katy Perry for most of the year, Diplo left the cruise early to fly home after his former girlfriend gave birth to their second child together. They named him Lazer Lee Louis Pentz.
Aside from a couple of relatively modest artist areas near the stages, there weren't any VIP sections on the cruise, and fans had no lack of opportunities to interact with the talent. Sometimes they got literally hands-on with them, like when Major Lazer's Jillionaire stage-dove into an eager crowd.
The Boat Party attracted attendees from all walks of life, but one thing they had in common was that they all seemed to be the person their friends rely on to push a party over the top. With a population made up of the cream of the party-animal crop, sometimes what was happening in the crowd was even more interesting than what was happening onstage. Two of the four nights had costume themes, but, really, most Boat Partiers didn't need any encouragement to dress up like, say, a merman.
Mad Decent's identity—doggedly juvenile and unfailingly unserious—can best be summed up with its obsession with pizza. Pizza was inescapable onboard, from design printed on room keys to the pizza-printed clothes that a lot of cruisers showed off.
With no cell service and prohibitively high prices for satellite Wi-Fi, most cruisers left their phones in their cabins, but GoPro cameras were everywhere, recording terabytes of live performances, people goofing off, and activities like this belly flop contest on the pool deck.
With so many intensely social people sharing a specific passion together jammed together in one place, it's not surprising that a real (albeit eccentric) sense of community quickly cohered around the Boat Party. On the third evening aboard, two cruisers from Charleston, S.C., were married on the sun deck by another Charleston resident they met through the cruise's Facebook page. The service was attended by Cashmere Cat, Bogore, and the guy with the ''TURN UP THE BASS'' sign (with an inflatable fish in place of ''BASS''), who had by then become something of a local celebrity.
The level of generalized debauchery onboard was such that seeing someone walking around half-naked carrying a sex doll with ''BAE'' marked on it seemed perfectly normal.
The Boat Party rewarded the Mad Decent faithful for their commitment with a steady stream of surprise treats, ranging from souvenir beach towels to an unannounced early evening set from Jack U when most people weren't even aware that Skrillex was on board.
The whole experience peaked on Saturday, when cruisers were shuttled to a tiny Caribbean island owned by Norwegian Cruise Line for a day rave on the beach. Despite having raged around the clock for three solid days at that point, Boat Partiers threw themselves into it with abandon during sets by Major Lazer, Flosstradamus, and Dillon Francis that for the most part avoided their usual preplanned set lists in favor of old-school improvisational DJ-ing.
One of the week's standout moments came during Major Lazer's set at the beach rave when Jillionaire sent the crowd running into the water on a count of three. The splashing stampede that he started radiated an almost palpable amount of pure, unadulterated joy—the memory of which is an even better souvenir than a novelty beach towel.