Dirty Disco 2016: A Field Guide to Saturday's Event at Rawhide in Chandler

Dirty dancers from last year's Dirty Disco.EXPAND
Dirty dancers from last year's Dirty Disco.
Benjamin Leatherman

As its name portends, Dirty Disco is what you’d call a messy experience. It’s sort of expected, given that the annual electronic dance music event takes place in the middle of Rawhide’s outdoor rodeo arena and features thousands stomping and strutting around in the dirt while DJs drop high-energy and bass-filled sounds.

Dirty Disco promoter Sam Groove says it’s one of the hallmarks of the event.

“I tell everyone that comes to Dirty Disco every year that they need to wear an old pair of shoes since they’re not going to be clean by the end of the night,” he says. “This isn’t a party where you’ll want to wear your $80 pair of Abercrombie jeans or anything like that.”

The messy nature of Dirty Disco hasn’t kept EDM fans away from the event, which boasted a crowd of thousands last year, as well as an enormous stage featuring jets of flame and a number of notable headliners like Camo and Krooked. And this year’s edition of Dirty Disco promises to be even bigger and will offer its biggest lineup to date, including such headliners as Getter, HeRobust, Dirty Audio, Freedom Fighters, and Wasted Penguinz.

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Not bad for an event that started out in 2010 as a renegade desert party outside of Florence.

Groove says he never could've predicted that Dirty Disco's growth when the event launched six years ago.

"Nope, I never thought it would get this big. When I started this thing, it was just supposed to be this fun party for me and my homies," he says. "It was never supposed to turn into this big branded event with headliners."

But grow it did, thanks to EDM's booming popularity over the last six years, the growth of Groove's production company Hades Entertainment, and assistance from other local promoters like Relentless Beats.

Despite Dirty Disco’s growth, Grove doesn’t consider it to be a full-blown EDM festival. In fact, he considers it to differ because of its unique setting.

“Our tagline is, 'We're not a music festival, we're a motherfucking rave,' and that's what we want for the vibe. Because when people think of festivals, they think of concerts or a chill atmosphere where you lay in the grass. When in reality, we're much dirtier and grungier than that,” he says. “A lot of people would consider it a festival, but I don't think it that way, simply because we've got just the one stage. We're doing something that's different. We don't want to fit in the same mold as every other major event in town.”

And then there’s the music selection at Dirty Disco, which Groove says is more in line with what you’d hear at an off-the-radar EDM event or rave.

"We try to book our program a lot more towards the underground side of dance music, as opposed to more of the mainstream house or trap music you'll find on the main stage at most music festivals. Every year we've had psytrance played at peak hours and drum 'n' bass usually played at later hours, and [at] most other festivals you don't hear as much of those genres.”

Drum ‘n’ bass and psytrance won’t be the only genres being blasted at this year’s Dirty Disco, as there will also be plenty of other sounds in the mix from its varied lineup of EDM artists and DJs scheduled to perform.

If you’re curious about what’s in store for this year’s event, check out the following guide we’ve put together for Dirty Disco 2016 that includes everything you’ll need to know.

The stage at last year's Dirty Disco.EXPAND
The stage at last year's Dirty Disco.
Benjamin Leatherman

When and Where: Dirty Disco 2016 takes place from 6 p.m. to 3 a.m. on Saturday, May 21, within the Rodeo Arena at Rawhide, 5700 West North Loop Road in Chandler.

Prices: General admission to the event is $60. If you’d like to party in style, the $80 VIP package offers such perks as express entry, a private bar and restroom, better seating, and a souvenir lanyard and badge.

Age Limits: Dirty Disco is open to anyone 18 and over.

Lineup: Dubstep fiends Getter and HeRobust headline this year’s event, which will also include sets by Bryan Kearney, Dirty Audio, Freedom Fighters, Metrik, Wasted Penguinz, and Sam Groove.

Getting There: Take Interstate 10 to Exit 162 and head west on Wild Horse Pass Boulevard. Watch for the signs that will direct you to Rawhide Western Town.

Parking: It will run you $10-$15 to park at the event, so be sure to have some cash on hand before you roll up.  

Food and Drink: You can purchase both at the event. Food vendors will have eats like hamburgers, hot dogs, and barbecue for sale, as well as an assortment of soft drinks. Outdoor bars will also offer adult beverages and mixed drinks to anyone who’s 21 and over.

Water: We recommend you drink as much as possible, especially if you plan to stay active throughout the evening. Vendors will have water for sale, of course, and a free refill station will set up at the event. Meanwhile, CamelBak packs and stainless steel water bottles will both be permitted.

What You Can Bring: Since Dirty Disco is essentially a rave, popular items like LED gloves, glow sticks, illuminated jewelry, hula hoops, inflatables, plush backpacks, and kandi items are not only permitted, but also encouraged. (Pacifiers, however, are forbidden.) Festival totems are also allowed, provided you keep ‘em under 10 feet in height and use lightweight materials like pool noodles. Other than that, essentials like your ID, small bags, sunglasses, and sealed ChapStick are all okay to bring into the event. Dust masks and bandanas are also encouraged due to all the dirt that will be in the air, particularly if you’re susceptible to breathing issues, and earplugs are always a good idea. 

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