Fest a dumpster Fyre
A bunch of gals from Boston thought they’d be rocking in the Bahamas this weekend at a beachside blowout they’d dished out $10,000 to attend — but they ended up being victims of the infamous Fyre Fest fiasco organized by New York rapper Ja Rule.
Instead of dancing to hip-hop headliner Tyga, electronic dance music trio Major Lazer and the pop rock group Blink-182, they were left fearing for their safety with little to eat, sketchy cellphone reception and flimsy tents to bunk in.
“We got there and it looked like a refugee site, not a luxury site,” said Shireena El Gallal, an MGH Institute of Health Professions alumna who went to the music festival with her sister and cousins.
One look at their dinner — a slice of sandwich bread and a pathetic piece of cheese — and they knew the getaway was a far cry from the luxury Exumas Island experience that recording artist Ja Rule had promised. Indeed, Fyre Festival had been marketed as the music experience of the year, with tickets selling for up to $12,000.
“When we got there, nothing was built,” said Lamaan El Gallal, Shireena’s younger sister and a student at Northeastern University set to graduate Thursday. “The tents were set up on gravel and were empty. But we still said we would make the most of it because we were on the beach.”
That positive attitude was quickly abandoned once they realized the full extent of their unfit accommodations.
The two-weekend extravaganza was postponed yesterday by organizers due to “circumstances out of our control,” they said in a statement just as Reddit and Instagram criticism was building.
Although the Boston gals were fortunate enough to make it back to the States — a frustrating journey that included getting stuck on the tarmac without food or water for hours until they were deplaned — there are about 2,000 people still stuck at Fyre Fest, Lamaan said. She urges people stateside to keep pushing to get their loved ones home safely.
So far, there have been no evacuation efforts.
“We’ve seen reports of problems at a local music festival,” said a State Department official. “The safety and security of U.S. citizens overseas is one of our highest priorities. We are monitoring the situation and stand ready to provide appropriate consular services to any U.S. citizens in need.”
“Security was the issue,” said Lamaan. “We were stuck on an island we didn’t know. Our phones didn’t work without roaming. Even then, there was no way to charge our phones. There were no lights, so at night we had to risk the dark to leave our tent.
“We had to keep one person in the tent at all times so no one stole our things. There were vehicles driving in and out of the site without being checked. ... They ran out of water. People were acting as guards, walking into tents, beating people up and stealing their things.”
She added that the clubhouse, where water was stored and people had their possessions in lockers, had been left unlocked and was ransacked.
“There were no locks on our tent,” Shireena said. “There was pee and vomit everywhere. … Everyone was asking, ‘Where is Ja Rule? Where is he hiding?’ I mean, what the (expletive) was he doing for 10 months? He announced this a year ago and what did he do, remember the night before that it was happening and throw together a concentration camp?”
Adding insult to injury, the El Gallal sisters said people are joking about the controversy. Unlike the elitist stereotypes of Fyre Fest guests floating around the Twitterverse, Shireena said, their all-female group saved up their money for a year to splurge on the experience, maybe spending $10,000 collectively for two tents that were open and pushed together. Not that the amount of money they spent should matter.
“They’re laughing about it,” Shireena said. “Even if it’s $200 instead of $10,000, it’s still not OK. No one should ever have to deal with that. Getting a refund wasn’t even my first thought. It was about getting safe. … It’s not about rich kids. It’s about humans.”