Legendary trance DJ and producer Armin van Buuren opened his headlining set at New York’s Electric Zoo music festival on Sept. 3 with “Let's Rave, Make Love,” a clear nod to his ongoing advocacy in support of Ukraine amid the Russian invasion. 

The song, in typical rave fashion, is crystal-clear in its call for unity and solidarity, and the festival’s newly designed stage screens blared the message: Stop War.

Van Buuren was one of the first artists to speak out against the Russian invasion and has since hosted fundraisers to support relief efforts in Ukraine. 

With tens of thousands of people assembled for a missive from the revered “A State of Trance” radio host, he pivoted to hits from throughout his career, and had the crowd dancing, moving, jumping, and raving under raucous lights and fireworks. 

He ended his set with a triple encore of the chorus from “Blah Blah Blah,” with fans deliriously willing to shout the lyrics toward the New York skyline. 

The three-day electronic dance music festival, Sept. 2 to Sept. 4, had pilgrims traversing New York’s subway system and trekking across bridges to Randall’s Island. Descending the walkways, the pulse of deep bass could be felt, and upon entering the festival, it was hard to pick between competing sets on the stacked lineup. But the relatively small festival grounds, combined with improved sound-bleed measures, allowed attendees to jump between sets pretty quickly and not feel overwhelmed by the various speakers. 

Headliners Porter Robinson and Carl Cox threw down some of the fiercest mixes of the weekend, sending people home depleted but full of appreciation. Other standout acts throughout the days included John Summit, Dimension, Chris Lake, DJ Snake, Vnssa, Malaa, and Inzo. 

The crew at Clean Vibes helped to ensure that litter was minimized and cans and bottles were properly recycled. The expanded water refill stations allowed people to fill up their Camelbaks or reusable water bottles. As plastic pollution continues to harm ecosystems worldwide, it’s important to phase out single-use bottles and packaging when possible. 

Festivals are inherently resource-intensive events, but organizers can take steps to reduce the environmental impact and impart lessons of sustainability to guests. 

Global Citizen Festival, for example, pursues net zero impact by reducing and offsetting emissions, improving composting and recycling, and enlisting sustainability volunteers to promote and educate about zero waste. (Stay tuned to learn more about our sustainability efforts at this year's Global Citizen Festival: NYC.)

Society-wide sustainability involves people everywhere taking action to live within the ecological bounds of the planet and working toward structural changes to conserve and restore environments. Festivals like EZoo that focus on electronic music, with its emphasis on unity and peace, have the potential to catalyze these types of shifts within their respective communities. 

Whether it’s Armin van Buuren or Porter Robinson, an unmistakable feeling of togetherness coursed through the crowd over the weekend as strangers smiled and laughed, sang in unison, and hugged one another. Now the trick, as always, is holding onto that dancefloor energy and translating it into day-to-day life. 

Global Citizen Festival is calling on world leaders, corporations, and philanthropists to do more than they’ve ever done before to End Extreme Poverty NOW. Through our global campaign and with stages in two iconic locations — NYC’s Central Park and Accra’s Black Star Square — we will unite leaders, artists, activists, and Global Citizens around the world on Sept. 24 to achieve an ambitious policy agenda focused on empowering girls and women, taking climate action, breaking systemic barriers, and lifting up activists and advocates. Wherever you are in the world, you can join the campaign and take action right now by downloading the Global Citizen app.

Global Citizen Life

Defend the Planet

Ukraine, Sustainability & More Take Center Stage at NYC's Electric Zoo

By Joe McCarthy