The organizers of Electric Forest set their sights this year on breaking the record for the world's largest group hug. This is a real thing, certified by Guinness: 10,554 folks in Ottawa, Ontario held each other in 2010, setting the standard.
Since Electric Forest draws more than 30,000 attendees — and everyone here is already hugging each other already — the organizers roped off a giant field at the Sherwood Court stage and employed a large staff to shepherd people through, not to mention videotape this potentially historic moment. To make it extra super official, two auditors from a Grand Rapids CPA firm called Baker Holtz oversaw things. (Fancy!)
Folks first started streaming in at 2:30 on Friday afternoon, and the cause seemed to have momentum. The line went on and on. Once inside, people sat down and were entertained by Lafa Taylor, a rapper and producer who has collaborated with Bassnectar. He brought his A-game. He played Phish, performed his own stuff and told jokes ("Hug life!" "I don't Hate U, 'G, I just want to H-U-G" ) with only a few misfires. ("No
An hour later, at 3:30, Taylor had another announcement: Attendance had reached 3,000. Great news, right? No, wait, this was terrible. They were less of one-third of the way there. "What?" said one of the videographers.
At this point, many of the more mathematically-inclined festival-goers in attendance began streaming out. Others who had grown tired of sitting in a shadeless field soon followed. Before long there were more going out than coming in. It quickly became obvious that no world record would be broken.
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But, in the spirit of the festival, Taylor did not harsh anyone's mellow by announcing this. He went ahead and told everyone to have the big hug anyway. And so, the large-but-not-historically-large-crowd stood in lines, interlocked arms, and hugged so tightly that they bent over. It was a pretty sweet little moment.
And then everyone was dismissed. Most were none the wiser that, when it comes to group hugs, Canadians totally kick our ass.