Sometimes being a college student can mean feeling lost in a crowd. You feel like everyone knows where they are going and who they are going with – except you. From a wide lens this can mean choosing your major or even your career. But when you zoom in, it’s easy to see that finding your way is simply finding the people and places that matter the most to you. Imagine having the ability to literally zoom in on your life – on the places and people around you – and find your destination, even for just one night. Imagine having the world and all of its excitement in your palm. With a few taps and swipes, you can find yourself in the middle of a venue that you never knew existed, listening to music you never thought you’d love, surrounded by people you would have never otherwise encountered.

This first happened to me when I attended an event called Peace Fest a few summers ago. I headed downtown with my friend Maria, anxious to appear at an event where we only knew a handful of people. Upon entering the venue, we were greeting with warmth and immediately felt more comfortable and less alone. Every interaction I had was easy and I could tell that I was in a place that I was welcomed and appreciated. The title “Peace Fest” reigned true to name as I wandered between the two stages to the booths offering free face painting, snacks, drinks, and various crafts. The outdoor stage was reserved for acoustic sets and everyone sat calmly. Friends leaned into each other’s laps – sharing drinks and whispers. As the sun set, tiki torches were lit and strings of white lights were plugged in, creating a dimly lit sanctuary of music and smiles. The indoor stage exhibited the more upbeat bands where the crowd was far less stagnant. People danced and spun as colorful lights bounced off of the back wall – visually mimicking the beat of the music. The far end of the warehouse also came equipped with a half-pipe where novice skaters stumbled between advanced ones as they both tried their turns at dropping in. I heard shouts of advice from the more experienced to the newbies, and I watched as my now close friend Krystal went from falling nearly every try to dropping in like a pro. Maria and I split paths as we both became engulfed in conversation with new friends. At this point, I found myself talking and laughing with a girl named Danielle who, at the time, was a friend of a friend. She helped coordinate the event, so I asked her about the bands. As we talked about music, I realized how much we had in common and how easy it was talking with her. After that night Danielle and I continued to attend and even plan our own events together. Today, Danielle and I are best friends and roommates.

I don’t quite remember how I found out about Peace Fest, but it was in the middle of nowhere yet somehow still in the city. I knew I wanted to know more about the people who created this event and gain access to others like it. I didn’t just go to a party or a concert that night – it was different. I stepped into a subculture and became a part of it. Spots wants to create a platform for events like Peace Fest for students to experience these bubbles of culture. I stumbled upon Peace Fest by accident, but I can’t even imagine what other events I’ve missed because I just didn’t get the memo.