I step onto the upper deck and look down at the main pool and dancefloor, where a lumbering tyrannosaurus is being double-teamed by two drunk Australians. The shirtless pair are swilling from litre bottles of Grey Goose and Johnny Walker, thrusting away at the poor costumed creature as it tries to cheerfully dance along.
It’s a remarkable sight, trumped only by the T-Rex’s final outing during the much-anticipated midnight set from MaRLo. There, the dinosaur finds itself in a shoving match with an adversary in a Great White Shark costume while a midget dressed as Iron Man sneaks up from behind, mounts its tail, and starts thrusting; as T-Rex spins around, the unseen mounted man spins too, cackling wildly as he is carried humping away into the crowd…
It wasn’t all weirdness and debauchery aboard the three-day EDM cruise It’s The Ship 2016 – but by God, it sure had that in spades, and what a wonderful ride it was. Departing from Singapore, it was a throng of uninhibited strangers dancing and drinking long beyond dawn as we sailed the Malacca Strait, diving from hot tub to casino to gala dinner to a private street festival on the island of Penang; it would be impossible to experience such an extended bacchanal again anytime soon. The music, the people, the Hoff.
It’s difficult to find a coherent point to start describing the strobe-lit gamut that seemed to only sleep between the hours of 10am and early afternoon. My notes are filled with snatches of overheard comments scrawled between tequila shots and dancing.
“Jake, don’t you remember, you met this guy last night!”
“…Oh yeah! You were the dude with the bucket on his head!”
I spent my days and nights wandering the 14 decks trying to find the beating heart of this great ocean-faring beast, and gave up after I realised there was simply far too much to see and do. The only way you could have a bad time here was if you went so far out of your way to avoid festivities you never left home in the first place.
Even a storm that swept in late on the second night couldn’t stop the party; through fancy 11th-hour footwork, the main stage was transported below decks to the hastily converted ice-skating rink, while those enjoying the Hot Tub Time Machine stage likely never noticed the rain to begin with.
Livescape, the folks behind these shenanigans, really can claim to run a tight ship. Their crowning achievement was our stopover in Penang. There, an entire street was closed off and transported into a sprawling version of It’s The Ship – the cruise DJs took over the line of clubs (including guest appearances from our very own captain, David Hasselhoff) while the street itself became a dance floor of shipmates, stilt-walkers, mobile dentist chairs (where you could sit back and relax while a friendly assistant poured straight vodka down your throat), and ‘butterfly ladies’ vying for patronage.
After spending some time there in a club called Mois, I wandered through the throng until finally reaching the men’s room at the back. Stepping in, I found a fellow Aussie at the urinal in serious debate with the guy beside him.
“Dude, don’t touch my dick. You do it again, and I’ll cowpunch you. I’m laughing, but I’m not. Do you know what that is? I’ll cowpunch you. And you, dude, will die. Trust me. I’m from Penrith.”
To give the dick-whapping patron his due, not only did he probably not know Penrith, but casual nudity wasn’t exactly scarce on board. Sure, as those two dino-riders discovered after standing on columns by the pool and stripping down to their birthday suits, if you crossed a certain line security was going to rock up and lock you in your stateroom (though those guys also earned my reluctant respect for getting so loose that all of this unfolded before we’d even left port at Singapore). But I’ve also never seen so many string bikinis in my life, and some of the action in and around those hot tubs left little to the imagination.
Of course, it was decadent, but from what I could see it also seemed fairly safe. A friend who found herself on the other side of tipsy was intercepted by security as she tried to reach her boyfriend, so conscious were they of preventing something untoward. I never saw any fist fights or major injury (though Melbourne artist Lucille Croft did manage to fracture her foot and found herself being interviewed on crutches).
The real revelation came from asking all and sundry what had brought them to It’s the Ship in the first place. The vast majority were here to enjoy the music, but first and foremost they were hoping for something crazy. They wanted to step from their elevators and find themselves swept away in a stampede of Playboy girls, or wedged between the Hoff and Far East Movement while waiters poured never-ending flutes of Moet; or stand in one of the hot tubs dancing to Raiden while strangers spouted Bollinger from the above decks for them to try and catch like thirsty baby birds. They wanted to see Dada Life lead us into the largest pillow fight at sea as guys dressed as nuns danced with girls in luminous dresses, all aglow like Christmastime, like neon sirens who’d clambered up from the sea. It’s pure and perplexing experience that we’re all hoping for, when it comes down to it. In that regard, I still have my sea legs.
It’s The Ship 2016 was reviewed aboard the Mariner Of The Seas, Friday November 4 – Monday November 7.