Benny Benassi, Laidback Luke, Japanese Popstars Rock Governors Island at Dance Here Now Festival

Credit: Cheyenne Bosco

By Adam Stewart

It was one epic a weekend for the New York City dance scene, as Governors Island played host to tens of thousands of fans and over 75 DJ’s on three stages at the first ever Dance Here Now Festival. With a six-hour set by the legendary Paul van Dyk kicking off the festivities Friday and Fatboy Slim headlining on Saturday, the stage was set for the most anticipated acts of the weekend, Laidback Luke and Benny Benassi, who co-headlined Day 3.

Sunday started off soggy and damp on the Island when MTV News arrived on the scene, but before long, things were already heating up in the courtyard tents with a bumping electro house set by Slick Nick, down tempo “Moombahton” set by Sazon Booya, the moniker of Mr. Vega and DJ Sav (aka Stephen Vasquez, director of the Electro Wars documentary). Back on the main stage, the masses were further primed by the up and coming Japanese Popstars, who took to the main stage and hit hard with a Benny Bennasi remix of their hit single “Saving Lisa,” kicking the party into high gear.

When Dutchman Laidback Luke took the helm around sunset, the thousands in attendance exploded as he wowed the crowd with Steve Angello’s “Be,” Duck Sauce’s “Barbara Streisand” and Swedish House Mafia’s “Miami 2 Ibiza.” Mixing it up even further in the second hour of the set, Luke changed gears for a old-school hip hop intermezzo , belting out a remix of Fat Joe’s “Lean Back” and House Of Pain’s “Jump Around,” before switching gears back to house with he and Lil’ John’s massive collaboration “Turbulence” and the Mahesa Utarra remix of Angger Dimas’ “Are You Ready.” Needless to say, Dutch Dance ambassador rocked the Governors Island beach and perfectly set the stage for the evenings closer, Benny Benassi.

Benny took the baton and kept the energy level high, kicking his signature sound into the mix and pushing the limits of the massive sound system in Pacha’s custom-built arena. Pumping out a remix of Chris Brown’s “Beautiful People,” as well as David Guetta’s “Little Bad Girl,” fans old and new were all thumping to the beat. Mixing Third Party’s “Duel” and the Skrillex remix of his own hit single “Cinema” into his set, the house heads where on their toes as he worked though his 2003 breakthrough smash “Satisfaction” and even a festive mix of the 1980’s Nintendo theme song to “Tetris.” Just as in Luke’s set, nothing was off limits in Benny’s world.

Dance Here Now made its mark on the holiday weekend, which continued Monday with closing sets by NYC legend Victor Calderone, set against a backdrop of the lower Manhattan skyline and Macy’s 35th annual Fireworks Spectacular – a picture-perfect ending to one of the most memorable music weekends in New York dance music history.

Dance music returns to Governors Island on July 16 and 17 for Pacha’s Black & White Festival, headlined by Boris, Oscar G and Avicii, and then again on August 20 when Steve Angello’s “Size Matters” Tour takes to the shores joined by Thomas Gold and Junior Sanchez.


Did you make it to Governors Island and the Dance Here Now Festival over the weekend? Let us know in the comments below!