RACHEL — If you’ve ever wanted to be interviewed — repeatedly — by an international phalanx of media, this is the place to be.
Following a relatively calm day of prep and setup on Thursday — when reporters and some seriously obnoxious bloggers seemed to equal the number of attendees — the attention seekers turned up en masse on Friday looking to party at Alienstock.
Pick an age, shape or size and someone representing that demographic was dressed like an alien. Or a “Star Wars” character. Or something from anime. Or, for some reason, was sporting an American flag onesie.
A camera crew was never far from any of them.
Given the surge in attendance, it’s almost impossible to say how many people are here. It never looks like more than a couple of dozen in photos, but an estimated 3,000 to 5,000 festivalgoers are spread out over more than 40 acres, including RV parking, a campground and car park.
Then there are the hundreds who chose to not throw any money at Little A’Le’Inn co-owner Connie West and parked on BLM land across state Route 375 for free.
— Christopher Lawrence
Curiosity brought DJ Paul Oakenfold to Area 51 Basecamp
HIKO — Grammy-nominated DJ Paul Oakenfold’s tour bus rolled into the Area 51 Basecamp festival grounds shortly before 6 p.m. Friday.
He said organizers asked him to perform for an hour after sunset and that he was told the festival had sold “a few thousand” tickets.
“There’s a lot of people out at the gates just up the road,” he told the Las Vegas Review-Journal.
The festival in Hiko was sparsely attended all day.
.@pauloakenfold shares his first thoughts about the #StormingArea51 Basecamp festival in Hiko, he was told he would be performing in front of thousands of people. @reviewjournal #area51 #Area51storm pic.twitter.com/skMRfHheN6
— Erik Verduzco (@Erik_Verduzco) September 21, 2019
Oakenfold, who is about to embark on a European tour, said he made a six-hour trek for Friday’s performance.
Oakenfold said curiosity is what attracted him to the Area 51 Basecamp festival.
“I do think there’s something out there,” he said. “I really do.”
Oakenfold said he already has a catalog of unique venues under his belt, including the Great Wall of China, Stonehenge and base camp at Mount Everest.
“So, for me, it was an opportunity to do something that was challenging, different, unique, and as I said, I’m curious about what (Area 51) really is all about,” he said.
Posted: 7:51 p.m.
— Blake Apgar
At Storm Area 51, some are born to Naruto run
RACHEL — In the Facebook post that started this whole Storm Area 51 phenomenon, Matty Roberts suggested that, “If we (N)aruto run, we can move faster than their bullets.”
With so many Alienstock attendees practicing their versions — that awkward, arms-locked-behind-you-parallel-to-the-ground style of sprinting popularized by young ninja Naruto Uzumaki in the anime series “Naruto” — Eric Vaughan decided to stage his own Naruto races.
“I don’t know if there’s a technique or if it’s a natural ability,” he said outside the booth he was working for Raid Team Bravo, an apparel company from Vancouver, Washington. “Some people are born Naruto, and others aren’t.”
Jacob Taylor Rhodes must have been born Naruto. The 19-year-old college student from Culver City, California, took first place in the day’s second race.
— Mick Akers (@mickakers) September 21, 2019
“So, honestly? I’ve never Naruto ran before,” he admitted after crossing the finish line. “So apparently, I’m a natural.”
The day’s first race attracted 10 or 12 runners, Vaughan said.
Taylor Rhodes beat out more than 20 participants, many of them costumed.
Vaughan is planning to stage more races throughout the weekend — each for a small prize — but he isn’t sure how frequently.
“I don’t know. We don’t wanna saturate the Naruto running market too much.”
Posted: 5:20 p.m.
— Christopher Lawrence
Storming Area 51 gate popular activity throughout Friday
RACHEL — Aside from the large group of alien enthusiasts who gathered at the back security gate of Area 51 early Friday morning, making the trek to one of two gates has been a popular activity for those taking part in the Storm Area 51 events.
You can see the dirt flying in the air as motorists make their way up the dusty, winding road leading up to the back gate throughout the day Friday.
One stormer, Seth Carlson from Utah, said he had to make a stop at the gate during his visit, even if his car didn’t feel the same way.
“I didn’t think my car would make it, so I thought I might not make it up,” Carlson said. “Then just a bunch of people showed up and were like, ‘Hey you want to storm?’ I hopped in and we got a group together and we did a few ‘Naruto runs’ to the gate.”
Naruto runs refers to an awkward way of running depicted in the Japanese anime Naruto, where main character Naruto Uzumaki flings his arms behind him.
While he was at the gate, Carlson tested fate and dipped his foot under the crossbar at the gate’s perimeter.
“I stepped this foot into the gate,” he said. “I got yelled at, don’t do that, unless you want to get tackled or something… Sorry I did it, fine me later.”
Aside from visiting the gate, Carlson wants to meet some like-minded people and enjoy the area.
He is into the giving nature of festivalgoers and brought water and alien-themed T-shirts to pass out to attendees.
“Everyone is so nice (here),” he said. “Don’t believe the stuff you see on the internet, everyone is chill.”
Posted: 4:30 p.m.
— Mick Akers
Pair attending Alienstock bring comforts of home with them
RACHEL — Just because you’re coming to Alienstock doesn’t mean you have to leave the comforts of your own home behind.
Las Vegas resident via Los Angeles Cassie Cazessus and her roommate said they didn’t have any camping gear, so they improvised and brought what they could from home to enjoy themselves and relax.
“Sorry, it’s such a mess, I should’ve brought a vacuum,” Cazessus said of her makeshift living room set up behind their vehicle, in the middle of dirt and sagebrush. “I brought part of my living room, my coffee table, two chairs and the area rug we bought just before we came out here.”
After watching the Storm Area 51 movement snowball from a Facebook joke to something that spawned multiple events, including Alienstock running until Sunday, Cazessus said it wasn’t until the last minute that she decided to make the roughly 150-mile trip to Rachel.
“Since the start, since it was an event on Facebook,” she said. “But we didn’t decide to come out her until last night at midnight. We were really bored and wanted something to do and people watching is the best thing.”
Posted: 12:45 p.m.
— Mick Akers
Area 51 pair handing out free tinfoil hats at Alienstock
Reno residents Chris Reid and Justin Wainscott wouldn’t be in it.
The two men were set up along a path back to the Alienstock stage, offering free tinfoil hats for all comers.
The duo made some hats themselves to give away and had plenty of tinfoil on hand for attendees to design their own.
They admit there wasn’t a lot of planning involved. They hatched their plan about 10 p.m. Thursday night, a couple of hours before they left Reno.
“Just have a good time,” Reid said for his reason for wanting to be here. “Everyone we’ve met so far seems pretty chill. … Anyone that’s willing to show up is usually trying to have a good time.”
Posted: 11:03 a.m.
— Christopher Lawrence