Share every sharing options for: “Storm Area 51” weekend had actually neither raids no one aliens. Yet it wasn’t a bust.

Two human being playing music external of the small A’Le’Inn in Rachel, Nevada. Andrew Marino/ Media
regardless of what ns was promised by the meme that influenced the trip, ns did no “see lock aliens” in the middle of nowhere, Nevada.

“Storm Area 51” weekend to be the IRL outgrowth of a viral facebook joke the implored every interested next to “Storm Area 51, They can not Stop all of Us” — but all I found were the offline stays of an virtual phenomenon. One ever-dwindling variety of people who were committed sufficient to trek out into the Nevada desert, part 100 miles far from urbanity, spent Friday, Saturday, and also Sunday dithering around the near-empty communities of Rachel and also Hiko.

It was unclear if anyone was yes, really in charge. Little was planned. Zero aliens were in attendance. But, thankfully, no one tried come break into Area 51.

The center of the city of Rachel, whereby crowds would certainly gather ... Had there to be any. Andrew Marino/ Media In the city of Rachel, what came to be known together Alien-Stock to be designed as a festival because that anyone who was therefore transfixed through a joke around raiding Area 51, they to be willing to gather in the desert to celebrate it. However the occasion didn’t live approximately dreams set forth through its creator, 21-year-old Bakersfield, California, aboriginal Matty Roberts, who had actually initially plan to revolve his famous meme right into a movement.


The totally wild, true tale of a meme about aliens that almost inspired a real raid top top Area 51

In July, Roberts had produced a fake “Storm Area 51” event on Facebook, arbitrarily setup the day for September 20. After an ext than 2 million people RSVP’d (and the FBI proved up in ~ his home to investigate), the tried to leverage his 15 minutes of net fame. A gag around attacking a armed forces facility in find of every little thing the government can be hiding there rapidly snowballed right into plans because that a music-filled weekend that EDM DJs playing versus a background of extraterrestrial imagery. Roberts spent the rest of the summer encouraging civilization to head out to Rachel, the city closest come Area 51, for live performances and also a conference of the picture minds. He called the event Alienstock.

Then drama ensued: Roberts bailed on his original plan less than 2 weeks ahead of time over “security concerns” as result of the town’s lack of amenities. Yet the town of Rachel trudged forward with its own version of Alienstock — rechristened Alien-Stock, to protect against confusion and legal trouble — while Roberts converted his original vision into a an ext impersonal Thursday-night dance party in downtown ras Vegas. The jokes about finding aliens greatly manifested in overpriced alien T-shirts and some special-edition Bud Light, and tiny that speak to the meme’s original spirit.

At one point, the Lincoln county sheriff’s department estimated that as much as 30,000 world might take trip to Rachel and Area 51 transparent the weekend; in the end, a spokesperson told, about 6,000 people made the out. Tourists weren’t precisely met with open up arms by Rachel’s 54 residents, who mostly wanted to it is in left alone. However to plenty of who drove the end in RVs and also pitched tents, Alien-Stock to be a effective experiment, a perfect low-key way to send off the summer.

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Bud Light sponsored a separate Area 51 event in Vegas, i m sorry Matty Roberts organized on Thursday, September 19. Thematically appropriate beer can be ~ were because that sale. Andrew Marino/ Media Ultimately, Alien-Stock come to function as so numerous spaces top top the net do, what that people in a really narrow niche could convene and find community. Come them, the didn’t matter if Alien-Stock to be bereft of extraterrestrial life. Rachel, Nevada, would always be the place where a very details combo of extraterrestrial enthusiasts, anime fans, and meme lovers discovered each other.

Whether Alien-Stock was a success counts on who you ask

The town of Rachel is among the just stops ~ above a 160-mile stretch that highway that has actually zero gas train station or remainder stops. There are a few small homes and trailers, and also a solitary prominent business, yet for the most part, Rachel is a huge swath that dirt, with a check out of the Tikaboo Valley mountains in the distance. Alien-Stock hardly changed that scenery.

Entering Rachel at the begin of Area 51 weekend, it was clear the occasion would no be a huge dance party in the desert. Scattered across the open up expanse of fenced-in dust were human being of all periods (mostly men, largely white), numerous of whom had collection up their own outdoor activities to store themselves occupied.

Twenty-somethings threw hatchets at a haphazardly created wooden target. A group of friends played a video game that resembled oversized beer pong, instead of the cups v garbage cans and also the ping pong ball with a basketball. As for whether beer to be involved, i didn’t notification any. However the beer of an option for the weekend, both in ~ Roberts’s event in Vegas and also at Alien-Stock in Rachel, to be surely Bud Light’s limited-edition extraterrestrial beer, first announced in July when the meme to be at its height of popularity. That tasted precisely as ns remember that tasting in college.

Attendees’ outfits ranged from straightforward alien-themed T-shirts, to full alien getups rendered in head-to-toe environment-friendly spandex, to costumes from the anime series Naruto, which play a function in the initial Storm Area 51 meme. Various teams of civilization clustered with each other under sheathe of part rare shade external the little A’Le’Inn, Rachel’s aforementioned solitary business and the named host of Alien-Stock. The just trees in Rachel, it seemed, surrounding this tiny hotel, owned by a woman called Connie West.

small A’Le’Inn owner Connie West discovered herself surrounded by reporters (including me, in plaid top top the right) ~ above Alien-Stock’s 2nd full day. Andrew Marino/ Media No one thought about this really DIY weekend a success more than West, who came to be the de facto organizer that Alien-Stock after ~ Roberts changed his plans.

“I’m proud of me,” West said a tiny group that news outlets, including on the second day of the event. “I’ve never ever been to a festival in my life, and hell, ns pulled it off.”

West to be painted together both a victim and a rogue in the run-up come Alien-Stock. Originally pitched as a weekend-long series of live performances hosted by Roberts v West’s cooperation, Roberts at some point blamed West for his decision to protect against Rachel altogether and also host a Bud Light-sponsored party in vegas that bore the Alienstock name.

“We started realizing a lot an ext red flags, money mismanagement, things prefer that,” Roberts called the his very first in-person planning meeting through West. “And from there me and also my partners, we jointly decided to take it the Alienstock brand and also just combine it elsewhere, because there wasn’t enough preparations that had actually been make so much to in reality throw a party in the 11-day timeframe that we had.”

Roberts claimed he feared that Rachel would be overwhelmed by civilization who wanted to check out a meme pertained to life. Occupants did too, urging West and also Roberts to contact it off. The town’s website, run by a neighborhood named Joerg Arnu, to be updated frequently with blunt warnings around how Rachel wouldn’t have the ability to handle the crowds, how West had actually no framework in place, and how travellers would it is in disturbing the peace.

A note on the front page of Rachel, Nevada’s website, posted the an initial week the September. Rachel, Nevada website however West insisted the the event would continue when request by the connected Press one week before Alien-Stock was reserved to begin. “I’m quiet doing the festival through the ‘Alienstock’ name on it,” she said. “I’ll simply worry about the legalities later.”

A cease-and-desist letter came shortly thereafter, v Roberts demanding that West prevent using the Alienstock name, and also West pushing onward with the hyphenated Alien-Stock. (West additionally countered v a legal an alert of she own, alleging that Roberts pulled the end of the event unlawfully, though she later on told media she had “nothing however love” for him.)

Perhaps that’s why it take it multiple attempts come track she down throughout Alien-Stock weekend itself, together she reportedly spent Friday driving circles approximately town in her beige Volkswagen Beetle. I experienced this Beetle a handful of time throughout the weekend, constantly parked in various spots; I never ever did record Connie at the wheel. “Where is Connie?” i asked an event volunteer.

“I nothing know,” she said. “I’ve to be trying to obtain a organize of her for three months.” The volunteer claimed she functioned for West in ~ the small A’Le’Inn, yet as shortly as the Storm Area 51 meme walk viral and the idea for Alienstock materialized, West had become hard to with — leaving Rachel and its residents in the dark about what to expect.

This noticeable evasiveness played right into my early impression — and also Roberts’s — that the woman left v Alien-Stock in she lap was less beleaguered 보다 conniving, skirting everyone wanting to discuss comes to that that would finish up a chaotic bust. Thankfully, those concerns were no realized; points at Area 51 itself stayed peaceful, and in Rachel, everyone appeared too exhausted by the warmth or gently appreciative of the afternoon’s live music to it is in belligerent.

The event stage for Alien-Stock 2019. Andrew Marino/ Media no that over there was much music anyway. ~ above Friday afternoon, a band dubbed Wily Savage played for a little crowd on what to be otherwise a phase that organized nothing but a turntable and also laptop. One unnamed DJ play slightly dusty radio hits favor Skrillex and Justin Bieber’s “What do U Mean,” when a slight crowd stood and also bopped their heads. Despite 20 bands had reportedly signed on come perform, just one actually showed up.

The majority of the attendees appeared to be members the the press, i m sorry probably contributed to the lack of rowdiness. Vloggers from Peru and also journalists from Germany were covering the event alongside US-based outlets like, and also our takeaways to be similar. The lead-up come Alien-Stock was an ext interesting and also eventful 보다 Alien-Stock itself.

Alien-Stock to be an high value experiment that didn’t live as much as the hype, but it wasn’t a complete disaster

The weeks of damaged partnerships, widespread uncertainty that Alien-Stock would also happen, and low attendance didn’t faze the event’s organizer. Come the little A’Le’Inn’s Connie West, Alien-Stock was an unqualified success.

“It’s to be a great learning experience,” West said as soon as she finally spoke to a group of reporters ~ above Saturday. “I’m grateful for the rollercoaster that emotions the I’ve gone through, since without them, us wouldn’t be standing below now.

“But what renders this special and a success is the smiles that people are leaving through the memories that they have and the friendships that they’ve made. That’s what matters.”

It’s hard to fully agree through that sentiment, however, as soon as taking into account the quantity of money that local regulation enforcement invested on Alien-Stock in anticipation that a much larger, an ext boisterous crowd. Lincoln county police officers and highway patrol seemed to outnumber actual attendees in the selection of two-to-one, patrolling the perimeter of Rachel with small to do. Meanwhile, the police who manned the Area 51 gate 10 miles the end from Rachel appeared even more bored, but they were as cordial together I’ve ever before seen a cop be.

Which is good, absolutely — no one gained hurt at Alien-Stock, no residential or commercial property was damaged. Yet Sheriff Kerry Lee go tell prior to the weekend that the estimated costs to Lincoln County, Nevada, might climb as high together $300,000.

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“We’re looking in ~ roughly, between fire, EMS, and law enforcement, more than likely somewhere in the ar of 300 civilization working this event,” Lee called the week before Alien-Stock, adding, “Just my tiny department alone, ns looking at what in the ar of $30,000 simply in overtime costs. It is not consisting of the other regulation enforcement departments, another 100-plus policemans that room coming in native the state on shared aid.”

“When you add all those costs,” the continued, “I think the expense of simply the feeding of those 300 first responders was somewhere in the overabundance of $150,000.”

Despite a smaller number of visitors 보다 expected, “the costs stayed the same, as the policemans were currently in place even though the turnout was smaller than anticipated,” Lee said afterward.

That’s no a small sum, and also Rachel did no stand come make any kind of of it back: Alien-Stock was a free event, and vendors who set up shop for the weekend hardly seemed to be moving their wares.

I saw people peruse tables where both visitors and locals to be hawking $20 shirt that claimed “Storm Area 51” or “Alienstock” top top them, yet rarely pick them up. And also that alien beer? The world selling it didn’t seem to charge much less than $10 because that a measly deserve to they lugged into town through them native Vegas.

A truck selling shirts and also water in Rachel. Andrew Marino/ Media but the low turnout and high expenses to the county no seem to step West, who is already thinking about Alien-Stock 2020.

“My mom currently told me i was ,” West said. It was a strange statement, one that drew laughs amid some hesitant eyebrow raising. West is no party planner, in spite of her proud in Alien-Stock and also positive outlook. She seems choose someone search approval and direction — not unlike countless of the world who made it the end to Rachel, wanting to have fun v a meme without lot a game arrangement in mind.

So come West, the weekend to be worth it. And compared come something prefer the 2017 debacle that was Fyre Festival, which imploded after society media influencers payment high price to continue to be in ritzy, $12,000 tents the didn’t exist and also listen to bands that never appeared, Alien-Stock was a family member success.

It did not live approximately the surreal heights hinted at by numerous RSVPs to a joke event on a facebook page dedicated to memes. All the media fist throughout the summer fail to translate into equivalent real-life interest. Yet there was still fun to be had, whether it to be basking in the desert’s solitude and warmth, or meeting friendly people who were wowed that any event come together based on nothing yet a meme. And the image itself continues to be a fond storage — no one deserve to take away just how much fun world had online with it, even if Alien-Stock chin wasn’t the phenomenon the Roberts suspect it would be.