Chances are, if you haven’t found yourself elbow-deep in drum & bass on a Monday night, stumbled into an Afro House party on a Thursday, or discovered what deep house sounds like on a rooftop at sunset across the street from the beach, you might be surprised to learn San Diego has been home to a growing community of electronic music. What was a vibrant underground scene has become a vibrant community, and the West Coast Weekender is the event that’s here to let you know what you’ve been missing. Bringing together some of the biggest DJs from across the country, the Weekender is poised to draw over 3,000 attendees from across the globe to celebrate a wide range of house, techno, and drum & bass.

For the past two years, West Coast Weekender has been steadily building its platform for artists and fans to celebrate the culture, while also offering a range of conference-style panels and workshops before hosting an unforgettable night-time experience. Unlike the standard music festival, West Coast Weekender is the brainchild of artists who wanted to create a space for something more than an amazing four-day party (which trust me, it does deliver the party). When SoulonBeat, I’ll House You, The Deep End, and SD Union first came together, the goal was to organize an event that could allow artists to talk about their work with a seriousness they’re not often always afforded at other festivals. This partnership has allowed them to feature some of the best talent San Diego has to offer, attract experts in the field to share invaluable insight into the industry, as well as feature local visual artists and vendors that are sure to please the crowds. Here, it’s all about community, connection, and growth—and whether attendees are looking to take advantage of workshops or the dancefloor, the Weekender is designed to display the variety and depth that constitutes the electronic dance music genre.

For its third year, the West Coast Weekender has grown its partnerships, allowing them to localize events to accommodate out-of-towners and international attendees. During the day, attendees have the option to lounge by the poolside, sipping Stoli libations in the comforts of Lafayette Hotel while DJs curate the hours until the celebration moves to the night party at WorldBeat Cultural Center. But for those who want to learn more about the culture, the Weekender offers a wide array of panels that cover artistry, branding, community empowerment, the business of music, and even give hands-on experience to aspiring artists wanting to learn more about the craft from some of the biggest names in the scene.

“I want people to leave the event having learned something, not just give them a party,” Jessica Poche explains. With so many festivals cropping up all over the state in recent years, it’s no secret that the Millenials are honing the art of festivals turned into all-out extravaganzas. But by design, the Weekender is intended to give music-lovers the opportunity to hear their favorite DJs share their expertise and discuss the current state of music. In previous years, the conference has managed to draw experts to discuss a wide-range of issues, from the evolution of electronic music to the effects of the prison industrial complex on our communities. Aspiring producers and DJs are provided with rare opportunities to learn tactics to manage their branding, and tools to help them navigate the music business.

Oscar P sums it up pretty easily: “If you’ve ever been interested in learning more about the industry, here’s your chance to look behind the curtain.” There are plenty of festivals that can give you a four day party, but at the Weekender, you can save the party for the night, and spend the day in a workshop exploring how to use Ableton programs under the leadership of powerhouse DJs and producers.

“You think about music differently when you understand the program and technology that creates the song,” Oscar adds. “Instantly, there is a stronger connection between the listener and the artist.” This connection, through practice and education, artistry and community, is why the West Coast Weekender was a necessity for San Diego’s underground. And more importantly, this is how the Weekender envisions the passing of the torch from one generation of music lovers to the next.

This is why first-time attendees are usually in for a shock. Yes, it is a party—but at the Weekender, you can go from listening to international names like Marques Wyatt or Rich Medina speak at a panel, to having a casual conversation with Eli Escobar after a workshop, to maybe having a chance to share a beer (or three) with them at the night party. And for the causal House enthusiast, there’s a weekend-long chance to put a face to the up-and-coming DJ that’s beginning to trend on Soundcloud, dance to the live mixes from artists you’ve followed for years on Mixcloud for years, or connect to an international community that will feel more like family than friends by the time Monday rolls around.

Unlike other music scenes, when it comes to electronic dance music, there is no competition here when we talk festivals. “The hope is once you’ve had the Weekender experience, you’ll attend your next music festival with a new appreciation of the craft, and just maybe, a deeper understanding of the music you’ve been dancing to for years.” When you purchase your Weekender pass, what you’re really holding is an invitation. An invitation to explore and learn; to shake the hand of your favorite DJs and producers; to join an international family of music lovers and artists.

The Weekender is finally here. Let’s get started.