The developing desert party subculture of Washington County

Desert night party in Warner Valley area of Washington County, Utah, Oct. 16, 2012 | Photo by Chris Caldwell, St. George News

WASHINGTON – The things that go bump in the night aren’t what they use to be. Throughout the desert areas surrounding St. George parties are popping up everywhere. This new subculture is gaining popularity with young adults and, although a concern for some, is a unique solution for others.

Desert night party in Warner Valley area of Washington County, Utah, Oct. 16, 2012 | Photo by Chris Caldwell, St. George News

Regulations restricting dancing in St. George venues, and the heavy patrolling of law enforcement in college housing areas, have pushed party-goers out into the desert in areas such as Warner Valley and the Arizona Strip. Although there are some who choose the refuge of the desert as a false sense of security for nefarious activities, there are many people who choose the desert to simply avoid annoying other residents.

In defiance of people who claim there is nothing to do in St. George, one of these groups pooled their resources, rented PA speakers, found a disc jockey, and forked out a good amount of their own money to provide gas generators, lights, cables and other equipment to throw a dance party in the desert. This group has now grown, and will often times draw crowds numbering in the hundreds.

Isaac Hermosillo, one of the original organizers of the largest and longest running groups, said. “We wanted more than just a bonfire, so we rented PA speakers, got our friends together, and it just grew from there.”

Despite the advances in modern social networking, this particular group avoids using Facebook to tell people about upcoming parties, but resorts to word of mouth in order to filter out unwanted attendees. The intent is not to be overly exclusive, but to be able to have a good time without the presence of underage drinkers, illicit drugs, and other illegal activities that often come with younger crowds.

The displacing of these parties to the desert, rather than somewhere in town has dropped a lot of the social bounds that accompany house parties, and tends to bring together people of all backgrounds.

Desert night party in Warner Valley area of Washington County, Utah, Oct. 16, 2012 | Photo by Chris Caldwell, St. George News

Organizers of these desert parties stress the importance of not littering, which is usually the reason why law enforcement personnel regulate or bar such events.

“It’s hard to say what we see on the ground. We don’t have any quantifiable numbers,” Rachel Tueller, Public Affairs for the Arizona Strip District, said. “I know that it does happen. You need to be cognizant of what the fire restrictions are.”

There are a few different places online where citizens can go to read up on the regulations that apply to their specific plans. The BLM has outlined the rules of target shooting on their website, and Tread Lightly has put out guidelines and rules about off-road travel. The important thing is to know what the regulations are, and abide by them to stay safe.

“A lot of the problems we see are with people who are out there burning pallets, or shooting guns in different areas, and also cross-country travel in areas where they need to be sticking to the roads.” Tueller said. “It’s just a matter of education on the different areas where you’re going to be recreating.”

Desert night party in Warner Valley area of Washington County, Utah, Oct. 16, 2012 | Photo by Chris Caldwell, St. George News
Desert night party in Warner Valley area of Washington County, Utah, Oct. 16, 2012 | Photo by Chris Caldwell, St. George News
Desert night party in Warner Valley area of Washington County, Utah, Oct. 16, 2012 | Photo by Chris Caldwell, St. George News
Desert night party in Warner Valley area of Washington County, Utah, Oct. 16, 2012 | Photo by Chris Caldwell, St. George News
Desert night party in Warner Valley area of Washington County, Utah, Oct. 16, 2012 | Photo by Chris Caldwell, St. George News
Desert night party in Warner Valley area of Washington County, Utah, Oct. 16, 2012 | Photo by Chris Caldwell, St. George News

Email: ccaldwell@stgnews.com

Twitter: @STGnews

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2012, all rights reserved.

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10 Comments

  • Alvin November 7, 2012 at 6:03 pm

    Desert parties are “developing” around St. George. Ha, thats been going on since the mid 70’s. Nothing new about this.

  • Tyler November 7, 2012 at 6:03 pm

    WOW looks off the hook fun!! It’s def no surprise though. It’s totally whack that this soon-to-be university town has NO nightlife clubs or decent, classy bars to be social. I hope this is a smack in the face reality check to local conservative, religious leaders in showing them that our city’s youth will party with or without nightclubs!! The demand is here and has been since St George has first started seeing growth. It continues to be a shame that the city doesn’t reach out to all of its citizens and embrace its diversity and wanting their entertainment dollars spent locally.
    I mean God knows we have more than a big enough police force to keep the 21+ crowds in line.

  • Annettie Cannavale November 7, 2012 at 6:34 pm

    The St. George area needs more nightlife and entertainment for all, not just youth. I’m a 40+ woman and I would go to this party or drive down to Envy in Mesquite, which is ridiculous and inconvenient. This community is growing younger and more diverse and I hope that that change will soon be reflected in entertainment options,

  • Jeb November 7, 2012 at 7:29 pm

    I call on area law enforcement agencies to shut down these events, which are clearly fronts for illegal drug use and underage drinking.

    • Jade November 7, 2012 at 9:37 pm

      Your comment is absurd. These parties are clean fun, at most some beer. They even have a respectful policy of no littering out there. You must’ve been a sheltered square growing up like most Utahns it appears.

    • matthew November 7, 2012 at 9:47 pm

      I call on you to stop profiling….get a life, and let others live theirs.

      • Jeb November 8, 2012 at 11:17 am

        I have a life, and part of it’s protecting the community from this debauchery.

  • Big Bob November 7, 2012 at 9:33 pm

    Jeb, go cry to your bishop about it if that makes you feel better. Leave the alternative population the hell alone!! It’s people like you that ruin this country’s freedom!

  • Brett November 8, 2012 at 1:10 am

    Wow, and the diversity divides more. Even though I’m a little tired of people instantly attacking religion the moment their lifestyle is in question, I’d much rather these parties happen in the desert than my neighborhood. I seems like they are trying to be somewhat responsible also. Frankly I could care less whether people choose to drink alcohol, it’s the under-age propensity to operate large vehicles while under the influence that gives me any kind of concern. Again, it seems they are trying to be responsible.

    And yes…this is not new. I attended Dixie way back in the early 90’s. Everyone went out to the desert “to party” back then too. I’d be surprised if anyone thought this was “news.” 🙂

  • DoubleTap November 8, 2012 at 8:06 am

    Not new…this has been happening since the 50’s. Only thing new is the technology that is used for the sound systems, lights etc. I put away many Hamms out in the desert….
    It is good to see the youth having a great time out in the desert. I support their activities 100%….party on y’all.

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