Organizers of the Fyre Festival in the Bahamas, produced by a partnership that includes rapper Ja Rule, have canceled the weekend event at the last minute Friday after many people had already arrived and spent thousands of dollars on tickets and travel.
Organizers of the Fyre Festival in the Bahamas, produced by a partnership that includes rapper Ja Rule, have canceled the weekend event at the last minute Friday after many people had already arrived and spent thousands of dollars on tickets and travel. Christopher Smith - Invision - AP

The Fyre Festival "was always going to be a disaster"

EARLY last week, the organisers of the now infamous Fyre Festival posted a series of short videos to their Instagram account.

These snippets featured sandy shores and a speed boat laden lagoon in the Bahamas.

"In four days you will be dancing on the beach," the post read.

Yet by Thursday, when Blink 182 pulled the plug on their appearance, the prospect of any dancing on the beach was looking more and more distant for moneyed up festival goers, some of who had paid more than $100,000 to attend.

The Fyre Festival, thrown by rapper Ja Rule and failed entrepreneur Billy McFarland, was sliding into chaos.

The who's who of Instagram influencers and models that splashed Fyre all over their social media accounts - names such as Kendall Jenner, Emily Ratajkowski, Hailey Baldwin and Bella Hadid - were asked to stay away by organisers.

But far from Fyre only falling apart last week, a former contractor on the festival said "it was always going to be a disaster".

On Friday, cashed up socialites, who were set to attend an event that was billed as less of a festival and more of a "cultural moment", found themselves stranded in either a half built tent city or at US airports as flights to the exclusive Exuma island began to be cancelled.

We are ________

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It's straight up Lord of the Flies at the #fyrefestival right now. Will be keeping you guys updated on stories 😱

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Furious festival goers have labelled Fyre as "Hunger Games but with less luxury".

Others likened the primitive facilities as "straight up Lord of the Flies."

The hashtag #fyrefraud has taken over, but Ja Rule insists it is "not a scam".

Fury has now turned to farce with actor Seth Rogen saying his next movie will essentially be a retelling of the Fyre fiasco.

It wasn't meant to be this way. In December, the first glossy campaigns began to find their way to the Instagram feeds of the rich kids.

"The actual experience exceeds all expectations. It is something that is hard to put into words," a disembodied voice uttered over images of pristine beaches and beautiful people clubbing.

Models were a key attraction of Fyre. They plugged the event through social media, while Fyre's Instagram account was top heavy with images of bikini clad women.

To be held over "two transformative weekends," Fyre was to be an "immersive" music festival on a "private island" featuring the "best in music, cuisine, design, and hospitality".

Festival goers could stay in a villas or glamp it up in "modern eco-friendly geodesic domes" with comfy beds and designer furniture.

Tickets cost from several hundred to more than a $100,000.

But for weeks it was obvious all was not well, say those close to the event.

One former Fyre contractor, Chloe Gordon, spoke of how she arrived on Exuma - six weeks out from the festival - to find vendors had yet to start work, the stage hadn't been rented and transport wasn't in place.

"This was not a model-filled private cay. This was a development lot covered in gravel with a few tractors scattered around," she told New York magazine.

Her job was to liaise with the music acts - such as Blink 182 and Major Lazar.

But despite the hefty price tag to gain entry, the mammoth cost of putting on a luxury festival was beginning to dawn on people.

"The official verdict was that it would take $50 million to pull off [and] that it would be not be up to the standard they had advertised.

"The best idea, they said, would be to roll everyone's tickets over to 2018 and start planning for the next year immediately," Ms Gordon said.

"They had a meeting with the Fyre execs to deliver the news. A guy from the marketing team said, 'Let's just do it and be legends, man'."

That night, Ja Rule was in a bombastic mood and raised a toast to Fyre. "To living like movie stars, partying like rock stars, and f**king like porn stars."

Ms Gordon says she resigned from her role days later.

As festival goers began departing for Fyre, the lack of facilities became clear. The "modern geodesic domes" turned out to be disaster relief tents.

The five star food was sandwiches with processed cheese. While a highly regarded caterer, famous in New York circles, had signed up to Fyre they were keen to point out they had parted ways with the organisers early last month.

Days after the festival was cancelled the big name stars who promoted the event so enthusiastically began backing away just as passionately.

"This was not my project whatsoever," Hadid wrote in a social media post. "I trusted this would be an amazing and memorable experience, not knowing about the disaster that was to come."

The Bahamas Government has slammed Fyre and said visitors were met with "total disorganisation and chaos".

"Clearly they didn't have the capacity to execute an event of this scale," the country's Ministry of Tourism was reporting as saying in the Nassau Guardian.

For his part, Ja Rule said he was "heartbroken" at Fyre's failure. "It was NOT A SCAM as everyone is reporting".

His priority was that everyone got off the island "safe". But he added. "This is NOT MY FAULT".

In a statement on the weekend, Fyre said a storm had set back the festival's preparations.

They have said that "all festival goers this year will be refunded in full."

But, they have also suggested that the festival was all just too ambitious for McFarland and Ja Rule.

"They simply weren't ready for what happened next, or how big this thing would get," the organisers said.

"They started by making a website and launching a viral campaign. Suddenly, they found themselves transforming a small island.

"We thought we were ready, but then everyone arrived.

"We took everyone to the beach and built as many tents as fast as possible, but we were simply in over our heads."

There are now threats of a class action from disgruntled guests. While famous names are lining up to mock Ja Rule.

Rogen has tweeted that the film he is working on with comedy trio The Lonely Island - which includes actor Andy Samberg - is about a music festival "that goes horribly wrong".

"For real, thinking about suing Fyre Festival for stealing our idea," the Lonely Island tweeted back.

Yet even as the embers burn out from the disastrous festival, Ja Rule and McFarland seem unperturbed.

Fyre will be back next year, they say.

"We need to make this right. And once we make this right, then we will put on the dream festival we sought to have since the inception of Fyre," the organisers said.

Whether the A-listers, models and New York rich kids will forgive Fyre so quickly remains to be seen.

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