Festival Powers That Be: Advocacy and Vibrancy to be Found at a Festival Near You
Fun things are fun.
You may not have known this little known fact about the human condition, but for the most part, we humanoids tend to find ourselves gravitating towards similar interests. The joy of pleasure, laughter, and connectivity. The joy of stimulation, diversity, and movement. The joy of exoticism, otherworldliness, and occasionally that wibbly-wobbly lack of sobriety paired with a mild release of control. For all the hard work some of us adhere to in our daily work-lives, an equal and tenable amount of play and escapism ain’t really too much to ask for, right?
The Maiden Journey
Back in the fall of 2013, I found myself on a maiden voyage towards my first exercise in pure, unadulterated escapism. Burning Man that year was an alien-esque theme called “Cargo Cult”, and I had frighteningly little grasp on the notion that spending 10 days in an arid, borderline uninhabitable desert would become the foundation for my love of festival living. Young and inexperienced, my journey across the playa paved the road for future expeditions. In the 4 years since that initial excursion came 3 Sasquatch festivals, a Paradiso or two, 3 Bumbershoots, 3 Shambhalas, a WTFest, and most recently, a Symbiosis hosted Oregon Eclipse Festival no less than 1 week ago.
Energy In Brings Energy Out
Festival life isn’t really a vacation by any means. For those that may not have experienced it themselves, I always describe it as a pilgrimage of sorts. There isn’t a defined geographic destination as much as there is a labored spiritual oasis that I try and discover. This virile island of diverse beats, supportive human beings, outlandishly fertile costumes, and infectious dance moves is a place that I embrace mentally, emotionally, and physically. The journey to the festival is never a cake-walk. There are almost always ridiculous lines that range from the luxuriously quick 1 hour wait to the agonizingly brutal 15 hours.
There is almost always insane heat, difficulties obtaining water, challenge breathing due to dust/dirt/smoke inhalation, and an overreliance on baby-wipe showers that approaches “cleanlineness” but always skirts around “clean”. There is constant noise and stimulation, and the sun actively points a bright, irradiated middle finger down upon anyone trying to sleep past 10:00AM. It seems like no matter what food you bring, you’ll always grow weary of it and frustrated that the croissants you brought nearly always grow stale. All of these minor grievances are part of the journey. The challenge is in the glory, and even when things are going smoothly, you’ll often find yourself giving off abundant energies in order to participate and harvest ripened Fun from the fields of Joyfulness.
It seems to me to be the best kind of fun. The kind of fun that is intentional and effortful. The kind of fun that you remember because you crafted it. The kind of fun you experience with your loved ones and homies. The kind of fun that forces your face into an ever-growing grimace, building and overtaking the entirety of your features until you have nothing but positivity to reverberate back into the world. The kind of fun that feels more like achievement than simple experience.
This month, August 2017, I came to realize that I’m a marathon festivaler. I went to a 2 day festival at the Washington Gorge to see Pretty Lights, Atmosphere, Tipper, Cherub, and Lettuce. I danced my tookus off. I came home and had a three day turn-around before the 3rd annual Shambhala experience that lasted 4 days. Then, I took a single day to go to work and then bounce on over to the Oregon Eclipse festival which led me to another 5 days of going about as ham as I can go. 11 days of festival in 3 weeks is wild, and that’s counting only the days we actually had camp constructed and no duties looming overhead. One day, I somehow managed to accumulate a pace-count of 72,000 steps. That’s 45 miles of moving my feet…
The Driving Force of Festivals
I often spend time thinking about what drives me to attend these events. The gorgeous art, mystery, and excitement of music are easy-to-identify drivers. The connectivity with my crew and new friends that seem to materialize out of the woodwork is grounding and grows the much needed relatability I seek to create. The quirkiness of folks and uninhibitedness obviously plays a huge role as it becomes increasingly easy to express oneself in such a free-flowing environment.
The love of the music, dancing, movement, and progression couldn’t be ignored. My success in handling and overcoming physical, emotional, and mental challenges during these times instill in me an overwhelming sense of security and confidence. There are so many reasons and so much mindfulness that I believe ought to go into my experience, and that hard-sought intention might just be the cornerstone to a wonderfully lucid and enlightening trip.
For me, lucidity is undeniably important. I find no qualm with anyone that chooses to let their experiences blur together or mix indistinguishably when recalling memories, but I feel a sense of loss knowing that I’m imprinting waviness instead of lucidity. At least one night I try and reserve for that blurry sensation of intoxication, drunkenness, or what have you so that I’m free to frolic about the campgrounds specifically without intention. At least one night. The very last night of our Eclipse Festival journey, I drank myself into a loose, limber, lubricated state where consciousness bounced off of me like drops off of an umbrella. Inebriation provides the absence of care, but also the absence of coherence. Fun is as fun does, however, and while my staggeringly stimulating surroundings transitioned from “paradise” to “party”, I appreciated giving my last night to a sense of being carefree and sloppy.
The Bonds of Stranger-Homies
Festivals craft a culture that I want to endorse. Any personal illicitness or substance tweaking aside, more often than not these beautiful humans all come together with the aim of creating a space that capitalizes on love, compassion, energy, and progression. Looking over the vast Eclipse Stage at the festival and seeing thousands of hoops, poi, staff-spinners, and LED flow-toys represents the progression so many bring to a festival. The more one gives out, the more one receives.
In my writings around Authentic Relating Games, I’ve discussed the capability of mindful individuals to connect with one another in surprisingly short amounts of time. While each festival is going to vary to some degree what kind of people show up, I’m found that Eclipse 2017 was especially gratuitous in the ways folks wanted to connect. I saw no ill-will amongst any person. I heard no raucous or even down-turned arguing. Instead, my ears and eyes were peppered with sounds and sights of embracing, encouraging, supportive Stranger-homies all over the place.
Ok, surely it’s easy to connect to happy people in a happy place, but damn if it wasn’t palpable. Seriously juicy as fuck with the succulence of vibes Eclipse brought to the fore-front. No other festival, save for maybe Burning Man 2013 or Shambhala 2014, compared to the tone Eclipse 2017 provided. And that’s a wild claim, considering the high diversity of folks flocking to Oregon for this badass festival.
Connecting to Stranger-homies is dope and all, but there’s nothing that brings me closer to tears then holding my homie-homies close and bouncing on the same, undeniable frequency.
The Strengths of the Homie-Homies
Apart from bright random souls you encounter, you might also expect to snag extra bonds with your main crew. If you make it to a festival with a crew larger than 4 folks, you’re going to run into corralling challenges that are worth the effort. Gathering folks and assuring everyone is accounted for can occasionally be a challenge, but when it’s on point and flowing easily, it’s a supportive sight to behold. If you have a ~10 person crew, expect to be held up waiting on frequent bathroom breaks and water stops. And that’s ok!
These necessary moments and time spent caring for your crew often comes back multiple times over when y’all bumping beats in the thick of it. Ain’t nothing better than thizz facing like savages out there to your favorite DJ. Even when my homies ain’t attending, I can feel their grimy auras pulsing to the rhythms. That vibe is often music dependent, so when The Glitch Mob played at Eclipse, my crew-less self felt surrounded and loved due to the history this band has with several of mah homies.
That Drippity Droppety Conclusive Advocacy (TL;DR):
Festivals aren’t little vacations. They are effortful escapism. While they certainly can be treated as week-long benders full of hedonistic head-banging, they can also be treated with mindful intention, spirituality, meditation, and progressive skill-building. They can foster the growth of new friendships, and further cement the beauty of blossomed ones. I recommend you peep one.
**Recommended for party people?** Yes! Straight up “duh”. A festival is essentially a non-stop party if you want it to be. Just hit that noise with some intention and you might just be able to tweak a party vibe into a growth vibe.
**Recommended for mellow homies?** Yes! As a homie with a crew full of diverse homies, I see some of our lovely introspective and most introverted homies blossom during festivals. I see them handle their shit and receive mounds of support. I see them support themselves and call it a night when needed, and that’s perfectly ok.
**Recommended for people who don’t like challenge?** Maybe. Repeatedly, I’ve said that festivals aren’t vacation. That shit is true. If you want to play life on easy mode, I can’t really recommend a festival unless you’ve got a very kush camp set up and heaps of homies to support you if the shit hits the fan. I gots to recommend a large dose of self-reliability, so maybe find a way recognize that challenge and effort and stepping outside your comfort zone could be an enriching experience? If not… well then maybe just watch some Youtube videos about the festival experience instead?
I’m such a homebody that I’ve found, as I age, that festivals drain me a bit. Still, some of my fondest memories are from Sasquatch out in the Washington Gorge. It’s beautiful, and it’s like you’re camping/partying with a bunch of people. I just don’t do super well in crowds, so one can imagine that festivals that large aren’t my jam. I hope I can make it out there for a few more, though. And I hope I can go to burning man sometime! A buddy of mine absolutely loves it there.
They’re definitely not vacations, that’s for sure! They’re more like marathons, so they’re gonna take quite a bit of work to vibe on, but oh man, aren’t they worth it? Definitely peep burning man if you can. I did mine in 2013 and it was incredible. ❤
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