When’s the last time someone not just asked – but insisted – you keep your childlike imagination and magic alive? For most people trying to make a name for themselves, it’s been a hot minute; and from a young age it felt like most of my friends from high school had their formula for success figured out. They left our hub in the Silicon Valley for a four year degree that would inevitably translate to infinite amounts of success in the “real world.*” Me, on the other hand, well….I had loftier dreams and less tangible goals. I found that love and happiness are better when shared, however you can’t hold them in your hands or stuff them in a box in a corner; a college degree doesn’t make either of them more valid and all the money in the world can’t replace them.
You can travel the world and have all the experiences you want, but there’s something so incredibly special and connective about music festivals. But take into account my generations propensity to say ‘fuck the man’ and ‘fuck the system’ and the fact most of our spiritual belief systems have little in common with organized religion and you’ll see that the festival is our ‘church’ and our friends are the ‘community’. Thousands of people jumping to the same beat, hearts syncing in time and singing along with the music; we are in worship and music is our savior. A recent study has even shown choral singing to be on par with the health benefits of yoga. My eyes were opened in 2006 with my first Electric Daisy Carnival and again in 2011 with my first Coachella; but if I said that either of these events held a candle to Lightning in a Bottle I would absolutely be kidding myself. Don’t get me wrong, the music and crowd at the other events are phenomenal in their own right – but Lightning in a Bottle is something completely and utterly different.
The other festivals are centered around music – and there is absolutely nothing wrong with that; but Lightning in a Bottle is about the culture that surrounds music. There were speakers on multitudes of topics, including authors Daniel Pinchbeck (“Breaking Open The Head“) and John Perkins (“Confessions of an Economic Hit Man“), yoga sessions taught by yogis from all over, areas where you could experience sound baths and even a ‘Pineal Playground’ set-up to warp that pretty little mind of yours. Live artists were out at stations around Lake Skinner during the day and had ample resources for inspiration; from light installations in trees to full on fixtures out in the parks – the people of LIB brought their A-game and you could tell how excited they were to share their unique visions and creations with the world. What’s more is that almost everything was interactive – you were encouraged to touch, play and experience. I felt like an overgrown five year old on vacation!
Now, I have to admit I was a little nervous going into everything – I haven’t been camping since I was five and my parents can tell you, I wasn’t exactly “good” at it! I was so nervous that I would be unprepared, so I made a lovely little cheat sheet with a list of all the amenities I’d need for the 5 day, 4 night excursion and there’s a few things I can tell you off the bat, first and foremost: I TOTALLY overpacked! I could have brought half as much clothing and would have still had options on what to wear; and there was so much creativity that went into some of the outfits! Definitely something to take note of for next year.
And as far as camping is concerned… it isn’t exactly camping when you’re with thousands of your new best friends, kickass sound systems, awe inspiring sculptures and have Lake Skinner as your playground. Everywhere we turned, there was literally something new to experience and someone to meet that chances are – you have some ridiculous connection to. Before the festival even started, I realized in line for wristbands that I was in college dorms with the girl in front of me and for my phone being dead, I ran into at least 50 friends I’d made in college or at festivals. I even met a girl who used to live in my apartment complex in LA!
My friends and I decided to cruise in to Lake Skinner on Thursday night so we could get the whole festival experience; we wanted a chance to set-up our tent in a leisurely manner and explore the festival grounds. We waded through a sea of people to get our wristbands (one thing about hippies – they’re a punctual bunch!), we were lucky enough to have friends there starting at 2pm because the line took approximately 7 hours from start to finish for them, compared to our measly 3 hour wait. Once that was over, you could see eyes light up and smiles pop up on everyone: shit just got so real! Once we got our massive tent it was off to explore…
The second day started with exploring the Temple of Consciousness and the Pineal Playground; we got to be part of a sound bath and then headed down to the lake to catch the view. Between the swings, shade and speakers we had so much to do during the day before the music started; there was definitely a ‘sleep, eat, mingle, rave, repeat’ vibe going on all weekend and I wouldn’t have had it any other way. Now, before I get into my favorite pictures from the weekend I have a little PSA about the event. As with every event, not everyone can have a life changing-best weekend of my life experience; it’s simply not feasible – but from the sounds of it people went to an entirely different festival than my friends and I. The Do Lab gave us more than I could have hoped for with festival grounds like Lake Skinner, top notch productions, amazing art and a culture of people that I can only describe as the middle section of a ‘Hippie-Carnie-Raver’ Venn-Diagram. I had the time of my life and I hope everyone gives the festival a chance to change them for the better instead of living vicariously through someone else’s bad dream. Though LIB has been around for a hot minute, being able to experience Lake Skinner together for the first time was such a great experience. Eyes, brains and hearts were wide open and ready to explore. I know a lot of people are whining and lamenting the fact their reality didn’t match their expectations but expectation hangovers happen when people aren’t willing to take responsibility for their actions. I got to explore the festival grounds on Thursday when no one was around and take full advantage of the art, fog machines and light fixtures before people got there; on Saturday when the music in the camp turned off, my friends and I hunted down some music and created our own little community within the LIB community and have created bonds to last a lifetime. Essentially the festival, like life, is an adventure and it’s up to us as individuals to make it magical; and for me – it was so, so much more than that!