This Festival Feeling: An Experience That Will Change You
It’s hard to explain to someone who has never been to a rave or an EDM festival why they are so powerful and so addicting. Yeah, sure, it’s a huge party – probably one of the biggest parties you’ll ever go to in your life. It’s also a concert – there’s blaring music, performing artists, weird circus dancers on stage in stilts and balloons and confetti. But more than this, an EDM festival is an experience. It’s a magical place where everyone dresses however the hell they want to, pushing the definition of what is “weird” to the max – and nobody is questioned for it.
Festivals: A place to express your identity
The festival is a place to not only help find your “true” or “natural” identity, but a place to express this identity, share it with others and be accepted, as well as accept everyone else in their natural states of existence. This is what makes the festival a spiritual experience for me. Ravers wearing kandi bracelets and swapping them is just one way to make everyone comfortable with confronting each other and making that initial social contact. Adopting a “rave name” and putting on an animal spirit hood are all just ways for us to be young and “experiment” with what life is. Festivals aren’t about drugs or being completely reckless and social deviants. Festivals are so much more.
The Gorge & spiritual feelings
For the first time at Paradiso at The Gorge this year, I experienced what I would have to call a “spiritual feeling” in the midst of the festival. Now, having returned back home to my “normal” life away from the festival grounds, I realize how much five years of raving and attending festivals has changed me. Down in the dance pit, center stage at Paradiso, I felt an intensity during Infected Mushroom‘s set, to the almost sensual energy of Above & Beyond‘s love-centered set and was nearly ripped apart the next day by Excision‘s gnashing, grinding beats. I’m not sure how my organs stayed in my body! On the hillside, arms up to the sun, grass beneath my toes and wind blowing through my hair looking out over a river and mountains, I think I actually roared like a lion.
All of this energy that EDM conjures up – from the earth, from the dancing bodies, the raving souls – in channeled by the DJs, built up and released into the crowd in immense drops. Through the ritual and the celebration of the music festival, I think we all experience the ebbs and flows of life together. EDM can change from dark and negative tones, to the bright and positive, and the festival becomes a celebration of how life is constantly changing while we are just holding on together to stay alive and to identify our individual selves.
At Paradiso, I have never felt more alive in my entire life. I realized, as song after song played (some of them new to my ears, some of them old anthems), I had to embrace the shoulders of my friends beside me and sway as we belted the lyrics out to the wind and the sun. We are all living for the same things: love, friendship, beauty, curiosity and overcoming the weight of our own problems. Music is what binds us through all these things and what tells the story of our lives.
Leaving Paradiso, I have also never felt stronger – mentally, physically and emotionally. If I can survive the musical dueling of intense sets like Infected Mushroom front row, just below those massive speakers and awesome visual screens, I feel like I can survive ANYTHING in life.
This is why I have to leave you with this video of one of the most Shazam’d songs of EDC 2014. It’s the festival journey: the hippie car riding through the desert with young lovers discovering the magic and the mystery of life. The lyrics say it all:
See the smoke when the sun shines
We will forever be faded under gold skies
Captivated in your cold eyes
We will forever be faded under gold skies
Coming up, cut me down, look at all the stuff we found
Just the sun, feel me now, we will live forever
Photo Credit: Alexandra Taylor
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