Imagine a place on the ceiling of the world where the stars, sun, and moon feel so close you could pick them right out of the sky. A place where long standing boundaries of race, gender, and class dissolve, setting people free to mold into one united human family. Where you feel so truly comfortable in your own body that you could take off all your clothes and move to music like never before, and where everybody glows with the warm spirit of friendship, generosity, and love.
It is here at the Symbiosis gathering where new age hippies from all over America congregate to get down and spread love. I had the pleasure of attending the event’s 10th anniversary this past weekend.
Situated on top of one of Oakdale, CA’s many rolling desert hills, Symbiosis’ physical elevation sets the perfect stage for the heightened states of consciousness attendees experience. At dusk the sky turns vibrant shades of orange and navy blue, the setting sun juxtaposed perfectly by the rising moon. Looking out into the horizon there is nothing to see but luscious lagoons draped in the breathtakingly deep depths of outer space. Whether hanging in a hammock or wading in the water, the feeling of total tranquility was inescapable.
Considering this succulent scenery, music might even feel like an afterthought, but beautiful sets from Emancipator Ensemble, Shpongle, Sylvan Esso, Tipper, Tune Yards, and Griz succinctly set the festival vibe to totally chill. I really could not have asked for better performances from these guys. Made apparent by the huge smile on Tune Yards’ Merrill Garbus’ face as she performed, the energy from the musicians to the audience flowed both ways. She even proclaimed, “you guys are the danciest crowd we’ve ever played for!” A compliment that was undoubtedly genuine. At each stage audiences were vibrant yet respectful, nobody pushed or shoved and everybody was allowed ample space to boogie the night away.
While the throngs of scantily clad free spirits weren’t getting their collective groove on, they convened in dust covered huts to discuss plant spirit teachers, meditation and chakras, or zodiac birth charts. Alternatively, patrons could find themselves at swim up art galleries, laid back tea teepees, guided yoga sessions, or even on the water slide. Healing crystals and therapeutic incense were as pervasive as the passion to truly learn new ideas and practices from fellow festival goers.
Considering the overall enlightening experience, the only drawback was that the staff seemed to be enjoying the chilled out vibes just as much as the patrons. Employees often times appeared to be disorganized and lackadaisical, opting to bask freely in the exceptional energies brought by the environment and its attendees. While, yes, this was a problem, it is hard to knock these guys for enjoying themselves at an event that promotes peak free spiritedness and love. All I’m saying is, they could have been a little more put together.
However, in a sense, the staff’s apathetic attitude only added to the pseudo-anarchic sense of liberation new wave hippies revel in. The freedom felt while attending this festival was nothing short of extraordinary. Societal conventions disintegrated leaving the masses boundless to rejoice in the magnificence of epic bass music and the collective consciousness. It seems like the Age of Aquarius is truly here with the West Coast quickly becoming a hub to harbor this vibe-chasing alternative culture that has been developing across the United States. We’re more than stoked to see this scene of gatherings grow into a home for new age spiritualism to thrive and flourish. If you’re looking for an exciting new way to get away from your daily grind, definitely consider hitting up Symbiosis sometime in the coming years for a truly exceptional experience.
-GRIFFIN DAMRON, THE LIVE SHOW DIRECTOR