All photography by Don Idio
1. It takes some effort.
If only our mothers, fathers, and bosses could see the work and preparation that goes into orchestrating our Lightning in a Bottle weekend. The packing, the long trek we power through when we, inevitably, forget to purchase a car camping pass again, and the sheer impossibility of meeting up with our loved ones due to lack of cell service. Some would even call us modern-day pioneers, emigrating from all of our man-made comforts in hopes of discovering great beats and deep connections.
Lightning in a Bottle is truly what you make it. This year, most of my crew were River People (read: they know better than anyone how to setup a dope campsite.) They took one for the team, bought Early Arrival passes, and biked in to find our sweet spot for the weekend. We had copious amounts of shade from the trees and were close enough to The Woogie to where I could come and go as I pleased: A true privilege in the LIB world. They brought canopies aplenty, fake grass flooring, and even a groover. Yes, friends, we did the damn thing better than I ever had before. Lightning in a Bottle is all about learning, and I have quickly learned that one of the skills that only gets acquired with experience is setting up the ideal home base.
2. People are brilliant.
The reason I come back to this festival year after year is not the music, but the community. I continually get overcome with positivity and inspiration after a LIB weekend. After sharing dance floors with people who may have only one leg, or use a wheelchair, or are battling depression, and seeing the same music brought us all to the same place, just makes one feel damn good about humanity. And having casual conversations with visionary artists, photographers, and musicians makes one feel eager to overcome the ordinary and figure out what unique gift they can contribute to the world. Lightning in a Bottle is truly a container for creativity, and that is because it’s an event attracting so many innovators looking to grow, grow, grow.
Now, like any event that gets remotely close to “Mainstream”, you have those that don’t quite understand the ethos of the event- yet. However, that’s where us vivacious veterans come in to do some educating. Yes, you may be brilliant and fun and beautiful- but for the love of LIB- pack it in and pack it out!
3. Meditation does not have to be quiet.
Mmmmm…meditation. Some of us can reach a peak mindful state without a second thought, and some of us just suck. I, for one, am decidedly the latter. But bring in Biet Simkin, Founder of the Center of the Cyclone Meditation. On the last day of the festival, she guided an intimate group of us through a meditation that really challenged every preconceived notion one may have about the act of meditating. Hint: you will dig deeper into that mind of yours with movement and yelling and, dare I say, staring into the eyes of one another, than sitting in a dark room alone with your eyes closed for an hour. You will also get out of breath and slightly light-headed, but what comes after is nothing short of beautiful. The class was filled with authenticity and blunt humor that made us feel like we had all known Biet for a lifetime.
4. The food vendors are top-notch.
There are two types of festival-goers: the late night pizza grabbers and the aficionados of all things festival cuisine. Festivals have become my favorite place to indulge, and I do so with no remorse- even when I do spend $12 on a breakfast bowl. Or $8 on a smoothie. So worth it, though. However, going home with the crown for Best Food Vendor at LIB is without a doubt, Killa Dilla. Did you know you could actually be innovative with a quesadilla? Me, neither. But, the Albacore Dilla that satisfied my midnight hunger was indeed life-changing. $14, worth every penny, and generous enough to feed two.
5. There is music for everyone.
I believe this is the ideal festival to come with your whole squad because there is something for absolutely everyone. This truth becomes even more so apparent when you arrive with a group of 15, yet are never once all in the same place. Everyone can get along at LIB- even your country music loving friends could probably find some contentment at The Grand Artique.
6. Girl power is alive and well.
This year of LIB left such a huge impression on me because girl power was so evident in the lineup. Huxley Anne, Clozee, and the ethereal Oona Dahl rocked their respective stages in their own unique way. However, the angelic Jhene Aiko, was absolutely my favorite performance of the weekend. She performed an intimate show underneath The Beacon that made everyone who was lucky enough to be there feel like they were a VIP. She gave us a taste of a little of everything from her catalog, including some tracks from her latest enlightened album Trip. It was a stunning, “no fluff” show, that covered every experience from love to loss and grief to awakening.
7. Wonder and Awe should be nourished.
It has taken me a couple of years to come to understand, without judgment, parents who choose to bring their children to festivals. What about the dust? The loud music? The suggestive adult behavior? However, after this year, I have come to see that LIB is one of the more suitable festivals to bring children to and that there is so much to be gained when they experience it all. Imagine having the memory imprinted in your mind of crawling on an over-sized art structure overlooking a lake as a 5-year-old? I do believe that this festival could be pivotal in a child’s development and, help them maintain the sense of creativity that society seems to be moving away from. No phones, no television, just sensational art and music. Adults are also encouraged to give in to the wonder as well. LIB is a great reminder that magic and inspiration are everywhere- you just have to be open to experiencing it.
8. Being alone is not the same as being lonely.
Many times I found myself wandering from stage to stage all by myself. And that was all I needed. And wanted. I credit LIB for helping me find deep joy in my solo moments. Doing whatever you want feels so good, and LIB is the safe space where you can really take a mindful moment for yourself. Obviously, I’m a proponent of the Buddy System– but sometimes you just have to follow your intuition and see where it takes you. Sorry, Mom.
9. Caring about fashion is not vain.
Fashion is art. It is an expressive way to show to beautiful colors of your soul, and let that freak flag fly. The fashion at LIB, this year and every year, really demonstrates the difference between the East Coast and West Coast vibe. Us California folk just “get it” and love to flaunt it. LIB attendees are also privileged because they get to have every prominent festival fashion vendor in the scene right at their fingertips.
10. We are all in this thing together.
Meet your neighbors. Bring extra water. Help the newbies learn their role in keeping the grounds clean. Find your talent and see how you can bring it alive at LIB. There is plenty of room for the painters, the chefs, the dj’s, and the creatives to leave their own lasting mark on Lightning in a Bottle. This festival is truly what you make it and relies on us, the attendees, to bring it alive.