From the second you enter Lightning in a Bottle, the vibes are high. Everywhere you look, you’re greeted with huge grins, half-naked bodies swaying and pulsing to the beat, art in every direction, yogis, fire dancers, performance artists, hula hoopers….it’s like an alternate reality where everyone’s tapped into their creativity and excited to share their gifts. It’s a place that makes you believe in the good in humanity, wishing that back in “reality” everyone felt this free to express who they are.
Alongside the music performances, there are yoga and dance classes, arts and crafts workshops, cooking classes, meditation, and sound healing. There are talks on psychedelics, self-love, environmentalism, compassionate communication, astrology, tantra, and so much more.
I wish I could have created 10 of me so I could do it all! But alas, I’m a mere mortal. So here are just a few of my highlights from the weekend…
During the day, it was the perfect weather for taking a dip in the lake. Hordes of beautiful festival goers happily splashed around on oversized floats and draped lazily across the floating man-made islands. The cold water giving a much needed respite from the heat.
Doing yoga in the afternoon felt incredible. Being able to stretch after a long night of dancing and come into a meditative state with breathwork and mantra gave me new energy, a feeling of lightness that helped me rally far into the night. The dharma talks filled my heart and inspired me to think about how I could incorporate the love, compassion, and everything else I was learning and feeling at the festival into my everyday life.
There was also an area where you could take a ‘gong bath’, where you laid down inside a circle surrounded by gongs and other instruments like didgeridoos, chimes, and rainsticks. A group then played the instruments while you closed your eyes and let the sound bathe you in its healing power. I gotta say, I really wish I could come home from a long day at work and take a gong bath to rest and recharge!
Mostly I just enjoyed walking around and exploring during the day. Seeing artists paint, people playing and dancing, couples in love, and exploring the different tents and art installations.
At night, the festival lit up in a sea of lights. At the Lightning stage, it felt like you were at a carnival with the amount of light-up totem poles, hula hoops, whips, and fans. Several times I caught myself watching the crowd dance instead of paying attention to who was performing.
At night, music took center stage. People brought their energy and partying to the next level. While I saw many incredible acts throughout the festival, my top three favorite artists were Masego, Frequensee, and Disclosure.
Masego was not only an incredible performer, but he was a comedian that knew how to work the crowd. In true jazz fashion, he improvised new songs, which he used to have fun with the crowd. He made up a song called “Bathing,” because, as he correctly pointed out, many in the crowd hadn’t showered in three days and he figured we could all use a bath. One of my favorite improvised songs he did was a song called “Water.” He told us, “I’m thirsty. But I’m not a selfish man. I’ll create a beat for you. It’ll be the moistest beat you’ve ever heard. And when I start to drink, I need you all to throw your hands in the air and scream.” So he dropped a beat, recorded him singing the word water, and got the crowd to scream and go wild as he chugged his water. He had the confidence and swag to keep the crowd laughing and cheering his whole performance.
I was lucky enough to stumble upon Frequensee’s performance at the Yoga Sol tent—“an ambient audiovisual mediation experience which featured the work of sound healers Torkom Ji, Divasonic, and visuals by Michael Strauss.” It was designed as an escape from some of the harder hitting beats at the festival. You got to lay down and stare up at the top of the tent, where trippy visuals from geometric shapes to dynamic light projections were projected that matched the music. It was so peaceful and mesmerizing it was honestly hard to pull myself away to go see other artists. You can get a feel for what it was like here.
Disclosure was pure FUN! They got the crowd dancing and grooving out with some funky, disco-pop beats mixed with dubstep and vocals. They opened their set with “When A Fire Starts to Burn,” and played their biggest hits like “Latch,” “White Noise,” “Help Me Lose My Mind,” and many more. They were the perfect act to close out the festival on the main stage. Everywhere you looked people were smiling, jumping up and down with their hands in the air, and gyrating to the beat.
Just like during the day, exploring at night was a treat. It seemed like everywhere I turned there was something entertaining and mesmerizing to look at. I felt like a moth being drawn towards the lights all around me. If I started out with a plan of where I was headed, it quickly turned into an odyssey with many stops along the way. I mean, you try walking straight past fire dancers along the water, magical fairy art in the trees, or art cars spraying bubbles and fun without stopping!
Now, I could keep going on and on about how incredible Lightning in a Bottle was, but I’m going to leave it here and just say this…do yourself a favor and buy your ticket as soon as they go on sale. You’ll thank me later!