One Love Festival Delivers A Memorable First Festival Back

All photos used with permission of One Love Festival | Cover photo features Saturday Foam Party

My first festival in 21 months was everything I wanted — and so much more! This past Memorial Day weekend, I was fortunate enough to attend One Love Festival in Dolan Springs, Arizona. I forgot how energizing it is to feel the bass reverberate through your body while dancing with friends. I forgot how much I love dressing up and flowing with my silk fans under the sun and pixel whipping under the stars. I forgot how much I relied on connecting with new friends and just how lonely the last year was for a lot of us. My cup runneth over, all thanks to One Love Festival.

Sam and me at One Love Festival, 2021

Another wonderful facet of the weekend was introducing my partner, Sam, to the magical world of festivals. One Love was his first, and it was wonderful to see our world fresh through his eyes. I was reminded just how fortunate I am and how incredible they truly are. My happy place is set after set of music, beautiful lights and lasers, hoopers and flow artists, live painters, stage design and production, art installations, fire performers and new friendships. 

Notable Festival Highlights

“Nothing About This Is Normal!”

As a festival veteran (30 festivals and counting in 5 years), I’ve seen some incredible things. This time in particular, I was blown away by the numerous Art Cars that roamed the festival. Set in the Arizona desert, festival founder Kenneth Schwenker said he was leaning into a Burning Man vibe. The Art Cars would park at smaller stages and then move to other locations, most notably to the legendary foam party that was held on Saturday night. At dusk, the Xuza, Vibeapple and Torch the Dragon provided a backdrop for cascading foam and an epic dance party. The juxtaposition of being in an arid desert yet getting showered by foam cannons mounted on Art Cars bumping dance music under neon lights was an experience of a lifetime. They played remixed throwback anthems, such as “Dance With Somebody” by Whitney Houston, “Dancing Queen” by Abba and “Barbie Girl” by Aqua. It was honestly some of the most fun I’ve EVER had! The energy of the crowd was electric, and I was absolutely blown away. Sam and I kept giggling at how utterly ridiculous the whole affair was. At one point he said, in disbelief, “nothing about this is normal!” to which I replied “that’s the point!” I’ll never forget this foam party as long as I live. 

Details, Details, Details

Two Art Cars join the party at the Main Stage

One Love was my first festival in the Arizona desert. One of the details I loved most about the new venue was how brightly the stars shone at night since the venue was so remote. Bright spotlights danced along the outline of a small mountain West of the site, which was a fantastic way to highlight and use the natural features. Sunsets here were breathtakingly beautiful and amplified the natural beauty of the site. One of the memorable art installations was a domed jungle gym whose supports were electrified with rope lights, featuring mirrors installed in the empty spaces. A thick pad invited you to lay back and gaze at the seemingly endless universe created in this small space. The finishing touch was a disco ball suspended at the top that twirled and cast sprinkles of lights dancing around the dome. 

Additionally, astroturf was installed at the Main Stage to provide cushion for dancers. Small pools were set up throughout the venue to offer respite from the desert sun. Several dome structures were set up to host the various workshops. My favorite was acroyoga, taught by my friends, The Freedom Yogis. Summer and Brian adeptly and safely taught us several partner poses and everyone was encouraged to both be the base, flier and spotter to better understand the intricacies of acroyoga. 

Meditation Workshop

Musical Highlights

Ahee

Bass artist Ahee was my absolute favorite act of the weekend, hands down. Truthfully, I am a bass fanatic and have been craving the frenetic energy of the crowd in the throes of heavy bass music. It was my first time seeing Ahee perform and my expectations were far exceeded. He delivered an outrageously filthy set of banger after banger. He played at 11:30 pm on Sunday but as soon as he dropped the first high-intensity track, I immediately forgot how much my body ached or how exhausted I felt. It was so exhilarating to headbang and dance like an animal again. If you have a chance to see him please do so—I have a feeling he’s going to blow up in the next year. Admittedly I was not in good “festival shape,” and I paid for it. Be sure to prepare for your first festival by doing lots of cardio! I added a few videos of previous performances by my favorite artists over the weekend.

Ahee performing at Lightning in a Bottle 2019

Moon Hooch

Crowd favorites Moon Hooch were another stand out act. Hailing from the subway platforms of New York City, they have a uniquely explosive yet funky-fresh sound. Composed of a drummer and two saxophone/horn players, the trio always play their instruments at a high-octane level that electrifies the audience. There wasn’t a single person standing still; it’s impossible to do so when Moon Hooch is on stage! I’ve seen them several times and always love their performances. A friend noted, “they play every song like it’s the finale—they always play at level 11,” and I couldn’t agree more. Each song is played with such intensity and passion. One of the things they’re known for is installing a large traffic cone on the end of their saxophone which unleashes a new wave of energy. I can’t praise them enough and urge you to see them live. You won’t regret it.

Moon Hooch playing my favorite song, “Number 9” at High Sierra Music Festival 2014

Poranguí

I think we can all agree one of the most amazing perks of festivals is being introduced to new music. At One Love I discovered an amazing artist called Poranguí and was instantly transfixed. He has crafted a world soul sound which intertwines indigenous rhythms with ancestral songs.

I have never seen or heard anything quite like him. He is essentially a one-man orchestra who uses looping technology and plays exotic and obscure instruments. Each performance is created entirely from scratch. He’ll play a section on one instrument and then loop it, and then move on to the next, creating a multi-faceted song. The effect was spellbinding and haunting. His set ranged from “deep, earthy didgeridoo grooves, to high-vibe ecstatic Brazilian beats, to blissful African kalimba lullabies.” I encourage you to see him live and get ready for a transformative evening. 

Poranguí live at BaliSpirit Festival 2019

Missed Connection

Ultimately, what we’ve been starved of in the last year is connection. Connections to live music, to art, to artistic expression, to one another. One Love reconnected me to my passion for music, dancing, and to myself again. There were so many moments where I was overcome by how profoundly blessed I was to be moving and grooving with my friends to incredible live music under the stars, and for that, I am eternally grateful.

I am so excited for you to experience your first festival back! 

1 Comment

  • Shell Hamilton says:

    It was an awesome experience. We worked hard to help Kenneth pull it off and it was totally worth it. The Kins community looks forward to many events in the future.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.