Cover photo by Don Idio
The thrill of this year’s Memorial Day Weekend festivals has now come and gone, but the post-event afterglows live on. Among these, Lightning in a Bottle returned to California this past May 25th-30th, 2022 for 6 days of exceptional music, workshops, dancing, art, and MORE! Let’s reminisce through the grounds of Buena Vista Recreational Area and explore 5 things that made this festival experience truly extraordinary:
1. The Workshops
One of the advantages of a large festival over a small one, is the ability to bring in a truly spectacular lineup of speakers and workshops from all over the globe. LIB was filled to the brim with classes throughout the day, the largest hurdle was just staying motivated to attend them. If you plan your days right (and bring enough caffeine), anything is possible.
A few highlights from this year are below:
-at The Learning Kitchen: “DNA of Elixirs” & “Plant-Based Tuna Salad Party” – Here, we learned how to formulate invigoratingly healthy and tasty beverages and tuna salad. Going to workshops at The Learning Kitchen is like watching a cooking show, but BETTER, and you even get to sample the concoction at the end.
-at The Beacon: “Neoshamanism”- Hosted by Snow Raven, coming from a tribe deep in the arctics of Russia- she taught how to sing exotic animal sounds as well as the basics of shamanism, native culture, and ways to live more symbiotically with nature.
-at The Memory Palace: “Self Seduction” – Hosted by Phoenix Ha, she taught a variety of techniques to cultivate self-empowerment. This workshop provided a variety of tips to boost self-confidence, such as EFT and re-framing inner dialogue, for example.
2. The Unique Spaces and Interactive Places
Exhibit A: “The Mixtape”
POV: You’re wandering the festival grounds between sets, and a friend says they have something to show you. Seemingly average from the outside, but inside you find a living room and wall of mixtapes, which you are able to plug- and- play live in the room. This place was always a dance party and a great space to kick it on the couch, too.
Exhibit B: “Rink a Dink“
POV: You danced your heart out last night, and your legs are tired. You walk by the roller skating rink and the DJ is bumping your favorite tune. The energy of the roller rink is infectious, so you decide to rent some free skates and let the wheels do the work for a little while.
Exhibit C: “The Grand Artique: Frontierville”
POV: It’s a blast from the bast, fulfilling your vintage fantasies- fully loaded with a General Store, stage, Pickle Bar, Tobacco Bar, Schoolhouse, and Renaissance-themed actors. Around 4pm on Saturday, you can even catch a live opera singer performing here.
3. The Location
We think a lake is a MUST for a multi-day festival experience, especially if you are hitting temperatures in the upper 90s. Floating on the water during the scorching days was a place of refuge and healing, and for some- partying as well.
Pro TIP: Pack an umbrella and extra sunscreen, the desert sun is no joke.
Aside from relief, the lake was also an ethereal backdrop for unforgettable sunsets, sunrises, and photoshoots. The reflection of the art and stages on the water was something else, as well.
4. The Stages and Crowd
SIX main stages hosted the soundtrack to this year’s LiB adventure: The Woogie (House Music, mostly), Lightning Stage (Main Stage), Thunder Stage (Bass + More), Grand Artique (Mixed Genres), The Stacks (Underground and Experimental Bass), and The Junkyard (Mixed Genres). Each stage was decorated eloquently to fit the energy of the music, and the sound and lighting systems were top-notch.
The beauty of LIB is that you can find some kind of set that fulfills your desires, at just about any time of the night. You just have to trust that you are exactly where you are meant to be, at any given time.
I don’t know if it’s the coming-out-of-a-pandemic energy or just a matter of coincidence, but this crowd was HILARIOUS! From the totems to the dance moves, to the random acts of kindness- LiB drew in a superstar roster of attendees. No festival is perfect- but this one is sure to make you smile! A few of our favorite totems in the 2022 crowd were of the natural variety – a pineapple and plant (pot included). These were found at The Lightning stage and The Stacks during Glass Animals and Smoakland.
5. The Artistry
The festival grounds were a place of beauty and wonder, at every corner, especially if you took the time to explore in-between music sets.
For instance- The Sacred Fire was nestled near one of the smaller stages, a place to reflect and learn from the indigenous tribes interwoven into the festival itinerary. Coming all the way from the Amazon Rainforest, the Yawanawa Tribe held a ceremony here.
A variety of Art Cars also roamed the festival grounds and showed up when we least expected them. This was a nice surprise and set the scene for traveling between stages and workshops.
At the end of the day, LiB stands strong in its ranks as one of the most captivating festivals in the West, and definitely the boldest in terms of wow- factor. It is an exceptional container for learning, expansion, and self-expression, and this experience is truly what you make of it. The musical lineup will always draw most people in, but if you dive deep into the full schedule, the impact has the potential to go beyond what you planned for.