All posts tagged Festival

Ozora – Welcome to Paradise 2011 / 2012 / 2013

welcome_to_paradise___hdr_by_scwl-d4ehrg0 photo by scwl

Now just to start off, this festival is obviously not for everyone. If you are the germaphobic type of personality, scared of the outdoors or generally just timid when it comes to rough living for a week or longer this isn’t for you. To come here will require some sacrifices of comfort, unless of course you are the person who shows up with a remodeled school bus with a Volkswagen Beatle body soldered to the roof and with mechanical walls that extend outward to create a giant drivable living space on the inside. Now I know for most of you that approach is not realistic.

What is beautiful about a festival like this, first and foremost for me would be the “vibe” or the feeling you get from the crowd; from the smiling happy people around you and the mix of nationalities that travel from all over the globe to come to such a gathering. The artistic efforts constructed every year to expand and further the decorations, permanent structures, market areas are staggering. A place called “magic garden” offers visionary art galleries hosting artists like Android Jones and Alex Grey, along with various workshops and lectures.

It is a place for everyone, the music styles vary greatly too. The chill stage which is a gigantic dome structure, offers cool shade in the day and warmth in the night, with a lot of people sleeping or bringing their hammocks to hang and rest. There the music will range from the funky, to the laid back, to the bizarre and even humorous sets of the international artists that get to play. It can easily happen that you wake up to a set where your only thought is what the f*ck are they playing and why does it sound like donkeys? All of this is covered at night by an impressive and slick, still image projection wrapping around the dome with abstract and colorful patterns changing every few minutes, while in the distance people are spinning fire poi to the music.

chill_stage_ozora_2011_hdr_by_scwl-d4ax75g photo by scwl

Untitled-1 photo by zsutti

Another stage offers timeslots to up and coming bedroom DJs during the day and a movie theater at night. There are a lot of activities going on and things to explore, you won’t really run out of things to do, day or night.

Now the main attraction of course would be the main stage, as the name implies. An impressive giant sound system surrounded by a circle of trees that uphold the ever-changing shade structure that hovers over the gigantic crowd. Impressive lighting and projections cover the area, with a fire pit at the foot of the stage to offer heat in the night. Again the music styles vary, from live bands with psychedelic music like Sphongle and Juno Reactor pumping out energetic music that flows through the smiling crowd, you can’t help but move to the beat. A lot of other international acts come up to play, some already a regular every year and famous for their sets, touring the world playing their music. Loud, Ace Ventura, Raja Ram, Zen Mechanics and Flip Flop just to name a few.

I can’t accurately describe the music with words and a live performance takes on a whole other dimension. The only lyrics you will hear are mostly mantras, repetitive words, speech snippets from inspirational speakers like Timothy Leary, Terence McKenna and recognizable quotes from movies mixed seamlessly into the beat.

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When the sun falls, the BPM – beats per minute become faster and faster, the music slowly shifts in to something more sinister and seemingly evil, the lighting flickers and the sensory input of everything becomes more intense. I have to admit when the music goes to what is called Darkpsy, I just can’t take it for long. Your legs are exhausted, it’s hard to keep up with the beat and generally the stage can have a very uninviting, intense tone to it. Usually that’s when you can grab a bite to eat and explore the rest of the festival with a headlamp and an open mind.

Strolling through the market place you can buy a wide range of food, fresh squeezed juices, milkshakes, fried goodness, pizza and international cooking. If you prefer “home cooked” meals with a camp stove, then there is a supermarket on the grounds. A lot of clothing shops are available selling glow in the dark gear, all the jewelry and trinkets imaginable, and often rare items from foreign countries that traders set up for sale on blankets.

The festival is officially 5 days long, with a lot of people showing up days earlier and staying longer just to enjoy the camping and community, plus all the freaks that come out of their holes to gather in such a society. It has a very tribal feeling to it, a feeling that this is how life should be in many ways. Everyone is happy most of the time, is in a good mood and generally enjoys being surrounded by like-minded people. It is a scene that is replicated all over the world; they have similar festivals in the Sahara desert, jungles of Peru, the wilderness of Mexico and downtown Los Angeles. It will often happen that you will see a person you know from a previous event on the other side of the world, and that to me is beautiful.


peter_nemeshazi_052 photo by unkown

Burning Man – Rite of Passage


Now, this festival had a lot of personal significance for me. I was and probably still am in the transitional phase between teenage fun years, and having to grow up and be a man in my own eyes. The theme of the year, 2011, resonated with me in all possible ways, being that I always wanted to go, and as a semi art inclined person myself to experience this gigantic event near where I lived, I set out to make it a reality.

Dust, will be everywhere. Within seconds of arriving, your whole car will be filled with a layer of dust. It will be on your clothes, your belongings, your face, your skin. You are home now.

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The first keywords every “burner” swears by are radical self-reliance and self-expression; to basically take care of yourself and not die in a hot dry desert. Of course anyone will help you if you have trouble while being there, but there are certain rules that you have to live by. Take care of your trash or MOOP – “Matter Out Of Place”, which is everything and anything you take in that could drop on the desert floor. Take it all back home with you where it belongs.

You want to take a shower? Then you collect the water in a plastic basin to let the sun evaporate it again, because that too is MOOP. It doesn’t belong there, and the organizers make a huge effort to clean the whole Playa again after everyone leaves, to insure a permit for the next year.

So needless to say, going to such a festival will require a lot of preparation to do it right. I did hours of research on the subject, visited events hosted by “Burners” to welcome newcomers and give advice on what to expect and how to act. The only thing you can buy there is coffee and ice, everything else is on a trade basis and gifting is another big thing there. Alcoholic drinks are given out for free pretty much around every corner and at each of the 50 plus music stages, just bring a bottle and fill up, they don’t expect anything in return and certainly don’t want your imaginary money.

People get together to form giant camps. Often they might have a theme like barbaric Barbie Doll slaughtering, aliens, pirates, nudist hangout or roller skate disco just to name a few.

Burning Man 2012 photo by unkown

This gigantic, temporary city is laid out with streets and addresses which are actually surprisingly easy to navigate, but if you get lost that’s actually a great thing. The view from above the city resembles a geometric pattern; a half circle with the Man in the middle and the temple further out. It’s a giant wood structure built every year. Both will be burnt in spectacular fashion at the end of the festival. You will want a bike, because on foot it will be very hard to see everything while you are there, which even then is near impossible. You can always hitch a ride with a gigantic party ship though, that drives through the Playa as a taxi service. You can hop on and off any time, or ride with any of the other hundred mutant vehicles available. The whole place is an alternative reality, a playground for adults looking to get away from the known society for a while, and they do a pretty damn good job at that.

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Each sound camp has a unique group of people who set up and bring in international performances for no real gain other than giving back to the community and improving the experience for everyone. Often they will perform under fake names, so they don’t draw attention to their presence at the festival. That’s something that really shines through this event, the independent people that go there and put lots of effort into giant structures, art projects, giant complex stages and cars driving through the desert spitting fire. They don’t do it for any financial or other gain, the only thing they get are smiles and lasting impressions in the people that get to experience it.

I must admit, I went there as an observer and after it was over I actually felt guilty, that I didn’t provide anything for the community at large, an effect that first-timers often report. I haven’t returned there yet, because I know when I do, I want to be able to offer something in return.

At the temple, visitors bring and express their emotional troubles, deaths in the family, deaths of friends or any baggage that they carry with them. Some bring cremated ashes or personal items from loved ones, and the burning of the structure then is a way of letting go of the past and moving on. For me, I also contributed a significant, personal offering, and it has helped me in many ways. It’s mesmerizing, sitting in the crowd in front of the structure when it is set on fire, with its heat wave felt from a distance filling your whole body with warmth. Fire ignites something very primal in every person I believe, and watching something so beautifully planned and built just to be destroyed in the end, is amazing to see.

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I think every person approaches this festival with their own unique view of what they want to experience. For me, I felt like it helped me get over a lot of fears and personal issues. I gained from it what I expected, although the whole event was a lot larger and more overwhelming than I had ever imagined.

I couldn’t help but feel sad when I left and was stuck in a traffic jam that stretched for miles and miles. Obviously, I didn’t plan my departure in the best way. I listened to the radio show hosted by the festival and slowly exited the premises. As soon as my tires touched pavement I knew I was returning back to regular life. But inside of me, an inspirational experience that changed my life forever remained.


9640429861_aab8c2cbf5_k photo by unkown burning-man-aus-der-Luft photo by unkown