Ozora – Welcome to Paradise 2011 / 2012 / 2013
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.
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.
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.