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 Lightning In A Bottle 2016 | FESTIVALPHOTO



Lightning In A Bottle 2016


2016-10-05 18:37 -

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2016-06-20 22:25 - Catching Lightning in a Bottle in California

Walking into the world of Lightning in a Bottle Festival (LIB) is like turning yourself into an offering. It's an act of faith, a mark of trust, and an expression of acceptance. Because when you step into the high-frequency land that is the dried up reservoir of the San Antonio Recreation Area in Bradley, California, you're stepping into a time of transformation, expansion, and realization. A time that is bound to influence you in ways unseen, and leave you forever changed.

A testament to its vastness, and really, its greatness, is how difficult it is to put the LIB experience into words. There seems no way to properly express in words all that can be seen, felt, done or accomplished in the time you spend at Lightning in a Bottle. Because it's equal parts ancient, tribal, ceremonial and sacred, as well as futuristic, trendy, innovative and groundbreaking. On the final night of the festival I witnessed, in a small tented area that had been serving as a fine dining restaurant (one of two available at the festival. And yes, five course meals were served), a really energized party going on. There were oldies playing, and people dancing all over the place. The tables no longer served dinner, instead they served dance.

A Wisdom Keeper and Native American Tribe Chief took to the tables as Michael Jackson came on, and proceeded to wow us all with his absolutely stellar break dancing skills. Surrounded by festheads, characters of all kinds, and the theater performers who were dressed in all white and had been zombie-ing around the grounds all festival long without breaking character, were now bounding around all over the place, smiles on. They'd finally broken character, after being taunted and photographed all weekend like the Queen's guards.

I stood back on the outside of the tent, watching in wonder, as this Wisdom Keeper got down like the best of the B-Boys, Burners bounced, and people who looked like they'd dropped in out of the 80's all shared space. "This is why I love LIB," I thought, "This is what makes it so great." Because honestly, where else in the world will you have a tribe Chief break dancing on a table surrounded by theater performers and other fun folk from walks of all kinds? But that's LIB. That's the experience.

Produced by the world-class, LA-based artist collective The DoLaB, Lightning in a Bottle festival ranks as one of the top festivals in North America. Likely, the world. It fuses Coachella-like vibes; a music festival with a heavy focus on fashion; and those of other transformational festivals; festivals where the focus is placed as much on sustainability, workshops, learning, consciousness and art, as it is on the music. It's the only festival in the United States to be awarded the Outstanding Award from A Greener Festival five years in a row, making it OFFICIALLY the greenest festival in the country! And it shows!

Members of the Green Team are at every trash can station, making sure you know what goes where, and sorting out everything. "Mooping" (picking up little pieces of trash, AKA Matter Out of Place) is highly encouraged, and there's even a "Clean Up" jingle that plays at each main stage at the end of every night. The community comes together with the staff to ensure that the "Leave No Trace" theme stays very much alive and in place. But this is just one of the revolutionary and highly-respected aspects of this truly unbelievable festival!

The lineups for speakers, presentations, workshops, yoga, dance, and therapeutics are as dense and endless as that of the music lineup. They provide attendees a chance to go to school all day, learning from the brightest minds of ours and past generations (they streamed Osho at one point), and dance to the top beats in the scene all night.

There were three main stages - The Woogie; home to all things house; The Thunder; where things got dark and dubby each night; and The Lightning; the main stage and hot spot for live performances - as well as countless other areas to hear music till the sun came up, play BINGO and boogie down to some funk, wander through art galleries boasting some of the top visionary creations in the world, and amazing installations, places sit and meditate or converse, and of course, endless opportunities to expand your mind. Swings, tents, hammocks, cushions, and pillows abounded around, encouraging people to embrace one of the best fest intentions you could ever have: to just hang out. Hang out with epic people, who you're going to teach and learn from, and have mind-blowing conversations, and share sweetness.

The event kicked off officially on Thursday, but for those with Early Arrival passes (sold separately and very much worth the extra expense), there were a variety of offerings. From the Village Action Day with The Polish Ambassador and Permaculture Action Day gang, to an opening ceremony, a sacred fire, a few different artistic presentations, talks, and the high-vibe cacao ceremony, where Porangui took us into a variety of beautiful dimensions with his musical creations. It was clear the intention was being set for the event, and it was one of co-creation, celebration, and creativity. Alas, the long-awaited LIB had begun!

Thursday got going nice and early, as every morning at the event would, with a Sacred Fire at 5:45am. From that time on each day, one could enjoy any number of activities. Meditations, yoga classes, and other conversational indulgences could be enjoyed in the morning at the amazingly curated Meditation Lookout (thank you, Nature) - home of the Early Arrival parking and camping, and a hill higher than any other point in the festival. It displayed an enormous bird flying up into its meditative nest, made entirely of nature found in the area. As well as housing a dreamcatcher making station, and space to lounge in the shade amid installations and altars. The daily lineups of speakers, presenters, discussions, workshops, ceremonial concerts, traditional offerings, and immersive activities at The Village; a space where potent conversations never ended and delicious elixirs, foods and snacks could be enjoyed for both your physical and spiritual bodies; The Temple of Consciousness; a beautiful structure full of places to lounge on comfortable cushions and absorb the latest dose of depth being laid down; The Learning Kitchen; the hot spot for culinary creations and presentations; or any of the other eleven sub-spots within the two zones were wildly diverse, and offered festival goers an opportunity to spend the entire day learning. You could go to the festival without actually hearing any music, and have gotten more than your money's worth from it.

As people continued to stream in on Thursday, the rest of us looked on, with a slight air of anticipation floating around, but mostly a major case of relaxation. Blissed out at the prospect and reality of simply Being where we were, we watched the scene gradually emerge. Shuttles, which were graciously covered to protect from the blazing sun, continued to go back and forth, delivering endless loads of people and gear from the festival grounds to the parking lots in the distance. Festheads lined the roads, wagons in tow, and happy, sweaty smiles plastered on their faces (in most cases), as fellow festival go-ers offered their helping hands. The community came together, and the energy around kept increasing, leading us into the beloved sunset session.

In case you've never experienced a festival like this or any other, let me let you in on a little secret... it is quite customary to howl like a wolf, bark like mad, or release any other kind of animalistic sound you can muster as the sun starts to make its descent for the day. It's a time to cut loose, and show some appreciation to that big ball of love and light that spends all its time in the sky. Being blessed with the Meditation Lookout, the crowd gathered and speckled the hillside with vibrant colors and characters, to watch our lovely sun set off over the mountains afar. What a surge of life it brings to all involved, to release like the animal you are in celebration of the sun! (Give it a try, even if you're at home:)

From there, we relished in the sun's last light, then darted off to our tents to put on warmer clothes. One of the things you have to be prepared for at LIB, or any event taking place in Central/Northern California, is the 40+ degree spring temperature swings between day and night. With highs at 85+ degrees Fahrenheit and lows in the upper 40's, we had to be prepared for everything! Luckily, the crowd of 25,000 +staff and volunteers served nicely as an insulator around the stages at night.

The main stages didn't open up until Friday afternoon, which many of us loved. It gave us a chance to auger in, roam around, and keep the FOMO (Freak of Missing Out) somewhat at bay for at least a day. (Not really, there were so many good talks and workshops going on, I know I started suffering from it as soon as the schedules were released. Whoops!) But, The DoLaB does not disappoint when it comes to delivery, and neither did the Pagoda or Favela Bars, or The Grand Artique, which they'd arranged to be on and popping from Thursday afternoon on. With acts like Sugarpill, Nico Luminos, CHRISB., BOGL, Rafael de la Cruz, Diva Danielle and the 80s Prom Party +more performing, I think it's safe to say we were all okay with waiting on the main stages to open up.

By Friday, most attendees had filed in, and everyone was preparing for the main stages to open, and the event to be fully underway. Claire Thompson and FreQ Nasty opened up The Lightning Stage with their epic Yoga of Bass class, while Jamie Shwabl got it going at The Woogie, and Michael Manahan broke in The Thunder.

Some of the top sets I saw included:
Clozee, The Funk Hunters, Ekali, Raury, Emancipator Ensemble, Big Gigantic, William Close and the Earth Harp Collective, Whilk and Misky, Dirtwire, Space Jesus, Autograf, Hayden James, The Librarian, Bleep Bloop, Haywyre, Tokimonsta, Minnesota B2B G Jones, Jamie XX (who absolutely kills it on the turntables by the way!), Ibeyi, Lucent Dossier Experience, Elderbrook, Magda, Josh Wink, four tet, Lee Burridge, AtTyA, HAANA, David Starfire, Desert Dwellers Live, Dimond Saints accompanied for the first time ever by a seven piece orchestra, Eprom, Mr. Carmack, Lara Taylor, Russ Liquid Test, Nahko and Medicine for the People (plus his amazing and hilariously intimate acoustic set in The Temple later), Moderat and Chet Faker.

As you can see, there were a lot, and there were so many more I didn't even catch! To see full schedules and find some new artists to listen to, go to

But while I may have gone into LIB thinking mostly about the music, what became clear to me during this particular experience, was that I wasn't there just to dance. I was there succumb to the free flow. I was there to learn, to grow, to share, to shed, and to have my mind blown wide open by realizations and information. So to say some of my favorite moments were spent away from the music stages seems to sell it all a little short.

I loved so much Dr. Lori Cardellino's presentation/discussion, "The Truth About Mercury in Your Teeth," in which she blew the lid off of the dentistry industry. (Research mercury fillings!) Also, the Zendo Intention Setting that took place in the Mentor Hub of the ElixArt area in The Village. Shannon, of the Zendo Project, led a small group of us in a safe, open space to share and set an intention for the festival. Other top talks and "non-music" things I attended include the Osho Dynamic Meditation led by Alix Txe, The Ecstasy of Monogamy with Jo Tasula and Stuart Watkins, the Integration Session where many of us from the Intention Setting rejoined to reflect on our experiences and how we could integrate them into "normal life," and many of the little concerts and panels held in The Village with visionaries and tribe members.

There was such an amazing excess of good things to partake in, just reviewing the schedule now makes my head spin and thoughts of, "HOW DID I MISS THAT!?" fly around. Again, a real testament to the depth and breadth of this event and experience. But it would honestly all be a loss were it not for the individual connections made and moments shared. Because without the creative, innovative and visionary community Lightning in a Bottle and festivals like it brings together, little else would really matter.

And that is the thing that I loved so much about this festival, and know so many others relished in as well. At LIB, you would be walking from one place to the other, and suddenly, you exchange a smile and a "Hey, how's it going?" with someone. The next thing you know, you're embracing in an elongated hug, after having spent 15 minutes going into the depths of the conversational seas with this brother or sister that was a stranger just moments before. No one is in much of a hurry there, and these interactions happened with such frequency, you couldn't help but be high. All of a sudden you're in the middle of a walkway, engaging with someone, simply because you made eye contact and both decided to honor the moment, stop for it, and indulge in presence. I can't count how many powerful, moving conversations I got into with people, all because we decided to say, "Hey!" It's a practice we would love to carry over into the day-to-day, and something everyone who'd never been before was totally blown away by. Many people told me, "You know, I've never had so many random people just come up to me and give me a hug before. Someone just stopped me as I was walking and gave me a hug because ________." And that's why we keep going back, and events like this keep expanding. Because, commUNITY.

We go back because we love who we are when we're there, who we're around when we're there, and who we can become when we're there. We bathe in the glory of deep breathing, eye contact, therapeutic hugs, and sparking conversations where there is no pretense, only openness and honesty. We bare our souls to one another, and share every little bit of our hearts. We laugh, we cry, we scream, we howl, we go wild, we get lost, and then we realize... we've actually been found. It's a magical place, where your dreams really do become a reality, and there's a whole group of people you love to support you and help it happen.

My first and only other Lightning in a Bottle experience had taken place in 2013, and totally changed my life. It was my first transformational festival, and fell in line with an epic year of personal growth and expansion. Since then, I wasn't around to attend, but longed deeply for this place I'd come to call home. There was just something about it.

Going into this year's event, I had no idea what to really expect. I knew the event had grown in size, changed locations, and knowing The DoLaB, figured the event was going to be mind-blowing. However, I didn't expect that the same festival, four years later, would change me and my life in some very, very powerful ways yet again. But that's what this event does... It changes you. Your life. Your perspectives, and everything you thought you once knew. Generally for the better, and always for the greater good of all.

It's the kind of place where you meet a studying chiropractor while dancing, and they end up giving you a full-body reset, including a stress-relieving massage that involves saying, "Go away, stress!" as they pull down each finger. A world where you're sitting down nursing your ankle, and a physical therapist comes over to ask you about your injury, and tell you they have compression wraps and everything else you might need on hand. A world in which you find pieces of yourself in everything around you, and your life's path becomes a little clearer. It's the type of community that brings together everyone you can imagine, and encourages them all to play nicely and join like the family we really are. A place where you can sit in an empty Tarot Tent with friends, calling out to strangers passing by, and end up in some of the most profound conversations you've ever had.

Lightning in a Bottle is a world unlike any other, because it is so big, yet so symbiotic. It's so all-over, but all-inclusive. You cannot go to an event like LIB and walk away thinking anything other than, "I've just attended one of the greatest festivals of all time." Because as Stylust Beats said in his 2015 set, "We Livin' in a Miracle!"

PS. There are cuddle puddle late night every night in The Temple, and they drape the most luxuriously comfortable blankets over you, as you snuggle up with your old or new friends, and are wooed by delightful sounds from the stage. Just saying...

For more information on Lightning in a Bottle Festival, visit and check them out on Facebook!

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  Writer: Allison Fedor