Carolyne DeBlois

Turn Cellphones Off, for a Better Connection

Photo by Mario Miotti

Last year I attended Lighting in a Bottle Music & Arts Festival in Bradley, California, for the very first time. I was a Coachella veteran and thought I knew everything about festivals and what they could offer. Truth: I could not have been more wrong. A random speaker series on the first day drew my attention, it was titled “The Art of Letting Go”. It sparked something in me. I felt I had so much clutter in my life. After this talk, I recognized the clutter was in the palm of my hand.

That’s right. I’m talking about how much I learned from doing the impossible act of actually disconnecting for 5 days under the Lightning sky. I turned off my phone after hearing that speaker and I left it off. I still took photos on a disposable camera and hijacked a bunch of memories; but with the phone off, I learned more than I could ever have imagined.

It’s critically important to take time to truly be alone

In order to curate change and growth in our lives we must make the space by cleaning out old baggage. This can be literally taking the clothes you’ve had since high school to the donation box or shutting off the constant murmur of social media for a few hours. How are we supposed to hear all the important messages our psyche has for us if whenever we are alone, we reach for the friends waiting in our pockets. Our phones allow us to constantly connect with other people; but, when we do this we avoid critical conversations with ourselves. That is why mindfulness has exploded in the last few years. We are realizing that connecting with that inner voice is crucial to the communication of our authentic self into the world.

Louis CK said it best on an episode of Conan back in 2013: “You need to build an ability to just be yourself and not be doing something. That is what the phones are taking away. The ability to just sit there. Like this. That’s being a person. You gotta check, because, underneath everything in your life there’s that thing, that forever empty— that knowledge that it’s all for nothing and you’re alone. It’s down there. And sometimes when things clear away, you’re not watching anything, you’re in your car and you start going “Ohhhhh no. Here it comes…” that I’m alone, like it starts to visit on you, just this sadness. Life is tremendously sad just by being in it. That is why we text and drive… but people are willing to risk taking a life and ruining their own because they don’t want to be alone for a second.”

I get it being alone sucks, at one point at Lighting last year I danced off from all my friends and I didn’t have my phone. At first I thought, this sucks. I have to be alone at this festival? But as I danced around, a lot of stuff started to come up, and I realized I was having this intense conversation with my psyche that I had been stalling for way too long. I danced beneath the lights and trees of the Woogie Stage finally saying hello to myself again, not the person I was for everyone else, but the true self and the person I wanted to be. In some ways this was hard. I didn’t like all the parts I saw, but I realized I was ready to look.

Photo by Mario Miotti

You don’t need anything more than what you can fit in your pockets

The week before heading out to Bradley, California (the location for Lighting in a Bottle), I had moved across Los Angeles. This move had made me realize how ridiculously materialistic I was. I soooooo relied on all of my things. Letting them go released me to see how little I needed in order to be truly happy. All I had with me at any given time was: my water bottle, light-gloves (I mean, I AM at a music festival and it was cold at night), $20 in case I got hungry, and a lighter- which is the best way to make a new friend because someone ALWAYS needs one (plus then they might smoke you up); oh yeah and a little green to share. Living this way was extremely liberating: it allowed me to ‘notice’ people. It was partially through this realization- of how much I loved observing and experiencing people, that I grew into the writer I am today.

Maintain an adventurous spirit

The festivals I had been to before were massive: Coachella, Electric Daisy Carnival, and Hard Summer. I had never been to something like Lighting in a Bottle before. At music festivals I was always obsessed with keeping track of the time, ensuring I made it to my favorite sets: I was constantly checking my phone. It wasn’t until last year at LIB that I realized how much this was hurting my experience of the music. I would get pulled into my phone and text people to meet up. I was blind to all that was going on around me in real time.

Photo by Mario Miotti

On the first day at LIB, my best friend and I went off together and climbed up to the meditation lookout to watch the sunset over the dried up lake. Others were already perched atop this small cliff and some came up to join us as we sat there. It was quiet. No one was on their phone. Murmured conversations hushed as the sun dipped below the western mountains. The last tendrils of golden light reached upwards and a young man behind me began howling at the moon as it rose in the other direction. We immediately all began to howl together: a pack of wolves present to nature, to each other, to this moment. I will never forget how alive I felt; and I will always carry that with me, that sense of presence and adventure.

Music knows no judgement and is the most connective tool

The times I felt most connected at LIB, both with myself and my friends (old and new), was, of course, when experiencing the music. Without my phone, I was hyper aware of exactly where I was: screens are addictive and distracting.  I may not have remembered every track played, but I remember the feeling of those moments much more intensely. I think we lose that connection when we are snapping pictures to share with our friends.

This is why I am so excited to see Lane 8 perform this year under the lighting sky. His new tour concept “This Never Happened” is about exactly this: the release of our constant virtual interconnection, into a connection with the present moment. As he tours he asks fans to dispense of their devices. “Somewhere along the way, we as a society have lost the ability to experience those special moments. On the rare occasion that they do happen, we scramble to grab our phones in time to capture them – but those moments cannot be truly captured – and they don’t need to be broadcasted or recorded. Sometimes, the best thing we can do is fully appreciate what is happening in that room, at that moment, with those people around us.” – Daniel Goldstein (Lane 8).

See also: Mix #204 By Lane 8

He is asking one of the oldest philosophical questions- in a new way. Instead of,  ‘If a tree falls in the woods, does anyone hear it?’ He forces us to question, ‘If I don’t post this to social media, does that mean it didn’t happen?’ Our lives have become tied to these ‘likes’ of approval, this constant validation. If we don’t post something does that make it any less real? You don’t need a video when the melody of the moment is etched on your heart. This may sound cheesy as hell, but we all know its true. I have heard so many people, including myself, wish we had the same scene that underground ravers had in the 90s. Back then it was about deeply connecting through the music and making new friends, maybe trading phone numbers on scraps of paper to call someone on their landline to meet up for the next party. Now we’re all flakes. We can text 10 minutes before a meet up to cancel. Lane 8 is asking us to remember this phone-less feeling, that intimacy. His newly released “Fingerprint” captures this: as the song slowly builds you rise to meet the melody. I cannot wait to be 100% present to his music this year at LIB.

This sense of weightlessness can extend beyond the festival grounds

My experience at Lightning last year changed the way I wanted to behave in the world. Sitting beside the pagoda one night in an Adirondack chair, gazing at the stars and watching people climb into teapots, I contemplated connection. I watched others wander off from groups and stages to take a moment alone with this spectacular view. I had the feeling Louis CK described, that immense sadness. It came from nowhere and I wept. As I wept I released all this tension I had been holding onto. Suddenly, joy began to creep in. I may be alone, but I was undeniably myself. I stood up feeling this sense of empowerment in my discovery. I could be alone completely, and that was totally okay, in fact it was necessary.

Photo by Mario Miotti

I went off to end the night to some bass at the Thunder stage and made a decision. I was going to continue this healthy habit of letting go of my phone. No, I am not crazy. I still have a cell phone, they have become a part of our world and we cannot ignore them. We can, however, choose not to let our addiction to them control us. Last weekend at Further Future, Eric Schmidt, head of Alphabet Inc, spoke on the problem with distractions and he described phones as the new cigarettes: like cigarettes, phones are an object we can hold in our hands which make us look “cool” to a crowd. It’s become a cultural habit to senselessly scroll through our feeds whenever we are in line or at a red light or just bored. He explained to us that to deal with his addiction he turns off his phone every evening while he enjoys his dinner with friends or family.

That is exactly what I have expanded into doing since Lightning last year. I begin every day with my phone off. I set an alarm for two hours and after that I turn it on. For me, this helps me begin my day without distractions and allows me to remember what is truly important: the present. I challenge you to dispense of your phones this festival season, whether you will be joining me at LIB or any festival around the world. These events are so much more than just a chance to escape your job and get away for the weekend and party. Allow yourself to grow through the experience in new ways. Then later, share how awesome it was; but give yourself the opportunity to be fully present at that time. My guess is that you will find a way to connect even deeper, both in reality and through technology, once you make the space to self-reflect.

Carolyne DeBlois @carolyne_deblois

Her article, titled ‘Lighting in a Bottle: 5 things I Learned Last Year’, was originally published in Deep House Amsterdam.

BIO- Carolyne DeBlois is an actress and writer currently living, writing, and dancing in Los Angeles, CA. For more of her writing please follow her on Instagram @carolyne_deblois

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Valen Lambert

Working for Fun

Photo by Jess Bernstein

Indentured servitude is a lot more exciting than it sounds. Nearly every festival provides the opportunity to work on different volunteer teams in exchange for a ticket, food, and showers. This provides a perfect platform to travel, make friends, create new experiences,and to get a behind-the-scenes understanding of the work that goes into creating a festival.

            Volunteers are the reason you get to have so much fun at festivals. Without green team,traffic control, box office, greeters, hospitality, build, and tear down crews, events wouldn’t be as organized as you see them today. Being on a volunteer team is like being in a family of like-minded people with the same passions and interests. Some are traveling nomads who use the work-exchange as an opportunity to travel, eat, and have a place to stay, others are just looking for a free ticket. No matter the reason, volunteering brings diverse populations of people together under the common interest of community, love,and not spending money on expensive festival tickets.

            One volunteer team in particular has a huge role in festival management. The dirty but passionate work of the Green Team is one of the main reasons festivals can comeback to the same location next year for more good times. In a world where waste is often ignored and overlooked, green-teamers, also known as trash pirates, are there to make sure festivals leave absolutely no trace on the land.

When I first started volunteering on the Green Team, I had no idea about the family I was about to be apart of. All the members have a close bond over waste-reduction and sustainability.These people are serious about their trash. We get down and dirty, plundering through people’s waste, finding ground scores and other trashy treasures. We sort through trash for recyclables and compost to make sure the festival leaves the smallest trace possible. We use our passion of sustainability to educate and excite festival goers on what they can do to reduce their waste and eco-footprint. It can be a tough job when you’re dealing with the waste of 20,000+ attendees, and even more frustrating when they didn’t follow the guidelines of the pack-it-in pack-it-out event they’ve just attended, so there are mountains of trash bags next to the campground porta-potties stacked in front of signs that say “Take Camp Trash Home”.

Our passion for the environment fuels us through the frustrating, labor-intensive, and grimy work that we do. Somebody has to do it! Once you catch the green team bug, there is no going back. Your work starts branching outside of the festival. You will never resist the urge to pick up every piece of trash you see ever again. You’ll start bringing your own utensils, food containers, and cups out to eat to reduce your waste. You’ll always have reusable bags for grocery shopping. You’ll start yelling at all your friends for not doing all this either. We are trying hard to spread the bug because the world needs more trash pirates. The world is ready for change and we are the catalyst.

Next time you plan on attending a festival, look into volunteering. The abundance of friends you’ll make, money you’ll save, and unique experiences you’ll have is worth the work. If you’re not interested in missing any sets during the weekend, pre and post event shifts are available as well. Either way, you are helping make beautiful things happen.

Valen Lambert @chagurl

BIO- Trash pirate and boogie bunny; I’ll see you on the d-floor my friends 

Cheyenne Puil 

Somewhere between Nudity and a Onesie

Illustration by Tiki Jay One

I

try to stand up but I cannot find my balance. My happy place has become a nightmare. The main stage at Bass Coast Festival this year is an explosion of huge wooden tentacles reaching into space, reminiscent of the Kraken. I was visited by the Kraken last night. Her name was Lucy. She dragged me, unwilling, into outer space. I saw all the atoms in the world as individual pricks of fire burning around me and within me, if that makes sense. It doesn’t. It did last night. Oh yes, Lucy, that cruel mistress. It was like absolute silence meets the first moans of an orgasm meets stumbling through the dark. Yeah, those. That’s what it feels like to be trapped within the spiral of Lucy’s tugging hand. If only I had known it was going to be so fucked up. I’m in a dance troupe, and our biggest performance of the year is tonight. But I can’t do it.

I’ve waited too long to break the news. I need to face reality, to the other members of my team. “I don’t think I can do it,” I start, “I just…fuck I don’t know…” I trail off, hoping for them to respond with magic, with some incredible idea that will alleviate my inner-chaos. They remain still, a complete obverse of my spinning world. No words, no movement. I have never felt more uncomfortable. Lucy’s lurching tentacles begin to creep in once more. I fear for my dear eyes as I feel them shriveling up, retracting backwards in sheer discomfort from the sight of this world. You gotta love flashbacks, eh? I need to sit down.

Finally, Tara pipes up, “Okay, don’t stress. It’s still early in the day. Take it easy, drink loads of water and remember the Mobile Sauna Society is beside our campsite.” I have no idea what she’s talking about but her confidence in me is inspiring.  

Usually, I’m the one leading the warm up, getting everyone psyched, blasting a myriad of drum and bass, Beats Antique and Beyonce. But today, I struggle to stand up. My onesie is suffocating me. I can’t bear to watch them warming up without me, so I make my way to the sauna. Cleanse me please.

I reach a bright red school bus with a wooden sauna in the rear, complete with lemongrass scented steam wafting out of the windows. It burns my nostrils, and I like it. I walk inside. Slowly, I peel off my velvet onesie. Without my second skin, I feel vulnerable. I open the door with trepidation. Heat envelops me, and I feel Lucy’s tentacles return, smothering. No. No! I refuse to be overtaken! Lucy is no longer with me, this sauna will heal me- what is happening, fuck!

I don’t know what comes first, the sweat or the tears. They mix, covering my body in a salty wetness. I breathe deeply and begin to let go. Sweating, crying, breathing, releasing. I’m not sure how long I stay like this. One hour, two? With each exhale, Lucy’s grip on me loosens. Finally, I step outside of the sauna, continuing to focus on my breath. The cold air slams into me, a refreshing release.

I repeat this routine all day: jump in the sauna, breathe, step outside, breathe. An entire day of self-care, healing, and reflection. I cannot remember ever having done that before. It feels really good. Where has this been my whole life? It is my fifth year performing at Bass Coast. My troupe has always camped in the same spot, and so has the mobile sauna, yet I’ve never noticed it before. Reminiscing about past festival seasons, I realize how busy I have always been. Performing has become more of an obsession than a passion. No time for self-care. No time to explore or to sit with myself. I have been pushing myself too hard, always going-going-going and now I can’t enjoy dancing, the thing I love most.

My body has given up on me and I simply break down.

Illustration by Tiki Jay One

In the midst of my sobbing, a man opens the door, and a rush of cold air sweeps in disrupting the thick stale air. Before he notices me, he changes his mind, closing the door and leaves me in peace. The cold air settles into the sauna, cooling the space, calming me. 

And then I realize, in a moment of clarity. It’s all about balance. Days off are okay. Self-care is crucial. Reflection is important. Healing is necessary. I am glowing, and it’s not because of the heat. I am amazed with my luck at having the sauna to myself for hours, and smile for the first time today. I zip up my onesie half-way – a little covered, a little naked. I feel strong, yet completely relaxed, a feeling I realize I have been yearning for years. I have faced reality, and I am ready to connect with my team.

I make my way to the stage and am greeted by the Kraken once more, the wooden tentacles seek me out but not as an enemy. Now she can’t get to me. I take hold of her tentacles and hoist myself onto the stage, with her, a part of her. Together we rise high above the crowd and I unleash her strength, her unyielding grip in my performance, in dance.

Cheyenne Puil   @festivalbeings_

BIO- ‘Imagine galloping on a horse, wild as can be. Endless possibilities on the horizon. That exhilarating feeling is known by Tibetan Buddhists as Windhorse and that is the feeling Cheyenne craves. When performing, travelling and experiencing music festivals, Cheyenne embodies Windhorse. At the moment she can be found in the northern most tip of South America; about to embark on a desert journey. If she survives she’ll be returning to Canada for festival season where she’ll be interviewing the quirky individuals found in @festivalbeings_’

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