This August will be well remembered for the Total Solar Eclipse that will traverse the continent of North America, and the epic Oregon Eclipse festival that will draw 30,000 people from all over the world.
However, our August started with an eclipse of a different kind, Eclipse: Resonance. A vibrant Psytrance Festival held in the woods of Quebec, on a camp ground by the name of Bonnet Rouge in Sainte-Thérèse-de-la-Gatineau. To our knowledge, it was going to skip a year and return in 2018, but when we got the news that they would indeed green light 2017, we had to attend for our second straight year.
Psytrance lies at the underground end of the diverse trance spectrum and offers up a bonafide variety of moods, tempo, and styles. Some examples include Full On, Darkpsy, Hi-Tech, Progressive, Suomi, Psy-chill, Psycore, Psybient, and Psybreaks (or “adapted” tracks from other music genres). Psychedelic trance has a distinctive, energetic sound (generally between 145 and 150 BPM). It tends to be faster than other forms of trance or techno music and uses a very distinctive resonated bass beat that pounds constantly throughout the song, then overlaid with varying rhythms drawn from funk, techno, dance, acid house, eurodance and trance by using drums and other instruments. But that’s nothing until you actually hear it! It’s highly energetic and can sweep you up into a meditative dancing trance for hours on end.
You can read all about Psytrance in our feature article here: ‘What is Psytrance? The History of Psychedelic Trance’.
Of course, there was more than Psytrance on offer at the festival. 3 stages in total brought us the sounds for the weekend: one for house/techno (Lunar), one for downtempo (Stellar, by the river) and the main stage for Psytrance (Solar). However, the psytrance was king, and that music from the Solar kept going all weekend, 96 hours straight. That is one of the most memorable features of the entire experience. We undoubtedly heard all the genres by the end of the festival.
But it wasn’t a weekend just for the music. The festival offered a festive, vibrant and unique experience by including fire dance performances, LED shows, pyrotechnics, and acrobatics from Mystika Circus. A troupe made up of artists from Quebec, Mexico, New York and Toronto who included Dan & Golem, Sisters of the Blooming Sun, and Fire Crackers. Costumed characters were again seen wandering the grounds, and one of our most memorable moments came from a young child who took a liking to a disco ball being wielded by a clown on stilts, and decided to attempt to wrestle it from his hands (see photo). We can only imagine that this same young lady must have been a well-known ball of energy in the Children’s Village where they had activities such as body painting, instrument making, painting classes and bracelet making (which was open to all).
On the first evening of the festival, when raindrops fell, we jetted into the Dome Theater to catch the tail end of Easy Rider and then gladly stayed to watch the classic Jonny Dep feature Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. Throughout the weekend you could catch anything from acclaimed foreign films, to classics, to Disney movies.
Of course, there’s no quality festival in today’s landscape that does not offer Acroyoga and Ecstatic Dance Movement, so if you haven’t tried these, please do! They are fun, interactive, and a great stretch.
Lectures on offer this year covered topics such as ‘Introduction to the Mayan World and the 3 Main Mayan Calendars’, ‘Grow Your Own Superfoods’, and ‘Introduction to Medicinal and Edible Mushrooms’. It’s the mix of all of these varied activities that creates such well-rounded enjoyment of the event.
And for the dancefloor warriors, free massages were on offer this year, balancing the rigors of festival activities with a clam space for meditation, contact and refocus. An upgraded touch to the tented areas featured triangular wood-art held up as floating walls, staggered in sequential order, guiding the wandered into the welcoming openings of the environment. It added a pleasing element to the scenery. Additional resting areas included two teepees were set up on the shores of the Gatineau river, an ode to the ancestral land upon which Bonnet Rouge camp ground is located.
Most people brought their own food stuffs but there were a variety of food vendors that kept you covered if you did not. Poutine Midnight, which seemed to never close its shop, was the buzzing spot. Warm pizza was also on offer, as well as a vendor dedicated to savory and sweet crepes, and of course several vegan choices. Our favorite food truck was one of those vegan options: La Wagonnette, run by brother and sister, Stephen and Marelie. We could not stop eating the vegan Wrap BLT and Breakfast Sandwich specifically. Both these items featured Coconut Bacon. We never found out how it was made, but it was so impressive! The taste was just like bacon, with a touch of cocoa flavor. We really love when festivals choose vendors that provide healthy and organic meals, it makes all the difference to the energy levels over the weekend.
Eclipse has come a long way since it’s indoor parties in Montreal started in 1999. After several successful city based installments, the first outdoor edition happened in near Mont-Tremblant, Quebec. People were invited to bring their tents and to camp, and since then, the festival officially became an outdoor festival. The 2004 edition was held in Ste-Agathe, Quebec; and a year later, they moved the location to their current spot in Ste-Therese-de-la-Gatineau, a spot further away from the major cities, but with the added value of tremendous natural beauty, a river-side beach and a lot of space to sprawl out in and enjoy. Despite having been to numerous psytrance events and numerous other festivals, nothing could have prepared us for the gorgeous, intense, and rejuvenating four days we spent at Eclipse.
And to be honest, if psytrance was simply not winning you over, you could spend your whole time at the beach, just below the Stellar stage, and swim to the down tempo beats or tan in the chilled-out environment. The Stellar Stage was the not-so-well-hidden gem of the festival. The perfect counterbalance of relaxation to the driving beats of the other two stages. This year, Enakim aka Sumi Kim played a wonderful afternoon set. She is also well known for being the owner of Shamanic Gardens who produce Timeless, Canada’s other Psytrance festival.
Speaking of Sundays, I couldn’t help but notice that the merchant square was getting a lot of attention, especially on Sunday. All your shopping needs were covered there by over 40 merchant vendors offering handmade goods from all over Canada. You could buy stylishly useful leather utility belts, dresses of organic cotton, sun hats, etc from vendors such as Psychonaut, Ayam Creation, and Chintamani Alchemistry.
There was also a rest and healing area offering holistic care and a space for workshops and conferences. Pretty much something for everyone! So come enjoy Eclipse when it returns in 2018: experience new connection, meet new people and share conscious experiences that you will not soon forget. And who knows, we may even spot you grooving out to your favorite genre of psytrance!
The festival extended a heartfelt homage to a friend, talented artist and member of Eclipse’s extended family, Benoit Carreau aka Les Limances aka Melodule. The opening set of the Lunar Stage on Friday 4th between 4:30-6pm was dedicated to his memory. RIP.
To stay up to date on all Eclipse news, please visit Eclipse Website here and their official Facebook page.