Mermaids, electronic dance music, body painting, dancing, community, festival fashion show, people from all over the Americas and Canada… yes, Imagine Festival 2017 was worth attending, and we are glad we did.
At Sparked Magazine, we champion the worth of the ‘transformational music festival’ as that being one which does not just entertain you, but that offers the intangibles that change your life. We champion festivals that care enough to ask you what they can do better. Imagine Festival proves it cares. Yes, they are creating entertainment, but they are also adding value, and THAT is what matters. The evolution of raving culture depends on it.
In its 4th year, Imagine offered a 4-day event for thousands of like-minded individuals looking for a weekend of dancing, connections, adventure, and self-discovery. And in only it’s second year at the Atlanta Motor Speedway, and second consecutive year offering a camping option, Imagine took another step towards engraining itself a destination festival for years to come. The camping element specifically, we believe, is to be the key going forward. It creates community, bonding, and memories of togetherness that will last a lifetime for the attendees and reinforces the desire to come back year after year, to unite with friends, and grow the family. Imagine is creating a bridge between mainstream culture and transformational culture, and we support it wholeheartedly.
Imagine Festival 2017– An Aquatic Fairytale was a festival unlike many others: a blend of transformational festival values with what is today regarded as EDM festival culture (where the music features drops, big bass, and dub step). If you thought ‘head banging’ was just for heavy metal or punk concerts, well it’s not. EDM has appropriated it, along with the ‘wall of death’, where the mosh pit splits like the Red Sea and then bashes into itself upon closing. Moshing is seen as a form of positive fan feedback or expression of enjoyment, and that’s no different than the dancing in any other aggressively energetic music. Read more about it here ‘The Science of Safe Headbanging‘.
But Imagine Festival is more than EDM, or EDM gone wild- it has created a blend of electronic music over six stages for all tastes, each with its own distinct musical focus and vibe, introducing new energetic talent on it’s undercard, with strong, proven headliners in primetime.
Among many things that inspired us at Imagine, one that stood out the most was the self-expression. Yes, ‘booty butt’ is a thing, and yes, being scantily clad is also a thing, but we’d rather look at it from the perspective of self-expression. Only you can choose what to put on your body and what to take off, and the attitude with which you do it means EVERYTHING. Pushing the envelope of sexuality and sexiness is nothing new, and it will never die, so we encourage that process, for the sake of the evolution of expression. Respect the expression.
As a festival fashion culture magazine we want to communicate what the ‘expression’ means. We want to have fun and flirt, dress up and get wild, explore sexuality and test boundaries. But we also want to be understood, appreciated, accepted, and loved. We deserve both!
Lyle Luminous Maxson of The Courtiers (Reimagining Event Culture through Experiential Design) produced a fashion show this year at Imagine Festival on Saturday night, and here is what part of the mission statement read … “The ideals of the festival are only as powerful as their application outside of the event. At festivals, we profess Peace, Love, Unity, and Respect (P.L.U.R.) but it is so easy to fall back into destructive habits after leaving the event. Our models are the people who “model” festival ideals throughout their entire lives, who apply themselves and their powers for the greater good.”
They believe each and every participant at Imagine should feel the exact same way, and so do we. Festival Fashion IS Festival Culture. And Festival Culture is more than the adornments we put onto ourselves. Lyle adds, “Festival fashion is helping the most outrageous of characters express themselves on a whole new level: while having an eye for style and a feel for clothing is integral to creating the mesmerizing characters that call the festival world home, we want to encourage attendees to take this beautiful self-expression into their day-to-day lives.” So do it up, wear your fest gear out in the real world, and let’s live inside a music festival all the time. Make the reality happen: through expression, values, and community.
The youth in our world are the ones that can mark a festival with a ‘truth’ stamp. They may not always understand the nuts and bolts of how a festival is put together, but they can certainly feel and connect to its spirit in ways most of can only strive to match. And they did just that at Imagine; outfits changed daily, sexiness exuded, and personal self-expression radiated. Year after year, these same attendees will return, grow and mature and be the standard bearers for festival rave culture.
So was this year perfect? No. Were there improvements from last year? Yes. Are we glad it happened? We should be! Music festivals are incredibly difficult to produce, and just the fact that they materialize over weekends as an explosion of ‘fantastic’, is a blessing that we should be grateful for.
Last year, after the festival, the Iris Presents team issued a survey asking for suggestions and comments on how to improve the festival for the following year. Based on the response, they issued this graphic over social media. Their key solution was to provide more fresh water access, and they did. Not only did Imagine have eight water stations on-site – each comprised of 16 powerful taps – but there were water fountains spread all over the festival grounds, along with three misting stations, ten “shading structures,” and a 75-foot cooling pool. If that wasn’t enough, there were volunteers walking around each stage crowd, squirting cold water into our mouths. They helped just me alone almost a dozen times to stay hydrated. I cannot say I have ever seen such a diligent commitment to the safety of the fans.
This year, the issue that is surely to be the hot topic, was the debilitatingly slow access to the venue. The Atlanta Motor Speedway has 15 gates for a reason. When Nascar holds races here, each gate pours fans in so that everyone can get to theirs seats in time to see the start of the race. For Imagine, only 1 of those gates were open, and fans who began lining up for a 5 pm opening were easily waiting 2 hours before gaining access to the venue. Lineups could still be seen at 8 and 9 pm into the night. This issue was addressed by Sunday, when festival organizers added a second entrance to accommodate the massive line, but- too little, too late. Potential revenue was likely lost, but worst of all, the perception that the organizers ran a smooth event was damaged. If you don’t think so, go read the fan Facebook posts.
Will this blunder hold Imagine back from continuing to become one of the premier electronic music festivals in the Americas? No. Imagine is here to stay. The fans will be back next year. And so will we. So if you want to be a part of the community, a part of making this festival more amazing year after year, then thank them first, and then let them know what your insight is for it to be better next year. They DO want to hear from you.
Your chances for longevity as a festival doesn’t hurt of course when you are able to book premier talent as Iris Presents did this year with Deadmau5, Tiesto, Pretty Lights, Above & Beyond, STS9 and Big Gigantic headlining alongside a very strong undercard. We anticipate corrections to be made next year as well as another strong line-up, and we will all laugh at our complaints around the campsites. It is in our best interest to support Imagine’s growth. Be a part of the solution and help them help you have the time of your life in the future.
With the leadership of Niekko Chin, the Imaginarium at Imagine Music Festival will also continue to grow in influence. And we are looking forward to supporting and promoting those offerings. Remember, celebrating life is much more satisfying when you have the tools to get what you want from it. Learning about Consciousness, Mindfulness, Permaculture, Aerial Arts, Flow Arts, Mastery of Life, Meditation, Yoga, Sacred Geometry, Art, and much more may seem like hokey stuff at first, but make it your own, make it cool for you, and use it to turn yourself into a bonafide super hero.
I mean heck, meditation, and deep breathing are not to be snickered at, they are well-known techniques dating back eons. And if using those techniques help you get sounder sleep, make better decisions, stay off the pharmaceuticals, be calmer and have less anxiety in general, aren’t they worth practicing? Especially when you are looking to make new friends and feel more at ease in large crowds at festivals? These are the skills you need to live a rock star life. Go get it.
Find a recap of this year’s musical acts here- “Imagine Music Festival brings EDM stars, comes of age at Atlanta Motor Speedway- Deadmau5 even ditched the helmet” by LJ Hiberath for Creative Loafing. And “Imagine Music Festival 2017 Delivered the Good and Then Some” by Michael Pfeiffer for Magnetic Mag.