East Meets West: Summer of Festivals Series- Blessed Coast Volume 1
I’d never festival’d before. Yes, festival IS a verb. Sure I’d sang “Ziggy Zaggy Oi OiOi” in Kitchener at Oktoberfest. I’m also told I had a great time at George Street Fest. (I would like to take this moment to offer thanks to Dionysus, the god of madness and pleasure that a) I survived b) no smart phones were around when I was having plastic cup after plastic cup of Lamb’s, rum because I have no doubt in my mind that I was the farthest thing from picture perfect.)
The Summer of 2018 found me changing the tides; in two months I found myself at three music festivals. Each with their own personality. I present to you, part one of Blessed Coast:
Hot Child Not in the City
Blessed Coast took me by surprise. It wasn’t something that was in my calendar for months, I didn’t know I was going until less than a week before. I hadn’t even been in my new Lovely Lady Lair for two weeks. I still had the beat inside me from Bass Coast from not even a month earlier when my friend Sue not only extended her extra ticket to me, but her sweet little psychedelic car, Flutterby, to whisk me to mountains in Squamish for a summer festival I’d only had the vaguest knowledge.
Blessed Coast celebrated its fourth year of music, yoga, and art in July. The vision of the festival invites participants to come together as a community to heal the spirit. Indigenous Elders pass down their teachings, inspiring the festival-going community to radiate as their authentic selves creatively while realizing the deep interconnectivity of humanity, nature, and spirit.
Attendance was around 1500 people, deeply aiding in the interconnectivity. The part about Blessed Coast that was the hardest for me to get my head around was the fact that this was a family friendly event. Say what? Again, my little Ontario brain has no comparison as a grounding point. What a vastly different contrast from anything I as a wee tot witnessed. The openness and generosity, receptivity, and respect of this festival being infused into the children was a beautiful thing to behold.
The grounds have six different locations to invigorate and inspire. Totem Stage, the main stage, was home to musicians, spoken word and dance, It also housed the opening and closing ceremony. Dojo was a stage, chock-full of martial arts. Yoga Temple offered an abundance, including kundalini and Taoist astrology to compliment flow and Yin practice. The Workshop Space and the Women’s Red Tent offered such wisdom as St’at’imc Nation Elder Wisdom, teaching from the Haisla First Nations like “The Heart of Cultural Appropriation or Magical Menstruation”, “Tea Ceremony” and “Orgasm for Health”.
Unscheduled events such as live painting mural, and bodywork via massage and reiki are additionally offered. And food! Fresh, healthy lovingly created nosh bursting with creativity and alchemy!
Festival headliner, Deya Dova, who hails from Nullarbor, a desert in Australia, ignited Blessed Coast with her fusion of bass, soundscape, electronic beats, and her potent, sweeping vocals. Dova’s music contains a very palpable narrative incorporating mysticism and respect for the Earth. Who are we kidding, Dova wasn’t the headline, Mother Nature held that space and Doya reminded us of that. Her stage performance featured dancers representing a different aspect of nature, the battles, the victory, the love and balance among it all. The lessons we get to learn from nature if we humble ourselves to listen. I could feel my curiosity and creativity expanding.
There’s something to be said about festivals and the energy they inject into me. I don’t have to try, I don’t become something I’m not and instead, I become an even more authentic version of myself. The self-conscious, cautious nature of my ego gets pushed to the side and I instead imbibe in joyful instinct unabashed free fearlessness; I get the fuck out of my own head. I dance and engage in conversation with strangers. I roll around in the forest in the living room that my talented friend Amber created for herself, complete with carpets and fairy lights, for photos that quickly evolves into a nude photo shoot. Festival magic and Amber magic is pretty potent.
To quote Austin Powers, “And I’m spent!” I had worked all day. I had shocked myself with the aforementioned photo shoot, and as a result, I was tired. I tiptoed through the twigs and twinkle lights and found my tent. Rest. The ambient music swelled in my tent. However, it did more than that; it teased and enticed me to come back to the reveling- and I did. I phoenixed so hard that night and I’m so grateful I did.
I crashed through the woods and descended on the colours and lights and bass and music and my friends who’d resigned to my Sleeping Beauty disposition. I revealed in their delight and it further energized me. And I danced. I swirled in the being.
Slowly, my friends began to make their way to the refuge of their tents. I wasn’t sleepy, not in the slightest; Solo Raver was in full effect again. The crowd of 1500 had dwindled to less than 200 by that point. The greasy beats were contrasting with the dust bowl dancing happening before the stage. There was ecstatic dance which lead to the ecstatic conversation; topics like the nature of reality, of time and space, interconnectivity and consciousness. As Bill and Ted would say: “Whoa”.
Sacred geometry and prisms and light projections, draped fabric and couches and (biodegradable) glitter, moonlight; the night was a kaleidoscope of emotions and sights. Sleeping children tucked into the shiny purple fabric of the Tea Tent, an all-night herbal cantina, which glowed like a science fiction creation meets desert mirage. Those sleeping children once they found their beds left space for dozens of adults to morph into a snuggle puddle.
Without question, I know I was energy drunk (deciding once again to not imbibe in alcohol at this festival. As for other substances I will neither confirm, nor deny).
When was the last time you danced and wandered and wondered till dawn talking to strangers? When was the last time that you were in the valley of a mountain, surrounded by trees under a Full Moon? You can’t deny that visceral of an experience, you absorb in it and hold onto those moments when winter’s grays are nipping at your heels and your heart.
*The complete Summer of Festivals Series- is available here.*