When I first purchased my ticket to Lightning in a Bottle's 2013 music festival, I really had no idea what to expect. I watched videos, read about the performers and workshops, and marveled at the costumes people were wearing. I packed my things, ready to camp for four days, expecting to be a spectator, not a participant. I wanted to observe, explore and investigate. What happened was transformative, and it's hard to put into words what exactly was so incredible about my experience. This festival review will be a blend of writing, videos and pictures.
So, without further adieu, here are my Ten Things I Loved About Lightning in a Bottle
1. The Tent Porn
My favorite part of everything? The "street" names. My friends and I camped out on the corner of Elephant Stomp and Fish-Sticks. Yeah. Seriously.
My favorite tent design goes to the makers of "The Temple of Fluff". It looked ridiculously comfortable/ amazing! May be stealing that idea next year :)
2. The People WatchingI am, at my root, an observer. I like to people watch. I like to let everything soak in before I open up and explore. Lightning in a Bottle is the perfect environment for people watching. At any given moment during the festival, you could pick a shady spot under a tree and just watch people walk by with endless amounts of entertainment. I'll let the pictures speak for themselves with this one.
I watched this couple for probably thirty minutes straight. I was in awe of their acro-yoga routine. It was absolutely flawless and beautiful.
The Mud Children in all their glory!
On the other end of the entertainment spectrum, I got to witness one of the most hilarious scenes EVER. These "mud children" (as I liked to call them) christened this poor girl who got too close to take a picture. I felt sorry for her, and backed away slowly before I got dragged in too.
The First Annual Frontierville Olympics?! YES, please!!
This is a fantastic video I found on YouTube that shows you the different costumes/ creativity that people had!
3. The Visuals
Glowing lights, sparkling shrines, neon colors everywhere....LIB definitely took their visuals to the next level. "Eye Candy" hardly describes what I saw. Maybe pictures will explain this better:
This structure was made entirely out of re-purposed pieces of wood. Amazing!
This art piece was in the middle of the festival grounds. Watching the people gravitate towards it was like watching moths move towards a flame.
Angles, shapes, lights, and colors.
It's kinda hard to tell, but the painting was glowing under the black lights.
This shrine absolutely took my breath away.
Another great example of re-purposing items into art. I loved the rustic feel of this picture.
4. The Unique Performances, Music & Dancing
Now, I'm not really the biggest electronic music fan. Or a fan of dancing. Most of the time I prefer acoustic sets where I can sit, drink a beer and relax. I was a little nervous about LIB because I knew Meaghan would drag me on the dance floor. I was scared. Seriously.
This is basically how the weekend progressed:
Day 1: I stood in the back taking pictures. No dancing.
Day 2: I got a little closer, took less pictures and shimmied a little here and there.
Day 3: No camera, with intermittent dancing.
Day 4: No camera, dance dance dance!
Lightning in a Bottle did something I never thought would happen....it made me love dancing. I can honestly say that I've never enjoyed dancing as much as I did at LIB. I felt comfortable to open up and let go of my insecurities about my lack of dance skillz. I just bounced around, laughed, and smiled the whole time.
On Sunday night, a couple people from the campsite and myself wandered around looking for parties at the other campsites. It was pretty cool to see all the different DJ set ups and make-shift dance areas. We probably found 8 or so little parties, where I got to meet and talk to even more interesting people. I've never been one to want to explore at 4 AM, but this was definitely an exception. I didn't want to sleep. I felt alive from the energy of the festival :)
Above is a list of the line-up at LIB. Have I ever heard of any of them before? Nope. Do I love what I heard? YES.
The first time I walked underneath the Earth Harp, I was wondering what it could possibly be. I could tell it was a sort of instrument. But I had no idea how it was played. I arrived at the start of the performance and snuck in closer to get a better look.
This video is from YouTube, but shows basically the same performance that I saw. The strings are "plucked" using your hands.
I was spell-bound by this instrument. I wanted to play it so bad!
Here is another compilation of the different artists that performed at LIB.
5. The Spirit Morning 5K
So, when I was reading about Lightning in a Bottle I noticed one major flaw: They had yoga workshops, health seminars, and completely overlooked my favorite activity: running. Why don't they have a 5K? I thought to myself.
Then it hit me: I could try and plan one.
I contacted the people who run LIB a few months back and they told me they loved the idea.
They wanted me to submit an application to do it as a workshop or activity.
Annndddd then I forgot. My thesis + first ultra completely overtook my brain space and by the time I remembered my bright idea, it was too late.
Never one to give up, I teamed up with my friend and festival partner-in-crime, Meaghan, to put on the race renegade-style. She is local sign artist and a music festival veteran. We made some signs, spread the word, and started Lightning in a Bottle's first 5K.
We got Spirit, how 'bout you?!
The one thing I didn't consider was how much walking we would be doing during the four days we would be at the festival.
The first day (thursday) we ended up walking around ten miles. I'll talk about this later on in the post, but let's just say that come friday morning (the morning of the race), I was completely exhausted and convinced that everyone would think it's crazy to run a 5K. ...which in hindsight, we were pretty crazy for doing it, but considering I'm an ultrarunner, I have no excuses :)
We had a small group of people who showed up, and a few backed out, not feeling up for it but still wanting to cheer us on. Five of us ended up running, so it was more of a group run than a race. Nevertheless, we ran around the camp-grounds yelling at people to join in. It was probably one of the most entertaining runs of my life.
A lot of people asked if we were doing races the whole weekend, and we considered doing a beer-mile Patrick Sweeney style. But after another ten-mile walking day, the idea of running soon became ridiculous. During the day, it was in the high 90s and everybody was frying. Recipe for disaster! Next year, Meaghan and I want to submit an official application to put on the race. I think with LIB supporting us we can make it huge. Just gotta do it on the first day and early enough to beat the heat and dehydration :) Meaghan and I are also thinking of calling it the "Spirit Animal 5K" and have people dress up as their spirit animal for the run. People love costumes!
6. The Water Stations
Fact: I've never drank so much water in my entire life. I absolutely LOVED the fact that LIB provided numerous water re-filling stations for us. The festival strongly encouraged everyone to bring their refillable water bottles. I was ecstatic.
7. The "Beach"
Lightning in a Bottle takes place at the edge of Lake Skinner in Temecula, CA. If you walked past the Temple of Consciousness, at the far end of the festival grounds, you would find yourself at one of the most beautiful "beaches" you've ever seen.
It was like a small sanctuary from the heat. You can kind of see in the last picture, but the beach was decorated with shells, stones, wood and flowers. There were blankets laid out and little shrines. It was beautiful and peaceful. One of my favorite places at LIB.
8. The Location
I really hope LIB gets the location again this year. I really liked the set up of the festival. The campgrounds were arranged well, the parking was reasonable, and you didn't have to walk TOO far to get to the main stages (in comparison to other festivals). Next year it would be nice to bring a bike, but regardless, it was a beautiful green location and I enjoyed being forced to exercise a little :)
9. The Yoga/ Spirituality / Meditation Areas
On Sunday afternoon I was starting to feel exhausted from all the dancing and the heat. Meaghan and I went up to the Temple of Consciousness and decided to nap underneath one of the large oak trees. Next to us, there was a guided meditation going on with chimes, gongs and chanting. It was incredibly relaxing, and we both ended up sleeping for three hours! I felt rejuvenated and refreshed.
A photo I took of a yoga session going on. Looked like pure bliss!
Although I didn't end up going to any yoga workshops like I had planned, I still got to experience the spiritual side of LIB. There were countless shrines, meditation areas, and speakers who you could listen to as you walked by. What I couldn't stop being blown away by was the kindness I felt radiating from everyone. It truly was a magical place where likeminded people gathered to celebrate their love of music, art and creativity.
10. Walking 40+ Miles
After walking what seemed like an obscene amount of miles on thursday, I decided to track my miles the rest of the weekend on my Garmin. On friday alone, I walked ten miles, and I definitely walked less miles on friday than I did on thursday. If you go to LIB next year, BRING COMFORTABLE FOOTWEAR. I wore my Luna Sandals for the majority of the time. Ladies, don't even think about taking high-heels. I estimate, that over the course of the weekend, I walked around 40+ miles. That's just the walking. Doesn't include the countless hours of dancing. Oh, and the four hours we waited in line to get our tickets. That was pretty much the only bad part of the experience. But if you think about it this way...a lot of the people at LIB don't run. They gawked at me as I ran by during the Spirit 5K. But little do they know, that they are all actually in great shape if they are able to walk 40+ miles over the course of the week without hurting.
I talked to my friend Meaghan a lot about this. She told me that her ability to dance for hours on end is part of the reason why she felt comfortable running longer distances. Dancing is a form of endurance. Even though you're not running, you're definitely burning calories and getting a good workout! I spent the majority of the weekend telling anyone and everyone about the distances that we were covering.
"You've walked at least a marathon," I'd tell them. The shock on their faces made my day. Maybe some of the people I talked to felt a little encouraged to start running once they realized how much they walked. Because surely, running a 5K sounds a lot easier than walking a marathon, am I right?!
Last year I was planning to go to LIB, but plans fell through. I'm actually really glad that this was my first LIB, because the group that I went with was incredible. I made some awesome new friends, had countless new experiences, and left with a new love for dancing and electronic music.
All I can say at this point is...when's the next festival?!