I have a confession to make. Shambhala was the first party of that magnitude that I've been to in about six years. What can I say? You have kids, priorities change, and raving just isn't something you can easily keep up with. But wow. What a way to make a comeback.
Yeah, so I called it a rave. Neat, huh? Despite the fact that, through some unconscious social process, the branding for large gatherings of electronic music fans may have changed, Shambhala, like many other parties of this kind, is indeed a rave. And I can confirm that raves are very much alive and well in 2012.
I arrived at Shambhala three days before the festival officially started in order to volunteer in the production office. I worked over 30 hours processing other volunteers, taking their photos and printing ID badges. Fun stuff, since I got to meet and chat with loads of people. I unfortunately had to split on Saturday morning for family reasons, but not before I managed to squeeze in two solid nights on the dance floor.
Thursday was an early night, since I worked the next morning, but Friday night became late Saturday morning faster than you can say Longwalkshortdock, whom I had every intention of catching but didn't because I was caught mostly in a vortex of the Living Room and the Village, bouncing back and forth between Sean Brawley, Lowriderz, and Hoola while he was performing at the Rock Pit, which I sadly avoided because it always seemed to be jam packed full of bodies.
Speaking of bodies, the Shambhala crowd was interesting to behold as well, featuring a mosaic of costumed attendees, hippies, super-hippies, mutated hipsters, club kids, normals, dudes-with-signs, and locals. While most were probably in their late 20s or early 30s, I saw no shortage of people considerably older than that, including a handful of seniors, which was solidly inspiring.
Almost everyone was friendly, some folks exceedingly so, and it's these people, many of whom also volunteer for the festival, who give the event the so-called "farmly" feel. It's probably this element who foster the festival's incredible sense of community, which can be measured in part by Shambhala's Facebook page, which has over 73,000+ likes, a number that completely blows out of the water every other Canadian festival of any kind.
With this kind of love, you have to wonder where the festival goes from here. It has the momentum to grow, but I'm not sure if it can or even if it should. Bigger is certainly not always better. Shambhala could go on as is for many years to come and serve as a great place to discover new music, friends, and ways of living, but part of me can't helping thinking it would be nice to see the love spread far and wide.
Shambhala Diary - Day 3: Now it's for real
Shambhala Diary - Day 2, well, 2-ish: Utilitarian performance art and weddings
Shambhala Diary, Day 1: Arrival
Photo by Louis Bockner, Eye of the Mind Photography
on Aug 13, 2012