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Thursday, September 13, 2007

What I did on my summer vacation...

It's really hard ot write a post with a cat biting your wrists...apparently he's more important than this post.

*later*

OK...cat loved. Onto other things...

Like Shambhala.

For those of you who don't know, the Shambhala music festival has been going on for 10 years now. It's a private event put on in a private ranch in BC, where for 4 days about 12,000 people gather to get wierd and listen to music...some of the best music form around the world: all kinds, at 5 stages. Every year the stages get better, and the vibe is really unlike anything I've ever experienced before or since. Everyone is there to have a good time and enjoy the music, and there's an alchohol restriction so no drunken buffoons. And the security and first aid were top notch. A girl in our camp had an allergy to a bee sting and they were there to help her out in minutes.



This year we had the opportunity to come in early, as I volunteered with the harm reduction tent, and they paid me back for my ticket too...bonus, but not the reason I did it. Last year I saw the good stuff they were doing an wanted to help out - it's part of what makes Shambhala such a good thing - the attitude and positive sense of fun and community. It was great to contribute back to it. I had 4 shifts giving out information, condoms, we had drug testing for pills, first aid and someone to talk to if they needed it. It was a very fulfilling (for lack of a less cheesy word) and eye opening thing. There is a LOT of misinformation out there...and also a lot of great people. It was great to just talk with people, help them learn and be safe and have a great time. I used my geeky skills for good, helping out with information and pill testing.

JJ and I set up our stuff, and were hoping to run into a lot of friends we were hoping to meet up with there. We were concerned we wouldn't find them, what with the odd 10000 or so people to search in, but we did run into everyone in the end. We ended up camping with our friends Troy and Peter. Although our friend Troy had to leave early (we missed you!) we ended up camped with a bunch of people we'd never met - and had a fabulous time! They were all great and friendly: a florist, some painters, some students, a landscaper (with an uncanny ability to predict the weather) and even a software engineer for Apple. It was like camping with a bunch of old friends - unexpected but wonderful...they nicknamed the place "Camp Love". Cheesy I know, but a lot of fun. They even made me hashbrowns and tea for breakfast...I loved those people :) They were all interesting and unique people and it all added to the experience. The head of Good News Bear marked our camp. It was dusty, but mighty fine. And Friday night all the stages opened up...and it was gooooooooooooodness and light.


The music...sooogoooooooood! DJs form all over the globe spinning all styles. Over the weekend I heard funk, soul, rock, psytrance, hip hop and global fusion. There was a beach stage, the Fractal Forest, The Portal Stage, The Village (ewoks!!) the Main Stage, The Rock Pit and the Seed of Life Tent. Over the weekend I heard Fort Knox Five, and Adam Shake, and so many other great DJs. They played tunes by Ott, Bjork, Beck, Shpongle, Thievery Corportation, and too many others to list...I even heard some Beastie Boys on the last morning. For us, the first night was techno, the second Funky and the last full of (as James Katalyst would say) full on psytrance. I missed DJ Tipper, Adam Freeland, and Bassnectar...could only be in one place at a time...there was even a classy burlesque show one night. My friend Shamik, a beatboxer, did a live 20 minute set and blew everyone away...the man is magic. I don't know how he makes all those sounds.... Other friends Ken and Pat played sets at the Seed of Life tent. I think my favorite moment of the weekend was on the last night at the end of the Adam Shake set...his final track was a sort of whirling dervish Jewish crazy dance that started off slowly and built faster and faster until we were all laughing and dancing and spinnign madly in circles to the music...so much fun...so much joy!


During the day, there was a great river to swim in, a beach to lie on, even puppet shows. The paths were decorated with lights, art and messages...there was something to see verywhere. And even a vendor villag to get unique things in...and homemade cardamum iced cream with fruit. I got a very nice necklace, a rainstick and a soapstone insence burner. I also got JJ a shakey egg - you know those woody eggs with things inside for percussion? He's wanted one forever...

And costumes were fun as always...One night I was (as Robyn put it) "sexy rave police lady" - I had police pants and a cropped top altered with yellow detailing. One night I was Sarah Silverman with my Cookie Party TShirt, and on the last night, as you saw...Tank Girl. Fun. I stayed up all night most nights and took it all in... I did have to take off the missiles after a while though...I kept whacking people with them (oddly enough I was not used to them!). My favorite comment on the costume was "are those offensive or defensive?" (my response was "oh, definitely offensive!") As for others, over the weekend I saw Chewbacca, Leia, sandpeople (very cool - he even had the Bantha stick), The almighty tallest (Red), Vader, Mario brothers, a mirror ball head guy, Batman and Robin, cowboys, a naked guy with shiny mirror bits all over him (looked really cool actually), acrobats, firedancers, pirates, ninjas, and even a few smurfs. Add to that a whole lot of crazy dance wear, a lot of which was UV reactive. The stages were so large, that with the exception of a few times, there was always space. And there was always the walkways in the village to watch the people from below...and the sound qualiy was world class...crystal clear.

I wish I had more photos, but until the last day, I was sure that my camera was broken. It turns out we were just dumb and had hit a button that froze the screen and settings to save power...heh heh. (Yes I'm a scientist! Feel free to mock me).
Things I've learned from Shambhala - people smile when you give them muffins, I have themost beautiful ass in the world (I kid you not...I was told that), I love live funk, I have some great old and new friends, and it was a great place to spend our anniversary. I didn't get JJ anything as cool as last year (no butterfly) but it was a fine evening together, dancing and enjoying ourselves with a few thousand of our closest friends.

I can't really do it justice to try and describe it all...it was a great time -unlike anything else I've been to, and different but just as good as last year. I'm getting all nostalgic thinking about it...and thinking back about the great summer we had.

It was a great time. Met many great people and danced with joy in the woods...AND came home with a bunch of tasty peaches.

Mee hee. Life is good.

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