A new western student’s perspective on life: my personal experience through “Visionary music festivals”

In 2015, near Christmas, the world is suffering as well as humans: economy is recessing, world conflicts and tensions are getting bigger and bigger, the U.N. climate summit is being held in Paris, a city that was the theatre of ISIS’s terroristic attack on November 13th , and currently has to deal with one of the worst air pollution ever saw in China and the massive mine disaster in Brazil. The earth seems “crying” beneath our soles and our so called “modern” society, still depending on all the resources coming from the soil, is not making anything but polluting and wasting more and more every day. International committees are trying to find solutions but mainly focus on national interests and differences, without collaborating. I will than try to provide any reader of this column with a general picture of my personal experience through visionary music festivals, with the point of view of a Communication student fronting his thesis. The main aim will be showing that there is not just a way to be, but multiples possibilities of being, consequentially, many other ways to build a better and more peaceful society.

As the majority of people born in the mid 90’, I have grown up in the uprising years new media technologies. Something that has changed and settled an “agenda” on everybody’s work, school, house and communication environment and in the past years, thanks to the creation of social networks, also relationships. The agenda’s effect is the high limitation of the consideration of all the possibilities that we have while fronting different choices.  All this, shall not be saw neither as something dangerous neither as something great, therefore as really powerful instruments (reason why they are to be used carefully), that can bind people together towards the creation of something wonderful, earth and soul healing as a visionary music festival.

My experience involving festival culture started three years ago after 15 days of backpacking through Europe. I was travelling with five friends of mine and we decided all together to bail Amsterdam as last “stop” on the map in favor of Poland’s “Woodstock festival”: a national, free and music three days long festival held in Przystanek, one hour away from the Germany. The first  thing that happened to me when I arrived and will hardly ever forget was a smiling, bare-feet portuguese girl wearing a swimsuit and a colorful sheet, running towards and imposing me to drink, I assume sangria, from a carved watermelon. After that I knew that there, it was the place to be. Strangely the next morning my other travel companions felt somehow sick from what they have been eating overnight and decided to leave in the morning, letting me fronting the decision whether to stay or not. I decided to stay and luckily before leaving, one friend of mine was asking information to a polish guy, I joined the conversation and after they were done I explained him my situation. Like I was part of his family, this guy offered me to stay over his campsite and be hosted for the entire festival length, by a company of other 10 polish guys and girls, where, If I remember well, just 2 or 3 of them knew English. Despite that the communication between me and them was mostly wordless and gestures filled in the gap of expressing certain emotions; I could feel the warmth of a new, bigger, caring and miscellaneous family, something that my parents still wouldn’t consider possible due to distrusting socio-psychological concepts that avoid  This happened in the summer of 2012, when the event gathered around 550.000 people coming from all over the world that created a connection network empowered only by music and love. I never saw so many people living in an open air environment where everything, apart from littering, seemed working fine and without any reported crime, differently from all modern cities, even with a smaller population, which police departments are not able to see even one calm and peaceful day. This was the first time when I started thinking and have a tangible proof that our society has a big potential to leave peacefully and in sharing connection with each other, no matters where the other person is from.

After this amazing experience my summer has finished but my curiosity hasn’t, so I kept searching and asking for other similar events and finally I found what I was looking for: the ecstatic trance and visionary culture. This uprising community is part of what is called, the electronic dance music culture (EDMC), characterized by a religious/spiritual character, which is being studied by scholars of religion, music and culture. After three years joining this worldwide community, during overnight parties, summer festivals  (the one I did are: “Sun festival”, “Ozora” and “Sonica”) I learnt many things about myself and the possible way mankind would be able to peacefully coexist on this planet.

Visionary music festivals, based on psychedelic trance music, are religiously based on Indian divinities and South American’s rituals, whereas I personally think that are able to sum up all the basic and common good teachings from religions over the world: love every being, be generous and giving, take care of each other and heal your body and mind through re finding your connection with nature, teachings that I can and did see embedded in every being involved in this culture. Those festivals through different workshops and discussion lectures, as researcher St john state: “offer insight on ecstatic (self-transcendent), performative (self-expressive) and reflexive (conscious alternative) trajectories within psytrance music culture”, in a way that a personal inner journey and analysis of your place in the society will begin and awaken the necessary self-awareness for starting the path towards acceptance and transformation of today’s problematic reality.

Hoping to having offered a good glance upon how music and connections can offer different realities, I wish everybody a wonderful day.

By Gianluca Tomasello

In order to find different festival and a good description of them on this journal and website: http://www.mushroom-magazine.com/

Graham st. John’s research: https://dj.dancecult.net/index.php/dancecult/article/view/270/230

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