As an avid festivalgoer and being fairly new to Bakersfield, I was thrilled to find out that the new location this year for Lightning in a Bottle Music Festival (LIB) was only a half-hour drive from me, at the Buena Vista Lake. The only thing I really knew about LIB was that it’s a much more intimate camping festival, which nowadays I preferred over the larger ones. As I deepened my interest for it, I learned it offers an abundance of wellness workshops like yoga, meditation and sound healing sessions and conscious topic discussions featuring key speakers. When I looked at the music line-up, I was excited to recognize electronic dance music artists I’ve been keen to see and I also noticed there will be artists from various genres. Then I noticed that LIB fell on my wife’s birthday weekend (May 8th-12th), so logically it felt like the Universe was hinting for us to pack up our tent and our dancing shoes!
We arrived at the campgrounds on Thursday evening and met up with our lovely friends who did such an amazing job at creating feng shui for our weekend home. We were also situated under a tree so glorious its shades kept us cool. At times, we could feel a gentle breeze since we were close by the lake. When we entered the festival grounds, we were immediately impressed by the eccentric ambiance and how there were plenty of things to do and see! The euphoric energy everyone transmitted out was so contagious that I quickly came to a realization that this experience was going to be magical. Even if we could sense the inevitable rainstorm was approaching.
While the rainstorm during the early hours of Friday morning was harsh, it did minimize the dust for the weekend. The rainstorm was actually cool to witness while camping because it totally set the mood for LIB. The way I see it is that Mother Nature gifted us with a natural lightning show to initiate the weekend festivities – literally placing the emphasis on lightning. Sure, it did rain hard and it got really muddy in certain areas but the sun eventually came out and embellished its heat for the rest of the weekend.
Our Friday started with a psychedelic breath yoga workshop, which ended up being such a special and personal experience. Then we attended some yoga sessions, one facilitated by Stephen and Katherine who operate Samsara Wellness Center here in Bakersfield (You can catch a free Samsara yoga session held at the Center for Sexuality and Gender Diversity on Mondays at 6pm). Not only did the daytime activities leave us feeling rejuvenated, but it also prepared us for our evening entertainment. My favourite set was Gramatik who had us literally dancing the entire time!
By Saturday, more friends joined us and I tagged along with them to venture out so they can get acquainted with LIB. While I find comfort in camping with friends, I was also just as enthusiastic to form new friendships. It’s the perfect environment to detach from our mundane routines and disconnect from our phones. In today’s chaotic world, it’s getting tough to simply be conscious of the present moment. There’s nothing more liberating than when you take a moment to reconnect with your divine self and be amongst likeminded people who can express their individuality freely and safely, without judgement and criticism.
Although Sunday was fun, it was also bitter sweet since it was the last day of LIB. We ventured out to admire the live artworks that were brilliantly crafted during the weekend. We even spent a good amount of time roller-skating in the disco rink. The highlight of my day was when I started to notice groups of people gather around the lakeside where we all took a moment together to appreciate the beautiful sunset. The special part of that experience was that we all howled away into the night, just as if we were pack of wolves. Strangely, it felt natural to howl and I learned later on that it was kind of becoming a LIB tradition.
All in all, I’m so grateful that I was able to experience LIB and it definitely lived up to its incredible reputation. All the lessons I was gifted with and the great friendships formed will stay with me for a lifetime. To top it off, I’m ecstatic to learn that the Kern County officials have declared LIB a success. Which could potentially indicate that LIB has found a home in Bakersfield for the following years to come. Time will tell but in the meantime I’ll stay optimistic for the return of LIB in 2020!
about the Author
R. Velasco is a Canadian writer new to Bakersfield. She is actively seeking ways to raise community consciousness about LGBTQ issues and topics, one blog post at a time. She is also part of The Center’s Women Support Group.
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