On Monday, May 13, over 15,000 attendees of Lightning in a Bottle (LIB) music and arts festival departed their five day home of Buena Vista Lake outside of Los Angeles to return to their regular lives. But not everything is simply back to normal. If other festival goers had a similar experience to what my camping group and I had, which I’m sure they did, then they not only returned home with countless great memories, but also a new vibrant energy and attitude on life.
I was lucky enough to attend the festival as part of a 20-person camping group, many of whom I had never met before. But by the end of the weekend, and really by day two, there was a distinct and strong bond between everyone, and it’s no fluke.
It’s because if you were to remove from LIB the great music, the learning workshops and yoga, the delicious food, and the parties, you would still be left with something special: thousands of people coming together around art, creativity, mindfulness, compassion, and fun! The festival creates a one-of-a-kind atmosphere that makes meeting new people and building on current relationships easy and natural.
And of course, the music and other activities are why we’re all there in the first place. It’s what we create these amazing experiences around. Most importantly, I believe it’s the following three aspects that make LIB the amazing festival that it is, and allowed me to become so close to, and have such an incredible time with, the group I attended the festival with.
1. The Music and Dancing - Lightning in a Bottle curates an incredibly diverse musical lineup. It opens you up to different music tastes and styles, and introduces you to types of music you would never listen to. In addition to that, no stage is ever packed with people, and the crowd is so welcoming that you feel zero pressure or judgement when you dance. More so than any other festival I’ve attended, people are moving to the music however they see fit. Dance is a way for us to interact and communicate with each other in a purely physical sense. It lets us feel things and play with one another. Through dance, one can create a unique bond with a total stranger, or get to know a close friend in a different way than usual. By cultivating a space that welcomes all sorts of dance and movement, LIB made it easy for us to go out of our comfort zones and get down!
2. The Workshops and Art - During the daytime, Lightning in a Bottle hosts countless speakers and workshops on an endless amount of topics. Researches and teachers who are leaders in their respective fields of research share ideas and thoughts that you’ll have never heard before. In addition to that, there are amazing art installations throughout the festival. One notable one was a duo who deconstructed a piano and turned it into a new musical instrument that resembled a harp. You could go inside of it and have others strum the strings, creating a really cool experience for the person inside the instrument.
Typically, the time we spend with our friends is purely social. Being able to learn new ideas with each other and experience artistic creativity can be a new experience that helps you learn more about one another.
3. Camping and Nature - Buena Vista Lake is beautiful. The festival grounds have green grass and there's a gorgeous lake and pretty sandy beaches. And when you’re camping with a large group, you’re there as a team! Different people contribute differently to the group, and everyone is valued. Essentially, you are surviving as one unit, and that will naturally bring people closer. We cooked breakfast for each other in the morning, cooled down and washed off in the lake, and prepped for the evening activities with fun pre-games. It felt like we were all part of one tribe. All of this said, LIB is something that could absolutely be enjoyed solo. I spent most of my Sunday roaming the festival alone and I made new friends quickly. In fact, it could open one up to make new connections more than someone who’s already surrounded by a crew of friends.
I understand now why festivals like Lightning in a Bottle are referred to as “transformative”. I feel like I’ve gone through noticeable growth and have a better understanding of myself and my old and new friends. Truth be told, I’ve been on a complete high ever since the festival, and I can’t wait to do it all again next year.
Don’t miss out on the incredible time next year, and stay tuned for news on early bird tickets here!
All photos, videos, and embedded tracks per the artists featured and those credited. This feature was edited for brevity and clarity by BolderBeat.