Hip Hop showcase crowd....I'm in there.... Photo by Lotus Eaters Film



Whoa. I started this entry a couple days after returning home from Shambhala, but I just had to stop. Trying to sum it up was overwhelming so I took a break. I’ve accepted that I’ll never be able to explain it ALL- it’s the type of experience that you need to witness for yourself in order to absorb it. That being said, I know everyone experienced those few days differently, everyone’s got their own stories….12,000 stories at LEAST.

Imagine some of the best music ever, in one of the most beautiful settings you can think of, in the best weather possible. Imagine a place where every single person is free to express themselves however they choose.  I mean HOWEVER they choose. If that means dressing like a kangaroo with your face painted like Darth Maul, so be it… (No, I didn’t see anyone that matched that EXACT description, but it wouldn’t have surprised me and I would have welcomed it with open arms).  Imagine people respecting one another, enjoying one another, and taking care of one another… Imagine feeling as free as you can, everyone doing nothing but smiling, loving, dancing, laughing, creating, and living their lives in bliss…. Enter Shambhala.

First off, it’s a haul to get there. I was the driver and I’d never actually driven that long a distance before, never in one sitting anyways.  Being the driver was accompanied by annoyance, since all I wanted to do was stare out the window.  The drive is breathtaking. Every corner we rounded brought a new ooh or aah, and I felt like I had gone back in time. I kept waiting for Frodo and his friends to appear on the side of the road with their thumbs out. I would have fully picked them up too, I bet they were on their way to Shambhala.

We arrived at about two in the morning, exhausted, but were pleasantly surprised to find out that it’s the perfect time to get there. We waited in line for about a half hour tops and breezed through security.  I parked in the free parking lot which is also the farthest away from the action.  My body was starving for sleep, but we had come ALL this way, and we were set on taking a look around a bit first.  Once we were on the actual festival grounds, I was speechless.  It was like we had wandered onto another planet. Turns out that 2am at Shambhala is like 12 noon on Earth. It’s bumpin.  Think Lord of the Rings meets Woodstock, meets The Wind in the Willows, meets that crazy cantina in Return of the Jedi where all those wacky creatures party and listen to rad music.

Describing every moment in play-by-play fashion would take all day and night so I’ll sum up the rest of the weekend as best I can…  The time that followed was like a dream. I’ve never felt as free to do just as I please. Continually impressed by the consistent positive energy around me at all times, not once did I witness anyone being disrespected, objectified or ridiculed.  There was such a lack of judgement. It was a celebration of everything beautiful and worthwhile in life.

My favourite spot was the Living Room stage, its dancefloor was a sandy beach and it was directly next to the river. A couple of times I caught my eyes welling up with tears at the magic of it all. I thought “this is how it should be- this is how it COULD be”. Everyone respecting their space, respecting one another, and sustaining a fully functioning community full of music, art, and love.

Shambhala is definitely not a place for the narrow-minded. Actually, it’s the perfect place for the narrow-minded, in that it could be just the right tool to crack open that tunnel vision and expand it.  You can’t be afraid to get dirty, to sweat, or to experience variety.  Definitely one of the coolest experiences I’ve been through to date, I’m makin’ this an annual thing. Thank you Shambhala! See y’all next year…




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