What The Festival: Closing The Door

Wow. I was not expecting that. 

I knew this festival experience was going to be an emotional one for me, but I wasn't anticipating my entire world getting rocked. The beauty within the tragedy was so flawless, I was in tears almost the entire time. Some tears of sadness and loss, but mostly tears of awe. Awe at the fact that this is my life, and it's real. 

Read More

What The Festival: A Love Story

In a magical land two summers ago, a girl awoke on her birthday to a good old fashion hangover. She rolled over in her tent to check the time, and had to make to decision, “Do I stay or do I go?” Her friend convinced her it would do them good, so off to the forest they went, yoga mats in hand. As she walked down the hill rubbing away her tired eyes, she looked up and realized she was about to do yoga in the middle of the forest surrounded by beautiful hand crafted dream catchers on a gorgeous summer solstice morning. She looked up and smiled. “Today is going to be a good day," she thought “something magical is about to happen.” 

The yoga class was not your typical vinyasa flow to Odesza. It was a rock and roll yoga class lead by an eccentric woman dressed as a super hero alongside her man on electric guitar. They were fun, loud, energetic and wild. It was impossible not to shake off every ounce of tiredness and laugh. Toward the end of the class the instructor encouraged everyone to make new friends by having them hop around to the different wooden platforms while the music played, and then stop randomly when the music stopped.

She leapt around, not a care in the world, and when the music stopped...

“Hi” she said with a smile. 

“Now, tell your partner your spirit animal.” 

She looked at the boy in front of her. He was tall, handsome, and brilliantly blue eyed. With a smile, he looked at her and said, “My spirit animal is definitely a lion, because I’m a Leo and I’m big and strong, kind of a protector."

He had a cute smile. 

He continued, “I’m either a lion, or a black wolf… which is like, kind of this mythical creature that represents personal power and strength, and isn’t really afraid of anything. You know?"

She let out a giggle, “Very cool. I always get along with Leos, they’re fun."

“Totally. So what about you?"

“Well it’s actually kind of funny that she just asked us this, because I’ve been curious lately about what my spirit animal is, and I honestly didn’t know until this very moment. I’m a butterfly."

That felt right. Butterflies represent personal transformation and growth, lightness of being and metamorphosis in life. Little did she know, the moment she realized she was a butterfly was also the moment that would transform her life forever. 

The music began to play and she fluttered away. When class was over, she walked away appreciating the moment, with no intention of ever seeing him again.


The girls got back to their camp and their neighbors were already up playing beer pong. They jumped in the game and completely dominated. Then one of the guys showed them a cooler full of homemade ice cream kept frozen with dry ice. Mint chocolate chip ice cream surrounded by trees? Yes please! The day was shaping up to be her best birthday yet.

 This year they had a real ice cream truck... it wasn't as special as homemade ice cream next to my campsite, but there were vegan options which were bomb.

This year they had a real ice cream truck... it wasn't as special as homemade ice cream next to my campsite, but there were vegan options which were bomb.

After pre-gaming for a while, they made their way out to the pool. The weather was perfect, the people were beautiful, and the music was vibe. Kygo was owning it and had a huge smile on his face. She was dancing in the sand at the front of the pool when a guy on stage waved her over. She ran up with a huge smile and yelled “today is my birthday!” He poured Skyy Vodka into her mouth from up on stage and said, come find me after the show. Let’s hang out. 

The Pool

Let’s stop and talk about the pool party for a second. The pool is probably the number one reason why people attend What The Fest. Imagine a DJ playing tropical house in front of two (now three) giant pools about 2 feet deep, thousands of hot bodies dancing, hundreds of floaties and pool toys, sand to dance on, grass to lounge on, and many, many titties. It’s the party of the year, and it’s three days long. People fly from across the country for this because it’s epic AF. Need I say more?

Okay, on with the story.

Kygo’s manager hooked the girls up with backstage passes and they had a couple drinks, but by the time the sun was making it’s way down the girl was ready for her next adventure. She dipped out and ran into the pit of the Effin’ stage, where everyone was losing it to G Jones. And then out of nowhere...


She turned around, and standing directly behind her was the boy from yoga.

“Hey!” He gave her a huge lion hug. “Save me!” she yelled, "I’m running away from Kygo!” She laughed and they started dancing together, feeling as though they’d known each other all along. After the set he treated her to a birthday pad thai dumpling (which was delicious btw, the food at WTF is crazy good and actually affordable) and then they parted ways. After getting to know him a bit, she realized how cute he was and was hopeful to see him at Paradiso the following weekend. 

The rest of the festival was just as magical. It was her first time at What The Fest and she had never experienced a transformational festival before. She loved raves and had been to EDC, Paradiso, Identity, and several USC events, but this was different. WTF is tucked away on a beautiful piece of property in Oregon and is surrounded by forest. It’s an escape from the real world, a place for people to go to unleash their inner beings, make new friends, and party their asses off. She was in love with the energy, the people, the food, the art… everything about the festival was simply magical. 

The Art

Incredible art installations make the forest walk an electric adventure. Something as simple as a cluster of hanging white ribbon makes you feel like you are in another world. There are small art galleries throughout, and live painters whose progress you can witness over the course of the weekend. Colorful light installation make the forest glow and you find yourself being drawn into each nook and cranny to see what you may find. A Labyrinth? A sanctuary? A dome full of white fluff that makes you feel like your inside of a cloud? The possibilities are endless.

The Stages

This year two new stages were added to the mix for a total of 8. Main Stage and Effin’ Stage face each other at either end of the field, with the Silent Disco between the two. For those of you who haven’t experienced a silent disco I recommend you do. It’s pretty rad. Every person has a set of wireless headphones that can flip between two channels. Each channel causes the headphones to light up a certain color and is linked to a DJ. Basically a bunch of people dancing around to silence if you’re an outside observer. Silent disco is taking over Portland. You can find them at parks, bridges, random streets… it’s a lot of fun. 

Down the hill is Equinox, which is the only stage you’ll find music at on Thursday night. The advantages of getting the early entry pass ($40) is that you get a campsite closer to the action (although the festival grounds are really small and even the furthest campsite is only a short walk away), you get to park closer to camping and don’t have to deal with as much traffic, and you get one more night to party. It’s worth it. Equinox has a bar at the top of the hill and some platforms with benches and chairs incase you need to chill out.

 LOL Stage is where you can go to find music other than EDM... and be served freshly baked chocolate chip cookies!

LOL Stage is where you can go to find music other than EDM... and be served freshly baked chocolate chip cookies!

In the forest you will find LOL Stage, Shinto, Dragon and Groove Qube. The LOL stage is small, and offers alternative music to EDM. You will also find moms in aprons coming around with platters of freshly baked chocolate chip cookies. Mmmmm! The Shinto is also a small “stage” that hosts performances such as belly dancing and hula hooping. Its surrounded by a lounge where you can be served fresh hot tea away from the crowds. The Dragon Stage is dope. It’s a stage that looks like a dragon and breathes fire. And Last, the Groove Qube, a new addition this past year. Also dope. Giant white cubes stacked on top of each other are lit up with color and make you feel like you’re in a European dance club, but in a forest. One complaint… there should be two entry ways instead of one. It can get a little jammed up.

So, what about that girl and boy from the story?

As fate would have it, they ran into each other as the sun was setting on the last night of Paradiso. They held hands on the hill, told stories and laughed. The conversation was effortless. Zedd closed the main stage and they shared a kiss during “Clarity.” As they walked amongst the crowed of people back toward the campsite, he asked when he could see her again and invited her to the beach for the 4th of July. She said yes, and the rest is history.

 2016. Standing where we met two years ago.

2016. Standing where we met two years ago.

 2015. I have the best friends on Earth.

2015. I have the best friends on Earth.


Once again, What The Festival is magic. It is the reason why I’m here. It was my first taste of a transformational festival which turned out to be my passion. I met the love of my life, moved to Portland, and have made some of the most incredible friends anyone could possible dream of. Each year has been something different and special. The first year I met Will, the following year was spent with all of my best friends and was hands down the best birthday you can imagine, and this year I volunteered and got to experience the production side of things. Next year I will contribute art. Stay tuned!

 OMG passess include free hookah. So much yes.

OMG passess include free hookah. So much yes.

Lightning in a Bottle

It’s hard to find the words to describe how Lightning in a Bottle transformed my life. When I think back on my time at LIB, I feel color, I hear emotion, and I see the dense loving energy that filled the air. I can still feel that desert sun on my face, and I can still hear hundreds of feet trekking along the long road into the grounds. I can remember the faces of the beautiful people I met, and the conversations I had that lifted me up so high. I can feel the friendships that deepened and the rollercoaster of emotions vibrating through my cells. Lightning in a Bottle is so much more than a music festival. It is a transformational festival, and if you let it, it can change your life.

The after movie for LIB 2015 was shot by my friend Jesse Vinton and his crew with Vinton Depiction. They rescued me from my campsite where I had a broken tent and two massive white spiders lurking in my clothes. Ew!

The Production

Many music festivals these days are just that… music festivals. At Lightning in a Bottle, the music is only one piece of the puzzle. The producers of LIB are clearly passionate about leaving a lasting impression on those who attend. One of the ways they do this is by inviting world renowned inspirational leaders and motivational speakers to share their knowledge. I found myself spending more time in workshops than anywhere else in the festival. The Temple of Consciousness became a go-to place for me, where I was bound to learn something new and meaningful every time. Each workshop I attended spoke to me on such a deep personal level that I was forced to take a good hard look within and get to know myself more intimately. I was on a mission for answers, and I found them in all the right places. The spectrum ranged from discussions on nutrition (the truth about juice fasts, how aromatherapy can help you heal, cacao ceremonies, etc.), to motivational speakers who share their journeys and encourage you to chase your dreams, to people who have overcome extreme hardships and transformed their minds to be strong and their spirits to be free. There are also many workshops that teach you DIY projects to create a better environment for yourself and your community. I had never been to a festival that placed such an emphasis on self exploration, education, and inspiration, and the feelings I experienced there still live with me today. 

 I didn't take many photos when I went to LiB last year, but my friend Ali Alavi let me use some his photos from this year for this post. This is the Do Lab stage, which was also my favorite stage at Coachella. It's vibrant and fun and the perfect amount of coverage from the sun and the rain. Thanks Ali for the awesome pics!

I didn't take many photos when I went to LiB last year, but my friend Ali Alavi let me use some his photos from this year for this post. This is the Do Lab stage, which was also my favorite stage at Coachella. It's vibrant and fun and the perfect amount of coverage from the sun and the rain. Thanks Ali for the awesome pics!

One of my favorite stages was the Do Lab stage based out of Los Angeles, which takes innovation to the next level. They’ve expanded from Coachella to LIB with some of the most beautifully vibrant and uniquely shaped structures I have ever seen. At night the colors glow so bright you can’t help but feel visually entranced. Life in the middle of a desert surrounded by art, color, inspiration, and love… you’re bound to feel an energetic shift. And although LIB hosts over 20,000 enthusiastic attendees, they still manage to cultivate a sustainable environment by investing in LED stage lighting and using solar lights as often as possible. They encourage everyone to be a leader, and to pick up after themselves and others. The environment doesn’t take a beating, and I appreciate that. 

My Experience

2015 was my first year at LIB. I drove down with some friends who were volunteering, but was more or less flying solo. It was the first time I went to a festival on my own, with no friend or boyfriend to partner up with, which was exactly what I wanted. A chance to experience something huge completely on my own. I didn’t have to tell anyone where I was going, or where to meet up. I got to see whatever DJ I felt like and whatever workshop I wanted… not a care in the world. I got to meet people I wouldn’t have ordinarily met and make connections with people who were volunteering. It was awesome. I’d never felt so free. 

I’m not new to festivals. I’ve been attending for years and have had some incredible experiences… but LIB changed everything. In the middle of a desert, 800 miles from home, with nobody to answer to, I was forced to live fully in the present moment. Something we should all strive for, but can be very challenging. In an environment like LIB, where you have the freedom to express yourself in any form you want, with no judgement bestowed upon you and the opportunity to set all insecurities aside, you are given an excellent opportunity for personal growth. Because I went to LIB with this intention, I was able to listen to my heart, loud and clear, for the first time and live in complete acceptance for 3 days. On the last night, my entire chakra system was completely aligned. My heart was exploding with love, gratitude, joy, and bliss. My feet were connected to the ground, but felt like they were being pulled to the core of the earth. Everything was clear. All the stress of life subsided, and I was free. It was this transformational festival that inspired me to start a blog and to find a way to spread this pure loving energy to others. For those of you who have had a life changing experience at a music festival… why stop there? Why can’t we take that freedom and loving attitude and continue to spread it in our daily lives? Why compliment someone on their hot pink body suit and purple top hat in the desert, but not on the street? We all have the capacity to accept one another and to stop judging each other and ourselves, we just have to be aware and strive for it. 

Food, Music, Yoga

The food at LIB is bomb. They have organic juice bars, fancy raw foods, insanely good gyros, and delicious breakfast smoothies. I’d say the food at LIB is probably the best festival food I’ve ever had. Food is fuel, and in a place where you’re motor is running non-stop, the better the fuel, the stronger the motor. I felt energized and blissful and was so grateful to be a able to eat delicious vegan food all weekend. 

 Raw pad thai from an organic food stand. One of the best meals I've ever had.

Raw pad thai from an organic food stand. One of the best meals I've ever had.

My intentions going into LIB were to learn, explore, and experience as much personal growth as possible. I didn’t place a ton of emphasis on the music because I had seen many of the artists before and I was more interested in other activities. However, I did get to dance on stage for SNBRN which was fun and felt very empowering. Odesza was amazing as always, Made In Heights harmonized with a synth like nobodies business, SBTRKT was a little darker than I was hoping for, and I had to enjoy Flume from my tent the second night because I was completely exhausted from running around all day and I knew I needed to sleep. Coincidentally, 5 months before LIB I was at Snowglobe and had to miss Flumes NYE set because I was in the medical tent getting treated for frostbite. But alas, one of these day’s I’ll have a good Flume experience! 😉 

Overall, the music was there when I needed it, and I got a few great dancing sessions in. The lineup really was incredible, but I didn't focus on it too much because I was off running around embracing everything else LIB had to offer. 

The yoga classes were great. Large square mats were pieced together under a thin shade structure that let just the right amount of sun peek through. The classes were large and full, and the energy was fantastic. The instructors were motivating, inspiring, and knew just what to say to start your morning off right. Yoga is an important part of a festival for me, because it gives me the opportunity to ground myself and find balance before getting caught up in the vibrations of the day. It’s also important for me to stretch out and loosen up the muscles and joints after countless hours of hiking and dancing and sleeping in tents. Yoga at festivals is a must!

People, Places, Art

Everything at Lightning in a Bottle felt fluid. Even the most intense moments seemed to be set in motion for a reason. I met people in a sequence, where each encounter was a building block for the next. One thing that I love about diverse festivals like LIB is how easy it is to strike up a conversation with the person next to you, and how unpredictably meaningful that conversation may be. Even though I was a roaming free spirit, I never felt alone. It’s an incredibly comforting environment that feels safe and supportive. Nobody is there to judge, and everyone is there to love. It’s the best place to go to let your freak flag fly and feel no remorse. It's a beautiful thing when people from all over the world, of all backgrounds, career paths, religions, and cultures, can come together in one safe, magical space to feel united and free.

The art and structures are just as vibrant as the people. Every workshop and every class is held in a space with unique design and something special to find. Wood is twisted in ways I didn't know it could move, and buildings are made of unique textures that left me with curious desire to learn. It's incredible that everything you experience on the festival grounds are created by the minds that surround you. It is intensely inspiring. The culture of LIB completely drew me in and solidified my passion for transformational festivals. 


Lightning in a Bottle, and transformational festivals in general, truly are next level freedom. There is no other experience like it. They allow us to see things we didn’t see before, accept others and ourselves for who we are, and become submerged in creativity. I have gained so much perspective and inspiration through my festival experiences, especially at LIB, and I know I’m not the only one. I hope that we can continue to evolve, and take that same Peace. Love. Unity. Respect. back to our daily lives. If you have’t had a festival experience, I highly encourage it. Get out of your comfort zone and grow! Unlock a side of you that you’ve never seen before. I promise you won’t regret it. 

Thank you LiB, you changed my life in ways you’ll never know. 

Coachella: A College Reunion

When people ask me, "How was Coachella?!" My immediate response is "...Ummmmmmm”, because the truth is, Coachella is probably my least favorite festival I've experienced. As much as I would love to boast about how great it was, I can't. I feel like I’m supposed to say, “it was amazing!” but it really wasn’t. I mean don’t get me wrong, I had a blast and I’m glad that I went, but it just really wasn’t my scene. For a festival junkie like myself, Coachella earns a C+ at best. 

Getting There

The anticipation had been building for weeks. The music, the fashion, the people, the reunion of friends… it was all coming together. My college roommates and I had been planning this trip for almost a year and the most exciting part of going to Coachella was reuniting with them. We are all spread out along the West Coast now, and were all coming together for our first Coachella experience. I flew into LA and drove from LA to Palm Springs with Lauren and Claire, two blonde babes who happen to be sisters and fashionistas with killer smiles and bright brown eyes. Blasting new Mike Snow with the windows down and talking about boys… it felt really good to connect with them. I’d forgotten how well they know me and how many memories we’ve shared. 

 "Two blonde babes with killer smiles and bright brown eyes."

"Two blonde babes with killer smiles and bright brown eyes."

 One thing about Coachella is that if you’re traveling from out of town, you pretty much have to find a condo to stay in. It’s extremely difficult flying with camping gear, so you’re left having to book a place to stay nearly a year in advance, and it can be very expensive. If you’ve got friends to stay with or are driving in from LA and can pull off camping, the entire experience can become much more affordable. Luckily we were able to get a great place within walking distance, which honestly made the whole trip worthwhile. I will say, being able to come back to a condo with showers, A/C, and real beds was a luxury I’d never experienced at a festival before… it was kind of amazing. However, if I ever chose to go back to Coachella I would definitely camp. I love the camping experience.

 We did not wake up like this.

We did not wake up like this.

Getting Ready

Getting ready is half the fun of any festival. Playing with each others clothes, braiding flowers into your hair, decking your skin out in sparkles… nothing beats feeling like a fairy, free to move about in any which direction. Popular brands in my crew were Free People (obvi), Flynn Skye, Someday’s Lovin, Wildfox and Stussy. Lauren and Claire were beautiful in their maxi skirts, and CJ and Neil rock mesh like nobody’s business. I am personally a huge fan of crowns and feather earrings. It was really fun being able to get ready in a full bathroom, with hair dryers blowing, music playing, and endless mimosas out of real glasses. Like I said, I normally camp at festivals where my hair ends up in dread locks and I don’t shower for a few days, so having a luxurious bathroom to get ready in made me feel like a queen. Fun for sure, but I think I enjoy camping more.

The walk into the festival is a bit of a trek, but that is to be expected. Most festivals are like that, so comfortable shoes are a must. I’m still waiting for someone to come out with a festival shoe line… cute fringe booties that have souls like tennis shoes. Anyone wanna jump on that? Thanks!


The Experience  

Everyone knows that fashion is now the backbone of Coachella. It’s what the whole festival is about. Coachella is no longer a festival where you go to embrace the music and the art and meet new people, it’s a scene to be at. An oversized photoshoot. A land of selfies. And in this land of selfies you’ll find major celebs, like the stars from Pretty Little Liars (I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t stalking Tyler Blackburn’s Snapchat all weekend), supermodels like Angel Candice and Alessandra Ambrosio, and basically every well known fashion blogger who flood my Instagram. If you’re not at Coachella, you lose. 

And honestly, this is kinda what I hated about it. Everywhere I went, everyone was on their phones. On the one hand, it made me feel less guilty about being on mine since I was trying to document everything for this article, but on the other hand, it felt so completely pretentious and superficial that I didn’t really feel that “at home” feeling I usually get at a festival. But thats Coachella for you. It’s an extension of that LA life, where vanity rules and judgement passes. What I seek and love in a music/transformational festival is that openness, and the freedom to be who you are and nothing else. It’s about love and acceptance and non-judgment, and the idea that the next person you meet could change your life forever. Coachella is a wonderful place for a photoshoot, but if you’re looking to find yourself, you’ll stay lost. 

The Music

One blessing I walked away with was the discovery of Christine and the Queens. Héloïse Letissier, a 27 year old French pop star, delivers a performance that is so raw and real it leaves you begging for more. She performs with a group of dancers and her songs are partially in French, which makes you wonder…what is she all about? I loved her music, the sound was so beautiful and unique, that when I got back to Portland I decided to do some research. After watching every single music video she’s produced, I fell in love. Each video has such a strong message, and so much emotion, I was left feeling drawn in and connected in a way that no artist has ever made me feel. Her dancing flows with intention, fluid like water and sharp as a tack. It feels unrehearsed and natural, like she is truly expressing her feelings through movement. When I dance in my bedroom or at a festival I can let the vibration of the music take over my body and by watching her I feel even more inspired to dance. Not only is her dancing magical, but the messages she is sending are powerful and extremely meaningful. Héloïse tells Nylon magazine that meeting three drag queens at a nightclub in London changed her life. She explains that meeting them gave her the confidence she needed to use her voice, embrace her talents, and use music as a way to deal with personal pain and emotion. It was these three drag queens that inspired “Christine and the Queens”. Héloïse’s music truly embraces the spirit of freedom and her shows are promoted as a “free zone where you can be whoever you want to be.” Her support of LBGT rights has made her a huge icon in France, where LBGT issues are atrocious. I cannot wait to see the impact she has on America as she continues to tour the states and become known. I encourage you to watch her, you’ll see what I mean.

Overall, the music scene was pretty good. I personally loved the lineup. Halsey, M83, The Chainsmokers, Miike Snow, Zhu, Zedd, Disclosure…the list goes on and on and they all played great sets. There were 7 stages, so you were always able to find something you’d like. The main stage was massive, but the sound quality was loud and clear regardless of where you were standing. The Do Lab stage, which I’ve experienced before at Lightening in a Bottle, was a great place to end the night. I think one of the funnest sets I experienced was the guest appearance of Glitch Mob on Saturday night. They killed it. 

Which brings me to another point, the guest appearances. You never know who you’re going to end up seeing. Some of the guest appearances I saw were Rhianna, Lorde, Sean Paul, Sam Smith, and Kesha. The guest appearances were always a fun surprise. I will say, I was a little disappointed that Calvin didn’t bring Taylor up. Wtf? #disappointed


I think my biggest complaint about Coachella, aside from the pretentiousness (which I guess was to be expected), was the cost of food and drinks. $12 beers, $15 well drinks, and $25-30 meals. For a venue that tries to prevent you from bringing in outside food or drinks, this feels like highway robbery. Yeah, a lot of the people at this festival are rich and have the money to spend, but for the bitch on a budget, it’s outrageous. It’s like, more expensive then Vegas. Lucky for me, I am a master of sneaking and was able to get everything I needed in (including two of Claire’s friends who tried to sneak their way and got caught, you’re welcome Tetris and Victor!) so I didn’t have to completely break the bank. The one meal I did end up buying, a veggie pad thai, ended up being a half cold chicken pad thai that was nowhere near deserving of $20. But whatever, food is food. 

The other major struggle was the trek home Sunday night. After losing my friends during Calvin Harris, who was closing the main stage (totally my fault, I just haaaad to go up front to get some good videos), only to find them at the very end of the last song, Lauren bawling because someone reached into her backpack and stole her wallet, and then being herded through a sea of people toward the main entrance, we ended up trapped in the venue for hours. So many people were trying to leave at the same time that they got wedged in the entrance and there was no way out. The guys driving the bike carts wouldn’t stop for less than $50, and there was no chance of ever getting an Uber, so we ended up walking a few miles and getting a ride from a crazy lady who honestly made me fear for my life. So that sucked, but whatever, it happens. 


I usually walk away from a festival having had some experience, big or small, that leaves me a changed person. A moment of silence, a new friend, a spiritual experience, a class… I always leave with some new insight into my soul. See for me, a festival is about so much more than the music. It’s about finding who you are. It should be a safe space where you can allow your spirit to flow freely through you and feel comfortable in your skin. Coachella did not leave me feeling that way. If anything, it made me feel less in touch with myself. However, I did relearn the meaning of friendship and that was the theme of the experience for me. Reuniting with my college roommates was exactly what I needed. They are the first group of friends I made that accept me for me and have stuck with me through some really tough times. We’ve had fights, disagreements, drama, and distance, but the love has never faded and that is what true friendship is all about. Forgiveness, compassion, love and the ability to grow together. Friendship is one of the most sacred bonds we have, and should be cherished and nurtured as long as the friends you have are making your life better. Spending quality time with them away from my life in Portland was a blessing, and for that reason, Coachella was a success. 

 No matter what, I always leave a festival with a smile ;)

No matter what, I always leave a festival with a smile ;)