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.
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.
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.
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.
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.