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Symbiosis Gathering 2016 Review

| October 05, 2016

Symbiosis was one of the most magical festivals I have ever been to. This event is unlike any other because of the mid afternoon art boat parties and breathtaking lake views.

The grounds were spread out across the shores of the Woodward Reservoir in Oakdale, California. The sunsets were celebrated as people danced and watched the sun disappear into the water.

The sunrise each morning was cheered by groups of friends in cuddle puddles who had danced together through the night. The skies were clear and the sun would quickly warm everything up, making it perfect weather for swimming in the reservoir.

The best and most unique part of Symbiosis was the art boats. You can see the hours of labor and love put into these redesigned boats with trees, pirate flags, and a slide into the water. They are the most creative art installations I have seen at any festival.

They float about 40 feet out from the shore and you can swim out, or in most people’s cases float out on blow up swans and unicorns, out to the boat and enjoy a daytime DJ set.

On Friday, the Desert Hearts crew took over the Swimbiosis stage and hosted and all day beach party on the shore. On Saturday, Dirtybird crew took over the Atoll Art Boat for a non-stop dance party in the middle of the water. I laid on my flamingo floaty and relaxed to the music while floating around and making new friends.

Photo Taken By: Lindsay Milam     

Food options were endless, even vendors like pizza offered vegetarian and vegan options. Even your typical festy foods like french fries were remixed into heavenly poutine fries served with veggies, poutine sauce, with cheese curds.

There was non-stop chatter about Burning Man. Many attendees were experienced Burners who were still decompressing from this year’s event. The crowd was older than your usual festival, and it made for a more relaxed environment.

The vibes are less “let’s party as hard as we can” and more “let’s get connect and be spiritual.” They did not sell alcohol at Symbiosis, but you could bring your own. People weren’t as sloppy drunk as your typical event.

There were a lot of wanderers who explored the grounds alone, enjoying all the speakshops artwork, but even three days and nights was not even enough time to see it all.

I attended JP Sears speakshop after being intrigued because I have spent countless hours watching all his “Ultra Spiritual” videos online.

The first half of his talk was a stand up comedy bit that covered all his topics on his videos, from being vegan to yoga poses. Then he broke character and informed everyone that he promises he isn’t some super pretentious guy dogging on being spiritual, but just poking fun at it, as any comedian does with their topics. He says life is too short to take it all so serious.

When I reminisce on the music, I realize I spent little time at the stages compared to any other festival I’ve attended. But this event wasn’t solely focused on the music, it was so much more.

A stand out act was Beats Antique, who dropped some new songs in their headlining set. They were listed as Symbiosis All-Stars and Tom, the drummer, said Symbiosis is one event he likes to stay and hangout all weekend.

Other great acts of the weekend were Worthy who owned the dance floor, Gramatik who is always a personal favorite, and then RL Grime who got West Coast grimey.

Every stage was uniquely built, but much smaller than your typical large festival. Festival founder Bosque Hrbek said, “Even as a big festival, we strive to keep it intimate, which is why we don’t have a 10-15,000 person stage.”

For next year though, Symbiosis won’t return to Woodward Reservoir because of the water drought. There will be no more swimming allowed in the lake.

The Symbiosis crew is on to a new transformational event for 2017, called Oregon Eclipse which will take place next August during the first total eclipse visible to the U.S. since 1979.

“There’s very few moments you can get everyone to focus on one thing,” said festival founder Kevin KoChen. “The eclipse, everyone will be looking at one thing. It will be a transformational festival where everyone can share consciousness and what people can bring back from that is powerful.”

Symbiosis will be remembered as one of the greatest festivals on the West Coast, but we are excited to see what next year’s eclipse has in store.

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