Photos by Nick Neumann. Intro by Rourke Healey
Symbiosis Gathering is a transformational music and art festival held in California. With headliners from Emancipator to Tipper it was truly one of the most impressive psychedelic dance parties imaginable. Over four days, 15,000 people from all walks of life came together to get weird.
Symbiosis could not be described better than a collection of people doing the absolute most. The effort and passion that was put into Symbiosis shined through best in the stages and art installations.
It was not the art, structures or music alone that make Symbiois Gathering, but also the people. The ones who wander into camp to roll J’s, paint faces or offer drinks. The people that introduce themselves to whoever they sit next to. The hilarious porto-potty conversations. The people that compliment you. The ones that invite rather than exclude. The ones that glow and express themselves to the fullest. It was hard to find a soul that wasn’t dancing, content or caring for others. And it was your one job, as a participant, to return the favor to everyone around you.
What ever Symbiosis participants did, they seemed to do it with the most effort. From costume dress up to unique dancing. Indulgence, though wildly abundant, was second to experience and contribution. With DIY and interactive art, participants felt as much a contributor as event promoters.
This phenomenon seems part of a growing trend of west coast events that uniformly lack authority, encourage individualism and offer nothing but good vibes. Spawned from the ideals of Burning Man, Symbiosis participants are allegoric to confrontation and refuse to judge. With some of the same art and many of the same faces, Symbiosis felt much like it’s sister festival, Lightning In a Bottle. The two events appeared coordinated in their defiance against mainstream festival values such as consumption and documentation.
The wave of these ‘be yourself’ festivals is a beautiful thing. But what makes this truly special is that there is nowhere else in the world like this. Nowhere can you escape for four days to a lake with thumping music, insanely expressive and welcoming people and be free from expectations like this. Not even the east coast of the U.S. can match this. Its almost like California is making a statement: We are California and we are going to party exactly how we want to.
Thank you Symbiosis Gathering. See you next time for the Eclipse.
An attendee plays with his glass ball while resting in the shade.
Almost all of the art installations at Symbiosis were interactive. In this photo a man chills at the top of Brainchild, a giant metal sculpture by Michael Christian.
At the center of the festival grounds was the Silk Road, a bazaar of sorts where one could drink tea, smoke hookah, and barter for smokes, all while listening to amazing world music.
Shedding their clothes to swim out to Drift, a floating interactive art installation blasting house music.
Backup dances wait backstage during Kalya Scintilla’s cosmos traversing set.
Forrest observes the dance floor from above at the Spring Stage.
Taking a quick dip in the lake to cool down.
There were interesting workshops and speakers throughout the day in the Alchemy Village. At Nourishment Lab we prepared dandelion pesto and hollyhock dolmas.
Getting an unusual haircut along main street.
Dust, rainbows and unicorns.
Happily kicking it back at camp.
Everyone dug deep into their closets to find their craziest outfits with lots of necklaces, bandanas and hats.
Dancing in the dusty light to the soothing sounds of Desert Dwellers.
Kalya Scintilla paints sacred soundscapes with world fusion beats at the Spring Stage.
Dancing as the sunsets at Swimbiosis.
Dala Bil’s creation Juke Town looked like an old west town and featured a little bit of house, psytrance and a lot of bass.
The sun sets while people rest at the hub. During the daytime the Hub hosted workshops and a night it featured sketch comedy, gameshows and karaoke.
Love was in the air.
Justin Martin played a magnificent sunset set at the Swimbiosis stage.
Taking a breather while watching the sunset over the lake.
Future’s Past by Kate Raudenbush was an intricate art installation that served as the backdrop to Tipper’s sunrise set.
California is in a drought and land is dry, therefor fire poi was not allowed. But all kinds of LED toys were on display.
Enter Android Jones’ traveling dome of mind-bending 3D art through the Psyport.
Marbs throws down during the Desert Hearts takeover at Juke Town.
HYBYCOZO is a series of laser cut sculptures inspired by the intersection of science, technology, maker culture, and the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.
Deya Dova fused the sensual power of her voice with the cutting edge futurism of Global Bass music.
Helix by Charles Gadeken
The majestic guitar melodies of D.V.S. brought Juke Town to life.
It was great to take a moment at the end of the night to stare deeply into the fire and contemplate everything we had seen.