Lightning in a Bottle

Lightning in a BottleLightning in a Bottle Festival 2015
Bradley, California
By Victoria Joyce
Photos by Victoria Joyce

So many festivals. So little me.

How do you pick? Coachella is too big. Jazz Fest in NOLA is too far. We went for Lightning in a Bottle because it was just right. It’s a Goldilocks thing.

We love their mission statement: “Leave it better.” All about being Green and they’ve got awards to prove it. Seriously, the only visible policing was at the trash cans with strict guidelines: Compost, Recycle & Landfill. And Security ripped you a new one if you strayed.

Branding itself as “arts & music” festival and in it’s 10th year, LIB is produced by The Do LaB out of San Francisco and aimed to be a more inward than outward experience.

After the Environment it was all about art – “Lightning in a Paint Can” had painters with easels creating canvases throughout the event and auctioned off at the end. Gorgeous stuff too. Big cats IMG_1698 2and beautiful women being a recurring theme. TombRaider much? Lots of Gamers here.

Another thing; it’s close – 4 hours away. Taking place in Bradley, California (Population: 93) it’s literally half way between San Francisco and Los Angeles. Love that part of Cali. Just a touch this side of the Hearst Castle but so Middle-of-Nowhere.

Leaving WeHo, take the 5 north to Highway 46 heading west– James Dean’s last ride – how romantic – then north on the 101 at Paso Robles for a bit and you arrive at Bradley and the San Antonio Recreational Area – a dried up lake bed and ancient home to the Chumash Indians. Better and better.

This gathering of the tribes was big – sold out at 23K. And it had a very old school Human Be-In kind of vibe. Tie-dyed everything and rainbows everywhere. Blowing bubbles and spinning pinwheels with streamers and oversized puppets walking around with Weekend Hippies, Beatniks, Flower Children, Vegans, Day-Goths, Steam Punks, Surfers, Citizens, Furrys & Freaks with a minimum of Frat Boys with their super annoying Scared-of-Spiders Girlfriends. (Seriously Kendall, I want you to hear this with all the love in the Universe, the tarantulas were here first. We are in their house. Show some respect.)

More Goldilocks: This early in the year, not too hot during the day and not too cold at night made for Fashion Heaven. HaremIMG_1707 pants, board shorts, khakis with lots of big pockets, tees and tanks on the boys. The girlies were wearing water bottles on big leather hip holsters looking like gun-slingers. With booty shorts and bathing suit bottoms, boots and knees socks, lacy leggings and boots. Lots of boots and lots of walking. However, Yoga pants won the day, Yoga pants with a Sports Bra was pretty much the standard uniform. With the occasional furry tail. Swing it!

All day marathon yoga classes in the Om Tent and neat-oh speakers in the Lucent Temple of Consciousness were our fave destinations. Turn left at the Learning Kitchen, and just a skosh past the Lightning Without a Bottle tent (12 Step Meetings!) seriously they had everything. We went for a Sound Healing – laid out flat with gongs and bells banging and it was Heaven on Earth.

There was music of course with three big stages, The Woogie, The Lightning Stage and The Thunder Stage – DJ heavy with the EDM – not our favorite stuff – local hero KCRW’s Jason Bentley was there and Odeza being a big hit with Tycho playing live on Sunday were big stand outs. Other venues were the Community Lodge, The Mystery School, the Silent Disco, the Grand Artique, the House of Mystics, and the Ancestral Lodge. Burlesque, Boogie Woogie and Banjos. Shoulda called this thing The Kitchen Sink!

The food vendors were out of this world. “The Dough Lab” was their own house brand of pizza with vegan and Gluten free a natural alternative. And the real IMG_1729Lydia of Lydia’s Organics out of the Bay Area was there in person flipping veggie burgers.

Big scandal was this year they were serving meat.  Dream Rockwell of Lucent Dossier and fest co-founder told her audience they’d received some complaints about that. “This was supposed to be an alternative.” Ms Rockwell jumped in to pinch hit for Neale Donald Walsh on Saturday and told the story of her journey and adopting a little boy from Guyana before hosting a panel on “Sex, Love & Porn.” Opening with “A lot of women are frustrated with only a few positions. It seems men are learning about sex from watching porn.” Sad.

Neale Donald Walsh spoke Sunday afternoon, famous for his “Conversations With God” books. “What we need is a civil rights movement for the soul. Why are we here? Is it to get the guy, to get the girl, the job, the better job, the car, the better car, the spouse, the better spouse?” Neale’s message continued to the gathered: “Don’t play The Man’s Game. Play a different game. Play Love Wins.” So Easy Rider, don’t you think?

IMG_1709If you didn’t want to rough it on your own – Boutique Camping was available to the well-heeled.  $2000 or so got you a gorgeous old fashioned tent (like an old Tarzan movie) walk-in style with two queen beds, clean sheets, down comforters, pillows, a power strip and hot water showers. Call me Bwana.

Personal fave: stacking rocks on rocks. Specifically the San Antonio Recreation area is a dried up lake with crystal quartz stones near the abandoned boat ramp – reconfigured to a giant Ski Ball Game. Anyway these rocks were set off to the side and fest goers left their mark with stone upon stone. Very cool.

Closing it out on Sunday afternoon there was a mass meditation to restore water to California lead by two Native American women that thanked the clouds and our brother the wind. Lots of Sage and Rose oil. We chanted for the whole world. Wowsers. Felt great.

“We did our best” is the other motto for LIB scrawled on the bridges that spanned the mini-canyons of what used to be a lake. Going to and fro – high fives and lots of laughter kept the party going all weekend.  Bunch of Hippies!!! So much fun.


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