While Psytrance is loosing it's followers, Boom Festival is overrun by freaks from all over the World. There must be something that these Portuguese dudes do right...
Every two years the full moon of August enlightens a freaky international crowd at the shores of the Idanha-a-Nova lake in central Portugal: It's Boom Festival again and this year's seventh edition attracted an estimated 40,000 followers to the dusty but magnificent nowhere land in Portugal. These were 10,000 more than the organisers planned thus they closed their doors on the second day of the festival unlucky to those who traveled thousands of kilometers and be rejected at the door. At the same time Psytrance festivals all over the world are suffering a loss of followers of about 33-50% per year. So what is it that these Portuguese dudes do differently?
Lately I talked with a friend of mine who's with the scene since it's birth and sometimes djs using the name Fat Hotz Chill E Dippers. We were holding the usual Psytrance veteran talk at the shores of a Hamburg Techno dancefloor. Around us were Psytrance veterans trying not to be spotted as such. Before the beer got warm he said: "Psytrance these days is exactly the opposite of the reasons we joined the scene for." I had to confirm his observation. The reasons why we fell in love with (and sacrificed our life to) the scene 15 years ago were an alternative way of partying, individual and communal extension of consciousness, tolerance, respect and care for your fellow party crowd. Parties were a secret playground for an explicit crowd of people that were unhappy with the general structures of our societies and wanted to take a weekend off to live life differently, meet like-minded and learn. Music was catalyzing all this but it was just a tile in an mosaik of reasons that called for a good party. These days Psytrance music is a product, Psytrance parties are products and are basically integrated into our society just like any other musical scene. The creativity of the newborn is gone and has been replaced by a remix version diluting the once-great ideals.
Like the beaches in Goa or Koh Phangan that have been "upgraded" with high class hotels and metropolitan shopping and restaurant infrastructure, also most of our beloved trance parties have now high-class soundsystems, expensive artist superstars and even pay taxes. This in general isn't bad but the development of a trance party or scene should not only be governed by these blessings of civilization. Also idealistic development is vital.
The Boom Festival team have not only understood this fact but also worked hard on making it reality. And maybe this is the reason why Boom Festival is still growing.
You could say that Boom is not a pure Psytrance festival anymore as many different styles of music are played at it's stages and for many guests Psytrance is not their first reason to attend. But as even Psytrance is not Psytrance anymore you could say that Boom is more Psytrance than Psytrance. The general ideas of Psytrance culture like alternative lifestyle ideas, tolerance, respect, etc. have matured on Boom rather then being diluted.
For example the liminal village at Boom is a congress of knowledge that includes readings, workshops and movies of alternative lifestyle ideas. It's predecessor has been started in Boom 2000 and since then it has been continuously developed to an organism within Boom Festival.
Body, Mind and Soul are caressed in Boom festivals healing area which has this year gained an extra star. This area offers the opposite of excessive partying: Relax your body, massage your mind, ground yourself. It's a perfect antidote to the strenuous party life.
The appliance of ecological practices to the every day life at Boom has been installed in 2006 and further professionalized this year. Half of the toilets are now compostable and the shower water is being cleaned by plants and enzymes to be given back to mother earth. The houses and structures of this Boom have been made from clay, staw, wood and other environment-friendly materials in order to reduce the impact that the festival makes on the local area. Electricity has been produced on the basis of used vegetable oil, etc. etc.
You might say that all of this is inadequate regarding to the million litres of kerosene that is burned to transport happy Boomers to the site... but in my opinion it's the message that counts. The people come for the party but - willing or not - they are experiencing the appliance of environment friendly practises, new-age theories and inside learning processes. These learnings they will bring to their home countries and these learnings will influence their future lives thus hopefully making our world a little better.
Besides of these idealistic targets Boom was also a great party. Six days of continues and pretty diverse music played from great sound systems on beautifully decorated floors allowed everyone to beat the beat in excess. The artists were not the top stars that we're used to from other big festivals but nethertheless there was excellent music for every taste. The main floor went a bit more back to Psytrance while the alternative stage (now called "Groovy Beach") has seen an upgrade in sound system, diversity and lineup. Here you could now listen to anything from Dubstep through Electro, Techno, House and even Funk and Soul. Also the acoustic stage (called "Sacred Fire") has been extended with bigger bands and stage and it's area made a perfect hangout even compatible for children. The chill out was an experience as usual and it's peninsular made a perfect relaxing place with many hangout platforms, sleeping places and even a fountain in the middle.
Another great moment was the fullmoon. Me and my friends were wondering for quite a time why there was a cloud stuck to the moon until realizing that we were actually witnessing a lunar eclipse. Finally this seemed like another suprise lined up by the Boom festival team!
Then on sunday afternoon the program of the main stage has been interrupted by a speech of one of the organisers: Diogo. He opened up that someone has died! A frenchman deceased by heart attack on the way to the hospital. I was deeply impressed that this death was mentioned to the whole party crowd as I'm not used to such news on a festival. Diogo continued that he believes a community such as ours should think about "the departure of this brother" and dance together for it. This death would be part of the live and death cycle and we should keep in mind that in every Boom there are some babies made as well. Last but not least Diogo called for respect for our own bodies and responsible use of substances.
Some might think that this subject doesn't belong to a party but I support the idea that good and bad experiences belong to a party as they belong to your every day life.
I went home a happy man and again I was sad that I missed so many interesting things at Boom. But I am content with what I have experienced and saturated with new ideas and tickles for my personal development. See you again in two years!
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