It wasn’t a case of love at first sight; it’s not like I was struck by lightning or anything like that. I’d been primed weeks earlier as I stood at the back of the Bass Camp crowd at the Pemberton Music Festival, watching Zeds Dead in curious captivation. My insides vibrating from more than 300 meters away, with a surge of delight each time the bass dropped and a crowd of 30,000 people dropped with it. By the time Diplo and Skrillex claimed the stage, my intrigue in this apparently new musical paradigm had turned into full-fledged fascination. Blown away by the visuals, the sounds, the mixes. The passion of the DJ’s and the commitment of the crowd.
“Having stepped out of dance music for the last 10 years, I couldn’t believe what had been going on in my absence.”
Exactly a year earlier I’d passed through the Kootenays of Southeast British Columbia on my way to explore the west coast. At that time Shambhala 2014 was in full swing, rumors of magic whispering in the wind and the cosmic pull from the forest so strong as to be irresistible. A previously unknown festival (to me at least), completely devoted to this so called ‘Electronic Dance Music’ and with no alcohol allowed, it took a bit of convincing to coax my go-to festival buddy to buy a ticket for Shambhala 2015. Luckily his relentless sense of adventure prevailed.
So it came to be that on August 7th 2015 my car rolled up the dusty farm road to Shambhala. We entered, welcomed like a warm embrace, into a training ground for modern dance music.
It was the now familiar Skrillex who lured us into the Village on Friday evening. I was starry eyed from the outset; not always able to separate the crowd from the lights from the sky, and not really wanting to. We explored and became entangled in the thickets of the Fractal Forest, to emerge dazed around 3 am to begin winding down in the Pagoda. We half walked, half danced, and we made new friends.
“The music vibrated through my core and a periodic vocal called out a deep ‘Baaa Dum’, as if coming from the belly of a gentle giant, lulling me into a trance that I’m not sure I’ve left since.”
The weekend swallowed us up in a dreamlike haze. The crisp cold of the night turned into the tropical blue heat of the day. On Saturday we lay by the river and watched as the Shambhala community came out to play in the sunshine and clean off the dust. On Sunday afternoon we stood captivated with everyone else while the human beat-boxer dropped the bass with his vocal chords. We took a ride in a spaceship, infused our tired bodies with flavored oxygen and ate salad in the Living Room, watching in simple content while a man try to balance a hat on stick.
Into the early hours of Monday morning, cloaked with an air of innocence, we found ourselves in the VIP area behind the DJ booth of the Village. It was here that the 360 degree image of this dance movement was connected in perfection.
“At Shambhala everyone gives, creating a multi-dimensional fusion for all the senses. It seems like every surface either reflects light or emits it.”
The crowd, the costumes, the signs bobbing and turning — each more elaborate than the next. The wizard-like staffs crowned with carvings, gems and crystal balls. Dark hats came to life with technicolored pulses of light, and electric shirts and trousers, embroidered with neon and reflective armor, flashed, glowed and sparkled. Everything and everyone glowing, glittering and pulsing in devotion to the bass.
As the nights wrapped around us, everything came to life, colors dripping from the pine trees and stars jostling around up there to make room for the strobe lights. Wizards, warlocks and goblins were seen dancing in the dust to those deep, dark and funky rhythms mixed from every genre of music you could possibly imagine. We danced, played, jumped and sang, preparing for that magical moment when the bass drops and everyone drops with it and reverts back to whatever it is we do, and whoever it is we are in that moment.
And that moment is truly wonderful.
This Shambhala first timers story was sent to us from Lorraine Scotson. She is Scottish wildlife biologist and PhD student. Her research takes her to Southeast Asia to study Moon and Sun bears. Thus, she travels a lot between Asia, Scotland, USA, and Canada (where her partner lives).
“Asides from a new found love of bass, bears are my passion.”
If you have a first timers story or any festival experience you’d love to share with the bass community we’d love to hear and feature it on our site. Please submit your stories to firstname.lastname@example.org