It’s been a long time since I shared another Tale from my past, so I think my readers are due for yet another moment to over-share.
If you have been reading Talez From a Broad for some time you would be familiar with how I experienced a bit of a delay with regards to “Living My Best Life”, as I spent the entirety of my 20’s parenting. Those who are parents themselves can attest to the amount of energy, time and sacrifice that goes into that role. It is one of the most thankless jobs in the world, but one of the most essential roles. This can be a heavy weight to bare, especially for those who are doing it alone, or facing the varying complexities that come along with rearing a child. Mine had her own set of challenges, so if anyone can relate, This Broad Can.
I have no regrets in how I carried out my responsibilities and in fact, I never felt like I was ever missing out on anything during that time. In reality, completing University, and building my career, along with having a husband at that time with Multiple Sclerosis left me little desire to take on much more. Read More Here.
Things began to grow around me; my child was now a teen and began wanting her independence from me. My career flourished and my salary began to give me some freedoms to travel more and experience many firsts, including my first “Girls Trip” at the age of 30. There were other things in my life at that time which were not so great either, such as the breakdown of my marriage and mental health as I struggled with my partners moods and cognitive and physical decline related to his MS. I admittedly used travel and crazy impulsive Vegas Trips to cope with the loneliness and sadness I felt during this period. It was a way to escape and decompress, and I would do it at any cost.
So it would come as no surprise that I’d be game for anything someone presented to me that allowed me escape from the doom and gloom of my home life. Sure enough, my cousin had presented me with yet another opportunity- SHAMBHALA.
Now to those who do not know what Shambhala is let me educate you. Shambhala is an annual Music Festival held during the last week in July at the Salmo River Ranch, a 500-acre farm, in the West Kootenay mountains near Nelson, British Columbia, Canada. Shambhala Music Festival was born from a vision as grassroots as it gets. On a sunny Labour Day weekend back in 1998, some 500 people gathered at the Salmo River Ranch for a party that showcased local art and music. From those early, heady days, Shambhala grew with enthusiasm by word of mouth, quickly becoming a staple event for the West Coast underground electronic music scene. Today it attracts world renowned DJs and artists and some of the most eclectic, energetic fans in the universe. The festival is fueled by Shambhalove which shines bright to this day. Shambhala Music Festival is cutting edge in its production and does not accept any corporate sponsorship. This allows the festival to retain a true reflection of the people on the dance floor and their vision of what their community looks like. This mission is important to hold down as electronic dance music culture has moved into the mainstream where opportunistic corporations have threatened to water it down. In this respect, this festival’s community is like no other. You will not see one advertisement or corporate logo on the farm.
By 2010, 15,000 guests, artists and crew were coming to dance and be free in the wilds of interior British Columbia. Today, people come to enjoy the festival’s focus of providing amazing art, music and life changing experiences.
Shambhala Music Festival is an annual event not to be missed, boasting six uniquely themed stages, each managed by their own Stage Director. All Stage Directors will book their talent, dream up the stage’s vibe and deliver unforgettable experiences year after year. The festival features the best in electronic and live music from around the globe and our very talented backyard. Ultimately, Shambhala Music Festival is a celebration of music, art and life, steeped in one of the most beautiful festival venues in the world.
“Shambhalove” is a unique community that has grown and strengthened over the years. Through its evolution, one clear value has remained constant – to continue to be the backdrop for an unparalleled, life-changing experience. Shambhala Music Festival is committed to retaining a true reflection of the people on the dancefloor by not accepting corporate sponsorship on a Farmily-run paradise. There is a dedication to foster a caring and inclusive community-based atmosphere, Shambhala Music Festival strives to provide a safe environment to celebrate amazing music, art, culture, creativity, and self-expression. Believing in the power of nature, synchronicity, and the moments in between, Shambhala continues to be a magical place everyone can call HOME year after year – it’s all about the people on the dancefloor!
Now you may be wondering why a 32 year old woman would be enticed by such a festival, especially if she had not necessarily identified as having a “Shamba-love” kind of attitude. In fact, affection and unbridled love from strangers makes me extremely uncomfortable and taps into an awkwardness that is cringeworthy. However, it was the music I was after as I’m a huge Electronic music fan, and in general a lover of all forms of art, music and live shows. I was also comforted by the idea that there was a large group of friends, family and acquaintances that were going. Surely they would protect me from any unsolicited hugs or hand holding.
Now given that I had already been exposed through friends to a lot of the Calgary “Burners”- A “burner” to me is someone who has been to burningman & somehow feels a sense of kinship with the other people that go there. Someone who in addition to dreaming of being back in Black Rock City, internalizes any combination of the following traits: – free-range creativity. – having fun with your life.
While we did not always share the same passions and priorities, I envied their lifestyle. They carried what it was that I perceived as what it may feel like to be free. Free to make choices that felt good for them, free from financial constraints that dictated their lives, free from a lot of the responsibilities I carried in general. And while there are some festival go-ers that are just like me- these guys are the real deal. As in they live to make money to go to the next festival to be with their community and nurture their paths to feeling whole and fulfilled.
So as the weeks lead up to the festival, I would be schooled on everything Shambhala. The one thing I did not have was a tickle trunk of Shambhala costumes. And while this is a hub for acceptance- you would stand out if you were not naked or dressed like a flower girl cross bred with a cyber punk that was experiencing an identity crisis as a Furry. And as person who takes wardrobe selection very seriously I had some shopping to do. This task would prove harder than initially anticipated- its hard to find attire like that whereby it doesn’t look contrived or that I raided the Urban Planet clearance section looking for everything neon. I was starting to consider Nudity as an option- at least I knew where to find pasties. I was successful in deriving my own twist on wardrobe and made it my own. I may have overindulged and bought the Spirit Hood, which I would later love myself for. Firstly, With every purchase of a Spirit Hood, they donate a portion of profits to the conservation of endangered animals and their habitat. Secondly, it just so happens that this place mid summer not only gets insanely hot, but it also gets bone chillingly cold at night- and when your naked, you need to keep your extremities warm.
The next bit of planning that was required was the accomodations. At the farm, there are a few options that you can stay. You can stay off the Farm and enter the festival daily while enjoying a hot shower and all the other amenities of the 1st world. If you are staying on the grounds, you can either tent it or trailer it. Seeing as I didn’t have a trailer, nor would anyone trust a group of festival goer’s with theirs, a tent was our only option. I was lucky to have recruited my good friend Ida as a tent mate. Ida not only was a Shambhala veteran, but also could appreciate my vision to create a little Oasis where we could actually sleep feeling good and not hate our life choices in the morning. We had brought full fledged blow up twin beds, plenty of cozy down comforters and down pillows, both scoffing at the idea of crambing into a sleeping bag. We packed Tylenol, wet wipes, band-aids,cleaning products, nutritional snacks and electrolyte drinks that would foster regularity as to not experience any kind of bloat…seeeing as nakedness may occur. Level Expert.
Our tent was lit up by carefully placed colorful lanterns that created an inviting ambience when seeking refuge from the masses. The only downfall was the placement of our tent, where it sat along one of the main routes in the camping area. I had not anticipated the number of people that would topple into our tent as I’d hear nitrous cartridges get sucked into their lungs, and consequently would find their way onto my tent and inadvertently in bed with me. I’ve never encountered so many strangers in bed until this weekend.
And for those who aren’t sure what I’m talking about, these uninvited guests were doing Whippets- also known as whippits or whip-its, a term used to describe the nitrous oxide charger that is used in whipped cream dispensers. These whipped cream canisters help push out the whipped cream, but they are not always just used for dessert. Because the nitrous oxide or “laughing gas” in whippets can have euphoric effects, some people will inhale the gas to get high. Although breathing in gas from a whipped cream dispenser may seem harmless, whippet abuse is a type of inhalant abuse. It can be incredibly dangerous and even fatal. This would be my first time seeing this in my life. It would go on all night. Not my Jam, but someone else’s peanut butter.
I don’t think “roughing it” was ever in my nature- and while our tent set up was clearly superior than others less fixated on their comforts, it was hot AF during the day in there and still so cold at night. Oddly, one night my cousin and I wound up in someone else’s camp who had hammocks that we wound up in. I woke up with a layer of frost on my body while he woke up with two girls in his, keeping him warm. Until this day we still do not recall how we got there, or who those girls were that obligingly saved him from frost bite. Additionally, my cousin may argue this, but I am the better looking of us, so you’d think I would have been blessed with some human blankets as well?
But please for not one minute, allow my 42 year old self try to convince you that I did not have the time of life. My tone may come cross that way only because as I reflect upon this experience, exhaustion floods my body at the thought of enduring this Party Marathon. It was in fact nothing short of a marathon fueled by the exhilarating light shows which is the most important aspect as every stage curates their own lineup with their own budget. It was sometimes difficult to choose between the stacked line-up of artists but for the most part where you go is dictated by the vibe you are after.
My favorite somewhat underrated thing about the permanent infrastructure is that there is seating everywhere. On the outskirts of the stage areas, there’s benches on almost every tree. You can be fully immersed in the stage and the sound, but be taking a break. I would always have someone with me to roam the winding paths between stages, sometimes getting lost within the flow, as if I was floating on the Milky Way. Every now and again I’d come across a Super Nova that would explode with Bass Drops that would vibrate through your body, heightening whatever high you were on, even if it was just life.
The mornings I would take advantage of the quiet calm, in adddition, Ida and I would use this time to bathe ourselves in the river using all the banned soaps and shampoos our bodies needed. With the backdrop of the Kootnay Mountains and our earthy bare asses, it could have been the perfect Irish Spring Commercial. Food trucks and Coffee vendors were empty and I’d fuel my body with most delicious coffee and nourishment required to take on the next 22 hours of play that lay ahead.
During the day we’d lay out and sunbathe topless while a random penis would hit my peripheral vision. By the end of the weekend, genitals would not even stir a second look. By this point, I think the Shambha-Love was soaking into my being, and admittedly I may have even broke through my awkwardness- bursting my personal bubble space entirely. I now shared a bubble with 15,000 people- and I tried to hug them all.
And while the use of substances at this festival is something that is common practice, it should not overshadow that this festival is a haven of soul-filling activities. Jarett Lopez from The Daily Hive captured quite a few of those things in 17 things you can only find at BC’s Shambhala Music Festival.
We did not last the entire weekend, but in all fairness we went hard in the paint and took full advantage of everything Shambhala had to offer. We all agreed that we had gotten what we wanted from the experience and were now wanting to return to our responsibilities with pleasure. The concept of using a flushable toilet, showering with hot water, and sleeping in our own beds carried a renewed sense of appreciation. The troubles in our lives, especially mine felt a lot less heavier than the looming idea of festival activities for another 22 hours straight.
Every now and again I get a whimsical thought that maybe I would do it again with some significant adjustments in order to accomodate the decade that has lapsed since I attended last. An airconditioned trailer would be first on the list, fully equipped with all the ammenities. I see no other way. As we enter another year of a pandemic, the liklihood of this year being the year affords me more time to consider thankfully.