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Monday, April 14, 2014

Where did the Love go Lucidity Festival? My LAST Time with Lucidity

Where did the Love go, Lucidity?
Where is the Love?

3 years ago, I attended the Lucidity Music Festival, met wonderful people, spent 3-4 days in a magical forest and heard some great music from musicians I still enjoy hearing today. Year 2, same situation. Year 3, same situation: great space, great campers and although there were some “Issues”, I am fairly sure I won’t be returning for year 4 of this festival.

I responded to Year 1 by saying that while it was a good festival in a magic place, Burning Man is Burning Man and Lucidity should not try to replicate what takes place on the Playa. They had “camps” and wishing tree and even core values that mimicked the 10 Principles.

Year 2, our camp had grown in number and we shared a space with a much larger Camp who had adjusted some of their Burner principles to coincide with the Lucidity Structures, like adopting a “totem animal. That same year, on 2 occasions, the powers that run the Lucidity Family, rejected and deleted our tiny camps choice of a “totem.”

This led to the immortal words of an old festival-goer friend who said: "This is getting too complicated…I just want to sit in the dirt with my friends and listen to music". 

Several of my other camp family said “These people are too serious” and “This has gotten too commercial.” And with those words, they said they would never attend another Lucidity function again.

Now we have year 3. The team that allowed us to enter with our bus were friendly fresh, fast and fun. We found a spot and set up a camp, holding just a few tight tent spaces for people that would arrive the next day Friday.

We found, that even though we had arrived early on Thursday, all trees, prime camp space, level ground was gone and what prime camping real estate that was not gone, was roped off, presumably to secure for other arrivals. All PRIME space was taken by Thursday mid-afternoon.

The day the festival began and we strolled through the stages, Vending and camping areas, it became obvious that the amount of space allocated to camping had been cut back to allow for triple the food vendors, triple the vendors. The vending space had taken over almost one whole end of the Festival grounds. And not compactly, but wide spread set-ups, where dozens had camped the year before.

Even as we worked our way through the camping areas, we were approached by people carrying boards of hand-fashioned jewelry, sellers of rum coconuts and huge vending booths for hair sculpting (when they gave the price of $140, I gagged and was glad my hair was long and not in need of sculpting!), make-overs and facials and even massage healing areas with $10 “donations” appreciated. Hell, I appreciate $10 bucks. Who doesn’t.

Lucidity had taken my advice and not followed that part of the Burning Man model. Commercialism from the HUGE $20 to park if you are alone in a car to the festival campsite roving with sales critters well beyond the normal sellers of buds and chunks and the other cacophony of chemical initials.

I am afraid Lucidity Organizers had sold out. Well, at least to the vendors. Vendors who commanded huge chunks of territory that could have housed 30 tent campers with at least a thin footpath between the tents.

Signs stating NOMAD CREW CAMPING ONLY! And sequestered locations again of the prime real estate, forced all of the other car and tent campers into extremely tight quarters. So close, we could hear the under-age Wax Huffers firing off their blowtorches at 7 AM and gulps of fruited Everclear! (I don’t have a problem of getting high, but our area was inundated with tents whose sole purpose of being there, was to suck on blowtorchs and staying turnt.  Finally in a space I had set aside for 4 tents, I removed my make shift fence and 20 tents were set up without even the narrowest of walkways between them. Plenty of space in the Hair salon and massage areas though!

More camping space had been commandeered by Camps who had seized large expanses of campspace to build stages. The Organizers had provided 4-5 stage areas, but I saw at least 3 other large stage areas taking over by camps. These spaces could have accomandated more campers as well.

The greed of the Festival continued when I noticed that where usually the port-a-potties are not plastered with the next festival ads until the last day, here the inner and outer walls were blasted announcing multiple festivals for the next few weeks. Organizers must have seen, how much $$$$ can be made from consciousness raising, star dust and encouraging silliness, openness and creativity!

Finally, the single most egregious act came at 5:30 PM Friday (the official day 1 of the festival) when my dear friend (A car Camper who ACTUALLY SLEEPS IN HIS CAR!) who has attended dozens of these events with me, up and dozen the coast for a dozen years, (WHO DOESN”T NEED TENTS OR SLEEPING BAGS) was told unceremoniously to go the Overflow and a shuttle would take him back and forth. After driving in heavy traffic for 6 hours to make it to the magic woods, he was gruffly informed (understandably since it was the “volunteers” that absorbed much of the anger of Friday attendees, not the money counters that hold the Festival) that he had no option, he had to go to the parking lot to sleep and even though we had his tiny space (the tents had packed in so close I don’t know how he could have even opened the doors of his vehicle.

He told me when you are in a difficult situation, you get farther with sugar: didn’t work. He didn’t raise his voice: didn’t work. They told him to get his money back (after he had almost already agreed to stay and because everyone was so unreasonable, so gruff, so stiff with him and not at all the loving kind, star stuff, totem animal hugging, peace love spatial freedoms that we had been reading about how we were to be “be silly and wild and free”, he decided that he would take his money, hop back in his car and head back home.

He said he had lost his totem and would not be back to this festival again.

I feel the same. I was so sickened by the Vendor sprawl, the rampant commercialism, to over-selling of the space and the lack of controls on Camps gone wild where everyone HAD TO have a stage, where RV’s parked anywhere, where even the conflicting schedule dates with the Coachella Fest drew off much of the more senior talent and we were left with the local music from Ventura, Santa Barbara or within 50 miles of the venue. (Although many were good, living close doesn’t make them bad, just not exactly 1st string).

I think I have had my last Lucidity experience.

I fully expect this posting, like my other reviews of Lucidity to be deleted. I suspect, given the current trend at Lucidity, there will be vendors vending to vendors, under-age frat boys sucking and hacking whatever is the latest ingestible just to avoid getting high in Mom basement for 3 days, forced enlistment in a Theme Camp, pay stages and special wristband access only areas..

* Comments made in public as well as my posting on Facebook were deleted. As I expected, the comments from the Festival People who informed me that "Lucidity was not for me" and then suggested Coachella and another Organizer who said that they were trying to make the Festival more "multi-generational" No offense but "F" her "multi-generational"
As a Festival goer, I think we have some rights. If we pay for a Festival, we should expect a festival not a hipster swapmeet. Limit the number of Vendors and Food Sellers. If we want a hipster mall, we will go to a hipster mall. If we are told there is Car camping, there should be car camping. If we are told camping is included in the price of admission, we should have a "camping space" that has a slightly larger footprint then our tent. Early arrival Volunteers should be stopped from "saving" space for late arrivals. Early arrival Volunteers should not be allowed to take all of the prime camping real estate. The Festival should arrange the larger stages. If you want to play in your campsite, I am pretty sure there is no reason to set up open bars, vendors in the camping area, stages with large dance areas. Play in your area. Just don't use 1000 square feet to set up your space. Festival goers paid to hear the performers provided by the Organizers. 

This not a Sound Camp at Burning Man. If you want a sound camp at Burning Man...go to Burning Man!

I am more than a little saddened by the trippy happy faces of the people splayed in Facebook as if to say "See how wonderful this was! Look at all of the Happy Silly Spirits! Joy is abounded here!
They must not realize how they have been cheated and even ripped off by the Organizers. (I was suspicious a few years back when the Organizers published a warning "We are not associated with...blah blah blah spin off Festival!" It should have sent a red flag up saying these folks are more concerned about the green buck then the green star dust!

You blew it Lucidity. You might have made $$$, but you lost a batch of FUN festival families this time.

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