First-Hand Adventures of a Desert Hearts Wanderer

Even the night before the mesmerizing weekend at Desert Hearts began, I couldn’t get the smiling faces, funky wilderness, & anticipation out of my mind, even while I slumbered. I awoke a handful of minutes before my alarm Friday morning, finished my packing, & hit the road with my partner in crime. Upon arrival, we decided on a spot and decided to drag as much as we possibly could in one trip. Within a matter of minutes, we were found struggling a mere few-hundred feet away from our car. A friendly Italian offered us a hand, taking our cooler full of craft IPAs (as any true San Diego snob would have), customized glittery bottles of champagne, & a bag of Chillable Red who’d already been slapped around a bit to our site. We thanked him with a hug, set up our giant inflatable shark, & laid down our hammock until our new neighbors arrived.

Immediately we were displayed with the helpfulness of the fellow attendees of the festival. We’d come mildly unprepared for hammock setup since we had other friends who were supposed to meet us later, so our neighbors lent us string, & we in return, shared our champagne. By then it was time to get to exploring, so onward we set to the dance floor. One of my biggest takeaways from Desert Hearts Spring Festival is its world is full of teachers. Here’s what I learned from my new DH Fam.

Creativeness & Conscientiousness Rule

Once you pass through security & the ticket check, you’re greeted by the Heart Monitors. They’ve got a station set up to help anyone in spiritual or physical need, & will aid you in any way possible. I met a few throughout the festival who helped answer any questions I had, offered directions,  lent an arm to escort me where ever my heart desired, & simply shared festival stories as we journeyed to the port-o-potties together.

There was also a DH Allegory Speaker Salon where volunteers were encouraged to speak on suggested topics such as sustainability, natural medicine, social justice, festival culture, & more. Attendees could stop in with a cup of coffee to expand their minds further more, although I was upset the schedule was not listed on the festival pamphlet. One of the first things you learn at a Desert Hearts festival is that the activities go far beyond what is listed.

One of my most anticipated events outside of the schedule was the Wine & Cheese Party. My crew & I were funking backstage to Jozif when one of my friends’ faces dropped blank while looking into the crowd & saying, “It’s time.” I looked confusedly over for my eyes to gaze over the ascent of two totems reaching into the sky, sporting a wine & a cheese cartoon. We literally RAN through the crowd, weaving frantically until we reached what was far finer of a spread than I’d ever expected. A black table cloth was clustered with platters of assorted cheeses & boxes of wine ready for the taking. I snagged a piece & we circled around the Funn Machine, intertwining between colorful outfits that would make your grandma’s sweater closet weep with jealousy.

Anything Goes When It Comes to Wardrobe

I think the photos can speak on their own behalf for this portion.

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One Stage = More Love

We’ve all been to massives where you’ve got to plan days in advance to try to catch 15 minutes of one artist before dragging your friend group through fucked up crowds in an attempt to see everyone you’ve got on your list. Desert Hearts has eliminated that with its one stage, one sound, one vibe mantra. Even from the farthest camp site, you’re still able to hear the subtle thump of the bass radiating through the trees, drawing you in. What I love about this is you’re collected with all of those hearts in one place to admire your surroundings. It’d be hard to go from start to finish without catching one of your friends you’d been looking for, since everyone collects on one dance floor. Although the creators could easily sell more tickets and mob the reservation, they choose to keep the event more intimate so we all truly become a family at each event.

By Sunday I left like I’d met everyone at the festival simply from seeing their faces around so often, which really helps to create the bond that becomes so strong by the end of the festival. Every face is smiling and willing to share a silly dance with you, and compliments are rained down in a hurricane-like state, covering all attendees. There was no shortage of clever signage as well, from the DH founders’ faces floating around, to puns like, “ObviousLee,” “ReligiousLee,” & “SexualLee”, to silly totems such as, “Google Me,” & “Get It,”  & thought-provoking posters like “Be here now.” They had such a large presence that my friend & I made a game of guessing what the signs said before we could see the actual text. Our favorite guess was an older guy holding a one-sided sign away from us which we decided said, “Bitches Only.” Although our prediction was false, you can be sure to find us at the next Desert Hearts festival sporting this sign!

The Desert Hearts Crew Always Brings the Jams

Even if you aren’t a die-hard house or techno fan, in this environment, you’ll be wishing these sets lasted all week. For me, I couldn’t peel myself away from Fritz Carlton‘s set on Sunday night, which made packing up my tent in pitch darkness a bit of a challenge, but totally worth it. On Saturday, from Jozif to Porkchop the dance floor was filled to the brim. Mikey Lion pleasantly threw “Love The Feeling High” by Jesse Rose in his set, bringing the trademark introspective feel to the table. I can still clearly feel the energy when a mix of “Mushrooms” by Marshall Jefferson came on when I was dancing in front of the Funn Machine. With my gold-sparkled champagne bottle customized with the DH logo, we jived while the bubbles danced past us towards the stage. The purple whacky arm inflatable tube man, who we referred to as “my crazy ex” the entire weekend went absolutely HAM to this song, going from face-down ass-up to reaching for the heavens within a matter of seconds. I’ve got to hand it to him, I don’t think that guy left the stage one time so let’s hope his friends were bringing him water throughout the day!

Overall, it seemed that the sets were perfectly catered to the timing of the weekend. As my friends slumbered away in our tent Sunday morning, I went off for my first solo adventure of the weekend. I decided to skip my weekend’s “normal” breakfast of bloody marys with pickles and chips and go for a more tasteful option, so I headed to the coffee stand to grab a cuppa and snap some pics. I immediately spotted one of my friends I’d been looking for the entire weekend with his cute pup Yogi, who was also dressed to the 9’s with a pink and white heart-covered sweater with Desert Hearts pendant hanging out the front. We hit the dance floor to catch some Sabo, who perfectly balanced his set to be a wake up call to get the body moving without going too hard as to deter any still-sleepy heads.

Once a Desert Heart, Always a Desert Heart

The entire weekend I felt like I was surrounded by friends, & I quickly learned that I was. It’s an impossible task to simply attend one DH event, which is why I’m so glad the crew decided to team up with Pink Mammoth to throw the Mammoth Hearts Block Party on April 23rd, 2016. Although 72 hours of house & techno seems like it’d have been enough to fulfill any normal desert dweller until November’s DH anniversary, it will be the perfect time to get together to relive our favorite times from the weekend. Electric Sloth can’t wait to see you fabulously dressed creeps on the dance floor!