Shambhala 2019 Recap: Lessons Learned On The Farm
For a lucky few of us, we have the opportunity to make festival culture a major part of our lives. The prospect of travelling to far-flung locations and taking time from work, everyday life and general responsibilities to chase music, adventure and the possibility of becoming better people is of course appealing. Often times we find that our truest selves come to the forefront when we are in these freeing environments that allow us to open our gates and draw back the curtains that we use to guard ourselves in the “real world.”
With the explosion of the music festival landscape and the birth of franchise events around the world, the importance of authentic and holistic experiences has become absolutely invaluable. It is because of this search of genuine experiences that so many lovely souls have found their way home to the gathering known as Shambhala Music Festival.
Celebrating its 22nd anniversary this year, Shambhala remains a global leader in a myriad of fields including harm reduction, art installations, music curation, stage design, production and patron appreciation. There are countless reasons why dancers from across the globe make the pilgrimage each summer to the Kootenay Mountains to experience the critically-acclaimed festival but during this year’s gathering, I couldn’t shake the feeling of why Shambhala’s philosophy isn’t more widely accepted in a world that is in dire need of it.
I first attended Shambhala in 2016, and since that first trip, the festival has become a cornerstone part of my life and event I could never dream of missing. Each year I always look forward to the nugget of truth or a personal breakthrough that I customarily have on the farm that will last me through the year and give me pause to reflect on all of the lessons I’ve learned on the farm.
Shambhala is shining light in an industry that so often bends to the familiar, lucrative and contrived as well as an oasis of acceptance and love in a world of intolerance and fear. I’ve always struggled with an odd sort of guilt I feel being insulated by dance music culture almost untouched by issues that some would consider paramount. I have remained somewhat safe in a cocoon of friends that have become family, a recreation that transformed into a way of life. I feel as though now, more than ever, society as a whole needs to take the Shambhala message to heart and who better to do that than the Farmily.
Here are four lessons I’ve learned from Shambhala that I believe we need to keep with us every day.
Build A Community With Passion
What has always struck me most about Shambhala is the love, care and passion that every crew member invests into the experience. From every artist who plays a set to each stage performer that shares their art with the crowd and every security guard who works the morning shift, Shambhala is a community that reinvests in itself. The passion of those who put the event together shines through and it allows festivalgoers to feel as though they are a part of something truly one-of-a-kind.
In our modern culture, there is constantly an array of forces trying to pull us in all directions with influence and manipulation. Shambhala calls us to be the best possible form of ourselves because the passion that goes into the festival is of the highest quality. That infectious energy is needed in our everyday lives, in order to open doors rather than build walls, have conversations rather than arguments and find solutions instead of excuses.
Create A Culture With Trust
Along with the community that Shambhala has cultivated, a rich and vibrant culture has blossomed as well. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, bonds at Shambhala are stronger because of the collective history that all of the Farmily share. We all remember the first time we saw SkiiTour bring snow to The Amp, staying awake with Rich-E-Rich on Monday morning or simply recall the first time we saw the sunrise at The Living Room. No matter what moment has etched its way on your heart there is a high probability that a few Farmily members have shared that with you.
There is a profound and commendable sense of trust between festival-goers and the event. We know that our experience is the foremost concern of the crew and that assurance nurtures the creativity and individuality of everyone who makes their way home. A community of passion and a culture of trust were the two first lessons I learned on the farm and perhaps the most important ones we could take out to the rest of the world.
Care For The Land, Always.
There should be no doubt among the Shambhala faithful that the farm is hallowed ground. This year there was a concerted effort to promote sustainability across the event and the effort permeated throughout the grounds. Despite rainstorms that made trekking rather difficult, there was still a reverence and respect for the land that was palpable. There’s no reason why this appreciation and reverence should be exclusive to a music festival, in all honesty. We protect the Shambhala grounds because we want to preserve it, preserve the experiences we’ve had and the memories we’ve shared. The same should be true of the planet we call home as well.
Give the Gift Of Yourself
Finally, one thing Shambhala has given me is the confidence that I am enough. When you walk the streets of downtown or bump into someone on the dance floor, there is a connection there and an acceptance that we are all together traversing the same cosmic journey bound not only by time and circumstance but love and appreciation as well. At Shambhala, you can take off your mask and give the gift of your identity with the knowledge that it will be received and reciprocated in kind. There is no greater feeling than knowing you are not simply tolerated but accepted and appreciated. This mutual respect and compassion create a limitless atmosphere and deeply invigorating environment.
The world loves to cast illusions and fool us into thinking that we need to be some contrived caricature of ourselves but one thing Shambhala has certainly shown me is that we are in fact worthy of love and naturally inclined to emanate that with those around us.