Shamiracles: Coming Home To Shambhala
Words by Kalisi Luv
People call the trek to Shambhala Music Festival “Coming Home”, but to me, it truly is my home. My family is from a small town of 1,139 (2011) and since I was a baby I spent every summer there — throwing rocks in the river, going for bike rides to the candy store down the street and jumping off the high-dive at the outdoor pool. Although I began going to music festivals when I was 16 I didn’t make the voyage from Victoria, where I now live, to the Salmo British Columbia Farm until 2010 when I attended my first Shambhala. Something inside of me was nervous to return to the place I had spent so many summers and holidays with family and friends as I had not been back since my grandfather died in 1998. Something pulled me back…and ever since that first journey I have always felt the tug of Shambhala on each one of my heartstrings.
The Shamiracles began the first year I went. My boyfriend agreed to drive our friend, Kenzie (of Bitchin’ Beats), to the airport on Saturday morning and in return we received a free ticket and artist camping. That year we pranced around the grounds, explored the nooks and crannies of The Labyrinth, and danced until the morning sun kissed our skin. My first experience only touched the surface of what Shambhala would come to mean to me.
The second year we arrived late (Friday morning) but drove straight in to find our friends perfectly perched atop a hill with an amazing view of the grounds below. This was the first year a crew of friends could join us and it was many of our pals’ first time. There was a crew of us living in 8 tents and every time we found ourselves lost in the coils of the ground’s pathways, we ran into one another and shared hugs and hoots of joy as Shambhala brought us back together. That was the year that I could feel that Shambhala was something truly unique, and the experience was unlike anything I had ever felt before.
The third year was when I realized that Shambhala was akin to my true state of being and that it would always try to bring me home to experience the comfort of ever-pounding bass and grinning faces. That year the line up was stacked with old-school favourites like the Plump DJs, Stanton Warriors, Krafty Kuts, Freestylers and A.Skillz and my heart broke with every tweet and Facebook status about the event. I was split in two, on one hand I was ecstatic to see one of my friends fly all the way from Australia to marry the love of her life, and on the other I wished I could frolic in the Fractal Forest. I aired my anguish on Twitter, hoping to find support from others who were dealing with similar feelings of grief, when I received a tweet from none other than the Plump DJs themselves asking me to be their “guesty.” I could hardly believe my eyes as our correspondence continued and they offered both myself and my boyfriend VIP tickets to the event! I couldn’t miss the wedding but I could tap out early and drive for 6 hours from Kamloops to Shambhala just in time to hit the Sunday Funk Jam in the Fractal Forest! So, my boyfriend and I along with three friends jumped in our cars and headed out as the sun rose. Sunday Funday commenced as we found our friends lounging, riverside at The Living Room Stage. We watched day turn to night–beaming like newly-cracked glowsticks. By my third Shambhala I knew that this place had been a missing part of me for too long.
This year, 2015, was my fourth year and yet another Shamiracle occurred. I had to work Thursday, Saturday and Sunday and had classes on Monday. Instead of throwing my cares out the window as I drove down the dirt road to salvation at Shambhala, I had to stay in Victoria. My grandmother even found me a ride to and from the airport in Castlegar and said she would donate some money towards my flights if I chose to go, but I decided I had to be an adult. I couldn’t even think about it without anger bubbling up inside me like Alka Seltzer — everyone I talked to was going. Even my friend and her fiancé had decided to make it their stagette and let me tell you, these people know how to party! But, I was in my last summer of my Masters degree and I was told that I couldn’t miss any classes, besides, I had to work.
So, I came to terms with not going and asked each of my friends who were attending to pick a set and dedicate their dancing to me. Wednesday (the day before the party), everything changed when the editor of The Snipe News asked me if I would cover Shambhala if he could secure me a media pass. What!? Are you serious!? Is it time to go home!? After a few frantic texts to friends and one long phone call with my mommy (and of course with her approval) I decided that it was meant to be and I took the job. After finding ways to delegate my other responsibilities, I drove solo to Princeton on Thursday then drove myself to Shambhala and arrived around 2PM Friday afternoon.
Of course the first issue should have been trying to find my friends — right? Not a chance! As soon as I unloaded my car I ran into a pal who helped me carry all my stuff to our shaded (I know, unheard of!) campsite in the tree line. Friday proceeded to be the best day of my life. I couldn’t stop yelling “I’m not supposed to be here!” with my arms in the air and an authentic smile slapped on my face. The evening was full of music that made my feet flutter and stomp and my body eject all afflictions. The entire weekend I radiated with triumph and purpose as I floated through crowds of costumed people and danced like a hummingbird to a flower. I wish I could do Shambhala justice by summarizing this year’s festivities but I know I can’t. As many have said before me “you have to be there to experience the magic.”
However, I have to say one of my favourite memories was when my friend Brando (Dj R@ngo) played a very intimate set in the Bio Dome (apart of The Grove). The vibe was incredible, so much love, so many smiles and an outpour of pure happiness—so much so that the set ended in a massive group hug! This is when I learned that Shambhala is like one living entity, where every person has a job to do and is essential to its vitality. Whether their job is to dance in the garden dressed up as a sunflower, or provide nourishment to the crowds through their turntablist skills, everyone is an integral part of making Shambhala home, and I can’t wait to see what Shamiracles the future has in store.
If you want to read my overview of Shambhala 2015, feel free to check it out here.