Community Building at Lightning in a Bottle
Many music festivals brand themselves as an event fostering community and creating an extraordinary experience. And while all music festivals are a good time, only a select few truly accomplish these goals. Lightning in a Bottle is one of the most revered boutique festivals in the States. The festival consistently books high-quality, multi-genre (electronic leaning) lineups while creating a unique experience around art installations, speakers, yoga, and community-based camping.
The festival has a unique origin story. Lightning in a Bottle (LiB) was originally a private birthday party that first took place in 2000. After four years, the founders decided they wanted to make it public, creating an experience fostering community and exploring art.
In 2004, the festival was born. The organizers also created their brand, The Do LaB. And as the festival's brand gained traction, so did The Do LaB, eventually becoming a part of Coachella, hosting a stage at the festival and creating the art installations. After a few more location changes, the LiB crew found their final resting spot, cementing a long-term deal to hold the festival at the Buena Vista Lake in Central California.
To truly understand the ethos of Lightning in a Bottle, one must examine the core principles of the festival. LiB's values are as follows: Actively participate, Honor the land, Be a citizen, Celebrate life, Create community, respect yourself, and respect others.
Attendees of the festival are encouraged to do more than see music. Activities abound throughout the weekend and are an integral part of the fan experience alongside the music. The best community-oriented festivals are the ones that bring their patrons together in a multitude of ways. Fans who attend Lightning in a Bottle rarely attend once. It is a unique experience that brings fans back year after year, creating camping communities and rave squads with ease.
People from all walks of life attend LiB intending to experience new music, see their favorites, make new friends, and perhaps learn a thing or two while they're at it. It's hard to pin down what LiB is like in words, but this selection of our favorite fan stories sums up some of the best parts.
When Lightning Strikes
The first time you wander the grounds, weaving around DIY camps and happy groups of people, finding yourself immersed in sound, shapes, and color, all created by beautiful people, that's when lightning strikes. When the DJ drops the beat, and it feels like the whole world is dancing to the same vibrations. When you're sitting in a class, and you make a real connection to the stranger sitting next to you. Lightning is a creation of mother nature but when lightning strikes at LiB, we must remember that we are the creators. All the energy, love, attention, and consciousness that we, as individuals, bring together is our proverbial Lightning in a Bottle. When we unleash it, that is when lightning strikes.
The First Time Festivalgoer
I left LiB feeling as though I was part of one giant weekend-long cuddle-puddle. The energy. The people. The LiB crew. Everything was in this amazing little love bubble world! I came to LiB (first-time festival-goer here) unsure what to expect and really with no expectations, except for a list of the artists I wanted to see.
From the get-go, things just flowed. Will call was a piece of cake. Our caravan of nine cars somehow magically all ended up in line, one behind the other as we entered the grounds, and we got the perfect camping spot all together! And then it just continued from there.
One of my favorite moments was starting a cuddle puddle Friday night on the ground at the Favala stage. It was 1 AM, and as we were migrating from Woogie to some other stage, the music from Favala was so good it got us grooving and sucked us in. We danced, and then my group of four sat down on the ground in a mini cuddle puddle to bask in the beauty of dancing bodies, lights, and music. And as we sat there, we slowly began to recruit new cuddle buddies. A smile and wave welcoming them to come snuggle up, and our puddle soon became a pool!
We went from 4 to probably about 10-13 people, all cuddling and enjoying the comfort of being held and kept warm. It was cold that night! No one knew anyone, but everyone loved everyone. We couldn't tear ourselves away from the warmth and coziness! Until finally, at 3 AM, right after we started asking if we should think of leaving, the DJ put a song on that literally started with "Its time to go!"... our queue. We hopped up. Said goodnight and made our way back to camp to continue the cuddle fest.
I didn't see any of the artists on my list but saw so many I never knew of and loved them all. I left LiB feeling cracked open. Raw. Clear. Cherished and filled to overflowing. I loved that I didn't follow any schedule or timeline and focused on what felt good for me. I have been feeling the shifts slowly unfolding in me ever since LiB, and I am loving everything about them! I can't wait to be back next year and feel the warmth, acceptance, and sunshine that is LiB!!
An LiB Love Story
Last year was my first time at LiB, and it probably saved my life. I connected to so many wonderful people and built up the confidence to finally start acting like myself. There I met the love of my life. Going back this year was such a beautiful experience; planning the trip out with my lover, meeting up with friends, and exploring all of the new installments brought out by other creative, life-loving people. I had deep moments on meditation mountain, long-lasting connections down by the lake, and incredible music at every stage. The only downside is not being able to be everywhere at once. I tell everyone to come here because, for me, there truly is nothing like it. At LiB, I love to see everyone finally take off their masks and be free in their crazy clothes, makeup, and really smile. It is a place to learn, share, love, and I couldn't ask for anything more.
The Gift Giver
This year at LiB, I created 30 mini pieces of art with abstract face drawings and dreamy watercolor backgrounds. On the back of each one was a profound quote to go with the image. I took them out to the festival each day with the intention of choosing 30 special people that warmed my heart in some way and having them pull a card to take home and keep. I hoped that I could move at least one person with my art, perhaps giving them a message they might need at that particular point in their lives.
One night in the Enchanted Tree Lounge, a beautiful masked girl saw me giving out cards and reached over from her seat on the couch to take one. The look on her face was something I won't forget. She looked at me with the deepest appreciation and got up from the couch to give me a long embrace. We did not need to exchange words.
She later found me on Instagram and let me know how meaningful the art was in her life and how the quote was something she needed to hear at that time. The feeling I got from touching someone's life was like no other! I am now inspired to create this art project on a larger scale.
Thank you so much, LiB, for giving me a space to share my art with people who can connect with it!
LiB is Home
As the sun rose above our community, I felt the welcoming dirt keeping us safe, the crisp breeze providing us pure oxygen, the lake refreshing our souls, and the warmth from new family contributing positive energy. Days consisted of endless meditation and guest speakers that expanded my mind to new horizons. Nights consisted of dancing under the electric sky listening to the epic music that brought us all together. The days flew by fast, but the connection I made was everlasting. I was home.