The Desert Hearts Family Reflects on 10 Years of House, Techno, and Love
It’s been ten years since four friends from San Diego threw a renegade bacchanal deep in the Mojave - an intimate gathering of close friends who grooved to underground sounds while fostering the mantra, “House, Techno, Love – We Are All Desert Hearts.”
In the decade since, Desert Hearts has evolved from a DIY party crew into leaders of the transformational festival scene while managing to maintain their homegrown verve and playful spirit.
Desert Hearts Festival will celebrate its 10th anniversary at its new home in Lake Perris, California from Thursday, April 28 through Monday, May 2. For its biggest event to date, Desert Hearts has curated a dynamic array of house and techno purveyors who will keep the sounds flowing 24 hours a day. Notable selectors include Carl Craig, Omar S, DJ Harvey, Danny Daze, Robag Wruhme, Kenny Larkin, Township Rebellion, Juan MacLean, Doc Martin, Anja Schneider, Francesa Lombardo, Yulia Niko, Latmun, and Joyce Muniz.
To commemorate Desert Hearts’ milestone birthday, we took a walk down memory lane with the collective’s co-founders Mikey Lion, Marbs, Porky, and Lee Reynolds who shared their ten favorite memories from the last decade.
Desert Hearts happens in Lake Perris, Ca from April 28-May 2, 2022. Tickets are available now via the Desert Hearts website.
The First Desert Hearts Sunrise
Mikey Lion: The very first sunrise we all witnessed together at the first Desert Hearts in the Mojave Desert is something I'll never forget. We made it through bone-chilling weather, an MIA sound system, and a broken generator to get to that moment of triumph—and our lives were never the same. Speaking of MIA, we are actually having trouble finding that first flyer from 2012. Free ticket to the first person who can send it to us!
Mikey Lion: At Desert Hearts 2014, we had a casual run-in with the Apple Valley SWAT Team that nearly shut down the whole festival. We stood our ground and served them papers as to why they couldn't (they definitely could) shut down the festival. They left with their tails between their legs. In our moment of victory, we celebrated for an hour before a monsoon style storm came through and drenched the whole party. Just when we couldn't take any more of a beatdown, it began to snow the most beautiful snow we had ever seen. After that the vibe of the festival was invincible.
Porky: During our Spring 2014 Festival “Snowy Hearts” I remember snowball fights breaking out on the dance floor throughout the evening. [We were] throwing snowballs at DJ T. and Christian Martin while they were DJing. They could never figure out where it was coming from and everyone was absolutely losing it.
Marbs: “Snowy Hearts.” tested us in every way possible. The cops tried to shut us down, helicopters patrolled above constantly, rain poured, hail pelted us, snow buried us, and somehow we all got sunburnt the last day. It was like the festival gods were testing us, asking us if we really could handle this, and we said, “Ya? Nothing is stopping us!”
A Moment Shared, Is a Moment Remembered
Marbs: An incredible memory was from our first Apple Valley Desert Hearts in 2013 when the entire festival walked up the ridge behind the stage and watched the sunset together. An iconic photo was taken and it was a beautiful moment for our family. Later on, that picture was turned into a mural orchestrated by Anh Pham that all the attendees participated in. Even my dad and mom painted themselves on the canvas. Words can’t describe that beautiful moment.
A Family Affair
Marbs: When I brought my parents to DH for the first time it was easily one of the most memorable moments in my life. When I quit my day job working for my dad’s construction company (a secure and promising career) and told my parents I was going to organize parties and tour as a DJ for a living, they were supportive even though they had their concerns. But when they arrived at DH, they were completely blown away and I could tell that I was no longer viewed as just a child, they finally accepted that I was an adult and that I was living my dreams.
Our relationship changed so much after that and it meant the world to me. My dad ended up drinking out of a four foot novelty flask and had so much fun that my mom and I almost didn’t let him go home. I’ll n
ever forget that… it is something so special to me, I can’t put it into words.
Porky: My favorite memory of all time has to be at the Desert Hearts Spring 2016 Festival when my grandparents on my mom’s side of the family surprised me during my set. Bringing them up on stage just as the sun had set was a moment I’ll cherish forever. Mikey and I are beyond grateful that our entire family (especially both of my parents) has been extremely supportive of our musical passion even before we started DH.
Lee Reynolds: I really feel that anyone can have fun at DH. I’ve seen my partner’s parents and grandparents on the dance floor with my kids (four generations!), we even have a community of deaf people that attend.
A Sunday Set that Almost Wasn’t
Lee Reynolds: A recent standout is definitely Rodriguez Jr.’s incredible performance in 2019 that almost didn’t happen - the limo service we hired didn’t pick him up at the airport due to our credit card getting declined, ironically not because we’re broke. We had no phone service at Los Coyotes, but luckily Olivier took a chance on us and grabbed a three hour cab ride from LAX. The Sunday Sermon he delivered was transformational to say the least. We’ve been great friends ever since, such a nice fella.
The Power of the Desert Hearts Community
Mikey Lion: The closing parties at every festival are always the highlight of the weekend for me. All of the staff, vendors, and volunteers that put the fest together come out and celebrate together as the Desert Hearts Crew plays back 2 back and finishes the weekend on an ultimate high. Those victory laps can easily be the most love-filled moments of the whole festival.
Lee Reynolds: Our DHB2B closing set where we know we’ve pulled it off again and we can have some fun! They are also bittersweet because it’s a farewell to so many people we love. I’ve shed many happy tears, and had many failed attempts expressing my feelings on the mic due to my lack of voice at this point.
Porky: The list goes on and on of countless fond memories, but one recurring theme that Desert Hearts has taught me is that this community truly has the ability to change people’s lives. We have received unbelievable messages about people overcoming addiction and realizing they can party sober, coming out of the closet at 40 years old, even conceiving babies at the festival! For me, stories like these are undeniable proof that we’re making an impact on this planet. It always has and always will be about the music first with the community a close second. After all, We Are All Desert Hearts, and it’s House, Techno, & Love for a reason <3