Monday, September 26, 2016

Soul Camp 2016 -- Day 334


I remember a time when electronic music used to drive me batty. Repetitive, and lyrically lacking, I just didn't get the appeal. Combined with the social stigma of the illicit activities and the illegal nature of the underground rave scene, I stayed a good distance away for most of my life. Now, I'm not here to discuss the culture, the community, or the history of electronica, because I'm not nearly knowledgeable enough on the subject, but what I am here to do is share my experience.

As I have grown older, and wiser (though some would like to debate that point) I have learned much about love and acceptance. Everyone has their own path to walk, and what might be right for me is not going to be right for you. One fun part of my life has been finding people that want me to be who I am while enjoying who they are. I like to meet people where they are. I do not want to change them, I want to understand them. I want to accept them, and love them. I believe that if we could all learn compassion, the world would be a much better place.

While we were here in the redwoods this summer, there have been six major weekend events. Three of them were holidays, with all of the family celebrations and camp-style activities included. Two of them were biker events, with deep-throated Harleys, and lots of bearded old guys. The last one was Soul Camp, with the promise of all night parties and very pervasive, thumping bass lines.

The holiday weekends reminded me of the summer camp movies that I enjoyed when I was a kid. This was a little different since whole families were here, but there were lots of campfires and s'mores, volleyball and pool games, and wholesome fun! The biker events were a bit rougher around the edges, with a LOT more beer drinking and very loud, fiddle-laced, deep-fried rock and roll. Walking through the campground at night felt much like being in the bad part of town, and you kinda got the feeling like you would not really want to upset anyone.

Soul Camp was very different. The whole feeling of the place was like a huge egalitarian society from the future. There were no strangers to be found, because every person that you saw greeted you with a smile, a wave, or even a hug. This was the first time that I have felt this accepted and welcomed in any large gathering, and it was amazing. I worked a lot of shifts in the Pub, and got to meet a bunch of the coolest people. After work, walking home in the dark didn't feel the least bit uncomfortable. The bumping of the bass was better than a compass, since the main stage was about twenty yards from my home.  Dancing lights, dancing people, and dancing music were EVERYWHERE.

And so, we danced. A lot. We got as close to the stage as we could, so that the pumping sounds could be felt in our bones, vibrating our hearts and minds. We danced with people that had glow sticks, fuzzy hats, men in broom skirts, people with backpacks, skinny jeans, silk scarves, sunglasses (at night), and no shame. There was something very special about being able to do this among the ancient trees with the stars looking down on us. I think the universe was smiling.

I know I was.

This was the perfect way to wrap up this summer. This was our first workamping experience, and I love that it was so amazing. The relationships that we have built here are so genuine and deep, it is amazing to realize how quickly they were formed. And while I'm by no means a Club Kid, I will forever remember my first Soul Camp.

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