We all love a good festival: The spirit of community, freedom of expression and the juiciness of endless dancing to incredible music. There is something that happens to us at festivals that leaves a deep imprint within us. We experience a sense of openness, connectivity and community that we may not have tapped into before and that we yearn to experience again, each time festival season comes around.
Journalist and videographer at Festival Fire, Vaidehi Amair sat down to chat with Tulku D’Etat, Enchanted Forest Gathering’s producer and founder… to talk about how this very magic happens at his event. Although they talked about many topics, it all boiled down to this: Community is the magic that takes place at Enchanted Forest and it is the people who make it what it is.
by Vaidehi Amair
THE INSPIRATIONAL SEED
Vaidehi: What events took place in your life that led you to start a freakin festival?
Tulku: I can remember the very moment that I decided to produce festivals.
I was at an event called Earthdance, which coincidentally took place at Black Oak Ranch where we now hold the Enchanted Forest Gathering. I remember one night, I was going back and forth between the healing temple and the electronic dance temple…. all night long I kept making that pilgrimage back and forth….. and I kept seeing the same people in both places. They were doing the same thing I was. In that moment I sensed that that’s what we’re all doing out here, in some way, we’re all healing.
Tulku: I remember coming up onto the dance temple. I was just cresting a hill and before me was a vision of the electronic music dome. It was so beautiful. They had it all illuminated, it was pulsing with light, it was pulsing with music and I was watching all the people dance inside of it. I realized what an absolutely magical activation portal was being created. I had a sense that spirit was right there with us taking in all of this incredible energy that was being created.
My (producer’s) journey began that night. I realized that this is a phenomenal opportunity. When we bring incredible human beings together and offer this kind of content, it is very activating. It’s an opportunity for us all to experience what community is really capable of.
I knew right then that I wanted to play a hand in it, and that I wanted to take it to another level.
Vaidehi : You bring up the presence of spirit and I myself have come to experience that. I think many people who go to these festivals go because they want to be in touch with spirit. Having had that vision and inspiration, what is your intention for Enchanted Forest?
Tulku: My intention is to create an opportunity for community to realize itself. If you just sit back and watch what the news tells you, you can get a very dark picture of the state of human society. However whenever I am out at these transformational festivals I believe we are collectively writing a defferent story. We as a species, humans, are so phenomenal. What we do with our talent, the way we express our individuality, the way we express our joy, our creativity, our purpose, the way we blend all of those together is spectacular. At this point in our collective story it is up to us to take up pen and write our own way into the future and leave behind a story that shows people are capable of great feats of love, kindness and support. We all have a seed of infinite potential within us. My intention is that the Enchanted Forest Gathering can serve as a catalyst for that seed to bloom.
Tulku: A few years ago I was walking around Enchanted Forest and I started to notice all of the things that were happening in between our programming. As I walked from one stage to another I saw people who were just leaving a workshop, or maybe sitting together in front of a painting….I saw inspired conversation, healing circles, group hugs, people processing, people crying, people laughing— it blew me away. I realized right there I was witnessing the magic. The true magic of Enchanted Forest goes so far beyond anything that we could ever plan on, beyond any content we could ever provide.
The true magic of Enchanted Forest, as I’ve come to realize, are the people who are attracted to it. It is the people who show up and really engage and take part in it, who make it what it is. For me that’s what it comes down to. We can talk about community and we can try to envision community, but there is a magic that happens at a festival for those four or five days. When you’re there and you get to be that community.
And that’s it. The people who are attracted to this event blow me away year after year and are absolutely why I keep coming back and wanting to do this…and wanting to make it even better.
AN ALOCHOL FREE FESTIVAL
Tulku: One of the things we do that sets us apart from the rest is that we’re an alcohol free festival. At first that’s a hard thing to imagine. People need to experience it for themselves because….”how can this event that I’ve heard is such an amazing, sexy dance party, be also be so family friendly?” How can it be alcohol free? When I see photos of the people beaming and smiling, how does this all fit together?
We say, “Get saucy not sauced”, it’s an alcohol free event. It’s so rare to have several thousand people together without alcohol as a major component to the energetic vibe. This creates a very clear connection among people. When you remove the vibration of alcohol it becomes a phenomenal experience. No fights, people clean up after themselves, women feel safer. This has been the reflection we have received from our community.
A lot of times at festivals you go and you let it all hang out and when you crawl out of there Monday morning, it takes a couple of days to recover. Then you have to acclimate to the default world or the daily grind. We want to create a holistic experience at our events and I think that we do. The goal of Enchanted Forest is for people to leave our gathering more refreshed, more rejuvenated, and more inspired than when they came.
So, as we grow into the future we are able to expand with more holistic content. It’s a super sexy party where you have the opportunity to tap into your own divinity, your own process, wherever you are, whatever kind of workshops you might want to take…..Everything within EFG is created around our four main tenants: Make it sacred, sexy, silly and saucy.
WHEN IT’S ALL OVER
Vaidehi : What can you say to festival goers to encourage them to keep this growth and transformational experience alive in their day to day lives?
Tulku: When you come to the event, the more that you allow yourself to open and connect to other people, make new friends and really engage, then, as you go back to your world it’s easier to keep that sense of community alive.
That sense of community does not need to be exclusive to being at a festival. If you want to maintain it when you leave, you have to put extra energy into staying connected beyond Facebook. If you went to a festival and tried yoga and liked it, go home and find a yoga studio near you. If you went to a workshop and heard something that touched you, take that home with you. Journal about it, take that thread out into your life. Seek more teachings. Or, you know, just go home and share your experience with somebody who didn’t get to be there.
So, I think that it’s incredibly possible, but it’s one of those things that takes that extra little bit. It’s on you at that point to keep it alive.
Vaidehi : For the upcoming gathering, is there anything you would like to share about what to look forward to? Any special treats?
Tulku: Yes! We started off our first four years as a really small festival. Our first year we had 250 people and then it just kept doubling. We were always at a smaller more intimate venue until last year when we moved to a new venue under a short time frame.
So all of a sudden, we became a bigger festival and it was really beautiful. It was an incredible production, a little over 3,000 people showed up, so we doubled in size.
For 2016, I’ve had a full year to sit with the experience of being at the new site. I’ve had a full year to ponder how to maintain an intimate experience among a larger group of people.
I’ve been so inspired by it and that’s what’s going to be at the heart of this year’s production. There’s going to be a focus on micro-environments and peak experiences, so instead of doing one big stage we’re offering multiple little stages with more intimate enclosed environments.
We’re also creating pockets of little experiences for people to tap into and enjoy. Being that we were at the end of a long drought last year, there was just a tiny little swimming hole, but this year water is supposed to return and there will be a beautiful daytime river experience we’re creating with a full stage and lounge area. Throughout the festival grounds we’re building elixir bars serving amazing non-alcoholic super activating drinks. We’re also expanding our workshop zones, with a big expansion on the yoga area, the dance workshops, our flow arts area.
One of the newest additions to this years gathering I am mostly excited about is the addition of Dr. Bronner’s Magic foam tub, so there will be fun, saucy dance shower parties throughout the day.
Also this year, for the first time, we’re adding a comedy stage that will run all night. We’ll also have a silent disco and a few other surprises are in store that I shan’t speak to.
Vaidehi : Ooh!
We hope to see you at Enchanted Forest Gathering this year. To find out more, follow the links below!
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photos courtesy of Enchanted Forest Gathering 2015