The Truth About Outdoor Trance Music Festivals

I’ve always questioned what exactly creates that open, almost healing space that can be experienced at outdoor trance music festivals. A space where everyone can be joyfully free and love beyond usual boundaries. I guess it’s the age old question about music and its power to connect us.

Or is it just drug-fuelled escapism?

I never accepted drugs as the answer.

I’ve been to many other kinds of parties where people do drugs, and yet these parties don’t have the same connected feeling as outdoor parties. At outdoor parties, some people are sober for majority of the weekend – again, proving the drug theory wrong. I always knew that there was a deeper answer. I’ve always felt like the environment can be recreated and that humans can live like this on an everyday basis.

At Quest music festival in Hanoi, Vietnam, my best friends and I made a few realisations in this regard. Now, I’d like to explore this conversation further with you. These are some of the random thought patterns I journeyed through:

Dance all day

Viva, Claire, Ry and I on the Sunrise/Sunset Stage

At these parties, we dance all day and all night for an entire weekend. Dancing makes us feel so good because we move around stagnant energy within our bodies, thereby expressing and letting go of previously unexpressed, stored emotion in our bodies. This works through the same manner as yoga, running or any other physical activity. As Chanty puts it, “it’s a big release”.

I only recently learnt that babies can’t sleep at night and stay up crying, because they are not used to stable ground. In their mother’s womb, they experience constant circular motion. So stable ground is unfamiliar, and they are able to fall asleep more easily in rocking arms or a pram, with motion.

~ We were born to go with the flow ~

Reconnect to nature

Ryan, myself, Dean, reconnecting

We get to be in nature, far away from the city, and really reconnect to Mother Earth. Barefoot on the cool ground, swims in the lake, Autumn leaves falling down on my body – I am reminded that we are all so connected, and experiencing nature’s changes together.

We are meant to constantly change and grow, moving with the motions of life. Stability and stagnation is contrary not only to our nature but to the nature of the world. Evolving through the seasons of life is deeply ingrained in us. When we let go of expectations and control, we can experience this truth. When we go with the flow of life, instead of resisting it with every new tide, we can enjoy the journey, and really flourish with it.

I like to visualise life as a water slide, you can either fear it, cling to the sides with closed eyes, and go down slowly and painfully; or you can ride it fearlessly, with eyes wide open, and embrace each moment. [Photography: DW Black]
A time and space to let go

It’s so important for us to process and express our emotion freely. We need to be able to say exactly how we feel, and in order to be able to do so, we need to first actually know what we feel. These parties create the perfect open and safe space for us to do so.

Me, Chanty, Dean, Ry just outside the Quest Embassy Stage

A whole weekend spent in nature gives us access to a time and a space outside of our normal busy schedule where we can just be, with no responsibilities, and reconnect to ourselves and others on a more meaningful level.

We are not meant to hold onto emotion. The term depressed – ‘to press down’ – represents the consequences of turning your emotion inward and not expressing it outward. In order to fully release the emotion from our bodies, we have to be honest with ourselves, with what we feel, and in our relationships with others.

Today’s society makes it difficult for us to express, let alone feel, our emotion fully. I, for one, grew up holding any ‘negative’ emotion completely inwards. I got so good at holding everything in, that I even fool myself sometimes – when I’m totally unaware that I’m even bottling anything up in the first place!

It’s clear that current society could take some tips from the dancefloor

Not all of us can dance all day since we have to work, but let’s be real, we’re not robots. [Photography: Earthdance Cape Town 2014]
Emotions are an important part of the human experience. Be aware of your emotion – good or bad – and don’t be afraid to express it. We must allow ourselves to feel all those ‘negative’ emotions and know that it is normal – contrary to growing up, where we weren’t always allowed –

don’t cry! – go sit in the corner! – not now! – not in public! –

Being angry, annoyed, jealous, hurt or disappointed is okay. It’s so FRIKKIN’ OKAY.

But the self-guilt, shame and resistance associated with those feelings are not.

Emotions are part of the natural flow of life. If we’re not fully moving with the flow, we’re resisting it, and ultimately stagnating (cue, water slide analogy).

We must experience the full spectrum of emotions by feeling through it without any judgement, attachment or resistance to it. We must let it all pass through us freely.

Make time for yourself where you can just be. Tools such as journaling, making music and art, meditation, mindfulness, spending time in nature, dancing and physical activities help us feel through our emotions by allowing us the opportunity to be present within our body and mind. Experiment with different tools to find which ones work best for you.

~ The breath is the most effective (and most accessible!) tool ~

In yoga, the breath is said to be the bridge between the body and the mind, connecting the two. In this way, we can use the breath to be aware and to breathe through our emotions, through anything and everything. With each inhale, feel and embrace emotion and everything as it is, and then let everything go with the exhale.

What if these parties are a stepping stone to something greater?

PS: What are your thoughts on music festivals? I’d love to know!

Until then, let’s keep breathing 🙂


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