In a magical land two summers ago, a girl awoke on her birthday to a good old fashion hangover. She rolled over in her tent to check the time, and had to make to decision, “Do I stay or do I go?” Her friend convinced her it would do them good, so off to the forest they went, yoga mats in hand. As she walked down the hill rubbing away her tired eyes, she looked up and realized she was about to do yoga in the middle of the forest surrounded by beautiful hand crafted dream catchers on a gorgeous summer solstice morning. She looked up and smiled. “Today is going to be a good day," she thought “something magical is about to happen.”
The yoga class was not your typical vinyasa flow to Odesza. It was a rock and roll yoga class lead by an eccentric woman dressed as a super hero alongside her man on electric guitar. They were fun, loud, energetic and wild. It was impossible not to shake off every ounce of tiredness and laugh. Toward the end of the class the instructor encouraged everyone to make new friends by having them hop around to the different wooden platforms while the music played, and then stop randomly when the music stopped.
She leapt around, not a care in the world, and when the music stopped...
“Hi” she said with a smile.
“Now, tell your partner your spirit animal.”
She looked at the boy in front of her. He was tall, handsome, and brilliantly blue eyed. With a smile, he looked at her and said, “My spirit animal is definitely a lion, because I’m a Leo and I’m big and strong, kind of a protector."
He had a cute smile.
He continued, “I’m either a lion, or a black wolf… which is like, kind of this mythical creature that represents personal power and strength, and isn’t really afraid of anything. You know?"
She let out a giggle, “Very cool. I always get along with Leos, they’re fun."
“Totally. So what about you?"
“Well it’s actually kind of funny that she just asked us this, because I’ve been curious lately about what my spirit animal is, and I honestly didn’t know until this very moment. I’m a butterfly."
That felt right. Butterflies represent personal transformation and growth, lightness of being and metamorphosis in life. Little did she know, the moment she realized she was a butterfly was also the moment that would transform her life forever.
The music began to play and she fluttered away. When class was over, she walked away appreciating the moment, with no intention of ever seeing him again.
The girls got back to their camp and their neighbors were already up playing beer pong. They jumped in the game and completely dominated. Then one of the guys showed them a cooler full of homemade ice cream kept frozen with dry ice. Mint chocolate chip ice cream surrounded by trees? Yes please! The day was shaping up to be her best birthday yet.
After pre-gaming for a while, they made their way out to the pool. The weather was perfect, the people were beautiful, and the music was vibe. Kygo was owning it and had a huge smile on his face. She was dancing in the sand at the front of the pool when a guy on stage waved her over. She ran up with a huge smile and yelled “today is my birthday!” He poured Skyy Vodka into her mouth from up on stage and said, come find me after the show. Let’s hang out.
Let’s stop and talk about the pool party for a second. The pool is probably the number one reason why people attend What The Fest. Imagine a DJ playing tropical house in front of two (now three) giant pools about 2 feet deep, thousands of hot bodies dancing, hundreds of floaties and pool toys, sand to dance on, grass to lounge on, and many, many titties. It’s the party of the year, and it’s three days long. People fly from across the country for this because it’s epic AF. Need I say more?
Okay, on with the story.
Kygo’s manager hooked the girls up with backstage passes and they had a couple drinks, but by the time the sun was making it’s way down the girl was ready for her next adventure. She dipped out and ran into the pit of the Effin’ stage, where everyone was losing it to G Jones. And then out of nowhere...
She turned around, and standing directly behind her was the boy from yoga.
“Hey!” He gave her a huge lion hug. “Save me!” she yelled, "I’m running away from Kygo!” She laughed and they started dancing together, feeling as though they’d known each other all along. After the set he treated her to a birthday pad thai dumpling (which was delicious btw, the food at WTF is crazy good and actually affordable) and then they parted ways. After getting to know him a bit, she realized how cute he was and was hopeful to see him at Paradiso the following weekend.
The rest of the festival was just as magical. It was her first time at What The Fest and she had never experienced a transformational festival before. She loved raves and had been to EDC, Paradiso, Identity, and several USC events, but this was different. WTF is tucked away on a beautiful piece of property in Oregon and is surrounded by forest. It’s an escape from the real world, a place for people to go to unleash their inner beings, make new friends, and party their asses off. She was in love with the energy, the people, the food, the art… everything about the festival was simply magical.
Incredible art installations make the forest walk an electric adventure. Something as simple as a cluster of hanging white ribbon makes you feel like you are in another world. There are small art galleries throughout, and live painters whose progress you can witness over the course of the weekend. Colorful light installation make the forest glow and you find yourself being drawn into each nook and cranny to see what you may find. A Labyrinth? A sanctuary? A dome full of white fluff that makes you feel like your inside of a cloud? The possibilities are endless.
This year two new stages were added to the mix for a total of 8. Main Stage and Effin’ Stage face each other at either end of the field, with the Silent Disco between the two. For those of you who haven’t experienced a silent disco I recommend you do. It’s pretty rad. Every person has a set of wireless headphones that can flip between two channels. Each channel causes the headphones to light up a certain color and is linked to a DJ. Basically a bunch of people dancing around to silence if you’re an outside observer. Silent disco is taking over Portland. You can find them at parks, bridges, random streets… it’s a lot of fun.
Down the hill is Equinox, which is the only stage you’ll find music at on Thursday night. The advantages of getting the early entry pass ($40) is that you get a campsite closer to the action (although the festival grounds are really small and even the furthest campsite is only a short walk away), you get to park closer to camping and don’t have to deal with as much traffic, and you get one more night to party. It’s worth it. Equinox has a bar at the top of the hill and some platforms with benches and chairs incase you need to chill out.
In the forest you will find LOL Stage, Shinto, Dragon and Groove Qube. The LOL stage is small, and offers alternative music to EDM. You will also find moms in aprons coming around with platters of freshly baked chocolate chip cookies. Mmmmm! The Shinto is also a small “stage” that hosts performances such as belly dancing and hula hooping. Its surrounded by a lounge where you can be served fresh hot tea away from the crowds. The Dragon Stage is dope. It’s a stage that looks like a dragon and breathes fire. And Last, the Groove Qube, a new addition this past year. Also dope. Giant white cubes stacked on top of each other are lit up with color and make you feel like you’re in a European dance club, but in a forest. One complaint… there should be two entry ways instead of one. It can get a little jammed up.
So, what about that girl and boy from the story?
As fate would have it, they ran into each other as the sun was setting on the last night of Paradiso. They held hands on the hill, told stories and laughed. The conversation was effortless. Zedd closed the main stage and they shared a kiss during “Clarity.” As they walked amongst the crowed of people back toward the campsite, he asked when he could see her again and invited her to the beach for the 4th of July. She said yes, and the rest is history.
Once again, What The Festival is magic. It is the reason why I’m here. It was my first taste of a transformational festival which turned out to be my passion. I met the love of my life, moved to Portland, and have made some of the most incredible friends anyone could possible dream of. Each year has been something different and special. The first year I met Will, the following year was spent with all of my best friends and was hands down the best birthday you can imagine, and this year I volunteered and got to experience the production side of things. Next year I will contribute art. Stay tuned!