Tribes from all over Southern California gathered last Friday for a night of transcendence from reality.
Three stages of psychedelic music colored the soundtrack to the gathering, while spellbound artists painted fantasies upon canvases, arousing "oohs" and "ahhs" from admiring onlookers. Poi spinners, hoop troupers, aerial acrobats and theatrical players graced the stages, moving wildly to the unpredictable groove of each musician. From dusk til dawn the quirky crowd danced, drank, and laughed as each performance seemed to outdo the last.
However, this three-stage, 8-hour event was not a transformational festival - it was the Re:Creation Gem and Jam Preparty in Los Angeles. Rather than the mystical outdoors, the setting of the celebration was the unexpected Belasco Theatre in Downtown L.A., a drastic change from your serene camping festival. Yet oddly enough, the urban atmosphere of the hellish City of Angels matched the vibes of the eccentric electronic music event in the best way possible. Plainly speaking, if you take a three-story nightclub and pack it with a bunch of happy hippies and talented artists in the culture capital of the West Coast, you bet you're going to have an incredible evening.
A highly anticipated set by ambient DJ Shpongle attracted droves of fans to the event, while a presentation by painters turned visionaries Alex and Allyson Grey captivated audiences with their unorthodox perspectives on art, nature and psychedelics. Trap-heavy artists Mimosa and Huglife brought dreamy bass to the top room, and Dirtybirds and divas dropped the house beats down below in the basement. Russ Liquid and An-ten-nae kept the stranger vibes alive, balancing out the very eclectic lineup.
As the venue filled, the multi-story Belasco Theatre became a fun-house full of characters in costumes, a grand ball of jesters that had obviously prepared their best outfits, props and accessories for the all-night affair. I felt like Alice in Wonderland venturing down the rabbit hole as we bounced from each room into different worlds.
Although this Pre-party for Arizona's Gem and Jam Festival was only one night in L.A., all who attended still contributed their energy as if it was a lavish festival, not only with their beauty and over-the-top antics, but with talents and trades as well. Vendors offered their most magnificent crystals, textiles, and crafts; healers worked their magic with intention; dancers displayed visible passion into their performances; flow artists exhibited phenomenal skills both on stage and in the crowd. With a couple thousand attendees, the event simulated a mini-festival in the way that everywhere you stepped, there was a new person to meet, new skills to learn, or new art to admire.
The vibes were so alive from start to finish that it didn't matter that we were in the heart of grungy L.A. - Re:Creation effectively mirrored the conscious environment of Tucson's Annual Gem and Jam Festival, a truly enchanting place. Euphonic Conceptions befittingly provided this escape with their stellar production, along with partners The Do LaB, e·vent agency, Grateful Generation, The Cruz Coalition, Legion of Bloom, and everyone else in the community who supported the collective collaboration. It is apparent that many thoughtful minds, hands, and hearts went into the creative process.
Re:Creation Preparty in L.A. was the appetizer, but the Gem and Jam Festival next month is the main course. The music, arts, and gem show taking place in Tucson, Arizona February 12-14th is going to pack a big punch for its 10 year anniversary, with a special lineup for lovers of the underground. Beats Antique, Polish Ambassador, Tycho and many more rare bands and DJs are on the bill this year, and for a very reasonable ticket price for the 3 day festival. The gorgeous desert of Tucson sets the backdrop of this earthy festival that more and more people attend every year, so be sure to check it out for a one-of-a-kind experience that is still sincere to its core. I've said it before and I'll say it again - this festival is truly the hidden gem of the desert.