Peace on Earth and good will toward mankind still exist; you just have to look in the right places. While many people’s lives are dominated by the dark realities of the Information Age, other people make it their goal to promote and celebrate the spirit of the continuing Age of Aquarius. This weekend, in Long Beach, that spirit took hold at the fifth annual Love Long Beach music and art festival.
This was the second year that the two-day festival, produced by Alfredo’s Beach Club and Subtract Music, was held at the auspicious location of Shoreline Aquatic Park. Upon entering the event’s gates, guests were transported from the marina’s boardwalk and immersed in the sights and sounds of hippiedom. The smell of marijuana, punctuated with patchouli oil, permeated the cool ocean air; arts and crafts vending stands lined the sidewalks that connected the music stages and the “Healing Arts Village;” and all areas in between were occupied by festival goers, who danced, twirled, smiled, meditated, smoked, napped, drank, and / or laughed.
A sea of dancing bodies surrounded the Subtract Stage and Noise Stage. The crowd contained a cross-section of colorful people: drummers, hula hoopers, families, and all-purpose revelers. Other areas of the festival grounds allowed people to engage in more calming / relaxing activities. These included: a large canopy, under which guests could nap to the gentle sounds of meditative percussion; an area in which to join a yoga class; and other similarly calming activity zones.
Some guests pointed out that the festival enabled a particular local vibe to manifest. Ana Campos, who traveled down from Los Angeles to celebrate with her friends said, “Long Beach has a tribal vibe, and it’s amazing to bring these vibes [out for] the city.” The concept of humanity as a tribe was promoted by various performers throughout the festival, who cooed that we all need to support and love one another.
Other guests were a bit more explicit with their jubilance. Adriana Lucia took a pause from dancing to point out, “You have to be happy and smile, otherwise we smash you!” That said, no smashing was on display throughout the grounds. The closest thing to violence this reporter witnessed was an inebriated girl demanding that her boyfriend return to his place, next to her, as she waited in a long line to reach one of the event’s bars.
Near the shore, underneath a makeshift pyramid, Christa Galactica Everest — one of the event’s organizers — channeled positive energy. When asked about her role in the festival’s origin, she said, “I’ve been to a bunch of different festivals, like Lightning in a Bottle and Burning Man, and Park Jam, and all these different events in the community, and one day my super-friends and I were sitting on the beach at Alfredo’s, in Belmont Shore, at Horney Corner, and we were just saying, ‘There needs to be festivals here. There needs to be stuff going on at this perfect beach because it’s like the playa at Burning Man, but it’s local and it’s on the water, and it’s gorgeous, and it would change everything if we could bring the spirit of Burning Man to the community.’”
Everest took her idea to Alfredo [Fred Khammar], whom had apparently had a similar vision. Everest said, “He shared with me that he received that same download. He wanted to produce an event like this that was like a Coachella, like a Lights Festival, where the whole beach would be lit up at night with glow and that we could bring it to the community for low cost and love everybody up.” She then demonstrated what she was capable of and proved herself to Khammar by gathering a crew together, called Long Beach Light Tribe, and throwing The Love Light Festival, six years ago.
As far as the development of the festival, and its potential, Everest couldn’t have been happier. She said, “I’m in love with it! I’m so happy! I’m so thankful! All my super-friends are here. There’s opportunities for everybody, and we can all just keep building this amazing community and just teach everybody around us what we learn at other festivals all year and how to live together in harmony, sharing what we have out in / with nature, with music, with art, and how that’s so enlivening is so uplifting, and it’s not about just money; it’s about sharing and serving and empowering and contributing, and spreading those principles of Burning Man. It’s a whole community built around contribution and personal empowerment and civic responsibility and gifting and making opportunities for people to interact with one another and express themselves and be authentic.”
Everest’s “download” certainly clicked with the festival’s attendees. The dominating vibes at Love Long Beach were those of happiness, good will, and love. After taking a few steps outside of the event’s gates, those vibes diminished — being watered down by the metropolitan atmospheres of tourism, commercialism, and homelessness. However, even as distance reduced the festival’s presence to just a few more dots of light on the horizon, the idea that such pockets of humanity persevere in a society dominated by apocalyptic headlines is most comforting.