BOOM Festival- The Best European Psytrance Party
Trip Start Sep 29, 2007
215Trip End Dec 20, 2010
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Where I stayed
In our tent @ a primo campsite @ the centre of the BOOM site
Portugal has been a key figure in the trance scene. Recently its fame of having the best European open-air festival season is stronger than ever. While Nordics can feed us all with an industrial amount of music production, in Europe's West Coast the main concern is partying in tolerant atmosphere.
Boom Festival is the paradigm of a psychedelic festival, every two years since 1997 it brings to Portugal thousands of people from the worldwide community. And if we consider that Boom will happen every two years, we can conclude that all trance punters will be heading to Europe's West Coast annually to attend to summer festivals
Based on the psy-trance scene, Boom has evolved ever since and is now a platform for different art forms, activists, freaks, lecturers, visionaries, party animals, tribes, artists, neo-mystics, to name just a few.
Boom became an intercultural (and inter subcultural), inter generational and multidisciplinary event feeding up the global psychedelic scene of new concepts. Moreover its independent ethos (not accepting corporate sponsorships) is an activist role model to the general trance scene.
Here is the concept behind the BOOM festival for 2008 taken from the BOOM book:
"Boom sees itself as amplifier and a converter of concepts and we take that responsibility dearly in every single step we plan. Within this vast "ocean" of consciousness Boom is a lighthouse of sanity, ethic responsibility and a building block for the future to come.
A reminder for our personalities to check point the "real" meaning in-between our illusionary perception.
Boom is a new kind of tribal gathering where varied tribes can melt with nature in a sensitive and sustainable way. For quite a few years we have been making efforts to show that and make it happen. This is our acupuncture point into the future matrix.
We have gone through all kinds of sectors of the so called life "drama" - from love to joy, from pain to death and birth. It is a continued experience, gathering knowledge and trying to somehow represent it outwards so that you might be able to tune into this knowledge. Boom tries to do that through art and love. Two of the best gateways that mankind has to broaden its access to its deeper feelings.
Art as an unblocker and love as a locker of present reality or lets say as a tuner of collective consciousness...a tap in and a link on!
We have achieved this through a very delicate mix between the full on opening and exploration of the 5 senses and the absolution of the all 5 senses. These moments create gaps or doors of perception. Expanding and bringing humans into some unconventional areas of understanding.
We envision the future of Boom as a continued and sustainable event, an event that not only exists in the date of its subsistence but an event that keeps on in our conscious planes throughout all the future moon cycles.
It is our intention to keep it growing in all directions and to keep joining in many different tribes. Have fun, enjoy, open your perception channels and enter.
We Are One..."
In Boom Book
So how did our week at BOOM go? Well, spectacular in fact and a very difficult one to put into words so i will attempt to write just a little about the events of the week and what the event was about
We were staying in a city campground just outside Lisbon city with a whole lot of other BOOM people. Seems the party started early for some people. Luckily there was a large camping store and hypermarket for groceries across the street so we were able to stock up on water supplies, new danny deckchairs, umbrellas and food like muesli bars, dried fruit, Special K and snacks. We ate at a salad buffet in a food court where we wolfed down the first clean salad we had seen since leaving South America. I cut Nadinesīs hair into a punky mohawk but it definitely needs work.
We packed up camp early on the day of departure for BOOM so we could get out before the sun attacked us. We took a large concertina bus into the central hub train station called Oriente in the city where we found there to be only one train for the day heading out to the festival area of Castelo Branco. After a few hours on the train we arrived in the town only to be told that the BOOM gates would not be opening until the following day for camping. Seems that thousands of other people had the same idea as us as large hippie buses, vans and carloads of punters and fraggles flocked through the town and onto Idanha-a-Nova, a smaller town closer to the party site. There were to be no shuttle buses going close to the site today, the whole town was in siesta break, there was no internet in town and we had limited cash. The party was to be a mission to get to, they always are. We scored a ride in a taxi with a French couple for 40 Euros and drove to Idanha-a-Nova where we bought last minute supplies and set up tent in the bush at a pre-party camping area (port-a-loos in a field) that was already filled with tents and buses whose occupants were keen to get in the gate first in the morning
There is alot of truth in the previous statement because when the next morning sun started to show itīs face, we hit the road with all the other punters for a very long, difficult and hot walk along the main road and then down into the festival site. There has been a long term drought in Portugal and everything is ridiculously dry and scorching hot. We had purchased a large black and yellow striped plastic bag we had dubbed The Bee Bag that held some German Sagres beer, five litres of water, a camembert cheese wheel, some prosciutto, a packet of Maltesers and three litres of peach iced tea. This bag along with danny deckchairs, our packs, Momoīs giant queen-sized airbed and three party umbrellas was dragged and cursed as we slowly made our way towards the gate stopping in the shade wherever we could. The carrying of the gear was a complete clown comedy show and we were glad we had allowed ourselves all day to get the gear into the site. People had rigged up all kinds of contraptions to get their gear to the site to avoid physically carrying it the distance including skateboards, bicycle contraptions and trolleys
With the site being so far from any city, we knew we were in for a treat because this usually deters any idiots from showing up and only those with a genuine interest in the psytrance community would make the effort to come this far. Eventually the dry landscape gave way to greener pastures and we walked along a lake where cows were grazing. We ran into an Israeli pixie who was covered in gold glitter (pixie dust) , he was the same pixie we had met at VUUV in Germany and he would become the first of many new friends we had the pleasure of meeting this week. Finally we came upon the entrance gate with the words Bien venidos (Portugese welcome) greeting us at the entrance to the party and then we realised our efforts of securing the wristband the night before were going to pay off. Instead of lining up, we walked straight through a cleared ,VIP, rockstar entrance corridor and we were in with a grin. Nice one. We were given a site map, a set list and a copy of the Daily Dragon, a festival specific newspaper that is printed daily onsite by some creative souls
Our first impressions were that BOOM was going to exceed any prior expectations we may have had and that the site looked spectacular with various instalations and structures built on undulating hills around a beautiful lake. We had a quick perusal of the map and decided on the best place to camp. We strategically chose a flat location under one of the last shade tree spots left, close to the toilets, on the banks of the lake, next to the Acai (natural, Brazilian, energy drink made from Amazon berries and good in the morning) space and placed wonderfully right in the centre of the three spaces we were most interested in spending time at, the ambient forest, the sacred fire and the groovy beach stages, not too far from the main floor. This location would be chaotic and loud but we wanted to be in amongst the action. We locked up our passports and ipod for the week and settled in by familiarizing ourselves with the layout and landmarks of the festival site.
We had strapped ourselves in and were ready for the music to begin the following day. The campsite proved to be even more outstanding when we realised we had killer canīt-be-built-out views over the site and of the pathway we would come to call Random Highway due to the consant procession of colourful looking characters who walked its length
We were camped next to Masa and Takako, a cute Japanese couple on the circuit and a hilarious French girl plus three crazy Portugese ladies. The French girl was quite a funny one, she had a retro brown and beige, one-man traingular tent that she had attached an old vinyl record and some psychedelic coloured balls onto. The girl would talk to us in a non-verbal way and we became friends. One morning after she had been out all night we decided to leave her some breakfast of nuts and sultanas and a chuppa chup plus some Nag Champa incense and a yellow and while party beachball and some flower decor for her tent. Well did she appreciate the gift and immediately used everything we had left. A full on Israeli crew turned up and chose the area on the other side of our tree to set up. These guys brought everything with them, shade, all their food, full camp kitchen, lounge room etc and somehow had persuaded someone with a car to bring them extra gear
A bonus was that we were camped just above the nudist colony which meant that hippies of all ages, nationalities, shapes and sizes would strip off and swim throughout the day giving the location a free and open, peace and love vibe man. On the first day we spotted a guy we would come to call Long Schlong Silver. He was part of a duo we named Nudie and Rudie. We gave Long Schlong this name because he was extremely proud to wander naked waving his obviously very long schlong around very close to everybody and he would do this at every opportunity. Very proud of it he was. At one point some officials came over to tell us all to move camp because we were not really in the designated zone for camping but by this stage there were too many people tented in and there was no way the Israelis were going to move camp so we stayed and ended up with what we believe to be one of the best campsites in the party, right on the lake and in the party zone. Well done on that effort. The Europeans have a definite party style that is fairly open and free and in which people really express themselves to the full limit. The lake environment was like being on a beach. There were some people who partied all week in a giant inflatable blow up cabana toy that floated on the lake and had drink holder dins and ice on board
At the same time as BOOM was happening there was an actual anti-BOOM party going on over the other side of the lake for all the people who thought BOOM was too expensive to attend, apparently this was quite the party too. BOOM off!!!
So we took up our positions on our airbeds on the hill next to Random Highway and watched people from all over the world stream in and watched the magik begin as the surprises of the party started to be revealed bit by bit. Most people were from the countries of Portugal, The UK, France, Germany, Israel, Spain or Japan. The thoughts of the effort to get there had slipped form our minds as excitement took over.
Next day we decided to hit the market area to do some shopping. I had managed to withdraw some money in town but Nadine still had to accquire some cash. Lo and behold! To our surprise there was an actual portable ATM machine sitting in the middle of the mudbrick downtown village dispensing cash. The machine looked totally out of place there as did the payphones
The food was expensive at approximately seven Euros for a small plate and the quality was average. There were whole restaurants set up with the usual vegan, veggo, thai, fish, curry, juices, bread and pizza affairs plus a chai tea chillout in all the areas
There is a definite "European doof" (psytrance party) style going on here in Portugal and it includes pixie clothing and shoes, skimpy outfits, pirate inspired threads, tribal and jungle gear, arm and ankle cuffs, Japanese martial arts boots with camel toes, tattoos, leggings, leather, umbrellas, funky sunglasses, money belts around the waist, natural fibres and coloured clothing, vintage fabrics, costumes and haircuts like dreadlocks, half shaved heads and half shaved mullet hair. There are many extremely beautiful women at these festivals and they always look glamorous.
We met a hairdresser named Kako from New Zealand who had a shop called Punky Cuts where she cut hair and sold shoes brought from India, felted gear and parasols for the sun. Nadine had a punk cut done where Kako shaved the sides of her head to leave a long mohawk down the middle but kept the top and front long
With such a great line-up on the programme i decided to set up a basic itinerary for the week with the knowledge there was fat chance of sticking to it with so many delicious distractions around the festival. We could have been anywhere in the party at anytime and had a fantastic time. We spent time in nearly all of the areas. There was a permaculture garden, a liminal village, visionary art space, paradigms film festival, sacred fire stage and fire ring, groovy beach dance floor, ambient forest floor, main dance floor, market, restaurants, performing arts area, healing area, downtown shop, communal kitchen, baby boom area, showers, homeless hotel tipi, green house, cyberstation, cosmic care area, ecocentre and many other places we didnīt see i am sure
There were green space gardens placed around the site to help celebrate this years BOOM concept of returning to the Earth. The forms of the gardens used concepts of sacred geometry and these were based on the alignment between the cosmos and the Earth, They integrated the spaces into a wider context with pentagons, hexagons and octaves. They combined edible plants and aesthetic flowers to inspire positivity. There was an impressive dry forest and the idea of this was to create a forum for interaction between the living and the dead. We spent alot of time at the surreal looking dry forest which featured a giant gold tree root structure with a mirror shape hanging from it and did a photo shoot here on the last day. We spent some time chilling in these garden spaces to catch some cooler shade time before hitting the party again.
I have started a new trend for us where i do what we call the jump for joy leap into the air. It is basically when you run along then jump up and click your heels together then run a little more then leap again with your legs up on the opposite side and click the heels together and so on and so on. We find that it looks even more impressive and is more joyful when you do it with an umbrella and jump off things like rocks or tree stumps
The idea behind the groovy beach which was the stage closest to our camping and the one we preferred was to create a party climate by the sea. The stage was created by a Brazilian team from Sao Paulo who used recycled materials to create a giant, flying seahorse effect. The DJ played from inside the head of the seahorse which lit up like a giant paper lantern at night time. The space was divided into many different areas allowing many types of interaction. We had a spot on the left of the stage. The sound system was divine and you could dance right on the lake here. We partied here for two whole nights all the way till dawn and for some fun in the sun day time sessions too. The music here was more freestyle, progressive, happier and funkier than the main floor. We saw many random costumes and freaks here including full blown naked dancing. There was deep techno, minimal, neo-trance, tech-house, dub, reggae and electro music going on here. We donīt know all the DJ names but do know it all started after a guy named Myagi hit the decks. There was a pinter doing live art up on some scaffolding near the dance floor and he basically painted a design then ran a kaleidoscope over the top of it
The liminal village was set up to explore the future of global culture. Spanning five continents and 22 countries the village featured presentations, panels, workshops, films, a vision gallery and multimedia installations. We saw snippets of the features here throughout the week and were most impressed with the visionary art gallery that featured Pablo Amaringo, Martina Hoffman and Robert Verosaīs work. We had met Martina and Robert in the Amazon at the Shamanism conference in Peru and were glad to see their extraordinary work included in BOOM. There was a good installation in this area that looked like a daytura tree made from plastic and a nice kaleidoscopic projection here. The workshops were on things like permaculture, alternative economy, meditation, kundalini yoga, martial arts, psychology, drumming and homeopathy for example.
One night we spotted a hot air balloon basket lying in the middle of a field then the next night it was up in the air tied to the ground and hovering over the festival with party-goers getting a birds-eys view from the sky and lighting up the balloon with flames
One performance we saw was called "Nusquam" an ode to freedom and was a show by Teatro do Mar. The stage for it was lit and set up in the middle of the festival and we just chanced upon itīs one and only performance in the middle of the night. The festival has no time issues really, it is happening 24 hours a day. The theatre was a reflection about human nature, a possible portait of man in its search for himself and the reasons of being in contemporary society. A desperate search to survive to the pressure of social coercian that imprisons the individual in private bubbles, a result of social patterns and rules. The absence of human communication, the loneliness, tv adoration, the pursuit of models /ideals, alienation and the illusionary views of freedom and happiness, the speed of days and senses invasion isolates four charcters within their frustrations driving them gradually into a rupture with reality. This was done by having four individual people come out in Zorb like bubble balls then they entered a set in which they acted out scenes in their own boxes whilst being pulled up and down by puppet string type mechanisms. Impressive and dramatic and a little disturbing.
The theatre area was good too with a whole range of shows including fire shows, contact juggling, burlesque, aerial ropes and hula hooping plus clowning and comedy
The Sacred Fire area was up the hill behind our camp and around the lake. Campers here got a good view of the moon and their own quieter bay to swim in. This area was an area where art, nature and therapies came together in a single concept. It was calming, peaceful and organic here. The area was developed mostly by people living in self-sufficient rural communities and the idea was create an area here with strong presence of botany, bioconstruction and the power of symbolism. What a wondeful space here. The entrance to the sacred fire was through a flower covered archway where there was a mushroom village and some sculptures on which sage was burning. You could walk through the sage smoke for a cleansing then carry on down into the space. There was some nice organic pizza, crepes and chai people who would sing and dance as they worked. The cherry and nutella crepes were good. There were some beautiful flower lanterns up in the trees and spaces set up for sitting in right in the middle of a giant sunflower garden. There were outdoor daybeds and little pyramid shaped vine covered huts to lounge around in. Travellers set up their jewellery here in the gardens and people played their instruments. We saw a woman here wirth a remote controlled gorilla riding a bicycle. There was always a giant drum with a magnificent skin going on where 1 to 8 people would play Earthy beats. There was a wine bar here with a funky DJ on tiny mixing decks. There was a fairy village and a giant fire circle that was constantly attended and gave warmth from the cold nights. The fire was opened on the first night by all the powerful women in the community forming a circle and dancing around the fire chanting
It was at the Sacred Fire space that we experienced our favourite part of the whole festival and it went like this. We had just entered a lit area underneath the mushroom forest archway on a road on the way to the fire space when we heard a full brass band of maybe 20 people with two old school vintage style clown characters leading the parade. The music was fun, merry and most jolly and you couldnīt help but be carried along with the spectacle as part of the parade, not as spectators. This is what we believe the festivals are about. Being and participating. I happened to be carrying my colourful scarf which i used as a prop in the parade, waving it around to tempt other observers to join in the fun. We skipped around and jumped for joy clapping and laughing like the mad people we are as more and more people joined in. This fabulous fun police parade came into our world at the perfect moment. We danced with the parade down the hill and thought we would just follow it all the way around the festival recruiting more people as we went
A quick walk over a floating bridge across the lake from the sacred fire led you to the ambient forest space that featured a fountain in the middle and bodies laid out everywhere in sleeping bags listening to beautiful chill out music. The stage was located at the point of one of the peninsulas of BOOM. It was a zone of relaxation and peace to the sound of music without borders. We saw a wonderful fire show here one night with great costumes and magicians dancing with fire toys using fluid movements. Some nights it was a little difficult to get a spot on the carpet though. A good place to see the dawn in from. There were sculptures here made by a guy named Broll Jholl who had designed totem poles made from concrete cell itongue materials.
The main dance floor was an innovative piece that explored concepts of fluidity and bioarchitecture, where curves prevailed to create an organic construction. The main floor was big and we spent a few sessions right inside and also on the fringes where we danced with our orange and jaguar print umbrellas so we had mobile shade. The music here spanned across all the sub-genres of psy-trance from dark, progressive or techy, going through tribal or ambient trance and throwing in musical inputs from South Africa, Finland and Israel. We met some awesome people on the fringes of this stage and partied with them here. This included the Spanish pirate boys and the Portugese fun crew. The Spanish pirates were a motley crew and we spotted them on the dance floor because one of the crew was dressed as a clown with a hand made road sign and an arrow pointed upwards painted on it. we spent a couple of hours clown dancing with them and causing loads of umbrella mischief attracting way too much attention. We also met a pixie named Dan from Devon in England and his lovely brother who we spent lots of time with. Dan bought us watermelon slices and a coconut to drink from then they disappeared after eating some dubious looking "Space Cakes". Australian Djs Tetrameth and Shadow FX played on this stage. Shadow FX got a naked woman on his stage and Tetrameth nailed his set during which we stayed for the whole time and danced like crazy with the Aussie flag
We randomly ran into some fraggles from Australia and these guys were part of Coreyīs crew who we had some daytime funster show with at random intervals throughout the festival, hard to keep track of peeps when there are so many distractions at hand.
The closing act of the festival was done by Psynema and Phoenix Fire and was an absolute extravaganza. Luckily we knew it was coming and secured a spot early right up the front, directly in the middle with just a handful of head between the DJs and us. What a show it was. These guys put on a techni-colour audio-visual extravaganza. There was performance art, fire dancers, mind-blowing costumes, acrobatics and a light show. The whole time there was an excellent projected visual backdrop running behind the performers showing a potent level of political symbolism whilst the DJs mixed from the ground in front. Their objective was to " create and imprint a minute graphic memory in the vast medley of experiences created on this sacred land"
The last day we watched all the caricatures of people wandering up and down Random Highway and slowly packed up the gear ready to roll on the caravan to Utopia, the after party.
Our legs are killing us and we will be taking some time out to eat well and catch up on sleep.
BOOM BOOM BOOM, what a trip!
A good report from www.chaishop.com
While Psytrance is loosing it's followers, Boom Festival is overrun by freaks from all over the World. There must be something that these Portuguese dudes do right...
Every two years the full moon of August enlightens a freaky international crowd at the shores of the Idanha-a-Nova lake in central Portugal: It's Boom Festival again and this year's seventh edition attracted an estimated 40,000 followers to the dusty but magnificent nowhere land in Portugal. These were 10,000 more than the organisers planned thus they closed their doors on the second day of the festival unlucky to those who traveled thousands of kilometers and be rejected at the door. At the same time Psytrance festivals all over the world are suffering a loss of followers of about 33-50% per year
Lately I talked with a friend of mine who's with the scene since it's birth and sometimes djs using the name Fat Hotz Chill E Dippers. We were holding the usual Psytrance veteran talk at the shores of a Hamburg Techno dancefloor. Around us were Psytrance veterans trying not to be spotted as such. Before the beer got warm he said: "Psytrance these days is exactly the opposite of the reasons we joined the scene for." I had to confirm his observation. The reasons why we fell in love with (and sacrificed our life to) the scene 15 years ago were an alternative way of partying, individual and communal extension of consciousness, tolerance, respect and care for your fellow party crowd. Parties were a secret playground for an explicit crowd of people that were unhappy with the general structures of our societies and wanted to take a weekend off to live life differently, meet like-minded and learn. Music was catalyzing all this but it was just a tile in an mosaik of reasons that called for a good party. These days Psytrance music is a product, Psytrance parties are products and are basically integrated into our society just like any other musical scene. The creativity of the newborn is gone and has been replaced by a remix version diluting the once-great ideals.
Like the beaches in Goa or Koh Phangan that have been "upgraded" with high class hotels and metropolitan shopping and restaurant infrastructure, also most of our beloved trance parties have now high-class soundsystems, expensive artist superstars and even pay taxes. This in general isn't bad but the development of a trance party or scene should not only be governed by these blessings of civilization. Also idealistic development is vital.
The Boom Festival team have not only understood this fact but also worked hard on making it reality. And maybe this is the reason why Boom Festival is still growing.
You could say that Boom is not a pure Psytrance festival anymore as many different styles of music are played at it's stages and for many guests Psytrance is not their first reason to attend. But as even Psytrance is not Psytrance anymore you could say that Boom is more Psytrance than Psytrance. The general ideas of Psytrance culture like alternative lifestyle ideas, tolerance, respect, etc. have matured on Boom rather then being diluted.
For example the liminal village at Boom is a congress of knowledge that includes readings, workshops and movies of alternative lifestyle ideas
Body, Mind and Soul are caressed in Boom festivals healing area which has this year gained an extra star. This area offers the opposite of excessive partying: Relax your body, massage your mind, ground yourself. It's a perfect antidote to the strenuous party life.
The appliance of ecological practices to the every day life at Boom has been installed in 2006 and further professionalized this year. Half of the toilets are now compostable and the shower water is being cleaned by plants and enzymes to be given back to mother earth. The houses and structures of this Boom have been made from clay, staw, wood and other environment-friendly materials in order to reduce the impact that the festival makes on the local area. Electricity has been produced on the basis of used vegetable oil, etc. etc.
You might say that all of this is inadequate regarding to the million litres of kerosene that is burned to transport happy Boomers to the site... but in my opinion it's the message that counts. The people come for the party but - willing or not - they are experiencing the appliance of environment friendly practises, new-age theories and inside learning processes. These learnings they will bring to their home countries and these learnings will influence their future lives thus hopefully making our world a little better
Besides of these idealistic targets Boom was also a great party. Six days of continues and pretty diverse music played from great sound systems on beautifully decorated floors allowed everyone to beat the beat in excess. The artists were not the top stars that we're used to from other big festivals but nethertheless there was excellent music for every taste. The main floor went a bit more back to Psytrance while the alternative stage (now called "Groovy Beach") has seen an upgrade in sound system, diversity and lineup. Here you could now listen to anything from Dubstep through Electro, Techno, House and even Funk and Soul. Also the acoustic stage (called "Sacred Fire") has been extended with bigger bands and stage and it's area made a perfect hangout even compatible for children. The chill out was an experience as usual and it's peninsular made a perfect relaxing place with many hangout platforms, sleeping places and even a fountain in the middle.
Another great moment was the fullmoon. Me and my friends were wondering for quite a time why there was a cloud stuck to the moon until realizing that we were actually witnessing a lunar eclipse. Finally this seemed like another suprise lined up by the Boom festival team!
Then on sunday afternoon the program of the main stage has been interrupted by a speech of one of the organisers: Diogo. He opened up that someone has died! A frenchman deceased by heart attack on the way to the hospital. I was deeply impressed that this death was mentioned to the whole party crowd as I'm not used to such news on a festival. Diogo continued that he believes a community such as ours should think about "the departure of this brother" and dance together for it
Some might think that this subject doesn't belong to a party but I support the idea that good and bad experiences belong to a party as they belong to your every day life.
I went home a happy man and again I was sad that I missed so many interesting things at Boom. But I am content with what I have experienced and saturated with new ideas and tickles for my personal development. See you again in two years!