We’re Not Really Strangers (LIB Edition)

I’ve been struggling to write this because there are only so many words to describe the experience I had at Lightning in a Bottle this past weekend. Sentences and pictures could never paint the magic and kismet moments that LIB embodies. This festival isn’t just a music festival, the music is amazing, but it’s really just a bonus in comparison to everything else the Do Lab offers. I could go on for hours about the amazing performances, the unique workshops & activations, the details of the production & stages, but there’s one aspect that stood out to me the most. It’s the people, the faces of LIB. I meet a lot of awesome people at festivals, yet this one felt different. Almost like a curated group of festivalgoers that each served a purpose in my journey and this sacred community. A cultivated gathering of beautiful souls who were intended to meet, share stories, moments, and space on the dance floor in unity. Unlike anything I’ve ever experienced (and I’ve been to 40+ festivals). Let me start from the beginning.

I always knew from friends that LIB had immaculate vibes and a less mainstream, more “underground” feel to it but I don’t think I was prepared for the abundance of love and acceptance I was about to embark on. I reached out to my friend Ashlyn who goes to LIB every year and asked to camp with her crew. I knew she would have a big group of veterans, but definitely didn’t anticipate it being 69 people in our camp, to be exact. I was a little nervous going into it, afraid I might feel like an outsider. Yeah, I was so wrong. We’re not really strangers.
When I arrived at camp Thursday, I was immediately greeted by so many faces that already felt very familiar. Each person embraced me as if we had been friends forever. Before I even got the chance to set up my tent, Jake summoned the group (yes all 69 of us) into a circle. He mentioned it was his 7th year at LIB and got everyone hyped on what a magical weekend we were all about to have together. He asked everyone in the circle to pair up with someone they don’t know to share a favorite festival memory (we love an ice breaker). Wesley pointed at me straight away and introduced himself. Our short conversation felt very personable, I felt seen. Soon after, Jake passed off the mic to Meredith who talked about setting intentions for the weekend and led the group in meditation. I was taken aback because these are the kind of people and interactions I manifest in my life and it was just flowing in front of me. I knew I was exactly where I was supposed to be and it set the tone for the weekend.
I camped with my two friends Sami and Cori in the corner of our group campsite. We came a day late so we thought we were the caboose but not long after us a camper van parks right next to our spot. Two guys hopped out, Zeus and Noah. I could tell right off the start we were going to get along great. The first time I talked to Zeus I shared some things about my personal life and his response was “thank you so much for sharing that with me” and gave me a hug. That really stuck with me because it’s not always easy to be vulnerable and he acknowledged that. Again, it made me feel heard and seen. I ended up bonding with those two the most. We shared a lot of laughs and found each other inside the festival when we seemed to need it the most. We became “the corner fam” very quickly.
69 people that started as strangers became instant friends. Every person made it a point to include me, remember my name, and made me feel special. Every interaction had a purpose, embodied love, and kindness, and was a catalyst to deeper connection. It wasn’t just my camp though, it was every individual I encountered. The crowd was full of expression, acceptance, and consciousness for humanity.
Lightning in a Bottle is centered around six guiding principles:
1) Celebrate Life
2) Create Community
3) Respect yourself and one another
4) Actively Participate
5) Honor the Land
6) Be a Citizen
You can truly FEEEEL these principles among the people. Not everyone follows these types of guidelines collectively, but the people of LIB are a powerful force not to be reckoned with. We were all there for the same goal.. to create magic, to love fiercely, to walk without judgment, and to boogie at woogie (duh!)
I asked some of my new friends to share their favorite moments and memories from this past weekend at LIB. I think their stories truly embody what LIB stands for and what the Do Lab seamlessly cultivates…
“Lightning in a Bottle was my very first festival (2017) outside of the rave world and it has changed my perspective on the PLUR lifestyle forever! I have never felt so welcomed, so accepted, and so loved in my entire time raving. One of my favorite moments at LIB 2022 was when we went to Memba’s set and I saw everyone that came with me having the time of their lives. Listening to your favorite artists and watching the people you love purely enjoying themselves and seeing their smiles is a different type of happiness. My heart is so full. Lightning in a Bottle blew me away once again!” -Tessa Prah
“I met my best friends at LIB 2019, and those very friends helped me through the pandemic between then and now. We celebrated our 3rd year of friendship, melting our faces at Thunder stage here at LIB. It was incredibly special.” -Jake Bryan
“My favorite moment this year was Monolink’s sunset set at The Junkyard. Not only was the music great and the setting was beautiful, but I had one of those “only at LIB” experiences. Throughout the set, my group slowly but surely convinced all the people around us to wear their sunglasses upside down. Then those people started telling people next to them. Before we knew it there was a sea of happy humans collectively laughing and wearing their sunglasses upside down.. or now it seemed right side up.” -Sydney Wiklund
Until next year, LIB fam. I hope to see you there. We’re not really strangers, after all.