NorCal – Stilldream Utopia
I remember attending my first Stilldream when I was just a little raver, I had no idea this kind of culture existed, I was used to kandi beads, lasers, shady after parties and house beats. New to all the bassy, liquidy, psychedelic trappy music, it was a whole new world, and I was mesmerized much like a fish out of water that now feels at home.
Packed tightly in a car overflowing with camping gears and friends, I was more than ready to return to the Dream once again as it was going to provide that release to remind myself that I’m just a human wanting to connect on a deeper, more open level with other humans. A transformational event, each year I went in learning new things about myself and always came back feeling more grounded, connected to friends and family, filled to the brim with love and stories I can’t wait to share.
Stilldream Festival located just 2.5 hours north of Sacramento up in the Sierra Nevada foothills in the tiny town of Belden, CA is a dream away from the harshness of modern society. A place to take off your shoes and stay a while. Forget about your phone and your worries, just be, and live free. This event promises to recharge your soul and remind you of the organic connections we can make with other human beings. A blissful 3-day camp out festival that welcomes dusty hippies, raging ravers and all that who wants to get lost in the dream.
This being my 4th time attending, each year offered a unique experience that always welcomed me back. And even though the time in between seemed long, once I’m there it felt like no time has passed at all. It’s a very special intimate event.
My friends and I arrived on Friday to a campsite full of early arrivers who had already been there since Thursday, so the vibe was growing. After the stress of finding camp, lugging our belongings from point ‘A’ to point ‘B’ and dropping off the car, we were finally relaxing in satisfaction that we made it to the Dream. Wrapped up in bass while being surrounded of lovely people, summertime vibes, nature, water and the awakened possibilities of what the weekend would bring. As the festival continued, the community grew more open with hugs and smiles. I just felt so connected with everyone there.
During the day it was a dusty but sunny hot world where you could just chill out on the river or sit on some rocks talking to people, and just exist, party, no pressure, live, let go and just go with the flow of where the Dream took you. At night, the energy exploded as the main stage lived up with dancers, lights and visuals. As dancers held space, the surrounding painters transferred their inner worlds onto canvas in vibrant technic color displays of psychedelic art. People moved their bodies freely to the bass, surrendering worries and flowing along as the music swayed them, unraveling their free-spirited human nature. Everyone was in their own little world but still experiencing it together.
On Sunday, there was a surprise tribute to Paul Gamma, the mind behind Stilldream has worked tirelessly for the past 17 years building the Dream to what it is now. People gathered around in a dome, sitting on the ground as Paul‘s close friends and family stood one by one speaking from their hearts of how Paul and Stilldream has changed their lives. I felt so much profound and intense love in that space. It was truly unforgettable as Paul spoke and shared some of his wisdom, it was truly a blessing to be able to witness people bearing their vulnerability in such ways.
I met so many lovely souls, shared information, held conversations, danced freely, connected to nature, reflected, socialized, gave help and received help, saw arts, dancers, music, fashion, it’s just a very different culture. It’s a different vibe than your usual EDM event, one that aims to break down the ego. People don’t care for much of what they look like at Stilldream. People are just in the moment, it’s all about being in the now, being fully present. It’s not about what is on the outside, but it’s about the vibe you’re emitting. Everything is genuine, you just feel free to be yourself, and in that, you find pieces of yourself you didn’t know were ever there. You cease attempting perfection and find the beauty in the imperfect chaos of being.
We’re all dreamers and Stilldream is a reminder life is just one big lucid dream, and it is yours to make it whatever you want it to be. Though there are harsh realities, festivals like these replenish my soul with hope and remind me, it’s all about my perspective. It’s also a gentle reminder to invest in experiences instead of things, because that is an investment in yourself. Stilldream nourishes your soul and softens your ego. It always prepares you to face the world in a more loving and connected way. It’s a much-needed reset.
Passing over the Belden bridge felt like crossing over into another dimension, one that left me feeling disoriented in all the best ways. I left feeling satisfied and reminded of the possibilities of self.
I welcome this space each year to get in touch with my dream of how life can really be.