Andra Vaerlden – Not an escape to another world, but a desire to build a better one

By Kai Teo
Photos by Jens Nyström

Good morning, world.

Good morning, world.

The golden sphere of fire hung low across the clear skies, illuminating the entire festival in its warm, orange glow, painting the aerial canvas with a psychedelic spray of roses and violets. A cool breeze dragged itself across the reflecting lake, creating a fluid, rippling, inverted picture of the multicoloured heavens. 

I watched my hands as they desperately swatted around the front of my face, leaving delayed trails of blurring light that did absolutely fuck all to chase away the billions of thirsty bloodsucking gnats that have stopped by my tent this weekend for a buffet of the finest Asian cuisine – me.

No matter how much I respect the wonders of Mother Nature, and how much I worship the miracles of our universe, I found it difficult to imagine the biting gnats as a lifeforms I could choose to celebrate. Fuck them. And fuck this mosquito repellant roll-on thing that worked as well as a splash of tasty soy sauce that marinated my skin for an even tastier meal.

Purple skies.

Purple skies.

It was time to move to the dance floor. If chemicals didn’t deter these pests, then maybe psytrance would. 

My battered (or badly bitten) body floated away from my attackers, only to bring my mind to face another gargantuan menace – the Psytrance Monster. Rushing towards my mindscape at the breakneck speed of 160 bpm, the behemoth bared its ripping teeth as it navigated through the sharp twists and turns of the different layers of sounds, shadowless, faceless, and heading only towards one destination – the depths of my soul. 

I faced it with the zen of a monk and the bravery of a thousand viking warriors. “Hello my old friend, have you come back to explore my darkness? Have you come to be broken by the light within me?” It tried to bind my mind into a knot, but with the next drop, I exploded into a fury of blinding colours and flew into the flow of the universe. If what I was hearing were the last beats of my heart, I would dance to it. 

I smiled. And the goddess that had been watching over me smiled back. As I glanced around me, my fellow dancers smiled gently too. The dance floor wasn’t just lit up by the warm campfires, it was set ablaze by our common desire to stomp up a revolution. 

Welcome to Andra Vaerlden. To me, this has been possibly the one Swedish psychedelic gathering that has not let itself become tainted by the machismo of the cities’ drug scene, nor intoxicated by the habitual speed and coke freaks looking for a drug fuelled weekend of unconsciousness. The organisers, and many of its dancers, were there to experience and share in pure love and honesty. 

And these beautiful creatures were all battling their own monsters alongside me. And as the sun gently showered our souls with its soothing rays, I could see the faces of victory, and for those who had lost their battles, their minds were put to rest so that they could fight another day.

The battleground.

The battleground.

I strolled towards the chillout area, pleased that I never needed to go to the gym because there’s something called the dance floor. But even olympic-grade trancers need to groove to a slower tempo sometimes. 

But of course, the bumpy tech house of the chill floor awoken the child in me. The warrior princess had long gone to sleep, but the wide-eyed kid staring at the psychedelic circus of non-tortured pandas juggling giant jelly beans only just crawled out of bed. 

Here, lovers and friends cuddled up around the fires, engaged in interesting conversations about nothingness or just about nothing, life choices or life’s meaning, the universe or the unibrow. The small, cosy dance floor was lit by fairy lights and warmed by the floating butterflies that had metamorphosed from the frantic stomping of a million feet. 

We just came from the battleground, and this felt like home base. A home where we reconnected with our Rainbow Warriors, seeing their faces, understanding bits of their souls. This was where we realigned our purpose here and discussed plans of world domination through our strongest weapon – love. 

Home base.

Home base.

Andra Vaerlden in English translates to Another World. But did they mean to give us an escape to other worlds? Or was this the blueprint of how we could build a better one? 

Of course, it’s all up to our interpretation. But being all romantic and shit, we’d like to see every festival as a powerful kickstart to how we can lead our lives, and a beta version of what a world based on peace, love, unity, respect and freedom could look like. 

I’ve heard many of us say, “Aww, I wished the festival would never end.” Well, it doesn’t have to. Everyday is a festival for all of us. And life’s purpose itself is a celebration of life. We might not be dancing freely at the bus stop, but we can always stop to give a bit of change to the beggar outside the supermarket. We might not stop smoking cigarettes, but at least we can bring our portable ashtrays wherever we go. We might not be hugging everyone in the park, but we can beam them our most radiant smiles and say hello. 

Looks like someone's accusing me of something.

Looks like someone's accusing me of something.

It’s our little actions that can inspire the world to be a little nicer, a little more compassionate, and a little more open. National borders wouldn’t open up tomorrow, but we can start by opening our hearts to give and receive love from our fellow living beings. 

Thank you all of you at Andra Vaerlden. The festival might have ended, but the celebration of life has just begun.