By Kai Teo
Photos: Pamela Rüggeberg
Event: Project: Everglades 2014
Venue: Another secret forest – Hunnebostrand
Date: 28–31 August ‘14
Artistes: See full line-up here
In the heart of Sweden’s super-uptight society, its magnificent landscape, and its mystical forest, there exists a place we call outer fucking space – Everglades. And that’s where Buddha Mag was this weekend.
Our crew (ok, not exactly crew, but my photographer and a friend who’s driving) arrived slightly before midnight. So it was all pitch black and shit except for the stars that glittered like moving diamonds in the darkness.
The organisers had laid out tonnes of huge ass rocks on the muddy path so that we wouldn’t drown in the mud. Kudos to that. But of course, with giant rocks, our ankles were in peril. However, the Goddess of Dance wouldn’t let us die tonight. If we were destined to indeed end our pathetic lives, She would’ve seen to it that we died of a Psytrance overdose on the dance floor.
And so we pitched our tents in the dark, right on top on an ants’ nest.
The ants were fucking huge. In the midst of pegging my tent down to the ground (or their main transport tunnel), I managed to catch sight of a man-sized ant that was attempting to climb up my tent. I might have been mistaken, drunk, or hallucinating, but I saw it. We’d call it Greg.
Greg was about 1.4 m tall and was kinda reddish and hairy, and it made weird, wet slurping sounds with its pincers, as it rubbed its two front legs together and flashed a menacing grin. I ignored that distracting prick to the best of my abilities and completed my mission by lighting up a Nag Champa Full Power Imported From Mother India Incense, and watched in satisfaction as Greg retreated back into his hole in the ground, apparently uncomfortable with the thick, sweet-smelling smoke.
The First Floor was the only floor we managed to see on the first night.
It was called first floor for reasons I don’t really know. But yea, maybe because it was the first floor that we would come to when we first arrive at the venue. Don’t wanna go into this whole interpretation of the connotations of the word “First” and relate it to our origins and competitive mentality and try to come up with a story about that. I’m tempted though.
And the first night was already full fucking power. It was full-on / progressive / some other sub genres of psytrance that are too technical for my non-musically inclined brain. And as I was still shaking off the creepy feeling that Greg gave me, my anti-normal medicine kicked in and I shook with the fury of a thousand thunderstorms.
All thoughts of the mundane human experience disappeared with every beat of the unicorn gallop (the triple Psytrance beats). I was lifted into the heavens while rooted to the ground. The laser lights beamed straight into my eyes but I saw nothing, only a reflection of my own soul prancing about naked, except for a Marijuana leave covering my sensitive regions, in the troll forests of Narnear, the not-so-far-away version of Narnia.
And I discovered that my Levi stick could glow in the dark! OMFG! IHAUEYUHUHDAIUHHUI!
I completely lost it. Fuck everyone else. Fuck dancing. I have a glow-in-the-UV-light stick that looks like magic. I went into a total trance and danced with the stick (which I’m tempted to name Greg) as if it were my dance partner. At that moment, the beauty of the stick and its divine movements were all that mattered. It was bigger than my own ego, and my body and soul were merely vessels to help propel it and achieve perfection.
It took me a few hours to recover from my not-so-super-saiyan mode. And when I regained consciousness, I could not remember my name, where I was, and what I was supposed to do. Ok, not really, I was ok.
But what fucked me up a little… were the cops.
I couldn’t say the same for everyone, but Everglades was a drug-free festival and our crew at Buddha Mag gave that full respect. We were only on alcohol and prescribed anti-normal anti-depression anti-capitalism anti-bullshit substances. I have a handwritten doctor’s note to prove it.
But knowing that on the previous weekend, Swedish police had sent horses to trample on anti-nazi protestors, and used their armoured van to run over some dude, I naturally feared for my life.
“Excuse me, no dancing! You’re looking too happy! You’re dancing too hard! If you continue dancing like a mad man / animal, I would have to arrest you.”
Seems to me the society is run like that these days. You don’t see people dancing on the streets anymore eh? I mean, if I suddenly break into a dance while listening to Loa’s mix walking home from work, I would get a lot of stares, and maybe someone would call the cops. What has the world come to?
Dancing is a basic human right. Go out there, dance! Show ‘em motherfuckers how to live!
So I’m preaching again. Ok, so the cops left after a while. I showed them a trick or two with my levi stick and I think they were impressed enough not to wave their fucking sticks at me. And we went back into the smoke and lasers and pew pew pew pew pew our night away until the sun came up from behind the trees. We ended our journey in the cosmos and began our exploration of the festival grounds.
The Chill Out was made of the same stuff that God used when he made the first pair of human tits: pure wonder.
Accessible only by foot, it’s a challenging 8-minute climb up rocky hill faces, deep holes into nothingness, slippery moss, and along the way you’d also encounter a tea stall that tempts you from your travels and lures you to drink away all your money.
As we got to higher ground (haha, pun intended?), we found ourselves standing at a flat plateau overlooking the entire Sweden (yes, if you could see that far, you would see it). The sun radiated a gentle warmth that signalled the end of summer and a gentle breeze carried the smells of fresh air, fallen leaves and moisture.
And beside 2 small ponds, the Chill Out pavilion stood proudly, yet unobtrusively in the nature. The organic looking octagon looked like it had been there for centuries, and in it, a group of earnest festival goers sitting through a guided meditation by Monica, one of the spiritual facilitators at the event. I sat there for about 20 minutes, watching each and every one of them, observing their peaceful faces, and absorbing their good vibes (not like I was sucking it away, vibes are infinite, but when you share it, it becomes infiniter, and when you share it with the whole world, it becomes infinitest).
It made me want to lead a guided meditation as well. I mean, if I could help someone feel super zen and peaceful, I would love to. But I would probably curse and swear a lot and start going on and on about how much I fucking hate humanity. So, maybe not.
The main floor, also called the Psy Floor, opened on Saturday evening. The opening ceremony wasn’t very dramatic, to be honest. But we were stoked as hell.
A haphazardly placed green canvas was covering the path to the floor, and when it was finally time for us to stomp the shit out of the ground, there was some smoke, and the canvas was dropped. And the whole crowd cheered and at that moment, I could feel unity, desire, and the power of the human spirit.
See? My recollection sounds so much more dramatic than it actually was. But the green canvas wasn’t the point, it wasn’t Disneyland fireworks because that would’ve taken attention away from the real deal – the dance floor itself.
With the twilight illuminating the Swedish forests as a backdrop, the dance floor looked like pure magic. The psychedelic Tree of Life spread its branches and leaves throughout the skies to provide shelter for the weary souls that are sick and tired of hip hop and Avicii. The beats were relentless, the speed was heart pounding, and the vibe, was heaven.
When the smoke machine pummelled the air with a thick fog, it felt as if I was totally alone when I stood right in the midst of it. I could see no one, almost hear nothing, and felt, for a split second, completely free. I could shit in my pants if I wanted to. I was contemplating the thought, but right before I decided to really let loose, the fog cleared and all my sanity came back. Oh, shit, there were people all around me.
Looking up into the lasers was another magical experience. You know the flat laser beams that look like big fans sweeping across your mindscape? Yea, when smoke was blown into that light, it looked as if a time-lapse video of moving clouds against the skies was playing right in front of my very eyes. I marvelled at that sight for a while and imagined myself lying on a green field and watching the clouds go by in hyper-speed in the neon green heavens. Then the laser flipped. At that very moment, it felt as if the entire sky had flipped along with my mind and I freaked out for a little before realising that I was still on the dance floor, at Everglades, in Sweden, and not some fucking hill in The Sound of Music on acid.
The floor was also surrounded by psychedelic art that were so intricately painted they did not look like human hands did them. I mean, of course humans painted them, but they must’ve been possessed or something. I stood staring at each painting for 10 minutes and got lost in the endless world of wonder and fascination that they took my mind to. And they took me far far far out.
The Everglades crowd was an eclectic mix of everyone from everywhere.
I saw a DJ wearing a short-sleeved business looking shirt, hardcore hippies that wouldn’t stop talking about the stars and our destinies, fuck-faced small town Swedes that were slurring most of the three days, talented artists and amazing musicians that inspired me to create new stuff, and loads of beautiful people that opened their souls to the world.
It wasn’t purely beautiful people. There were also those who were there only to get drunk and eat stuff that your mother told you not to. There were people who flung their cans and bottles into the bushes when they were done. And there were those who wouldn’t smile and say hi to strangers, as if they were still in the city.
I wished for a festival that would inspire others to live a life that is fruitful and sustainable for the world, I longed for a community that would drive fellow human beings to love freely, and I hoped that I would see the manifestation of oneness within the festival-goers. But that wasn’t the case.
“Not everyone is a fucking hippie, Kai. Fucking wake up.”
I know. I tried my best not to judge that little spiked hair prick that threw his empty cigarette pack on the ground, but I’m no saint, I’m just a Saiyan. I picked up the cigarette pack and swallowed a pint of cheap vodka.
Fuck it. I stuck to the many good folks who showed me pure love, emitted beautiful energy and gave free hugs (and wine).
And these beings were both superb and inspiring. There were those who danced like goddesses, those who loved like the Buddha, those who smiled like angels, and those who laughed like babies. They were the ones who taught me to love life harder, and give my soul to spread joy to the world.
One of these people made me cry.
She was Becca, or better known by her DJ alias Space Geisha. We met previously at another Swedish festival Hur Gör Djur and have stayed in contact since. From the moment I met Becca and her boyfriend, I knew that we all connected. Like we kinda had the same belief system of goodness and well, way of life.
This time, we got to hang out a little more and oh my fucking god, I love these 2 motherfuckers so much! At some point in the night, Becca even gave me a Burning Man name, The Red Sun, or Sol Rojo (the Spanish original).
I broke down. Tears gushed out of my eyes like a porn star’s ejaculation (this is my way of making this thing sound not so cheesy). I felt honoured, loved, and embraced every meaning of my new alias. Thank you Space Geisha. I will live up to that name and shine on the world crazy diamond.
And then I had a sudden craving for sushi.
Yes. I needed sushi before my soul pulverises into the thin air. And at Everglades, you can get sushi! Amen. Vegetarian sushi, not something that a Japanese would agree with. But it’s sushi, and it’s goooood.
I was stuffing my face with that shit when another thought came to mind. I figured that since I was Asian (I always suspected that I was half Hispanic and half Icelandic, and by Asian, I mean the broad stereotypical term, yes, the slitty eyes ones with the triangular hat on), I should use this talent and sell do sushi delivery to tents at festivals. I mean, that would be the best thing ever!
“Oh, I’m already at my tent, and I’m hungry as fuck. And I’m too fucked to walk all the way back to the stalls.”
What do you do here? Call the sushi delivery! And I’d call it Tentpura! Motherfuckers, praise me now, I just came up with the next million-dollar idea. Yea Bill Gates, I’m coming for you!
So we’ve talked about the different dance floors. We’ve talked about the people. We’ve talked about the food. Now let’s get on to the favourite topic of Sweden – The weather.
It was what the fuck. Kinda warm and sunny one moment, the next moment you’d think that Armageddon is coming to obliterate your sorry species.
Malmö got flooded, my tent got flooded, and my mind got flooded too, not by water, but by my anti-hate anti-war anti-politics anti-pollution medicine. I finally got the chance to use my “lovers poncho”, which is a poncho for 2 people, it’s pink and it’s got a heart printed on it.
Despite my repeated attempts to lure people into my poncho (I was naked, so it was fun inside, but no one knew), no one came in. Fuck you guys, I can be naked alone in my cute pink poncho. You can drown in the rain, I don’t care.
Ok not really. I got carried away thinking about my next business plan – A poncho renting service, but more specifically, sex poncho renting service. You see, when you can put 2 people in the same poncho, and no one sees what’s going on inside, it’s like some sort of weird voyeuristic fantasy without being a voyeur. Kinda like Japanese porn, where they cover all the good parts with mosaic. After use, we’d sterilise that shit with hardcore industrial cleaning fluids and then taadaa, mobile fucking booth is good to go again!
But anyway, business aside, Everglades was 22 million per cent amazing, given that it’s the first time it’s happening.
Would I go again next year? Ever glad to do that. And I sincerely hope to see you there too, Greg.