Forest Star 2017 – The most loving Swedish festival of the year
FOREST STAR – SUMMER TRIBE FESTIVAL 2017
A journey through the loving land of fucking hippies
Disclaimer: “Fucking hippies” used in this context is a term of pure affection and love. Not to be confused with “fucking hipsters”, which usually connotes a slight disdain for pretentious impossible-to-pronounce gourmet coffee names.
By Kai Teo
Photos: Em Lo, Julia Ida, Lisa Nilsson, Love Midhage, Johan Snusmumrik Hansson
When a bunch of people with dreadlocks decide to gather in the wilderness, collectively refusing to shower, beautiful things usually happen. And this year, Buddha Mag would say that ForestStar has definitely been the most loving festival that has taken place this Swedish summer.
I know it’s a huge claim. And I know all you other festival organisers would be a little sour. But hey, don’t be, it only means that we can, together, learn from the magic and try to make all other Swedish festivals loving, caring, and extremely cosy.
So let’s go, climb out from your tent, and follow me as we take a walk through the magical land we call Forest Star. Oh wait, let me stick this cheap bindi on your forehead, so you’d look more like us. Hold this incense stick too, it’s Nag Champa, and it’s supposed to tell other people that your chakras are aligned and that your spirituality game is strong.
Ready? First stop, this neat row of blue, sterile mobile toilets. It’s day one, so there isn’t much danger lurking in them yet. And it’s the best time to take a shit. It smells ok, looks ok, and if you’re desperate, we can even make out in there. But for now, we’d leave that alone and continue our journey.
Every human being and animal we walk pass, we’d either give a big smile or a big hug. It’s one of the very few festivals in Sweden where almost everyone is open to an open-hearted hug. Just ask nicely and non-creepily, “Hey, you seem like an amazing person, can I give you a hug?” Hug tightly and sincerely, and while you’re at it, try to feel yourself spreading good vibes to this other person or animal.
We’re not really sure how it works, but when you convince yourself that you’re flooding your huggie with the best vibes, they usually feel it. Oh, and hug everyone with the same hug-style. Love is gender blind. You really don’t have to give another man the patronising “no-homo” double-pat on the back, no one cares. And there’s usually a perfect number of seconds to hug (about 12.4 seconds) before it starts getting awkward. Too short a hug and we might think you’re insincere. Too long, you’re a fucking weirdo. Hippies can be hard to figure out, we just need to practise more.
Names are unimportant. I honestly have no clue what your name is, and even if I ask you for it, I’m just pretending that I’ll remember. Just add everyone on Facebook at the end of the day. But other than that, while we’re here, we identify one another with our smiles.
Before we go to dance floor, have you taken anything? Like, psychoactive substances that might be illegal? Yes? Ok, good.
This is a place of freedom, and whatever you put in your mind isn’t anyone else’s problem, so do what you want, be nice, be kind, and there’s no need to go around screaming about what you’ve taken. We’re all adults here, so boasting about your substance consumption is usually a big indication of your insecurity, and you bore us (well, I mean, do you really wanna be known only as the person who has taken 400 micrograms of acid, 3 ecstasy pills and 8 lines of coke?). And don’t chase the high, it’s not about how much we take, it’s about how much we love.
Let’s not forget that we’re still in Sweden, and the cops have been quite strict on what’s flowing in a hippie’s blood recently. I mean, McDonald’s is legal, but McRijuana is not. We still have a long way to go in terms of freedom, but hey, as long as you don’t run around trying to punch people, sell them bad pills, or stumble here and there being a nuisance, the community here welcomes you.
Oh yes, and there’re families here with their children, so be very mindful of setting a good example to them as a responsible, loving human being. So even if you’ve had a few glasses of wine, when a kid hands you a rock, you pretend that it’s magical and say thank you.
Ok, dance floor time. Can you feel the bass in your face? Mmm… let’s close our eyes for a while and just feel the massage of the sound waves. Ahhhh yes. Let the Swedish summer sun light up your skin as you take off your shoes, stomp up the dust, and work up a sweat. This dance floor has no fancy laser shows, no tacky plastic trees, no cheesy flower of life roof decoration thingy. This is all organic, built from wood given to us by the trees of this forest, painted with moose blood (ok I’m not sure about this). But it’s made with very little neon bullshit, so we don’t get distracted from the power of dancing as a tribe, one another’s beautiful souls, and the ecstatic music carefully created by our musicians.
The organisers have envisioned this entire space to honour the divine Mother Nature and the sacred sisterhood of all women. Men, don’t feel left out, we all came from a woman’s womb, so the celebration of the woman, is the celebration of all life. The artiste lineup, the opening ceremony, the Urla Tribe ceremony, have all been carefully planned and thought through to honour the fertile Mother Earth and all our mothers, sisters and daughters. And through this, the entire festival, as far as we can see, has no weird macho men doing all their touchy touchy nonsense.
I’ve lost the schedule, and I don’t have the time. So I guess we’ll just have to follow the lead of our friends when they pull us around to see their favourite artistes. I usually stay on the main floor as long as the sun is up, because I love to see the radiant smiles of our fellow dancers and bounce with them on our collective journeys through the untz-untz psytrance milky way. Come night time, as the light fades, the music on the main floor usually gets much harder and darker, and it brings out all kinds of monsters that we have to battle individually. So it’s not so fun when I don’t get to see people’s faces. It’s almost like they become strangers in the darkness. But if you’re into fighting giant robot spiders, come back here tonight.
You wanna grab a drink? They don’t have a bar here, but they have insane smoothies and dumpling soup. Deal with it, less alcohol = less drunk people = less stupidity. You’re always allowed to bring your own bottle of wine around, but only if you share with everyone, and me. Oh, you need to try the toast too. The melted cheese kinda gently slides down your throat sensually and fills you with tremendous amounts of dairy pleasure before it gets converted to approximately 30 minutes extra stomping energy.
Omg, yes! Rave café menus should look more like this:
Toast with cheese: 30 minutes dance energy
Toast with tomatoes and olives: 40 minutes dance energy
Chai: 10 minutes drinking time + 15 minutes dance energy
Coffee: 4 hours difficulty sleeping
Chocolate bar: 30 minutes dance energy + slight indigestion
But I digress. You were saying, water? Yes.
I usually fill my bottle by the stream, like upstream. It looks a little yellow, but I assure you that generations and generations of Swedish people have been drinking from this exact same stream, so it’s completely safe. But if you’re not into Nature or Salmonella (I’ve heard funny stories), you can also get your drinking water from the water tank behind the dance floor.
Come, let’s get you decked out in glitter, flower of life pendants, crystals and harem pants. This market is the saviour to your lack of self confidence and your need to fit in aesthetically. No, don’t get the giant Om necklace, it’s like… too mainstream and cliché? Take this small rose quartz instead. Fits you better. You know, it attracts love and all. It’s still kinda cliché but not so loud.
Good. Now you look like you meditate and have been to India. Next, the chillout floor. And the children’s play area. The volunteers are painting with the kids as their parents sit around doing their thing. It’s beautiful, isn’t it? Like, here’s a family friendly festival where everyone from the age of 0 to 150 are welcomed.
All our festival hippies somewhat help to keep an eye out on the kids, so the parents can actually feel like there’s an extended family of nannies clamouring for your children’s attention. It’s kinda like when there’s a kid on the dance floor, everyone is on “high alert” mode so that they don’t accidentally knock into one or push one into the fire. And it’s actually fucking tiring, I mean, look at this little girl for example. She’s super cute and sweet, but yesterday, I had to pretend that every time she threw sand on the floor, I was amazed at her superpowers. I did that for two hours, until I introduced her to another victim, who had to help spread shot glasses of “magic sand” onto the whole dance floor.
That being said, having children on these dance floors bring out the best in each and everyone of us. We can talk shit about other adults, but when a kid appears, everyone wants to be an angel. And of course, introducing them to communal dancing and a loving community when they’re young beats any educational app on a fucking iPad.
See someone you think you’d get along well with? Go ahead, talk to them. Like, anyone. I’ve experienced an unprecedented level of openness and willingness to connect at this festival. It’s like, if you’re nice, everyone wants to be your friend. Topics of choice range between anything from reincarnation to egos to why the toenails on little toes always look a little fucked up. I mean, if you sit somewhere long enough, someone’s gonna come up to you and talk to you about something. Of course, being pretty helps. Smiling helps even more.
Tomorrow morning, we can do yoga at the Kraftkällan, or Healing Area. Or we can go for the drumming workshop as well. Let’s try everything, it’s a festival, let’s just be open to all kinds of possibilities, as well as the reality that our joints are no longer as flexible as they were five years ago.
So here you go, ForestStar SummerTribe Festival 2017. We’ve just walked around the sacred grounds, met some beautiful souls, and ate some toast. The next three days, your experience is up to you to create. Give only love and these dreadlocked hippies would respond with love. Dance with the tribe and feel the power of stomping with 200 other kindred spirits to the same beat. Forget about personal hygiene, everyone smells like incense anyway.
And as we leave our psytrance family to go back to our everyday lives, let us all remember that every single moment that we’re alive, is a moment that can be celebrated like a festival. Let’s take all the love we’ve felt and squirt it all over the world. Instead of wishing that we’re back at the festival when we’re sitting in our boring cubicles typing some shitty report, let us all take comfort that we’ve met all these Rainbow Warriors that want to heal the world together, and know that every single one of us are trying, in our own ways, to spread our love and openness.
So let’s honour our tribe by loving our lives. Let’s hippie the shit out of our cities, and slowly but surely, we’ll see change. Go you beautiful army of love, go full power, 24 hour, no toilet, no shower. Love hard. And see you next year.
Let Spinney Lainey blow you away with her mesmerising flutes beautifully weaved into her colourful tapestry of pounding beats and playful twists. Definitely one of the most visually astounding performances this festival.
Once dubbed as the Princess of Darkness, Loa now descends upon the chillout floor to present to us a spiritual exploration of lower BPMs, deeper grooves and flowing movements. This artiste has time and time again proven that her talent cannot be confined to just a single genre, and that she can touch our souls in whatever she chooses to express herself with.
Definitely the most playful set we've heard at this year's festival, Sim Bohlism's pure audio pleasure sends us through a psychedelic circus of laughter and fun, propelling us into spicy cumbialand, and then throwing us back into a neverending bouncy castle. Get a taste of what's it like in Sim Bohlism's world through this set from Human Evolution Festival 2016.