This past weekend, a few thousand friendly faces descended upon the Oak Canyon Campground in Silverado, California for the premiere of Woogie Weekend – an intimate festival gathering highlighting the master class and rising stars of House and Techno. Returning to where the magic of Lightning in a Bottle happened back in 2012, Do LaB brought the vibes while Mother Nature supplied the weather, paving the way for one unforgettably wild, wet and wonderful adventure.
As a self proclaimed city kitty, I’ll be the first to admit that I was not exactly made for roughing it…but over the last few years I’ve slowly but surely become more comfortable in the great outdoors. Checking the weather on Thursday night, I mused that there could be some rain over the weekend and packed somewhat accordingly, adding some warm weather garb and my middle school swim parka – which I never thought would come in handy in my adult life. Overnight, our duffle bags had sprouted glitter, feathers and personality as they overflowed with Spirit Hoods, festive fur and brightly colored clothing.
Packing our car to the brim on Friday morning, we laughed about our upcoming journey and tried to manifest the most beautiful of outcomes. In light of some unfortunate car trouble last week, Danny and I had magically upgraded from an Impreza with a broken axle to a nice little SUV that could fit literally all of our stuff. Mobbing down the freeway towards Orange County, we bopped and boogied in the car while browsing the weekend’s musical lineup. For each name I recognized, there were at least three I didn’t – but knowing the Do LaB, I was in for a sensational treat.
Arriving at the campgrounds in caravan, we slowly made our entrance into the grounds – claiming a campsite with a gorgeous, though somewhat dehydrated, lake view. After putting our heads together and setting up an exquisite campsite, fully equipped with tarps, tapestries and zip ties to hold it all together, we celebrated with beer and laughter, with a cheers to one epic campsite. Finally, after our festival family had arrived and a few of the Do Art live painters had haphazardly trickled in throughout the afternoon we were off to the races.
Roaming through the newly assembled tent cities and tarped off quarters, we made our way towards the music and the Beat Nest for Focus OC’s NonFiction and Josh Billings. For the rest of the first night, we bounced back and forth between the honeycombed Hive and the Beat Nest – which had a close resemblance to LIB’s Woogie Stage. At Dadon, we evem caught Marques Wyatt ebbing and flowing backstage in solid agreement with the beat. Pig & Dan threw down a phenomenal set – and I discovered some great new music in the process.
Sporting whimsical bunny ears, Woogie Stage manager Jesse Wright dug deep into a dark state of mind for a phenomenal set, fully equipped with friendly smoke effects and tantalizing rhythm. Last but certainly not least, Adam Freeland delivered one of the best sets of the weekend; I lost track of time as the crowd lapped up each and every last note from his set. I never made it to Alexi Delano like I intended, but that’s all Adam’s fault for being so damn good. When the dance floors shut down, we gallivanted back to RGL Bass Camp for some late night festivities – and as the name implies, a wee bit of bass.
I woke up in a dreamlike haze on Saturday morning with a surge of excitement, surrounded by a community of conscious thinkers and friendly faces ready to do it all over again. Donning my typical Caturday garb, I got ready for my first shift of the weekend while my crew was literally counting down the minutes until Pumpkin. Though scattered showers were on the docket for the day, the slip and slide run by Bijoulette was in full effect with a menagerie of floaties and childlike wonder.
Enjoying the music from picnic tables high above the field, I laughed and bonded with production staff and media personalities alike as we weathered the rain together, fully equipped with beer and a special appearance from my swim parka. I cannot wait to get back into the Do LaB and Confluence office because I feel like I made so many real, honest and friendly connections while braving the storm in the production office.
After catching the end of Tara Brooks, we dodged puddles of mud as we reached camp – thankfully, our campsite had withstood the day’s events; little did we know we were actually in the thick of a record breaking rainstorm. Each time we thought about the rain, we realized how downright selfish it was for us to be anything close to offended by it – in fact, we welcomed it with open, thought slightly damp, arms in light of California’s current drought. With a quick recharge, we were off for the night to bounce between a beautiful DJ set from Way Out West and a hard hitting techno barrage from Dirtybird’s J.Phlip.
Sunday Funday, or as we’ve rebranded it, Slapbag Sunday came with a slightly rude awakening. A plethora of the campsites further down the hill had turned into floating domiciles, surrounded by moats of mud. Woogie Weekend had sprouted hints of a Woog-ocalypse, but no one let it get them down. The mood evolved from gregarious and outgoing into an incredible bonding experience, where everyone was effected and everyone was making the most of it. For the last day, I channeled my mermaid vibes – adopting the nickname ‘Mermanda – as I pranced through the fields to Mikey Lion in a Desert Hearts flashback. Though I had to leave midway for work, I was happy to discover that I could watch my friends rock and rave below while I enjoyed the personalities flowing through the picnic area. Autograf took the stage and stole the show, providing the only live musical performance of the weekend with the stunning Maki Hsieh on violin.
After a light shift at work, I was relieved early – and I am still thanking the world I was: the second I reached my camp, raindrops started to trickle down – quickly evolving into a sideways barrage of water and wind. We simultaneously came to the conclusion that we were outdoors in one hell of a Summer storm. Mobilizing immediately, we double and triple checking our tarps and ties while making sure the fort was held down. In a state of confusion, we ended up huddled like wet cats under our most secure easy-up, each of us looking for a recourse to the situation. Finally, Danny’s eyes lit up as he scurried for the tent, yelling at me “This is what they were made for!!!” and we took refuge in a heartbeat.
The emotional shift was instantaneous as we warmed ourselves in the awkwardly humid tent air. What we were completely unaware of, was that Tropical Cyclone Dolores had been pounding down on the area – producing the biggest downpour to hit Southern California in 130 years, and an inch of rain in 48 hours. Even though the music had shut down for a few hours, our energy was high off of each other as we busted out champagne and ideas, tarot cards and stories. Once the rain let up, we ventured outside for the aftermath – and let me tell you, it was real. The stage areas had flooded, the slip and slide had been moved so participants landed in a giant puddle – but the smiles, they never left our faces. In the distance, we could hear a low rumbling of music and a rumor that The Hive had reopened for the night. Now with only one stage and a portion of the population gone with the wind, the vibe truly sat between Desert Hearts and LIB, full of empowering, engaging personalities within a trusting, evolved community. All Day We Dream, but all night we played as Lee Burridge sent the weekend off in style in a grand finale.
After the stages were finally shut down for the weekend, it was back to the RGL camp for one last romp in the rain. All weekend, we had our talented trio of friends going off on the decks – and DJs Firefly, Dreamlyfe and St4rfox kept our dancefloor game strong. So strong in fact that Lee Burridge turned up as St4rfox closed down the fort on Sunday night!! We had so much fun that we actually had to turn off the music, but there’s nothing quite like hearing a crowd chant “One more song! One more song!” Being restless busybodies, we plugged an iPod into a Jammypack and mobilized our crew. Taking one final muddy stroll through memory lane. Puddles had become lakes while mud turned into quicksand, but every moment was an amusing adventure – and at least we were all in it together. We stopped by the lake one last time, reflecting with laughter how we’d made it through the rabbit hole and come out better, bolder and more confident in who we were and how we could take charge of our lives. Waking up to sunshine and spotted clouds, we could finally take stock in what we’d spent three days living in – and each person that smiled at you walked with a sense of purpose and pride, and a look that said “Hey, I don’t know you – but we made it! Go us!”
Some people simply walk in the rain – but we danced, camped, laughed and survived one of Southern California’s biggest storms in over 100 years and we did it together. The teamwork that built our camp is in the same ethos of the teamwork that built this festival; it’s a spirit that reinvigorates the body while the soundscape of House and Techno resonated to our core. Woogie Weekend was an unimaginable auditory adventure and an environmental experience that can never be duplicated. For three days, we talked in technicolor while adapting to chaos, we made lemonade out of lemons – and found a warm community to spike it with punch drunk love while truly living and loving every moment.
All Photos by Daniel Leist Photography.
For more on Woogie Weekend, or as I’m choosing to call it – Thunder in a Can – head to their socials