As we spent the day relaxing and exploring the grounds, we found time to enjoy the deliciously warm and cooling ocean water that was barraged with pool floaties of various types. Smiling faces with an immense diversity in eyewear were spread across the water, jumping on the floating slide and chasing the island that whimsically called out for you to jump into the water.
Once the sun began to set and the sand cooled, the music would begin to call you through the winds. Various stages, but not too many, showcased deep and hypnotic styles of music that begged you to let yourself be immersed in the energy of the dance. Ebb & Flow stood tall the entire weekend with beautiful performances by Kellam, Lovecraft and Seth Hosko. The Gratitude Earth stage hosted Eli Escobar, Davi, Oona Dahl and various DJs whose name I didn't know, but was so grateful to have witnessed because they're talents far exceeded any name they could have given themselves.
An intense and remarkable experience was attending the PEX Fire stage whose sheer heat made the blood in your veins boil with a primal desire to dance out any demons you may have brought with you. Bodies were moving and stomping and eyes were closed as Everday ripped apart the waters on Friday night with his performance. Saturday, Desert Hearts took over PEX Fire stage with Deep Jesus, Tara Brooks, and Lee Reynolds. During Deep Jesus' set, the fire performance had displayed an exotic and tribal fire ritual to the music that was as unexpected to us all as it was to Deep Jesus.
This weekend was an amazing surprise. It has been a long time since I have experienced a festival in the states that had music go on through the entire night rather than stop after 12AM. Camping festivals are usually lie this I suppose.
Also, a major focus at Gratitude is the idea of leave no trace held by the burners, a strong statement to the relationship between music, community and the environment, neither are mutually exclusive. The campsite was packed and stacked, but everyone was so happy and friendly and friends were made with every turn or escapade. Us, Bostonians, camped next to a giant group hailing from Washington D.C. and all of us journeyed to New Jersey, of all places!
Gratitude by no means is a seamlessly run festival with no hiccups. There were plenty, and not much of a contingency plan when it rained, but that is the nature if of its grassroots origins. However, there is a peace of mind, when you aren't worried about who's playing and how many stages you need to see. Or spending massive amounts of money on alcohol and food, when you can bring your own and then some to share! Did I also mention that they have a family camp called Mini Migrators? Children of all ages splashed in the water next to us and joined us on the dancefloor expressing themselves all day. It was comforting to know that there is a place for families to share in the experience.
And don't worry about the nudists. They're friendly and are wonderful at teaching us how to let our guards down and accept the beauty of the human body. The one and only public beach shower out on the public street, would be overrun with tanned and some burned flesh scrubbing. It is a very funny and cute thing to experience at 6:30AM!
Gratitude Migration was, in fact, a summer dream. I came there with the weight of the world on my shoulders, only to leave it with a new sense of inner peace and longing for it to never end. Burning Man takes you away for an entire week into an immersive experience, Gratitude Migration gives you one weekend away from the world and allows you to love freely. Love your partner, love your friends, love the strangers you meet, love the music and love the earth.
I am looking forward to next year's Migration! View the gallery below to see even more magic from this year's event.