July 2007 Feature
The Modern Day Gods and Goddesses
by Fiona Gale and Nicole Pugh
"to dance within / the rhythm of the universe / one finds liberation"
Human beings in every culture throughout history have created gods and goddess to guide and rule us, to give us life, luck, crops and beautiful children. We have honored them, sacrificed for them, worshiped them, adored them, and feared them. Gods and goddesses in their varying forms have been responsible for the largest festivals and the grandest parties. They have also been the inspiration for works of art in every field including dance, theatre, music painting, sculpture and more. The first plays were created for the Dionysian Festival in 534 B.C. in honor of the Greek God Dionysus, the god of wine. The first evidence of musical expression is seen in the Sama Veda, the third of the four Hindu Veda scriptures. Throughout the ages, we have feasted and partied, painted and pirouetted until the sun came up in the name of honoring and appeasing the gods and goddesses of the time.
Today, there is a new kind of celebration to honor a divine being of a different sort. This divinity is YOU. And there is an artistic community that is emerging who is creating spaces where the gods and goddesses of today can feel the joy of acceptance and the spirit of freedom. The festivals that these individuals create, equipped with all the entertainment technology of the times, are about accepting ourselves and others. For anyone who has ever been to a gathering such as this, you know the feeling. Connection, inspiration and light are the results.
The Burning Man festivals (www.burningman.com) were the catalyst that launched a movement. The first Burning Man was a small fire party created by Larry Harvey and Jerry James in 1986. It was held every year at Baker Beach in San Francisco until 1990. That year, Burning Man moved to an area in the Nevada desert now called Black Rock City. To this day, it is "a small bustling city of some 35,000 plus" created for people to create, inspire, contribute, and celebrate. No money is exchanged and sharing is the norm. The festival lasts a week. When it is over, no trace of it remains.
"Trying to explain Burning Man to someone who has never been is a bit like trying to explain what a particular color looks like to someone who is blind," states the Burning Man website. It is safe to say, however, that the festival, and the artistic expression that is created in it, extends beyond itself. In the last ten years, similar smaller events have taken place in cities and towns across the world.
BLUE INSOMNIA, SANDCASTLE EVENTS and NINJA SKILLZ
Scientist Chris Ramsey, PhD. and Sandy Bagri, owner of Binary Jungle, a web development company, were roommates in San Diego, California in early 2005 when both of them created two event production companies. They named their new-born creations Blue Insomnia (www.blueinsomnia.com) and SandCastle Events (www.sandcastleevents.com) respectively. The intention of both of these endeavors was to bring the Burning Man concept closer to home and to create an environment for people to express themselves. Their first event was called Tarzan & Jane. They transformed a venue in Mission Beach, California to look like an Amazon jungle. Three hundred and fifty people came dressed in jungle costumes. All the profits from Tarzan and Jane were donated to the Red Cross for tsunami relief. Furthermore, the event became the catalyst for Chris and Sandy to create further conscious-based events in Southern California. The whole event, from the music to the set designing and costumes, was created from scratch. Unlike the typical "nightclub scene," it was a coming together of like-minded individuals in the spirit of creation and self-expression.
Neither Chris nor Sandy envisioned at the time that their endeavor would manifest into what it would soon become. These days, both are very much loved and well respected DJs. Chris goes by the stage name DJ Blue and Sandy is DJ Sandbag. Both perform at a variety of venues as well as at their own productions. Sandy plays bass and DJ's for Danyavaad (www.danyavaad.com, see this month's cover photo), a Middle Eastern and Indian fusion band featuring the skilled and sultry Belly dancing duo, the Shimmy Sisters. Sandy's sister, modern day goddess Angela Bagri (Anja), formed Indirani (www.indirani.com), a Tribal Fusion Bellydance and Fire Dance company, and also contributes her beautiful goddess energy to the events. Additionally, Anja is a member of the San Diego-based fire performance troop Unifier (www.myfiredancers.com). They perform at Blue Insomnia events as well as others.
Sandy and Chris have performed at Burning Man and internationally as Dj's in Costa Rica, Mexico, London and the Full Moon/Black Moon parties of Thailand. In Southern California and elsewhere, they are providing a remarkable amount of entertainment and inspiration.
And that's not all.
Blue Insomnia and Sandcastle Events have recently joined forces with Cade Bourne, aka DJ Saynt, founder and co-producer of Ninja Skillz (www.ninjaskillz.net) in Los Angeles. Ninja Skillz is a collective of DJs, artists, and musicians that are beginning to produce events. This team/collaboration was formed with the intention to join and expand the Southern California consciousness communities and also for the downright fun of it. Similar to Chris and Sandy's endeavors, it has manifested into something much larger.
The next leg of the journey found Chris, Sandy and Cade heading south to Baja where they organized the Fuente Eterno and Alma Paradiso events. Alma Paradiso was created on a large wide beach in Mexico half way between Rosarito and Ensenada. Fuente Eterno was held at a secluded oasis in the middle of the Baja desert where hot mineral springs pumped into Jacuzzis at each campsite. Both events had themed "chill lounges" where participants could relax and connect as well as outdoor stages where the music was more intense and accompanied by laser light shows.
"The point was to create an entirely new type of event where the artistic family and community came first," explains Cade. "[We wanted to] take people to places that were inspiring in their natural state and magical with the addition of music, people, and vibe."
A technically perfect performance in any medium may be beautiful to watch. But it is truly sweet when one can feel the intention of the performer on stage and know that it is about contribution and inspiration. When there is a material as well as energetic interchange between performer and audience that is about love, acceptance and community, then it becomes a truly divine experience. That's what makes these events unique.
The Do LaB - LIGHTNING IN A BOTTLE
Another cutting edge art and music festival that takes place every year is called Lightning in a Bottle (www.lightninginabottle.org). LIB is produced by the Do LaB (www.thedoLaB.com), an event production company founded by twin brothers Jessie and Josh Fleming and modern day goddess Dream Rockwell. LIB is becoming a respected "green" event bringing festival consciousness to a higher level and offering some of the most diverse and uniquely gifted artists around, such as the Los Angeles underground art-performance troupe Lucent Dossier (www.lucentdossier.com). Dream Rockwell is the group's director and also participates in performing and designing choreography and costumes for the group.
"The Do LaB was created through a shared vision of creating dreams, walking the talk, and creating a space to inspire people to' make more creative decisions," says Dream. "Creativity is at the core of our nature, yet in the course of our lives our creative desires are lost in the abyss of 'impossible dreams.' It now falls to us to rediscover our magical inspirations and release our free-flowing expressions."
Producing The Do LaB's events such as LIB is quite an undertaking. The group has created a "Super-Team" of twelve individuals who oversee different departments. Shena Turlington is an aerialist and dancer with Lucent Dossier as well as an Ecological Sustainability Design Engineer in Sydney, Australia. She is the sustainability director for LIB in charge of the "Greening Department" and is currently working on a report that will indicate how much energy and resources were saved by their efforts. The 2007 festival was run almost entirely on renewable energy with the use of solar panels, biodiesel generators, energy-efficient LEDs and compact fluorescent lights where possible.
Another member of Do LaB's "Super Team" is Alicia Soliz. Alicia is in charge of The Do LaB's newly created non-profit organization, Cuddle The World. Through this organization, Lucent Dossier travels to third world countries to perform circus shows at orphanages. They leave a "magic box" filled with costume butterfly wings, wigs, clown noses, costumes, glittery things, soft cuddly blankets and teddy bears. Alicia set up a booth at LIB so that event attendees could participate in making the costumes that would be left in each "magic box." Lucent Dossier is an integral part of Do LaB Productions.
"(Lucent Dossier) is 'a playground for the innovative genius child in all of us,' Dream explains. "It is a collective based on magic and inspiration, living by the ethereal wisdom of choosing joy over pain, confidence over doubt, and love over fear."
The Do LaB is now sending their inspiring message of love, creativity, dreams, and kindness outside of the perimeters of the festival to children who would otherwise not have the opportunity to experience it.
As we enter the 21st century, we as a culture are in place of complacency. However, there is no lack of creativity among the communities that are creating the art and performance of the future. Within the boundaries of the events created by The Do LaB, Blue Insomnia, Sandcastle Productions, Ninja Skillz and others, we find a safe, accepting environment which allows creative thought to flow. Together, these modern day gods and goddesses are taking the acceptance of self and creative expression out into the world and making it a better place.
Fiona Gale is a freelance writer, world traveler, yogini, former sushi chef and ex-pat currently living in San Diego. Contact her at email@example.com. Nicole Pugh is a freelance writer, teacher and editor of Vision Magazine. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org