enchanted forest

Enchanted Forest Gathering 2017

How would you dance if you were a jellyfish?

Written by John Karlo Torres
Photos by Edward Clynes

"Jellyfish or jellies are softbodied, free-swimming aquatic animals with a gelatinous umbrella-shaped bell and trailing tentacles... Jellyfish are found in every ocean, from the surface to the deep sea... Jellyfish have been proven to be the most energy efficient swimmers of all animals." - Thank you Wikipedia, i'll get back to this. 

This year at Enchanted Forest I wanted to do things a bit differently. I have been going to festivals for almost a decade and it wasn't until recently that I started to notice the amount of time, love, and effort that goes into creating a great gathering full of intention, music, art, movement, and conscious living. As a glitter-seasoned participant of this community, I wanted to meet and highlight the magical ingredients that make Enchanted Forest Gathering, well, enchanted. 

Before I introduce you to some of my favorite wondrous Jellies, I want to point out that this year was amazing! There is nothing quite like getting to dance my ass off to Tipper, The Polish Ambassador, Tokimonsta, Psy Fi, Opiuo, Soohan, Space Jesus, and DJ Dragonfly all in the same weekend. All the environments were top notch, plush spaces to recharge, let loose, bask, fuel up, and indulge in the many splendors only a festival environment can bring you. This oak forest was truly magical bringing forth every night with a sacred fire that lasted 'til dawn and welcoming mornings with great musical sunrise sets by Kalya Scintilla and Whitebear. One of my highlights this year was the Saucy Spa sauna where I made some amazing nakey friends melting into softened puddles after long hours of movement.

Now onto the fun stuff, the Jellies! You may be wondering, "What's up with this jellyfish business?" I'm glad you asked. Long ago when I lived in Barcelona, my friend and I would get drunk and chalk the cobblestone streets with, "Como bailarías si fueses una medusa?" - How would you dance if you were a jellyfish? We made a ton of friends by asking random strangers this question and we realized, no two Jellies were alike, not even twin Jellies. So I wanted to try an experiment and ask this question to the lovely people who contributed to Enchanted's magic this year. Here are the ingredients for a saucy good time: 

STAFF - VOLUNTEERS

These Jellies are the bones and brains that real jellyfish  only dream of. Without the heart and dedication of staff and volunteers there would be no place to call home, no vision to execute, and no gathering at all. Thank you for coming in weeks early to build, and leaving weeks later to tear down. Let's see how this Jelly gets down!

Staff - Megan Pru - Hails from Boise, ID
@meganpru

VENDORS - FOOD

These Jellies are delicious! Wait, don't eat the jellies or you will swell up like a ballon! There was so much yummy food and amazing vendors. I was looking for some MAJOR greens and lovely Devin working at Imlak'esh Organics helped me navigate the open waters to the most nourishing superfood bowl of my dreams. Also, when I was feeling really shitty after a long night and needed a serious boost, Sarah, Bee, and M'fon with Asana Foods brought me back to life with Açaí bowls made for the gods. Thank you vendors for allowing me to camp light and supercharge my body. These Jellies are #PlantPowered!

Vendor Crew - Devin - Hails from Napa, CA
@imlakesh

Asana Foods - San Diego, CA - @asanafoods
Sarah, Bee, M'fon - @waveojoy

 

To stay in touch with the Enchanted Forest Gathering visit http://enchantedforestmendo.com/.

WORKSHOPS - MOVEMENT

There is never a shortage of amazing yoga, workshops, and movement classes at Enchanted. This aspect of festival life has to be my favorite ingredient. There is so much knowledge, wisdom, practice, and energy available to all participants and I can't stress enough taking the time to engage with workshops and classes at festivals. Partying is a great time and dancing is essential for my experience but what I learn in workshops really funnels into my everyday life. Thank you teachers for all your lessons and wisdom. Turn that Jelly into jam!

Tai Chi - Sundar - Hails from Alicante, Spain
Helpuheal.com

Festival Herbal First Aid - Heidi Garrett - Hails from Concord, NC
Facebook

HEALERS - BODY WORK

I have recently been receiving more body work and healing services at festivals and it has been AMAZING. There is nothing like getting a deep tissue massage or acupuncture in the middle of an oak speckled forest. Considering all the walking, yoga, dancing, and general buffoonery that is going on, it is a real treat to get body work done mid-festival. I was so happy to meet Nik who did some great deep tissue work on my back when I was feeling pain from too much fun. Thank you healers for putting us back together and keeping us movin'! This Jelly is elevating!

NiK Kurtz - Hails from La Honda, CA
Bodycuriosity.com

NEW FRIENDS - DOERS

Enchanted Forest Gathering 2017 was my first ever solo festival. It was such a special experience and I made so many new friends that I get to group text with and hang out with all the time now. The best part of the Enchanted family is all the beautiful people. I am pretty lucky that all the ingredients got real mixed in this year for me and I met so many amazing people who contributed to making fairytale magic in the forest. This super cool Jelly here is Sari. We did a lot of hanging out at her WooWoo Pocket Photo Booth and bopped around dancing, laughing, and making puddles of friends. This Jelly is on it's way to being a STARfish.

WooWoo Pocket Photo Booth - Sari - Hails from Denver, CO
Sariblum.com

So you see, our Enchanted Jellies are softbodied, free-spirited land animals with creative, human-shaped hearts and arms for tentacles... these Jellies are found in every environment, from the mountains to the sea... they have been proven to be the most energetic loving dancers of all animals.

See you Jellies later!

John Karlo - Hails from Boyle Heights, CA

John Karlo - Hails from Boyle Heights, CA

Enchanted Forest Gathering is here!

By John Karlo Torres

The time has arrived, one year since I last covered Enchanted Forest and things are looking pretty sweet for 2017. There are some new additions to this year's gathering and I am stoked to experience the magic first hand. If you are heading out to Laytonville this year, be prepared for some cooler weather and rain, a different experience from last year's crazy hot days. Make sure to bust out the fuzzy jackets and the leggings for a comfortable, dance all night, play all day time. 

Full-Service Hookah Lounge

I was fortunate to learn about a ton of new amazing artist last year and 2017 has a lot to offer with four incredible stages of music: The Grove, The Knoll, The Saucy Spa, and the Lazy River. In case you missed the news, this will be Tipper's only California, Nevada, Oregon appearance in 2017! Below is the full music schedule:

LOLounge

Part of The Emerald Forest, a new zone sponsored by CannaCraft

 

Enchanted Forest Gathering is one of the best, intimate, magical festivals I have attended and has an incredible amount to offer in dance, yoga, flow classes, workshops, and now comedy. Check out last year's coverage piece here

Check out our Instagram for photos this weekend!

Enchanted Forest Gathering 2016

WORDS BY JOHN KARLO TORRES

PHOTOS BY Jacob Avanzato and Cremerica, Inc. Photography

 

I don’t know if you noticed but there is an emerging #trend among music festivals where camping, getting fucked up, and listening to incredible music is no longer enough to satiate the masses. Whether it’s the booming popularity of Burning Man, or social-media-induced disconnection, something is happening. Immersive, interactive experiences are becoming the standard for escaping the grind, and Enchanted Forest Gathering embodies this trend. 

I have been to my fair share of festivals and know the formula pretty well, but EFG reminded me that expectations are just that. Before stepping onto Black Oak Ranch in Laytonville, CA, I knew a few things about the gathering that perked my ears like a dog hearing the crinkling of a wrapper. One, you get to party – but in an alcohol-free environment. Two, there will be people there – but less than 3,000. Three, there is a prison for nipples – but this magical land is a safe space to #FreeTheNipple. And Four, cannabis is medicine – and your local pharmacy is going to party with you. These very four things broke the formula completely, and perfectly set the tone in line with the festival’s pillar of "cultivating clear and conscious connection.”

Somehow I managed to get there perfectly on time when the Box Office opened on July 22 at 9:00AM and wait in a line much shorter than you would see at some trendy new chicken sandwich joint in the city. You might like waiting over an hour for some chicken like a masochist, but dealing with virtually no line really kept me in a great mood. The best part of my inaugural morning was the sweet older gentleman who directed me to parking and wished me an enchanted weekend. When was the last time someone wished you an enchanted anything!? I was happy to be there to say the least. This no-line business was incredible and thanks to the gathering’s participant cap, there was no waiting for most of the weekend. 

You know that feeling when you are having a great time at a festival and you start to feel that pressure in your stomach and try to trick yourself you don’t actually have to take a shit? Well, you do, and lucky for everyone, there was NO LINE at the porta potties! I mean, that alone is something to celebrate. You get the idea: no one had to wait for much all weekend long. The delicious yummies found in the Nourishment Nook, the rad crystal-infused clothing in the Magickal Marketplace, and the hydrating drinks at the various Elixir Bars were all readily available when the cravings hit. The number of people was just right for me and you could really feel the intimacy it created. It was much easier to enjoy everything the gathering had to offer because time felt slower, people more engaged and aware.

Once settled into the beautiful oak speckled land and putting my sexy, "I wish I would wear these clothes more often” outfits on, I started to feel the importance of Enchanted Forest Gathering’s ethos. There were plenty of moments when I wanted a cold beer, some whiskey to loosen up, a bloody morning, but was happy to leave it all behind. This is probably the only festival I remember every single moment. It is a place where my morning started shortly after sunrise and not mid afternoon when one attempts to pick up their hungover, sickly body off the ground. Not having to deal with the aftermath of heavy day-into-night drinking made yoga effortless and I didn’t waste any time feeling like death. There wasn’t ever a moment where I had to dodge a belligerent drunk, translate meaningless ramblings, or step over puke. Thanks to being a sober sally I was able to participate in Shayna Zane's Chakra Flow, Pete Guinosso's Morning Cup of Vinyasa, and witness from a distance Live Music Vinyasa by Drishti Beats, which had the entire class completely activated. The Namastage Yoga tent in which these classes were held was beautiful. Not only did people leave their sweat behind, others left offerings at the Shiva Dharma alter that welcomed yogis to the space.

EFG’s value of “self-actualization through the process of sharing our gifts” was live and well with an entire Wisdom University & Community Center packed in with yoga and workshops all day. From workshops like Make Love Like a Goddess, Therapeutic Lap Dancing, 50 Shades of Yes, to Ritual Magic, Super Power Elixirs, and Banking with Bitcoin, the shared gifts were bountiful. I didn’t spend much time in this area; I kept getting there mid workshop times and just didn’t feel comfortable walking in after a class had started. While at the Center, I did witness a man and a women naked using body paint to decorate their bodies and thought that was pretty fun. I guess the lesson here is that no one is too old for body paint. Another area where gifts were shared was the Flow Zone, which was home to hooping, poi, staff and wand spinning, and other forms of movement. I stood around Mel Blue Moon’s Weird Hoop Rolls workshop and played with a hoop on the side lines while actual hoop dancers learned some new moves. There was nothing weird about the hoop rolls, they were all beautiful and visually pleasing. I was the weirdest part of the workshop tossing a hoop around and chasing it like a run-away toddler. 

 

 

The campsite I called home for the weekend turned out to be an ideal spot. 50 feet away, the Swimmin’ Hole Stage played deep bass music and kept people dancing while the main Mighty Oak Stage rested for nights arrival. It was called the Swimmin’ Hole because it was adjacent to the river that kept everyone cool throughout the day. Nothing makes a festival better than access to water and the river was a daily party. Some notable EDM artists who played the Hole were Psy FiSOOHAN, and my favorite Champagne Drip. Opposite the stage was a convenient Elixir Bar where you could enjoy Revive Kombucha, ice cream, coffee, coconut water, and my new obsession Brilliant Elixir - "At Brilliant Elixir, we craft botanical beverages that deliver delightful sensations without the use of alcohol or harmful additives.  Our mission is to promote a culture of healthy social drinking and to deliver beverages that enhance our lives.  Our mantra: Shine tonight... and tomorrow!" These 100% plant-based botanical elixirs were so tasty and definitely the hit sauce of the festival. If you come across this beverage I recommend the Chocolate Lover.

Despite not drinking, there was another nap-inducer present at the gathering, the Sun. There is only one way to put it, it was fucking hot. Dancing, running around, and doing yoga in 90 degree weather really takes it out of you. The festival did a great job of providing drinking water stations all throughout the grounds and the river was the perfect way to chill the body quickly, but two micro-environments saved my life, the Nectar Temple and the Saucy Spa. Two very different environments but both served the same purpose for me, escaping the heat. The Nectar Temple was a huge, beautiful, flowy tent that kept cool throughout the day and was adorned with dozens of pillows and tired, napping bodies. It was an experience of the gods and a space to rejuvenate and heal. I am unsure of the frequency as I was drifting in and out of peaceful nap land, but every once in a while, someone would come around and spray cold water infused with rose essence and it was amazing. You probably know what a buffer is and you surely know what a body is, but did you know that they make body buffers?! The place was littered with body buffers small and large and if you have never had your entire body buffed before, I highly recommend you get on Craigslist right now and hire someone. Or better yet, start planning on going to Enchanted Forest Gathering in 2017. By far the most entertaining way to stay cool was the Saucy Spa. At first glance the madness coming from the Saucy Spa area looked straight out of an MTV spring break video where music and foam came together and people were in ecstasy. EFG’s newest addition was ALL DAY shower parties in collaboration with Dr. Bronners Foam Tub and special guest DJ’s. They were power blasting music and cold water Bronners foam all day to keep people cool and energized. Some people were naked dancing, others were legitimately showering, but everyone was having an insane time, a definite highlight of the weekend.

Enchanted Forest Gathering was quite simply, enchanting. In comparison to other festivals it would be considered a small gathering but was in fact a big production. I was excited to see one of my fav musical artists Thriftworks and was pleasantly surprised on Friday night at how mellow his set was. Jake Atlas really set the mood on the Mighty Oak Stage and that feeling carried over throughout the weekend; this was an intimate gathering. Saturday morning welcomed me with the most incredible sound that radiated throughout the Ranch. AtYyA was the first amplified sunrise set and what a perfect way to start the day. If only everyday started out with deep alluring basslines and futuristic ambiance, we would all be a much happier people. Saturday was definitely the day of dance and mind-altering music. Welcoming the incredible night-lit sky was Polish Ambassador and the amplified sets ended with headliner Shpongle or more precisely, Simon Posford. If the Mighty Oak Stage set hadn’t already blown you away with its elaborate design, Shpongle’s visual arts brought the stage to life and they were immaculate. By far the most enchanted visuals I have witnessed even topping the Shpongletron I saw at a Los Angeles show in 2011. EFG set the bar high for me when it comes to stage sets; I was lost in the giant arms of the radiating rays that enclosed us all into the space. The nights continued with late night silent disco sets, more Brilliant Elixirs, coconut water, and ecstatic dancing. 

Sunday was the dreadful goodbye for me but luckily I had Bluetech to start my day with another incredible sunrise set. Before leaving, I casually walked to every stage, every micro-environment, and every nook to bid my farewells. This was an hour’s long process but the constant nagging of the impending departure was hard to shake. Yoga, the river, the muddy misting station all provided temporary relief but the facts were real, it was my last day. The last time I was at Black Oak Ranch was in 2009 for Earth Dance and I felt like I had gone back to visit an old friend; an old friend that takes tender-loving care of me and my friends and provides us with a sense of gratitude and empowerment. This year was the 6th annual Enchanted Forest Gathering and I am happy to be a part of the enchanted family.

 

 

Enchanted Forest- Move With Us (Video)

Enchanted Forest Gathering creates close-knit community experiences within a fairy tale setting of majestic Oak trees complete with refreshing watering holes and winding river in Laytonville, CA. Intimate in size but offering up large-scale festival production, Enchanted Forest Gathering showcases over 70 internationally-acclaimed musicians performing atop stunningly-constructed stages - each one a piece of art in itself, including heavy bass headliners Shpongle, The Polish Ambassador, and PANTyRAiD, and live music legends such as Hamsa Lila and Ayla Nereo.
 

Rounding out the expansive list of marvels to discover at the 2016 gathering include three zones dedicated to yoga, flow arts, and dance/movement with over 50 classes plus educational talks and forums. Also nestled in the forest is an interactive Kids’ Village with professional day care services, and an array of playful micro-environments to find magical moments such as the Crystal Dome, Nectar Temple, Tea Lounge, Comedy Stage, and Visionary Art Gallery. Placing a heightened focus on maximizing participant comfort in as many areas as possible, Enchanted Forest Gathering boasts dance floors made of foam, shade and chill zones provided for every stage with Kombucha on tap, trees providing natural shade for camping, delicious and healthy food vendors - all within a safe, alcohol-free environment promoting a “Get saucy, not sauced!” policy.