When did the urge to make dreams become real get started in California? Some would point to Disney, others to the Chumash heritage that predates all the missions and gold rushes and growth industries to follow, and still others to Ken Kesey and his band of Merry Pranksters. Yet no matter where it came from, nothing, it seems — not earthquakes or fires, riots or droughts — will ever take away Californians’ ferocious desire to congregate in ever-greater numbers to pursue ultimate sensory experiences. Look at Burning Man, Coachella, Lightning in a Bottle, Electric Daisy Carnival, or even the San Francisco New Year’s Eve event Sea of Dreams. All these successful 21st-century music festivals owe something to the spirit of lucid dreaming that crept into California’s mainstream alternative culture from the desert. The extraordinary popularity of Coachella and Burning Man may be the most public side of this alternate reality, but the skills that make it possible were honed at such underground gatherings as moontribe and the early Do LaB events.
Jonah Haas, the force behind the upcoming three-day Lucidity Festival (taking place Apr. 13-15 at Live Oak Campground), represents the newest generation of those who hold the flame of recreational freedom, California-style. And it’s impressive to note that he puts “lucid dreaming” near the top of his list of personal qualifications for organizing a large three-day music festival outdoors in a Southern California campground — even above his scholarly interest in anthropology.
For Haas, it all began with Walkabout Woods, an art project that involved painting makeshift trees for Fishbon, the Santa Barbara immersive-experience laboratory behind such events as Chartreuse and Fishmas Bizarre. While Haas was working in Santa Barbara to prepare hundreds of these beautifully pointless artificial trees for Burning Man 2011, he was painting. But he was also talking, and this talking led to dreaming — and, well, you know the rest.
Or maybe you don’t. On Thursday night, April 12, at midnight, the barriers will come down on the parking lots at Live Oak Campground, just minutes over the pass on the 154 from Santa Barbara. From that point on until sometime Monday morning, April 16, the campground will be awash in the most mind-expanding opportunities imaginable to the post-Burning Man set. International deejays like Random Rab, David Starfire, and Gladkill will be spinning long, expertly mixed sets in the open air for thousands of revelers, many of whom will spend the night. There will be live music from more than a dozen area bands, including Howlin’ Woods, Boombox Orchestra, and Rainbow Girls. Workshops and guest speakers on permaculture, sustainability, consciousness, spirituality, yoga, and even breathing will convene under the oak trees to raise the level of thinking among those who attend this “leave it better” event. There will be live painting and digital art, a mobile gallery, and performance artists doing their thing at various moments throughout the weekend.
Bamboo DNA, the S.B.-based alternative construction crew responsible for the giant bamboo stage at last spring’s Lighting in a Bottle will be on hand with a new stage custom engineered for the location, and each of the event’s themed camping villages will have its own distinctive portal through which its residents will pass each time they go back to their tents.
Together with the literally hundreds of volunteers, Haas and his collaborator in booking the talent, Jonah Kai from Santa Cruz, are even now preparing the friendliest, most creative alternative to Coachella weekend one could ever imagine, and they are doing so right here in Santa Barbara.
Lucidity opens for camping at midnight on Thursday, April 12. The music starts on Friday, April 13, and runs through Sunday night, April 15. For tickets and information about camping, visit lucidityfestival.com.