Where: Bradley, CA
When: Friday, May 22nd to Monday, May 25th
With Whom: my friend Ashley and her boyfriend Matt
Part 7: Sightseeing
I want to see Lucent Dossier, a kind of circus act playing on the Lightning Stage. Matt assures me its pointless to try and watch it from afar, so half an hour before the show begins, I wade through the dance floor, until I'm about 20 feet from the stage and can no longer move. The beat of the bass falls onto my chest like a round metal weight, so heavy I find it hard to breathe.
If I stand on my tiptoes and crane my neck, I can see the dancers, the hoop-weaving acrobats, the fire-spinners. But I don't enjoy it. Tall people block my view and I must move constantly to peer through the gap between their heads. The girl next to me keeps swaying, knocking into me with her hip. People smoke. People talk--why come so close to the stage if you're not going to watch? I'm irritated. Not even a half hour in, I'm pushing against the crowd, trying to get out.
And for a while I fret about this, because the lights, the music, the dancing--all the main attractions--cater to extraverts.
Then Matt shows me the Silent Disco. As we enter the tent, the DJ hands us headphones, which broadcast three different types of music. I put the headphones on and the beat enters my brain. So I close my eyes and dance. And because there's ample space, I don't have to worry about bumping into others or being bumped. I can pretend I'm the only one here and dance freely. And when I'm tired, I take off my headphones and the noise ends.
The next morning, as I traipse Artsy Hill, I catch, out of the corner of my eye, a hoop dangling in midair, much like the one from Lucent Dossier. A few people are playing on it, and a woman in a mirrored jumpsuit sings on a stage. She is Kim Manning, aka Space Queen, and I think her voice sounds amazing, but no one seems to be paying her much attention. Still, she smiles and addresses the few few people in the vicinity. I find this positive attitude inspiring, so I lounge in one of the dusty sofas and listen. It's like having my own private concert.
Then, right as I'm about to leave, I see Kim jump onto the hoop and start doing acrobatics tricks. I think, Wow, this woman's amazing. Why did I need to go to Lucent Dossier at all?
Later that night, we wander to the Village, where people chant around a fire and a shirtless man passionately strums the sitar. We drink delicious tea with strangers. We take turns pushing each other on a swing that mewls like a kitten when it creaks, and when I tilt my head all the way down, upside-down stars fly past me.