desert hearts festival

It’s day four of the post-festival, real world re-entry, and I’m staring out my window at gloomy rain and painful traffic. Back to mundane life, lacking the dust and dirt we all know and love, and I find myself daydreaming of last weekend: the perfect escape into a world of techno and a community gathering unlike anything else out there – Desert Hearts Spring Festival.

If you drive an hour inland from Temecula, down in Southern California up a long, windy road, you’ll happen upon a community filled with techno-loving, peace-making, good-vibe loving hippies nestled into a small reservation, Los Coyotes, in the hills for a weekend. This gathering, kept at an intimate attendance of about 3,000 attendees, returned in 2017 after taking a one-year hiatus with a strong lineup and an even stronger devotion to its people.

The artists that gathered for the event – known for its reputation of hosting 72 hours of nonstop house and techno – was star-studded, with the likes of Edu Imbernon, who played a deeply magical 4am set on Friday night, Justin & Christian Martin, who threw down alongside Mikey Lion and Porkchop in a 4-way B2B set Saturday night, and Oona Dahl, who performed a mystical Sunday sunrise set, leaving so many of us in a trance as the sky turned from black to a candy-coated, shimmering blue. No matter what time you approached the sole stage at the center of the event, the music would always have you grooving, and it was oftentimes impossible to walk away.

To be frank, we expected the lineup to rock and the artists who performed to be amazing. And they absolutely were – each and every one of them. We knew that these sets were some of the best we’d see from these artists all year, because there’s something about performing at Desert Hearts. You’re not just performing to an audience – you’re performing to a family. The feeling of standing on that dance floor, as an artist or as an attendee, is one of pure awe. Everywhere you turn, there’s a new friend to make or a new hug to give. People are colorful, vibrant, kind, and wonderful. It’s rare that you find an audience like this. But Desert Hearts is one of those places.

desert hearts festival
Photo: Haley Busch

Yes, people come to Desert Hearts for the music. Yes, our weekend is centered around that heavy bass that’s pumping through our veins nonstop. And damn straight, we dance like nobody is watching – because everyone does the same, right along with you. But from a larger perspective, we also come for the culture – and the music is just one part of that. We thrive on that feeling we get when we stand in front of the DJ booth and drink champagne with our closest friends. We come to admire the art that our friends made with their bare hands, and we come to create our own. We come for the love, for the openness, for the laughter and the blooming friendships. We come for the companionship and the camaraderie. The group of attendees that venture out to this reservation are unique in an entirely different way, one that is hard to find words to describe. They care for themselves, for their friends, for strangers and for the environment. Everyone finds a way to contribute in one way or another, to build the community and to create a consciousness we all embrace. To every person on that reservation, We Are All Desert Hearts.

In today’s world filled with so much turmoil, Desert Hearts seems to be the one place where you can truly find positive vibes and open arms, without question. Driving away from that reservation on Monday, I felt a type of bliss that seemed unreachable before. I felt blessed that I was able to spend hours on end surrounded by genuine, passionate individuals that were proud to be part of such a strong community. I knew that even though everyday life may leave you stressed every now and again, there are moments like this weekend that will drive you forward. There was more love within those festival boundaries than I could have ever imagined when I first walked in – the type of love that can, and will, change the world.

And, of course, a little bit of techno.


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