“Symbiosis Gathering” Review | Your CA Burning Man Alternative

Mota Bota |

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‘The Symbiosis Gathering’ 2013 Review

(1) Location  ‘Woodward Reservoir near Oakdale California’

A perfect waterside location for such an event.  We were located on a peninsula with plenty of swimming water on all sides and buoyed off especially for us.  And the water *ohh the water* refreshing, clean, and convenient.  So unlike Burning Man, everybody was nice and clean thanks to the Reservoir – I swam like a fool. Rumor has it they’re trying to bargain a lease of this area for the next five years; I hope it comes to fruition.  The grounds were weed whacked sufficiently and the weeds seemed daunting at first, but they weren’t.  I went barefoot a lot, and I’d occasionally get a pricker, but that’s about it.

Symbiosis 2013
Symbiosis 2013

(2) Porta-Poties

I rarely found toilet paper in any of them (bring your own) and never witnessed any cleaning. Hey Drunk People! – ‘Hovering’ to pee is fine, it’s just piss, but when you shit hovering drunk ‘anything’ can happen.  Folks you simply miss the mark and the rest of us pay the price of an uninhabitable porta-pottie.  Urine is sterile and you can use the seat cover paper (which was always plentiful) to wipe off the seat prior to relieving yourself.  NO DRUNK HOVERING TO SHIT – sober is fine.  Needless to say, the porta-poties could be a rough go, but they were there and we all lived.

Symbiosis 2013
Symbiosis 2013

(3) Logistics

If you don’t like to haul your supplies over hill and dale, get the car camping permit (an extra $150.) it’s well worth it.  The car camping space was 12’ by 40’, which I know seems small, but you and your neighbors will work out more room if you need it.  If you decide to do the walk-in camping, pack light and bring something that rolls to transport your gear in ‘one trip’.  Otherwise you’ll exhaust yourself humping all your stuff thither and yon.  I was a little bummed that bikes were not allowed, but I got used to walking.  The venues and the food court were pretty close together, with the art, clothing, and whatnot nearby.  Ice and water was readily available and plentiful.  I just wish the pedicabs would have followed the bands, after ‘STS9’ I would have paid them twenty bucks to shuttle me back to camp, I was dog tired.  I did hear they were gonna increase the number of pedicabs next year, I hope so.

Symbiosis 2013
Symbiosis 2013

(4) The Food

Fresh, organic, delicious, and reasonably priced – they even had pizza!  But there was only one small table with a few chairs to sit and eat, so most of us just sat in the dirt and made do.  During the evening the food court had this killer cello player laying down the beats with guest rappers, fantastic entertainment while one chows down.  Having food available takes the pressure off the preparation for the event; you can just bring cold-cuts, fruit, and beverages, then dine out on a whim.

Symbiosis 2013
Symbiosis 2013

(5) Law Enforcement

As opposed to the Police State known as Burning Man, Symbiosis was the polar opposite. Comparing Burning Man to Symbiosis is like comparing an Uzi to a Banana, it was ultra chill. Driving in Thursday from my home in Modesto, to when I pulled into my camp site, I saw one County Sheriff! – and they tend to be cool anyway.  There were No Arrests and No Incidents ‘whatsoever’ reported by the Stanislaus County Sheriffs Office.  Symbiosis had their own security and they just kept the peace, checked our wristbands and looked out for our safety, that’s about it.  You felt both secure and free at Symbiosis.

Symbiosis 2013
Symbiosis 2013

(6) The Music

Yes there were workshops, lectures, art, clothing, sweat lodges, and tons of yoga; which I heard (especially the sweat lodges) were great, but I came to dance.  I did see three of the headliners, STS9, Shpongle, and Chet Faker, as well as a shit load of others including Mortar and Pestle.  STS9 (Sound Tribe Sector 9) out of Atlanta, ground me into that lake-side dirt like an errant beetle.  I danced furiously to both of their sets then slowly slogged my way back to camp.  I had planned to see Dragonfly and Cashmere Cat after STS9, but I left everything on the dance-floor to that band of five.  The English duo Sphongle, composed of Simon Posford and Raja Ram, were extraordinary.  Their world music was ethereal, combining psychedelic trance and sonic textures to die for.  The Australian Chet Faker was like seeing Frank Sinatra on acid. Accompanied by his polished band, Chet combined loungey with bad ass world beats, it was awesome.  The trio Mortar and Pestle out of Oakland, just knocked me out with their depth of soul and ambient rhythms  – and ‘shit howdy’ they’re local! There was music for all taste especially at the less popular ‘Living Room’ stage which featured eclectic small bands, but if tribal beats with sonic textures is your bag, hello nirvana.

Symbiosis 2013
Symbiosis 2013

In conclusion, this venue was a breath of fresh air.  Being a long time Burner, I wondered if I would ever experience the freedom I felt at my first Burn in 1992?  And I did, in spades.

I couldn’t recommend this venue highly enough.

-Mota Bota

Symbiosis 2013
Symbiosis 2013

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10 thoughts on ““Symbiosis Gathering” Review | Your CA Burning Man Alternative

  1. BM is like the love-ins of the late 60’s. It can only be pure for a very short time. Then it gets diluted and polluted by outside influences and commercialism. I agree, time for the next gathering to form, from a true beginning. The desert setting was to make sculpture seem surreal. I’d enjoy some comfort this time.

  2. We came all the way from Australia for this festival and had an *amazing* time. The people were friendly and super-awesome and I really felt like everyone left their egos at the door. Lovely feeling of community and some seriously loved-up vibes. Kaminanda on Monday morning was a highlight!

    My only complaint was that Symbiosis crew had a *monopoly* on the sale of coffee (my drug of choice), and they ran out of alternatives to cow milk very early on. WTF? This is California! Where’s my soya almond milk mocha frappacino! 😉 But I digress. Happily I found some renegade coffee in the mix and was satiated.

    We also wondered about the lack of places to sit and eat, some hay bales tossed about the place would work great for this! At the Eclipse Festival in Cairns we had a massive chai tent that was open all night for late night caffeine drinking and socialising, it became the social ‘hub’ of the eating area – maybe an idea for next year?

    But thanks to all for the great festival. 🙂

  3. So is everything free, like it is at Burning man or is this just another hippy mall type event where everything costs money?

  4. I agree, none of you should go to Burning Man next year. It’s so not cool, and not fun, and no one is ever free there! Those days are over, man! Symbiosis, on the other hand, is CHOCK FULL OF HIPPIES! I love to be surrounded by my people! That’s why all my friends and I are giving up the ‘burning man habit’ and will not go anymore. Besides, there are absolutely no feathers being sold at burning man, and symbiosis is a great place to go shopping for ALL your goddess needs. They also have a massage tent where people will give you a rub for $3/minute! So CHEAP! And they actually care about you, not like at burning man, where no one really cares about you at all. I agree with the author, Burning man SUCKS!

  5. Au détour d’une question sur la manière de convaincre les électeurs de voter aux élections européennes du 25 mai, Joseph Daul http://www.miguncanada.com/about_oriental_medicine.html (qui a grandi en Alsace à quelques kilomètres de la frontière allemande) évoque sur le ton de la boutade ses souvenirs de jeunesse, à une époque où les Européens étaient encore soumis à des contrôles aux frontières et ne disposaient pas d’une monnaie unique. “Quand j’ai des groupes de jeunes http://www.miguncanada.com/about_oriental_medicine.html visiteurs (au Parlement européen) qui me disent que l’Europe ne sert à rien, je leur parle de la protection de l’environnement, de la sécurité alimentaire”, http://www.miguncanada.com/about_oriental_medicine.html explique l’élu UMP de 67 ans, qui dirige le principal groupe politique au Parlement européen depuis 2007.

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