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Lightning in a Bottle 2019: conscious movement, education, art, and music [Event Review]

Lightning in a Bottle (LiB), one of Southern California’s biggest transformational festivals, has come to an end but the energy created is alive and well. The five-day event was jam-packed with movement, music, education, and mindfulness. LiB has proven time and again to be a leading festival of inclusivity and change. The 2019 installation was no different. Every single detail, from the vendors in the marketplace to the waste sorting bins to the art installations, was profoundly thought out and well executed. The team of passionate individuals volunteering their time, curators, participants, and the production workers coming from all around made one of the most memorable experiences to date.

After seeing Lightning In A Bottle’s 2019 iteration come to life, here are four pillars of the festival that should make any conscious festival goer want to attend.

Location + Culture:

Lightning in a Bottle, held for the first time this year at the Buena Vista Aquatic Recreation Area, is a must-see must-do event produced by the great DoLaB. Set on the gorgeous lake just 30 minutes outside of Bakersfield, California the sun blazes during the day where the water parties and transformation take place and a breezy transition into perfect evening weather for a night of dancing.

The new grounds were significantly more intimate than the previous location in Bradley, California. The terrain was flat with far more grass and shaded areas and a lake that was refreshing and welcoming for all. The camping was easily accessible and the stages were all in a clear line of sight without miles of distance in between. Even though the festival grounds were compact, the sound design was crafted to perfection. The noise pollution from stage to stage was insignificant and campers were sure to get a good night’s sleep.

One of the many hidden gems along the lakeshore.
Credit: Don Idio

Many attendees were skeptical upon entrance because of the county’s strict law enforcement and other various new regulations. Aside from all the skepticism, attendees experienced the same familiar freedom and security of previous years. Law enforcement and local park rangers were constantly roaming the grounds to ensure everyone’s safety. What they were not there with was an intention to crash the party. As the week progressed, park rangers became a part of the LiB community and were shown the appreciation and gratitude they deserved.

The all-inclusive aspect that sets LiB apart from most large events remains strong year in and year out. The family campgrounds and array of activities for the young LiB attendees are always unmatched. After speaking to multiple families on site, every single parent was beyond pleased with the attention to detail LiB had for the younger festival demographic.

During the day, the kids have their play.
Credit: Juliana Bernstein

One of the aspects that sets Lightning in a Bottle apart from the rest is the six ways of LiB, which include celebrating life, creating community, actively participating, respecting yourself and one another, honoring the land, and being a citizen. The principles were a new implementation this year in the attempt to pass down the ethos of the festival to the growing demographic of younger participants in the community. Over the last several years, the community has increasingly attracted young-mid-20s-somethings. Along with that shift, there’s always a risk for the festival’s ethos to get lost along the way. After restructuring and downsizing the festival with the community ethos at the forefront of all activities, the principles were easily embraced by the citizens of LiB, both new and old.

Music + Art:

Lightning in a Bottle is equally known for their arts, interactive workshops, and learning experiences, but the music truly stands alone each year. This year, the line-up curation saw a clean balance between mainstream artists and rising underground talent.

Tribal-infused, multicultural artists that took attendees on a journey through sound like no other, with sets ranging from Desert Dwellers to CloZee and many acts at the Grand Artique. From start to finish, the entire crowd was flowing with the exotic beats. The talk of the town throughout the entire weekend was the impeccable Flying Lotus 3D set. Thousands of people gathered under the stars with 3D glasses on to face the future of innovative performance. The booming visuals and 360 degree vibe for each individual was unlike any other.

Every single artist shared their gratitude for the festival, the opportunity to perform, and the energy throughout the sets. Everyone could feel the collective consciousness rising.

Elohim at the Lightning stage.
Credit: Don Idio

Lightning in a Bottle veterans probably noticed that most of the stage setups and learning & culture tents were nothing new. This made the change in location feel more at home. The festival was able to bring the old Woogie and Thunder stages back with a new pop of talent. The Lightning stage, Favela, and the Stacks were all unique with a step in a new direction with stage design while still carrying the individually avant-garde energy.

LiB was founded by seasoned burners whom all share the love of balancing the mainstream music festival vibe with the Burning Man experience. The music lineups are never heavy enough to attract the raging party-goers. The other pieces of the puzzle, yoga and art to name a few, seem to attract the a crowd of more consciously-minded individuals who are there to align mind, body, and spirit. The interactive art cars floating throughout the festival, along with the tiny popup stands that come alive between 2am and 7am, are the true gems that give festival attendees the “off-grid” Burning Man vibe. Artists from body painters to sculptors to costume designers flourish at LiB.

The arbitrary art cars coming out to play in the wee hours of the morning.
Credit: Don Idio

Yoga + Meditation:

Early risers make their way into the deep grounds of LiB where Yoga Sol and Yoga Luna stand. These two havens are safe spaces for self-expression and reflection. The powerful influence of masters of movement and breath offered a wide variety of yoga practices and traditions for festival attendees to root down to rise up like warriors. Ecstatic conscious dance, acroyoga, kundalini, vinyasa flow, and breath work are the many styles of intentional connection found at these tents.

For those needing a hard reset during the day, the Sound Healing Experience is available from 11am-6pm everyday. This handcrafted temple is an LiB tradition that is curated every year by several sound healers who take attendees on a 30-minute sound healing journey using gongs, chimes, didgeridoos, rain sticks, and other soothing sounds from a range of shamanic instruments. Lying beneath the shady trees, this experience takes all participants deep into their nirvana.

One of the most exciting new editions to LiB this year was the water teepees that held morning meditations for individuals to enjoy the sunrise and a space for sunshine lovers to cool off on the water during the peak of heat.

Water meditative havens… serene until the sun comes up and the party begins.
Credit: Caroline Cantrall

Learning + Workshops:

The Learning Kitchen, Crossroads, Healing Arts, and Cauldron are the places to be when the sun is beating down and the music has yet to start. These spaces are hidden on a tiny cove by the water, far enough to escape the enthusiastic attendees but serene enough to fully engage. These cover a range of topics and interactive learning opportunities for everyone to learn something new. From herbal medicine and the healing powers of cacao to body tapping to consciously reverting back to our minimalistic nature as humans, were all among the topics to sparks an intellectual chord in the minds of attendees.

Healing Arts center… transformation begins here.
Credit: Juliana Bernstein

One of DoLaB’s goals for Lightning in a Bottle is to provide a space for life change where citizens of the festival can carry the lessons learned into the default world. The organizers’ ultimate aim was to give attendees all the knowledge, love, and happy times manifested within the five days and equip them with the ability to project it back outward in the workplace, classroom, home atmosphere. Even with the many changes made in 2019, from finding a new home at Buena Vista Lake to decreasing ticket sales by 20,000, it’s safe to say LiB served its mission of creating an intimate and one-of-a-kind experience for all those who enter into its domain.