I’ve been struggling to write about SHIFT 2018 probably more than anyone who makes a living writing and photographing should. I don’t think it’s because I’m a bad writer, or even a bad photographer, I think it’s because when you explain SHIFT to someone who hasn’t experienced such a thing, it’s hard not to sound like a hippie extremist who might have consumed too many substances and dreamt the whole thing up.
But here I am, laying my glitter covered guts on the table for you in the hopes that you too, can open your heart in a dusty field owned by a cowboy named Fred in the middle of the Oregon desert. Because, why not?
Like any good festival this one is filled with cuddle puddles, stop-you-in-your-tracks sunsets, good tunes, endless amounts of tea, a wildfire, a wedding, controlled fire and complete & utter buffoonery. The type of buffoonery that can only happen at a festival pretty much like Burning Man, but smaller and almost everyone knows one another.
Three main rules hold true, the first- consent. Being that it’s a sex positive festival consent and CONTINUOUS consent are vital to the community, so vital that there are workshops that teach you how to talk about these things with your partner, or potential partners.
The second- radical self inclusion and acceptance. Which is exactly what it sounds like. This is the part that sounds impossible to me. Coming from LA, a place where judgement is synonymous with survival, how does this whole radical self inclusion thing work? The answer? It simply does.
When you have a large group of like-minded individuals coming together to all have the best experience necessary, pretty much everyone refrains from doing anything douchey and ruining a good time.
Third and final rule- MOOP, which basically means everything should be packed out and nothing that isn’t natural to the environment should be left behind, #Moopismurder, or so they told me.
Take a stroll around the grasslands of SHIFT and you’ll see clusters of children laughing and giggling wildly, a princess party where both men and women prance around in their finest attire, people dancing and drinking, naked folks completely uninhibited and free roaming around without shame, a banana car that spews fire, and pretty much everyone has a smile plastered to their face. That or they are wide eyed and still because they are experiencing some kind of altered state.
Beyond the grasslands lies a quaint pond complete with a floating tiki bar and as many floaties as your heart desires. When the sun sets, everything stops, everyone stops and as the last speck of light is seen, we all kick our heads back and howl into the universe- a goodbye to the sun, welcoming the night.
There are few things in this life that make me feel as warm and fuzzy inside as howling at the sunset with a group of kooks much like myself. I feel wild and free and I feel like I’m exactly where I should be.
Nowhere else is as perfect as here. And then the dark creeps in.