“Buy the ticket, take the ride.” - Hunter S. Thompson
Keansburg is a sleepy beach town on the New Jersey shoreline. Its mayor is Thomas Foley. As of last census count, it has a population of roughly 10,000, out of which 5,435 bother to vote--26.3% Democrat, 13.7 Republican, and 60% “Unaffiliated.” It contains four schools in its district. Entertainment and attractions consist mainly of a water park, a small amusement park, and the town’s boardwalk and beach.
Some would say Keansburg is a rather unremarkable place, perhaps even dull. Indeed, one might hardly give the town a second glance as they pass by it on Route 36. However, once a year--in July--Keansburg is transformed into a carnival of hedonism as an army of wild partygoers, world-class DJs, performers, and artists of all kinds descend upon it. The tranquility is suddenly shattered as three days of mayhem ensue involving thundering sound systems, round-the-clock dancing, dazzling performances, workshops, interactive art and sculpture installations, beach-activities, and debauchery of every kind imaginable.
This mayhem has a name: Gratitude Migration.
Migration (as well as PEX outside of Philadelphia) is the East Coast's answer to the West Coast’s Burning Man. In fact, the festival attracts many local “burners,” who go as kind of a warm-up to the massive party-city that springs up in the middle of the Nevada desert each August. As one partygoer puts it, “This festival is the culmination of the NYC underground/ Burning Man scene. It’s a super special event.”
This year’s festival, named Summer Dream 2016, promises to offer ticketholders a “world where life becomes art and dreams become reality…a 3 day weekend that allows you to explore the possibilities within you--and with others--that will take you through the rest of your summer and beyond. Camp right on the beach, meditate on the ocean waves, and kiss the sun. Unleash your wildest dreams. And let the sea bring them to life.”
Beginning on July 15th and going until the evening of July 17th, Migration will take place along a vast expanse of Keansburg’s beachfront and will feature:
- Seven Stages and Massive DJ Line-up: Gratitude Earth Stage, PEX Fire Stage, Ebb + Flow Stage, Third Eye Stage, Mandala Biergarten Stage, Center Camp Wind Temple Stage, and Don’t Sleep Stage will host world-renowned EDM DJs like Alex from Tokyo, BOSQ, DAVI, David Hohme, David Kiss, Discowoman, Eli Escobar, Gavin Stephenson, Iman Rizky, Jon Charnis, Kelly Kellam, Mateo, Muffs & Mykola, Nickodemus, Oona Dahl, Pattern Drama, Saand, The Scumfrog, Sleepy & Boo, Spliffington, These Siamese, Turtle Bugg, Big Jawn, David Starfire, Davidson Ospina, Deep Jesus (Desert Hearts), Lee Reynolds (Desert Hearts), Tara Brooks (Desert Hearts), Everyday, The Human Experience, Kai Altair. Marko Peli, Mr. Black, Carol Ferraz, and many others. For full lineup and schedule, Click Here.
- Live Bands: Artists include Agent Zero Live, Al Aloisi at the Keyboards, Andrianna, Big Village Little City, Brooklyn Raga Massive, Charcole Federation, The Dolomites, Ellis Ashbrook, Liah Alonso, Modern Gypsies, Pendulum People, Ray Ippolito, Roland Ramos, Sensei, The Wonder Bars, and Woldtown Soundsystem.
- Performances: Performers include Gratitude Mermaid Troupe, Flambeaux Fire, Setu Tribe, Enchanted, KaytiBunny, Modern Gypsies Dreams of the Last Bu er ies, Gratitude Glow Troupe, House of Yes Solstice Tribe, Sensory Collective, Li le Cinema, Circus Mafia, Electrocute, and others.
- Interactive Art Installations: Archimedes Design; The Bloom by Like Vink; Desert Island by Arch-NYC; Future Clear; Keleidohenge by Kaleidogram NYC; Magico Illumia by Gene Harrison; the Museum of Interesting Things; the Orb, the Pit, and the Antenna; Treepeace; True Mirrors by John Walter; Worldtown; and Varadiance by Ali Madadoodle.
- School of Dreams: A space that will feature a kind of burner TED Talks with speakers and workshops like “God Damn It, You've Got To Be Kind” with Alex Portera, Brian Doochin, and Eric Messinger; “Doing What You Love: A Life of Quantum Creative Expression” with Larry Dvoskin; “Pot for Grandma!” with Lex Pelger, founder of Psymposia; “Self Asperity for Dream Clarity,” with Kean Keeks; and Cowspiracy, an environmental documentary co-executive produced by Leonardo DiCaprio.
- Water Wellness Temple: A village that “will serve as the spiritual core of Summer Dream providing sacred space to renew your spirit, regenerate your body, and rejuvenate your mind. We will gather here throughout the weekend with a variety of yoga/meditation classes and powerful shamanic workshops, offering you a cozy and safe space to wrap yourself in a nurturing environment focused on self-actualization and realization.”
- Theme Camps, Villages, and Participating Collectives: Water Temple Wellness Village, Don’t Sleep Village, Heimat Village, Artist Village, Third Eye Village, PEX on the Beach Village. Participating collectives include Bangrand, Ebb + Flow, The Fam NYC, Junxion, Meso Creso, Might Get Weird, PDG, Rinsed, Risky Business, Rogue Sound Camp. Worldtown and others.
It does not take a particularly observant person to see what kind of fun mischief one can get into at Migration [insert winky-face emoji here].
I’m particularly looking forward not only to the amazing music and DJ lineup, but also the spectacular performances--specifically the fire performances.
A favorite performance troupe of mine, which goes by the name of Flambeaux Fire, will be present at the festival all weekend long. I have been to their shows at House of Yes in Brooklyn; and if their past performances are any indicator, then partygoers to Migration are in for an amazing show.
Flambeaux Fire will perform onstage, beach, and in the water at Migration. On Friday, at 8:00PM, they, along with the Gratitude Fire Mermaids, will help open the festival with a fire procession, beginning in the water and going from the Gratitude Stage to the PEX Fire Stage. They will perform onstage from 9:00PM to 11PM. Saturday Flambeaux will be fire-spinning at dawn on the beach and will repeat the procession with the Fire Mermaids at 8PM again, performing on the PEX Fire Stage from 9PM to 11PM. Flambeaux Fire producer and artist, Cinder Petrichor, will give a special “fire baptism” performance from 1AM to 2:30AM on the same stage. Sunday at dawn will be another fire-spinning performance.
As a DJ and EDM fan in New York, I am particularly looking forward to seeing one of my favorite contemporary artists, DAVI, perform. Hailing from the Los Angeles area, DAVI is known for his exceptional production of Arabic-style tech house tracks like “The Gates of Babylon” and his new track, “Metropolis.” Of course, I am also excited to hear Burning Man heavyweights like David Hohme, Deep Jesus and Lee Reynolds of Desert Hearts, Eli Escobar, Jon Charnis, Davidson Ospina, as well as local artists like The Scumfrog, Sleepy & Boo, and Carol Ferraz.
My basic plan is to dance all night, sleep on the beach during the day, take in one of the talks at the School of Dreams, maybe attend a beach Yoga session where I fall on my face and make a fool of myself, and repeat the cycle, hopefully finding time to eat somewhere in this mix.
Those of us who are seasoned partiers will no doubt attempt to push the envelope to the limit, showing up at work the next week looking like explorers who had become lost in the jungle, only to be found and adopted by some wild tribe.
Gratitude Migration may eventually become a defining generational experience, much like Woodstock was for Babyboomers. After all, if sex, drugs, and rock n roll defined their era, then sex, drugs, and Electronic Dance Music may very well define our own.
Festivals like Migration and Burning Man will become our legends, to one day tell our grandchildren about.
See everyone on the beach.