Greetings everyone! Let me just say- it has been one hot, sizzling minute since I have been able to write and express my thoughts about the dance music universe. I apologize for that, and my academic advisors were not joking around when they said that senior year of college will have you running around looking like a chicken with its head cut off. That is why I was so thankful when I received my acceptance letter one night at work for being approved as press for the first EVER Okeechobee Music & Arts festival. There are certain moments that take place in the dance music community that you do not want to miss, and that is attending the first installment of a brand new festival. The reason being is because there is not one music lover who knows what to expect. Everyone entering the festival is going in with a blank canvas.
I, unfortunately, had to work March 3rd-5th, so was not able to start my life as an Okeechobee pioneer until that Saturday of the festival. But that did not stop me from attending this music and arts festival. I Tetris-style packed my car the night before, drove to work, and then once I got off my shift I started my journey. Let me just say- location is everything for a successful event, and I believe the drive to the festival is actually a part of that journey and experience. The drive had you already starting the connection with nature, and it was so calming and good for the soul. I got to the festival ground site around mid-afternoon on March 5th, and my phone had absolutely no service. It was at that very moment, I looked up and I knew I just became an Okeechobee Pioneer.
I parked into what was my home for the next two days. I changed from my work clothes into proper festival attire. Upon my walk before entering the portal, I got to see how organized this first-time camping festival was. There was no confusion, and all the volunteers and staff were friendly and helpful. I checked in and got my bracelet (which was your ticket all weekend long) and Okeechobee had ticket scanners you tapped your bracelet with for entrance. I heard the sound of confirmation from the ticket scanner and took my first steps into the portal, and I could not help but jump up with glee and smile.
The first part of my journey as an Okeechobee pioneer was at THE GROVE where the main music edition of the festival took place. THE GROVE had three stages with food trucks, vendors, and bars all surrounding the back. The first thing I did was actually go explore instead of heading to the stages. I started adding metaphorical paint to the blank canvas I entered the festival with. The energy was a chill vibe with Okeechobee pioneers coexisting and enjoying their love for music and art. Okeechobee demonstrated that festivals should not only be music-based, because this allows room for a better overall experience.
The first thought to my head as I was walking around was that I thought I was at a Coachella. Now, I personally have never been to Coachella, but have done my research and watched my share of videos to compare it to. Since there was no service at all, these moments were enjoyed more because I was living it through my own eyes, and not my phone’s camera lens. That helped strengthen my connection with not only nature but with other Okeechobee pioneers.
The people who attended this festival really helped with the enhancement of my journey. I really was able to take my conversations with others to another level- because again, like I said before- NO PHONES! Listening and watching sets were even better with my iPhone in my pocket and not set on Snapchat. All of the stages were beautiful and had no noise bleed at all. Saturday during the day was the part of my journey that I focused on the music. Then when it started to get dark, I entered the Moonlight Oasis.
The Moonlight Oasis is where I started my art journey. Every time I stepped foot in the Moonlight Oasis, my body instantly went into a happy place. I went into the tea room and loved the full detail of the room. I then entered Chobeewobee Village for the healing part of my body. The amount of activities offered at this festival was just breathtaking. There was yoga, a healing sanctuary, and even a beach! Each section was filled with new people and new energy.
I got to see Skrillex throw down one of the best sets I have ever witnessed Saturday night. I really love that Okeechobee only booked just Skrillex– not that I have anything at all against Jack Ü, because their music is life- but I feel like it is hard to see just Skrillex. I did not take that set for granted and was raging for the entire set, from start to finish. There was even a brand new song Skrillex dropped just for us Okeechobee pioneers, too.
Skrillex closed out Saturday night on the \”Be Stage,\” and then I headed into Jungle 51 where I listened to deep house all night long until the sunrise with some of my friends that I met my first year in college, and I formed two new friendships as well. The activities after the actual festival was over are the memories that I wish could live over and over each day. That part of my journey was really beautiful, but at that point I sadly knew my journey was coming to an end.
I took a power nap at my friend\’s campsite, and then headed to my car and to take another power nap. After, I changed into a bathing suit and headed to Aquachobee with two new Okeechobee pioneers that I met the previous night at Skrillex. This is what I was talking about: one minute I was jamming out to Skrillex’s remix of Nero\’s \”Promises,\” and then I was headed to the beach. The beach was filled with art and even their own beach stage. I said goodbye to Aquachobee to make sure I was present for Kill The Noise. Kill The Noise, pun-intended, \”killed it.\”
I sadly had to end my life as an Okeechobee pioneer around sunset on the last day, due to having class and work all day the following Monday. However, I would say the full day that I was there on Saturday was one of the best times of my life and would do all over it again. Next year for sure I will be attending all four days and camping with a tent. This sold out first-time music and arts camping festival made their name known, and other festivals need to watch out. Okeechobee Music & Arts festival is going to mature into one stunning butterfly. This festival had me connected to nature and my own body in a way that I have never experienced, so hats off to you Okeechobee Music & Arts Festival.
For the full festival review, head over and read Ivy Lucero\’s full review of Okeechobee Music & Arts festival because she lived a longer life as an Okeechobee pioneer than I did, and she has a beautiful write up explaining her journey in the portal. See you Okeechobee pioneers next year in the portal.