Big Dub was pure paradise. The festival took me back to the underground raves of my youth where everyone got together to groove and meet new friends, where PLUR and self-expression ruled eternal. You could feel the BADASS crew caring for you, with comfortable camps, showers, DanceSafe on-site, and hammocks strung throughout for a disco nap. Thank you SO much, you’re amazing. Here is a 360 video recap so if you missed it, you can experience a little magic first person.
Each beautiful basshead I met was overwhelmingly generous and positive, the marvelous Elevated Bass Vibes even gifted me a beautiful Bassnectar bleach dye. Wandering along the glittering river through the forest, we noted the healing properties of the mountains that we’d heard rumor of. By day, the Four Quarters Interfaith Sanctuary was a calming, yet lively playground. We bobbed in the river on floaties, sipping homemade mead and gazing at the clouds as others played Frisbee in the water. Shufflers, poi spinners, and hooping ladies frolicked together beneath the Re:Imagine pirate ship stage in the forest. I smoked on a mattress under a mushroom with some new-found friends as bubbles drifted around us.
By night, the woods transformed to a swirling colorful trip. Incredible fire dancers with flaming swords, chains, hoops, and staffs dazzled in an arena where we traded back massages with a group of Baltimore ravers. Wandering into a glowing forest of mushrooms, some lovers called us over from a hammock. The lad with the merman hair asked us if we were happy people. The girl got up to dance and make out with one of my girlfriends.
Under the full Blue Moon, Liquid Stranger played an intense set of all originals. He truly was ‘King of the Hill’. The LED paneled stage lit up and intense lasers flashed through the steaming masses. A blow up pizza bobbed along and to the right of the stage a woman painted the massive moon hanging above us. Afterwards, I chatted with Martin aka Liquid Stranger about the evolution of rave culture and he expressed his marvel at how Big Dub had the same underground vibes he fell in love with back in 1989.
He invited me along on a tour of the festival grounds with Crizzly. We traveled through the Candyland camp, where we passed through a massive castle and met Chad, the mastermind behind the festival by a campfire. Chris and Martin crossed candy cane blades in a duel. At Hemlock Hole, an adoring fan offered Martin some tiny spoons (for stirring his tea of course). Finally, we travelled to the vendor village where Crizzly, who loves pizza fell in love with one of the pizza floaties and bought an Om hat, chatting with the vendors. Martin was quiet, admiring the art and expressing his sadness at having to hit the road.
The final act on the main stage was Downlink, a tidal wave of bass that rocked our swelled within our chests. The energy was intense, the crowd moshing and chanting. When he dropped Burial we were lifted off our feet by the energy. For an encore, he played a beautiful remix of Lil Wayne’s “I Feel Like Dying”, a sultry cool down song. He finished with a throbbing, absurd sub bass roar.
Chad, one of the masterminds at Badass Raves came onstage to thank us for “the best Big Dub ever”. “Did we get weird?” Yes we did. “Did we experience some magic?” For sure. But the magic had only just begun. Without warning, the crack of explosions jolted us from our reverie. The crowd rushed en masse into the meadow. Fireworks, launched from twenty feet away from us filled the sky. I have never been that close to a fireworks display in my life. It was dazzling. We held each other, lying down in the grass, telling each other all we were grateful for: the freedom to be true to ourselves, the delicious mountain air, the beautiful souls surrounding us…
You could see the creativity and care the Badass Raves Crew had poured into this festival quite easily, from the individually painted UV bowls that formed the heads of little glowing mushrooms to the massive pirate ship they build from scratch. This low-budget, high-love environment is what raves were based on. Many times expensive production raises ticket prices at the expense of inclusivity. Not at Big Dub. Here, every element of the environment was crafted by the community or by mother nature. I came back feeling refreshed and joyful and will surely be returning to the mountain next year!