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Embodying Your Vibe
Went to VibeCamp 2. So much to say that it’ll take multiple posts over multiple days. This post is the one about the heart of the experience, finding the resonance between the material world and my material soul. It is long.
Ukulele Hot Tub
My vibe began the night before VibeCamp started at a pre-party at a friend’s house. Pool party, with hot tub. We manage to jam about a dozen people in the tub, which is pretty tight, everyone is cozy with neighbors. Circle backrub forms at one point.
A choir director viber starts the group in a harmonizing activity(?). I wasn’t there for the first part. Everyone sings a tone of their choice that they hold for a bit, kinda choir style. Then the group starts to riff. Introduce variation. Find a rhythm that arises naturally from people tuning into others and themselves. Turn it into a free-flowing game of harmonize and support and iterate, with pretty vocalized sounds.
It goes on for 30+ minutes. The song gets playful. A water-resistant ukulele is introduced, and lyrics (sorta) take shape. I try to keep a bassline going, and drum on the side of the hot tub a bit. There are slow dips into soft harmonizing that brings everyone leaning in. Then grand swells into crescendos. Near the end it dissolves into joyous chaos.
Someone caught a couple bits near the end on tape. It doesn’t capture the feel of being in the middle of it, in a hot tub amphitheater, making literal vibrations with other humans. Here’s a link anyway.
It was glorious. Music is a hack, and one of the best shards of God that we’ve captured.
We arrived at VibeCamp on Thursday. I was tenting, and running a themed village (sorta — more on that tomorrow). We wanted to be in the more peaceful and secluded area toward the back of the campground, which meant I had to haul a lot of personal and coffee-making gear a fair distance. Fortunately everyone at VibeCamp is awesome and friendly, and one of the head staffers had just arrived with a golf cart. With but a request we were offered a golf cart to help carry all the stuff in one trip! There was so much room, in fact, that the friend who I drove in with (Wes) was able to put a bunch of his things on the cart as well. His cabin was much closer but we’d drive right past it, so why not? I walked/jogged alongside the cart as it chugged along at its slowest speed.
Dear Reader, here’s the thing about this staffer… not only is she kind and generous, she’s also a very attractive alt-girl, with shining eyes and a fantastic Burner vibe. I immediately forgot that my friend Wes, or his stuff, or his cabin, had ever existed. I chatted happily as we rolled right past our first destination, without a care in the world. After we unloaded my things at the pond, Wes had to catch up with us and ask what the heck guys, what’s the big idea? There was no idea, Wes. There was only me being my dumb self. ^^; It is good to know this about oneself and internalize it. The more knowledge you have of the instrument, the less you have to fight to make it sing.
Finding The Vibe
Despite these early successes, I was having a hard time clicking into vibe. I had recently been soft-broken-up with,1 which was right and proper, and we’re still good friends, but one does need some time to feel the sad feelings after an unexpected update like that. Or at least, that’s the excuse I’m giving myself today. It could’ve just as easily been newbie nerves, or something similar. I chat with folks, I enjoy the Live Twitter Polls, the first evening is chill. Early(ish) the next morning I co-host a presentation on writing fiction with Kuiper (more on this tomorrow) which is well received. But I feel out of phase.
First crack in the dam happens at the Arranged Marriages event. It’s a fun little social mixer, I take it as seriously as I take all social events, which means I socialize as openly as I can with everyone I talk to. Many of my friends say this is “flirting,” which I have simply come to accept must be true and I don’t know what words mean, so basically I shamelessly flirt with all humans all the time, and it’s a fun time. The cracking incident happens at the end, where everyone is supposed to pair up with someone similar to them as determined by combination of sorting flowchart, color-based rating by your peers, and vibes. When the pair-up announcement is made I’m standing next to a cute girl that was at Wes’s Pre-Vibe Party. We were not sorted into the same area, nor did we have colors in common, we’d just wandered around and chatted. But we were standing next to each other when Marriage Time is called, and it’s not like this is some sort of serious commitment or anything, we’re all just having fun. I propose Vibe Marriage.
She actually seemed hesitant at first, but like, it’s just fking around right? So we go ahead. And the thing is, the fake ritual ceremony is really fun! We do the knee thing, we say some fun solemn-sounding jokes (“swear to stay with you through hangovers and bad trips” or something :D), and then at the end a hundred people line up and make the heil-marriage tunnel which every single couple runs through in reverse line-order in a long conga-line crouched sprint. It’s like a giant sock turning itself inside out. And the whole time we’re singing the marriage song as a group. It’s a riot, and you get to hold someone’s hand and sing and run for a few dozen yards, and who doesn’t love that?
I left grinning, but more importantly, I left with a realization — I like fun fake rituals. Like, a lot. Solemn rituals are some bullshit, made for people who think everything must be very serious business. What’s the point of life if you aren’t having fun with it? Make your rituals joyous and silly and delightful to do, rather than trying to impress some stern authority that you’ll never be good enough for anyway.
Later that evening I wore a variation of my Jester/Fool outfit (optimized for dancing). DeepFates approved, commenting on the way I embodied the energy of the jest, especially in my performance of Tribute (more on the Karaoke… soon). I realized then that he was right, at least in the aspirational sense. I love that guy. I love that energy. It’s what I want to see more of in the world. It’s what I want to be. From there on out, I was leaning into this. If I am to join a church, let it be one that laughs.
Descent Into Dance Hell
Directly after the Karaoke event came the ABSOLUTE VIBE-CHANGING EVENT for me. Oh. My. God.
I gave the briefest summary of the experience here.
I love to dance. Specifically I love to let my body make flowy rhythmic motions brought out by goth-y style music. The transcendent feeling of becoming the feeling of the music as it washes across a room is the second-best feeling in the world. It is an individual, personal sacrament. The music is for everyone, but it tangles with your private soul to produce a motion solely embodied within you.
Aella introduced me to a different philosophy.
The personification of any given musical piece is too big, too vast to belong to any one person. It fills a room and overflows beyond it. It is, in her terms, a giant tentacled monstrosity of movement and vibration and emotion. No human or group of humans can ever fully embody it. The best we can do is strive to bring it closer to existence as a collective, to manifest holographic aspects of it through the shape and motion of all our bodies combined. Every person is a small, different piece of the music. Every person is one cell of the intangible whole. To properly be this cell you cannot hold back, you cannot be restrained by vanity or fear or cringe. The individual cells of a body are ugly, wet, twitching things. They become beautiful only in their totality.
So to embody a song, or an entire movement, we all work together without judgement or reservation. She guided us in fifteen minutes of chaotic flailing and scrabbling and jumping. We preened and pranced and roared and laughed. When there was no cringe found among us, we began.
The music was weird from the start. It was not there to be “danced to.” It wasn’t there for us. We were there for it. We moved under its direction and we were glorious.
The term “Descent Into Dance Hell” turned out to be far more literal than I had anticipated. The music got progressively darker and more demanding. There was no doubt when we reached hell. The music crushed us under angry bass rumblings. I ended up, I believe for the first time in a dance situation ever, on the floor on my elbows and knees, rocking. It was. Intense.
The reincarnation from hell was dizzying and confused, chasing after sparkling notes that glimmered and then dissipated in the lightening gloom. And then at the end, if you can believe it, a straight up choir of angels lifted us with All I Ever Wanted spun from pure beams of light.
It was the most emotionally cathartic thing I’d done since I touched god on acid a few years back. And I was basically sober this night.
There was a reprieve for a few songs, which I took to collect myself, and get water. I returned for final festivities. The last several songs were joyful, fun songs. Still extremely weird! But we were being rewarded for coming through this, we got to stomp zombies and buzz aliens and see the grass come green again. I left laughing.
Just legit the best thing. I owe Aella an emotional debt.
Knowing Thyself, Again
I spent some time with a friend after the Dance. We walked the grounds, talking. We sat near a fire, looking over the pond, gazing at the stars. She is a fairly new friend, but we clicked quickly and deeply. For a long time, we cuddled as we watched the forest and talked. It was our first time cuddling. The endorphins sealed away any return path the bad vibes may have had access too. I am now at peace.
When we left for our beds we kissed for a little while before departing. It was our first time kissing. I loved it. I always love it, of course. But it’s always different, always a rush, always a delight of exploration. I know I need this sort of validation the same way I need food and sunlight, and I’m OK with it the same way I’m ok with all the other aspects of having a body. It is me.
I am thankful.
A Rad Bromance
I spent much of Friday, and almost all of Saturday, with Wes. I’ve known him for quite a few years via Discord and co-hosting the excellent Mind Killer podcast with him. In fact, we recorded a live episode from VibeCamp on Saturday, you can hear most of it right here. I’ve only known him IRL for a handful of months though. As much fun as he is on the podcast, he’s ten times more amazing in person. He’s quick-witted and assertive and has so much charisma you assume he had to have drained a whole village of their CHA in some dark ritual. His eyes always look like he’s absolutely delighted about something. He’s got the most full-bodied dad energy you’ll ever see.
(btw, ladies can totally date him)
At some point between Wednesday and Friday we started up a constant patter of banter. Just non-stop riffing and ribbing and building jokes. I haven’t done this in a long, long time. I had forgotten that it’s the best way to have a relationship. With anyone, ever. Sure, there’s a time for serious talk. But the vast majority of all interactions should be playful, teasing, jokey fun.
I don’t know if y’all know what a delight it is to live in a buddy-comedy for all your waking hours, days on end. It again made me curse the heavens for not making me gay (although Wes would have to be gay too, so a double-curse upon the heavens!) When I’m around Wes, the spring of play and laughter bubbles forth without end. Without effort! It just flows and flows in an unbroken waterfall. He makes me the person that I want to be. I don’t want to say everything would be crap without a Wes around, but c’mon, obviously everything would be crap without a Wes around. I got to have him for several days!! It was like I was cheating or something.
As much as Descent Into Dance Hell exploded my psyche in one big blast, Wes spent hours romping through the rubble and pointing out it was pretty janky to begin with, and it was honestly cooler this way anyway, so who’s the real jabronies now? Mad love to my man.
A Dating Show Oh No
Everyone I’ve talked to so far has had great things to say about The Dating Show To Save The World. It was well produced and took lots of talent and effort! It was, however, a psychedelic descent into anguish and madness leading to rebirth. By the time it was presented, I had already gone through my descent and rebirth, and I was solidly on Peace And Joy vibes. I appreciate the psychedelic-descent arts! I ride that train with some regularity. But at the time, it clashed with what I had flowing. I stayed too long because everyone would be talking about it and I wanted to have the knowledge to participate. That’s on me. I was dumb and stubborn, ignoring my body’s messages to leave since ten minutes in. I am very happy for everyone that loved it. I have learned to respect my body’s messages. Well, I’ve received another lesson in that class anyway, the update is likely incremental. :)
Them Barn Blues
No high is permanently at peak. Everyone rolls through the lows, even people who’ve embraced their inner jester and returned from dance hell and converted to hetero bro-tianity. Sometimes you’re in a dark barn, sitting on a hunk of plywood, looking up at nighttime rafters. And you think
We’re all alone
No matter how much I laugh, no matter how much I dance
In the end I’m stuck here inside my own skull and my own thoughts
Nothing can change that, we are all just thinking meat
Why keep doing this, when it all
You cross your ankles and inhale the loneliness and keep your eyes open. You know why you do this. Because in an hour it will fade, and you will have your peace still. You will have your bromance still, and your laughter and joy again. This hour is net negative utility. This day is overbrimming with net positive utility. You reach for the seared scars within you, that you earned in the desert in 2017. You put yourself through that so that you’d have the callouses you need to ride out minor dips like this one, this is nothing. Breath, take it in, feel it. Wait for it to ebb. Even cowgirls get the blues.
An hour later finds you on the dance floor of the hippy pavilion. The ebbing is well underway. You spin and feel the wood floor under your socks. It doesn’t feel good yet, but it’s getting there. Oh look, there’s the arranged-marriage waifu, she looks happy with her friends. You smile and wave. She says there’s a rave at the barn now.
A rave? Well. Let’s round up Wes and get barn-storming! And if he wants to stop by and say hi to his vibe-crush on the way there, maybe we can make it a party of three. :)
“What does this mean?” you ask. I was dating a friend, and I was hoping it may yet grow into something deeper still, but two days prior to Vibe Camp it was made clear it wouldn’t get deeper and she had to pull out of the dating aspect of the relationship entirely.