Boom Festival 2012 (Portugal)

Boom 2012

Possibly the biggest and most important event in the world for the tens of thousands of people who are absorbed by psychedelic counter culture; Boom offers a place where like-minded people from across the globe can meet, explore and stomp a week away to every sort of psychedelic music one can imagine.

For those who attend, Boom is much more than a music festival, it is seen by many as a place where the love revolution of the 60s is still alive and well and where a person can be entirely accepted regardless of their beliefs or actions. Boom is made up of five main music arenas situated around the idyllic Idhana a Nova lake in eastern Portugal. Each of these stages showcases a different element of the psychedelic music genre, and although you may not recognise many of the artists performing at the festival, the standard of music and performance is second to none. The aptly named Dance Temple has a capacity of 15,000 and is a truly spectacular sight; a giant eastern style canopy houses two 30 foot long neon snakes 25 feet above the ground, curling around a central pillar decorated with intricate UV patterns. When in full swing the dance temple is like nowhere else in the world, truly the best dance floor known to man. There is no way to avoid being drawn in by the infectious psytrance beats being hurled at you from two gargantuan sets of loudspeakers, and once inside the experience must be compared –even by sceptics- to a spiritual one.

Boom Festival is the biggest event that the Funktion One Company is involved with, and they use it as a showcase for their latest, most advanced loudspeakers. Every stage is powered by a collection of these speakers, which provide rib-shaking bass from 100 metres away, but remain clear and crisp, without any kind of ringing in the ears afterwards. Much of this is thanks to the fact that all of the stages are run by sound technicians trained and employed by the Funktion One company itself.

In addition to the hypnotic music and first rate sound quality the weather is guaranteed to be perfect, with temperatures reaching the high 30s during the day. Fine sprinklers in the main tents prevent dancers from overheating, and the lake is never too far away which means that the balance is just right.

2012 was Boom Festivals 15th year. In that time it really has achieved a great deal. The festivals uncompromising ethical standing means that the organisers are able to create an environment where people not only feel safe and happy, but are able to enjoy benefits such as toilets that are not constantly overflowing with all manner of bodily excrement, a feature that we all recognise from our own UK festivals.

The entire site is surprisingly free from litter and on-site wind farms or solar panels provide power to many of the catering tents and camp-site lighting; it is clear as soon as you step off the bus that littering has no place at Boom.

In Portugal drugs are decriminalised. This political decision has of course been criticised by many governments across the world. It does however mean that those running events such as Boom are able to take full responsibility for the drugs that people will inevitably take at large psychedelic festivals like this one.

Boom festival works along side an organisation called Kosmikare, which is dedicated to supporting those people who find themselves having trouble dealing with the experiences that they have on hallucinogenic drugs. The organisation employs a team of psychotherapists, psychiatrists and medical doctors to help people recover from potentially damaging drug experiences, which means that on the whole people feel safe and supported to take drugs if they so choose to. It struck me that despite the widespread and accepted drug use you were hard pushed to find the gurners and Ketamine heads rolling around on the floor that has become such a common sight at British dance music festivals.

For those who wish to continue the Boom, there is an official after party located 30 minutes from the main site. “Utopia” is dedicated to providing a relaxed environment for people who have spent a week at Boom, describing itself as a place where people can reflect upon and share the experiences that they have had.

Although Boom may take itself more seriously than some UK festivals, the atmosphere is untouchable, the organisers do an incredible job of creating an experience to be shared by the 28,000 people who attend.

Boom Festival is a very different event to UK festivals, and may open your eyes to a whole sub-culture that you have not experienced. Whilst it may not be for everyone, those who do enjoy it are likely to come back year after year; the experience can not be replicated anywhere else.

Bring on Boom 2013!

Words: Alex Murphy & Laurie Jones

Images: Lauryn Buon



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