From: (Michael A. Pisano) Subject: NARNIA REVIEW
Date: 24 Aug 1994 02:00:15 -0700

Ravers, club kids, bikers, and hippies all gathered together under the full moon at NARNIA '94: The Festival of Life last Saturday night. At it's peak hour, the event boasted a turnout of 6000. Near 11 p.m. the event organizers called for a moment of silence to celebrate the will to peace, love and life as a conch shell signaled the call to unity. The possibility of our strength as a vital force in a society that has gone very wrong was invoked and representatives of every ethnicity and sexual orientation proved that hate is something more constructed by the culture we all left behind when we assembled there at the Las Palmas reservation. The positive energy went beyond rhetoric and was as tangible as the music. This was ancient land we were on, and you'd be hard pressed to find someone that didn't feel blessed to be there. "This isn't Woodstock '94," the event organizers said. "Those people already sold their souls. This is an event put together by humans, not Pepsi. And tonight we're not moving for anyone, I don't care who comes. We're 6,000 strong!"

I've been to my share of Acid House parties and Raves since '88 and this was no desperate attempt at unity through dance, this was the real thing, effortless, organic, and powerful. Club kids navigated the sand dunes in 12-inch platforms. Performance arts groups started bonfires on the small hills surrounding the main circle. The ambient area resembled a Hindu funeral pyre on the Ganges -- a small canal ended there where some took an occasional swim. A reservation family pulled their truck on the hillside, lit a fire, and sold tamales. An RV served as a second live act stage on the other side of one of the dunes. The first live stage was another dune over. Lasers bounced off nearby mountains. The main stage was set up like an amalgam of temples past and future mixing real gongs, ancient instruments and psychedelic day-glo detailing. Robos were set atop huge torch fixtures and projected off the surrounding dunes. Live drummers played along with some of the DJs.

In an impressive act of meditation, a single man in full biker armor wandered near the front of the stage and stood without moving a muscle in the center of the celebration for its 10-hour duration. The Zen significance of this act left impressions on everyone who watched him over the course of the evening, who decorated him with flyers, screamed at him, pleaded, argued, and stared into his sunglasses. It wasn't until the final communal hug, which included all who still remained at 7 a.m., that the lone biker of the apocalypse moved. He got up on stage and started reciting the ZIPPY Pronoia doctrine, how one never knows who is watching you, who is conspiring against you. Amazing.

On the other side of the main circle was a "global village" made up of hundreds of tents and vendors, as well as the Tribal Zulu Tiki Hut where DJ Afrika Islam kicked rare groove and hip hop cuts most of the night.

In the main circle, Dmitry kept people moving for a good two hours after sunrise when the party ended a little early per request of the tribe, who probably didn't understand the full scope of what they were getting into when the space was booked. Unfortunately, many of the people at Narnia left an embarrassing collection of trash for event organizers to clean up, both at the campground and along the five mile road leading from the highway to the site. A single negative point to the evening, it suggested just how far we ourselves have to come in dispensing with the apathy of our own culture when we can't even be responsible for our own water bottles and Taco Bell bags -- especially on a reservation.

But the overwhelming success of NARNIA left little else to be improved upon. No, rave is 'not' dead in Southern California, as reports on the net have been heralding for the past year or more. Contrarily, it is events such as these that breath new life into the scene, taking it out of the urban decay from which it once thrived. A combination of nature and technology, new and old spiritualism is perhaps the mix that has always worked best in the underground, and somehow forgotten of late in lieu of its depersonalization. When 6,000 people stop dancing and breath together to the sound of gongs and bells, there is an undeniable life energy that is released without effort, and recaptured through the dance when the beat kicks back in as if it were the combination of all heartbeats, when the 303 gets right down in your spine and twists like the kundalini itself, when the diva sings like a middle-eastern goddess transplanted in the American soul. And we are all here, now, taking it all in.

Thanks to all who put NARNIA together. It was a privilege and a pleasure to be one of the blessed in attendance.

-Michael Pisano