When I bought my ticket two weeks prior to Glowfest, there were so many unknowns. Firstly, I hadn’t been to a festival in over a year due to COVID-19, would I remember what to do? I’d also never been to a Burning Man-style event where you had to bring everything yourself (no food vendors).
But I found my feet and packed my little yellow convertible, Daffodil, full of camping gear, snacks and toys to light on fire and did the long, two-day drive from Melbourne to Waves Campground in Crescent Head, NSW. Down a bumpy, dusty road where phone signal was slowly lost, we were greeted at the driveway by colourful humans welcoming us to Glowfest.
I entered into a magical, calm world. The opening ceremony set the tone of respect, playfulness and growth together. Traditional owners of the land came and blessed us in a smoke ceremony in front of a magical bus, painted with a rabbit unicorn on the side and a DJ set up the top.
Whatever we were in for, I was excited.
Our schedule at GlowFest was jam-packed with workshops. No matter what you wanted to learn, it was offered to you! Some of Australias most talented spinners, flow artists and performers were lined up to show up tricks on how to do impressive moves.
There were workshops for rope dart, doubles, contact staff, dragon staff, poi, hooping, making masks, fans, juggling, putting your stage act together, MCing, swords, buugeng, games, twerking, tricking, clowning, makeup, costumes, drumming, aerial, silks, lyra, movement, yoga, drumming, magic and just about anything else you can think of.
Some of the workshops I attended that were definitely highlights were a dragon staff throws workshop held by Keegan Baldwin, a split hooping workshop by Hannah Indigo (I thought originally this was doing the splits whilst hooping. It’s actually doing two hoops on your body at the same time. Silly me!)
The workshop that I felt was such a highlight though was called “mic drop MCing” held by none other than the festival queen organiser, Sophie Delightful. I went out of curiosity as to what this actually meant. But I learnt so much about the performance industry and how an MC of a show really makes or breaks the performances.
What made it extra special was to see Sophie MC the performance shows the following two nights. To witness all her tips and tricks come to life was really special. It’s like we got to peek behind the curtain of the strings and ropes of a show and how she manipulates it and holds it together.
When I say the workshops were held by some of Australians most talented people, I know that for a fact because a lot of them then performed their prop of choice on one of the two nights.
The stage shows were epic. The first night consisted of non-fire props. We saw hat juggling, LED poi and double staffs, an amazing hip hop performance and an incredible queen that did a full burlesque performance, feathers and all.
The fire performances the next night were so amazingly entertaining as well. Partner poi, fire whip, Marne, 2IC of the festival doing her amazing work and my dear friend Ash, who I met in Thailand two years ago, dancing around with two contact staffs with the joy of life in his eyes. He can do nothing but smile and emulate positivity whenever he performs which was so heartwarming to watch.
There were, of course, moments in the festival that weren’t planned that made it that much more special.
With a beach right opposite the camping grounds, it’s hard to ignore the call to the ocean each morning for a swim, walk or simply sit and start your day so softly.
Ash Roe ran an ecstatic dance workshop that melted into beach swims. A team of us joined on the beach and started singing songs together and playing silly (but amazing) games.
Each person attending is required to do 4 hours of volunteer work. My shift on first aid meant that I also got 4 hours to sit down, not move, journal and process everything that I’d done so far. It was a bit strange, in the middle of a festival to be forced to sit down, be still and talk to no one. A break in all the chaos was a welcomed change.
Breaks to Connect
What was also really bloody clever in the schedule, is that they timed it that when it was lunch and dinner times, we actually got a break! The left an hour, twice a day that meant we could go to our campsite, have some food, relax, and not feel like we were missing anything. We could actually take care of ourselves and our bodies whilst moving around so much.
These camp times were special. I camped with Hannah, my friend that I went with, who I met fire spinning in Thailand and we ate these meals together. We became friends with our lovely neighbours too; Kobi and Tom. Our little camps set up next to each other meant that we could visit our neighbour friends, eat with them and, even, start a cult one night.
After the night was done, Kobi and Tom had some soy crisps sitting next to some candles and in our tired and silly states, we decided that these were to be worshipped. If anyone would like to join our snack cult, we’re now taking applications. (Don’t worry, no cool-aid involved).
I’m really, really glad I had the opportunity to go to GlowFest for so many reasons. It was amazing to be around so many people again. For the first time in over a year, I heard an applause! From real people!
The fact that this was a performer run festival meant that me going supported the arts industry which has taken such a beating from COVID. A lot of the organisers and workshop facilitators haven’t been able to work for the last year, so this was a big deal for them and I could not be more proud and happy for them for going ahead and pulling off this small and incredibly special festival.
I know that Sophie, Marne and Tim worked so hard on this. And what’s also lovely is that I speak about them like they’re my friends. I don’t know them, but this space was so intimate and they spoke to us on such a familiar level, that I feel like I do.
I’d like to give special shoutouts to all the special humans that I either met or reconnected with at Glowfest: Hannah, Soof, Ash, Kobi, Tom, Nick (US), Nic (UK), Mary, Emily, Sophie, Kaylee and Rotem.
I cannot recommend Glowfest enough. Whether you’re an experienced fire spinner already or want to step into this world, it’s a must-do! You’ll feel like your family has expanded by the time you leave, and that is just so special.