I wasn’t quite prepared for Wanderlust. The two months of training – aka intermittent yoga classes at Tahoe City’s Yoga Institute – didn’t really ready me for the whole shebang (the stillness of meditation, the backbends, the heat, the sun, the mind-blowing music and the utter immensity of the fun at hand). But anywho, I made it through. Don’t get me wrong; it was no tough task… just a few steps in new directions. Here’s the skinny on my Wanderlust adventure. Share yours with me online.
Day One, Saturday: I show up feeling fresh in my new American Apparel capri-length tights. While I maybe could have fooled a few festival-goers of my yogi status, those who have practiced with me in town know the truth: There’s no lululemon or Prana in my closet. In fact, I’m known to strike poses in my old middle school softball sweatpants (yes, I still have them, and my name is printed down the side – real classy).
I head straight for the Yoga Tree tent and my first-ever meditation class. The instructor teaches in the tradition of Native Americans, towards the earth energy, she says. While I feel no universal knowledge beam down or up or through me, I do feel a whole lotta’ discomfort trying to sit still for the hour-long class. On the upside, I’m able to occasionally calm my thoughts thanks to the supplied mantra, om namah shivaya, and leave with a new poem to reflect upon: ‘The Ponds’ by Mary Oliver.
Next up is AcroYoga with Jason and Jenny. A combination of acrobatics, yoga and Thai massage, AcroYoga caught my eye on the program, and it sure did deliver. After a warm-up of Thai massage techniques, we start the flying action. I pair up with two petite blonds, one named Suze Q from L.A. with teensy ripped spandex shorts and a haircut straight out of ‘Edward Scissorhands:’ partially shaved, partially long, part Mohawk, died bleach blonde and black. Suze’s my ‘base,’ so with her feet dug into where my leg bone meets my hip bone, the flying begins. I’m surprised at how easy it feels, and let gravity take hold. I hear there’s a Reno instructor, so can’t wait to give this a go again soon.
I finish big with a Kula flow class, then jet up the Funi to catch the end of Big Light’s short but sweet set on Gold Coast. As noted by Dan Hurley – Big Light multi-instrumentalist, Truckee resident and a friend – they were the first band to play on the Gold Coast stage since The Dead. The hippie in him smiled.
From here, the day gets better and better. I discover the Converse GeoDome, the ultimate artistic playground, and get excited about drawing on canvas furniture, posing as a rock star (see accompanying photographic evidence), screen-printing t-shirts and visiting the in-house poet.
Then, there’s the music. After a stellar performance by Gillian Welch and David Rawlings, Jenny Lewis, my favorite artist at the moment, takes the stage. Let me just preface this with a few facts: 1) Practically every song I’ve learned on guitar is by her or her other band, Rilo Kiley. 2) I’ve traveled to San Francisco numerous times to see her perform. 3) I am obsessed.
Suffice it to say, she and her band – including Johnathan Rice (did you know he played Roy Orbison in ”Walk the Line?”) – rocked. Why I didn’t secure an interview with them is beyond me (next year, people).
Had to cut out on Common’s act in lieu of nourishment, but I quickly get back into the game with The Mutaytor’s performance.
On the way to the Globetrotter stage, a bevy of masked burlesque cross-dressers, slack-liners, stilters, fire dancers and welders (yes, welders) lie en route, giving me Burning Man visions. The Mutaytor, which the Wanderlust program bills as being ‘like a birthday in Vegas, Halloween and New Years rolled into every show,’ delivers as promised with a band almost too big to fit onstage and performance acts weaved in between.
Just as I’m falling into a trance-like state induced by a fiery chair dancer, my eyes squint, then focus: I know that hair. It’s Suze Q, my AcroYoga partner! Oh snap. I am feeling super cool now, and make sure to shout extra loud for my girl.
The much-hyped Girl Talk is up next. The crazed dancing DJ and his leagues of booty-shaking fans onstage are quite entertaining, despite the anxiety I feel as a whole month’s worth of toilet paper (unused, thankfully) is ejected from leaf blowers into the crowd. Could someone please explain to me how his computer, which lies in the direct spray path of his sweaty head-bangs, keeps from drowning?
Day Two, Sunday: Man am I sore… especially in that outer region of the tush. Thankfully, Self-Massage with Balls is on the schedule today. The instructor spends a half-hour chatting about chi, and the multiple tools he uses (golf ball neck-massaging contraptions, tennis and lacrosse balls, the list goes on) to get it moving. When it’s finally time to practice what he preaches, the oohs, aahs, groans and sighs that fill the room are enough to send me running for the door. I don’t dare close my eyes for fear of the visions. But the massage itself is a success, and I leave with a renewed interest for tennis balls.
I head next to the Globetrotter Stage for a massive yoga-fest with acclaimed Anusara guru John Friend. He cracks a good few jokes, and leads us into a flowing series of postures. I am stoked to pull off a handstand, guided by my neighbor and friend Nicole. A few backbends later, I’m ready for High Camp.
I catch Broken Social Scene first. A big fan of their music, I am happy to say they sound just as good live. How do they manage to pull of such a smooth sound with so many of them? At one point, 9 nine are onstage performing (3 three of them with fedora-style hats). I’m less familiar with Andrew Bird and Spoon, but both sets are amazing… I don’t want it to end!
As my crew downloads on the Funi, I can’t help but think back on the little things that made this festival special. Like with yoga, boundaries seemed to melt here: Gillian and David hanging out at The Arc, Jenny and Johnny on the dusty path to the pond, Adrian Grenier at the photo booth and Suze Q and me at AcroYoga. And (as with anything we do in life) perhaps the best part of Wanderlust was the little moments with friends packed into it all. See you again next year!