LETTER TO THE BOOMERS 2018
The frenzy of life can be distracting, however, we’d love it if you could please take some time to sit back, relax and absorb what we have to say in this letter of self-evaluation following Boom 2018.
Since its inception in 1997, the evolution of Boom has been continuous. From those at the very first edition to the newest members of the crew: the team has learnt from some of the most incredible participants who have helped keep the legacy alive over the last 21 years.
The festival has developed a life force of its own. It’s an independent, free and a self-sufficient space. A portal for raising awareness. A place for reconnection with the whole. It inspires us to foster a deeper understanding of the human condition and learn how to transform life rather than seek ways to escape it. It is an event committed to walking the talk and putting principles into practice while riding the tide of life and the rollercoaster of change our world has witnessed over the last 21 years. It’s a festival that calls for tolerance, freedom, critical thinking and where celebration becomes a political action.
So as 2018 marked 21 years of Boom on the planet, we took the opportunity to honour and give thanks to the past while acknowledging the fact it has become more than just a festival. In this sense it constitutes a state of mind, a Being Gathering , a Boomland Project, a Boom Karuna Project, countless other side projects and an emotional bond connecting people from right across the planet.
BOOM 20 YEARS PROJECTS & THE REDESIGN OF THE BOOM ORGANISATION
Preparations for Boom kicked off in Spring 2017. At this time, we also began the production of the 20 years of Boom movie and for the book “Boom Festival 20 Years: A Visual and Oral History”.
Simultaneously, we decentralised many operations, giving more autonomy to various teams. Today, Boom has four main areas and dozens of sub-divisions spread across them. Each edition brings dozens, hundreds and then thousands of people to work at the festival (as seen in the table below). So there’s no doubt the success of the festival is in large part due to the commitment and dedication of such a sensational team.
DDOS ATTACK SHATTERED THE ONLINE TICKETING SYSTEM
The dynamics of Boom production in 2018 go beyond comparison of those of 1997. Ticket sales are a prime example. Back then, tickets were sold at the gates through a handful of mates across six European countries. Online sales did not exist. Today, it’s the opposite with no tickets at the gates and online tickets selling out within hours.
We had a DDOS attack that shattered the e-tickets system. This unexpected event became one of the most alarming challenges of the year and harmed Boom in more ways than one - starting with the team itself. The impact of the attack on the members of the Boom team who dealt with the repercussions of that attack was unprecedented.
Tickets sales were sabotaged and the whole community was affected. We disclosed what we were allowed to by authorities in order to ensure information we made public did not interfere with the investigation launched in response to the attack - the details of which were heard at the Court of Castelo Branco on 30th October 2017.
In order to troubleshoot and prevent further problems, we made the decision to set up a partnership with another exterior platform provider.
One of the things we witnessed from this whole sorry DDoS saga, it was how to ride this crazy rollercoaster of public opinion when it was splattered across social media. The extent to which human interaction is dependent on social media means it can become a toxic space for hate speech. Post-truth and personal truth dominate the public domain more than ever. Thus, inevitably, albeit sadly, the whole hacker situation did generate a degree of cynicism.
DESPITE THIS, LOVE STILL RULED…!
Boomers demonstrated their love when they sent us an overwhelming number of messages to show their love, support and faith for the team of mortals working around the clock to make right the wrongs of this dire situation.
INFRASTRUCTURE DESIGNED TO SAVE WATER FOLLOWING PORTUGUESE DROUGHT
Conceiving Boom and bringing it to life requires a vision of what the world ought to look like. Since 1997, our planet has endured severe change. In Portugal, we are witnessing the impact of climate change first-hand.
Back in 2017, huge fires and extreme drought swept through massive swathes of terrain. By February 2018, the water in the lake at Idanha-a-Nova reached no more than 44 percent of its maximum capacity. The landscape was desert-like, and this heartbreaking sight stayed with us through the entire journey of the production stage.
Consequently (as seen in the table below) we devised an infrastructure which was not only in alignment with the needs of Boomers, but also with the needs of the environment in terms of water shortages and other natural resources.
So while we took Boomers feedback into account by adding an additional 54 showers, we also kept shower times limited between the hours of 06h and 14h and between 17h and midnight in order to minimise water consumption.
We went further by minimising water sprinkler usage at dance floor areas - a decision criticised by many.
We are aware this was challenging during the warmest hours of the day (although crowds were hosed at various intervals). However, in light of such critical circumstances, we came to the conclusion that every drop counts and thus made this decision in support of the greater good.
WE AIM TO MAKE IMPROVEMENTS TO SANITATION - AS ALWAYS!
We solved many technical issues of the toilets from 2016 and we’re also happy with our unique DIY toilets. Although we increased the number of toilets, we believe there is always room for improvements to their quantity, site distribution and management.
It did not go unnoticed how Boomers in certain hours of the day in specific points waited in queues for long periods of time or how the urinals lacked a perfect maintenance during few specific times also. We are already working towards ameliorating these elements for future editions.
EXPANSION & IMPROVEMENTS OF CARAVAN AND CAR PARK AREASWe anticipated a higher number of caravans this year, so we expanded the caravan and the car park areas.
We are also aware of the differing conditions between Caravan Parks A, B and C. But due to fire safety regulations in Portugal, and in order to make the least impact possible on areas near water, the number of vehicles in Caravan Park A is very limited.
Caravan Parks B and C have a more rugged landscape and that terrain does not belong to Boom. This makes it impossible for us to build permanent infrastructures there. Still, we created more pathways, built more toilets, showers and lighting structures, and provided transport between the Gaia Plaza, the Walking Gate and the Caravan Parks. This is certainly one aspect we want to improve.
FLEA MARKET & THE PIRATE MARKET: WE NEED TO RETHINK IT
We chose not to expand the Flea Market, but instead, slightly decrease the number of stalls. One of the things we noticed was the encroachment of the free-of-charge Pirate Market over significant stretches of terrain.
While we understand the value of handicraft commerce and the pirate market as an important component of our scene, we expect the community to reflect on the way its ‘expansion’ is damaging the public space within the festival and how this expansion is unfair to shop owners at the Flea Market.
We’re also sad to report the damage caused by some pirate stalls to a century-old stone wall situated at the Central Plaza.
On another note, we could not help but notice the trash left behind by both Flea and Pirate Market stall holders. We must work together to ensure zero trace and the only way to do that is by reflecting and learning from our experiences and by raising awareness.
If you are a stall holder and had issues getting rid of your trash, or you need advice, information or guidance on the best Boom life hacks for keeping your area clean, then do please reach out to us and connect. Communication is often the key!
CENTRAL PLAZA: MORE FOOD OPTIONS AND A BRAND NEW SEATING AREA
In response to the constructive feedback received from Boomers, we made the decision to expand the Central Plaza area with more restaurants and a brand new seating area.
THE OFFICIAL PROGRAM AIMS TO SUPPORT A TRANSFORMATIVE CULTURE
Our perspectives of the surrounding world are embodied by a diverse cultural program translated across several meticulously-curated areas.
At the Liminal Village we supported several layers of activism. We didn’t want to leave the pains of the world outside and some extremely sensitive subjects were reflected upon. From Nobel Peace Prize winner - the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN) - to those representing other forms of activism - the Liminal Village Program was an engaging platform to share ideas and connect. Boomers made a significant contribution with their assertive and intelligent questions, you are a fabulous audience - Thank You!
A plethora of speakers shared revelations in the political, social, ecological and technological sense, as well as in the artistic sense with the theme of Art-vism.
A total of 54 presentations and workshops were delivered at Liminal, and no less than 26 movies and shorts showcased at the end of each day under the Paradigm Films banner. Stay tuned to our video channel where we will publish Liminal Village talks from November 2018.
Keeping on the culture side we are also happy with the upgrades on the NGO Django and Eco Tech Hub, a shared space to host 13 NGOs and 37 inspiring workshops.
We also had the biggest knowledge program at the camping areas. Five Social Hubs were assigned to camping/ caravan park areas, they featured community kitchens, First Aid points, and a line-up of 65 workshops for children and families.
HONOURING MULTICULTURALISM AND ART
Boom is a self-sustaining vessel for celebrating culture in Portugal where art is not a government priority.
The festival celebrates the plurality of cultures. Sadly, cultural projects in Portugal barely get one percent of the public budget. This fact only goes to underscore the importance of cultural agents like Boom and the role they play in promoting and cross-pollinating local talent with a stream of international talents.
In 2018, art installations, including many interactive pieces, were designed by 13 local and 25 international art crews. Over at the Museum of Visionary Art, fine art pieces were exhibited by 26 artists, including seven who painted live throughout the week.
Expanding the boundaries of psychedelic art and in sync with the latest technologies, we also had, for the first time ever, virtual reality with a remarkable vista Microdose VR pods.
CHECK ONE / CHECK TWO: BRAND NEW SOUND SYSTEM IN DA HOUSE!
Mind-blowing aesthetics and the highest vibrations stimulate the senses yet it’s the music that personifies the heartbeat of Boom.
A brand new sound system at the Dance Temple and longer playtime included 20 four-hour and 20 three-hour sets across Boom. It meant we remained loyal to the commitment of delivering that sense of journey and musical discovery across four main stages and an additional two smaller areas - the Funky Beach and Gypsy Caravan. Long Sets were a main trait of identity at Boom 2018 keeping up with a tradition that we re-launched few editions ago as a way to combat the dictatorship of short length DJ Sets.
Between the Dance Temple, Alchemy Circle, Chill Out Gardens and Sacred Fire, 392 hours and 30 minutes of music formed the Boom 2018 soundtrack.
The diverse range of music and performance acts united both local and international artists while upcoming talents shared the stage with established artists. Boom is a place to discover new music, new sounds, new names.
This year, we invited 709 music, performance and dance artists, 387 facilitators hosting workshops and conferences, and 171 therapists. Every single one of them made a profound contribution to the cultural program and we extend our humble thanks to them all for making it all so magic.
THERE IS MORE CONNECTION IN DISCONNECTION
As time goes by and technology evolves at a staggering rate, we understand the need to adapt new mediums to connect with a community increasingly reliant on the digital space.
Yet at the same time, we have campaigned fiercely for more connection by disconnecting from excessive time spent on the online or digital realm. As such, we adopted mottos and commissioned several artists to develop installations based on them, including: ‘There is more connection in disconnection’, ‘You will be more connected when you disconnect’, and ‘Unplug to Connect’.
So you see, there was method in our madness when we decided not to release an app for the festival program!
THE HUMAN MOSAIC OF BOOM
Boom Festival was once again home to a worldwide tribe reuniting individuals from across 147 different countries - proving borders are meaningless.
We would like to thank all who understood the call not to fly national flags on dance floors. This allowed the collective to celebrate our oneness as a human species on the sacred Planet Earth.
Boom is transgenerational and once more, families entrusted us with the fundamental mission of providing a safe space for children. The fact 508 children registered at the Young Dragons area this year was a testament to that trust!
We strive for inclusivity, not only by making Boom a family-friendly festival, but also by providing services to those who live with difficulties. As such, we would like to thank each and every single one of the 53 kindhearted Boomers who joined us to take part on the Special Needs service.
CREATING A PARALLEL REALITY
Following the constructive feedback we’ve had over the years, we have strived to transform the festival every edition. As a result, we have outlined some of those improvements in this letter.
Of course, perfection is an impossible goal because our evolution is infinite, so there is no doubt that there will always be room for improvement and we are increasingly aware of areas which need such development.
Producing Boom is like creating a parallel reality - or manifesting what we would like to see. We learn by doing and evolve from mistakes as we endeavour to create this. And it is thanks to your love and support that we devote ourselves to this task and aim to bring you the best possible edition in 2020.
SACRED GEOMETRY IN 2018 & THE WORLD IN 2020
Yet while the vibe at Boom remains unique, one of the biggest challenges is taking it home with us.
We cannot know what the world will look like by 2020. Communities within societies are becoming increasingly alienated. Civil rights are diminishing and the environment, its soils and nutrients of food are decaying at a high speed.
Sacred Geometry reminds us that other dimensional planes exist too. Not just this third dimensional reality. Acknowledging that collective action has the power to tap into the invisible patterns of nature that govern our planet is a revolutionary act in its own right too - thus Sacred Geometry became the theme at Boom 2018.
Meanwhile the ethos to ‘cultivate freedom and love’ inscribed on wristbands served to remind us of some basic values amidst the perpetual changes in the world as it keeps on turning. The world urgently needs each and every one of us to see through the double-speak of the mainstream rhetoric; to combat economics without social and ecologic awareness; to advocate justice for the environment and all ethnic groups; to fly the flag for positive social change; and to cultivate freedom and love in honour of both humankind and Mother Earth rights.
Thank you for reading.
Cultivate Freedom & Love