A music festival, especially one that strays away from live instruments and musicians, tends to gather a collection of non-Hindu people adorned in mandala tattoos, om symbols and knee-high fuzzy boots that resemble murdered Sesame Street characters.
It is the very demographic "Urban Dictionary" has exploited to build its empire. What is less typical, is a music festival where brews, spirits, the devil's lettuce, illicit pills and powders are not tolerated. It's truly admirable and a spiritual awakening to discover this is not only possible, but it is happening in a rural area where drug addiction is a contagion and concern.
StarTribe will host a free music and dance event Wednesday (March 21) at 4 p.m. at Kit Carson Park, 211 Paseo del Pueblo Norte, to celebrate the vernal equinox, also known as the spring equinox.
The celestial dance is a zero drug and alcohol event suitable for all members of the family and will have DjBe, the organizer of StarTribe, as well as local DJs Julia Daye and Planewalker, Brennan Murphey.
"The reason it's drug and alcohol free -- it's an inner work to create this high as a trait rather than a temporary state from stimulation of drugs and alcohol," said organizer Billy Merritt, who is very passionate about the art of consciousness. He has even written a book of 166 pages titled "The Infinity Health Manual," which mentions StarTribe and the importance of dance as medicine.
Living in an area where a native Pueblo has existed for nearly 1,000 years, it is borderline offensive and quite bold for a dominantly Caucasian collective to refer to itself as "StarTribe." When confronted with the question, "Do you consider StarTribe a legitimate tribe?," Merritt cautiously (and appropriately) avoided any strict relation to native culture.
"In essence, in heart, yes, but we aren't a tribe like the Pueblo," admitted Merritt. "StarTribe is a community," he said.
Previously StarTribe has been held on the mesa near the Río Grande Gorge with permission from the Bureau of Land Management or at the Taos Mesa Brewing Mothership, where the alcohol service was suspended for the event. Members of Taos Pueblo have attended in the past to have opening ceremonies as well as their own dance performances. Certain events have drawn as many as 700 people, generally drawing an average crowd from 300-500.
"One very powerful element of the StarTribe experience that was largely inspired by the Taos Pueblo is the bonfire at StarTribe events," Merritt said. "We do a very large bonfire right in the middle of the dance floor. It adds a level of magic, ambience and charm to the whole experience," he said.
The music featured will vary in dance variety from spacious, trance, worldly and psychedelic. Planewalker has even been recognized on obscure top 100 psy-trance news websites and specializes in ethereal music.
"The DJs and musicians I bring in, there is a consciousness and a love in their music, and their intention is metaphysical," Merritt said. "It's to bring some healing."
"StarTribe has historically invited a lot of DJs and music producers who offer a very spacious, electronic sound and I like that sound. I especially enjoy bringing that sound in and fusing it with the dancey-drums, rhythms and instruments from other parts of the world -- to bring that all together," said DJ Julia Daye, who's previously deejayed in exotic locations such as Paris, France. "It's a really delicious experience for me," she said.
Besides being an organizer, Merritt will be opening the event under his stage name DjBe, or as he describes it, "warming up the sound system."
The sound system is courtesy of Mesa Pro Sound and will include 10 speakers as well as 12 subwoofers. "You hear the music, but you also feel it in your bones," said Merrit. "It's a really beautiful system."
The vernal equinox marks the beginning of spring and the intersection of the celestial equator and the ecliptic pathway. When the equinox occurs March 21, the day and night will be of equal length. It is the astrological trigger to call beings out of hibernation.
"It's the ancient formula for many cultures all over the world for basically opening the quantum feel and the consciousness," said Merritt. "Opening the doors to the soul, you let your brightest self emerge. It's not entertainment. It's healing art. It's a spiritual preference," he said of StarTribe's approach to the vernal equinox.
"We're ready to step out, and there's also like this nakedness to spring. We step out and realize we're very raw from the winter time," said Daye discussing the equinox. "Like when a plant buds, that first bud is so fragile and naked," she said. "There's this step out, but this tenderness, and I'm excited to celebrate its arrival."
Avoid the stereotypical, cliché and possibly drugged festival legions. Awaken your inner conscious with community and celebrate the arrival of spring through dance, music and family with StarTribe this Wednesday.