Confest was wild.
“The ultimate in festivals - volunteer based, self organising, full of lush people and lush vibes, been going for over 30 years.”
In a similar way to Burner events, an alternative society is created where you are free to express yourself, not wear any clothes, forget about time and be always welcome at any workshop or event you may stumble upon.
If I may call Peter a Wizard I would say he cast a spell on hundreds of us, and made us experience ecstatic states of mind brought along by singing, chanting and group dynamics.
There is no amplified music at Confest, but you can always hear the drums and have a good wild dance around the fire to the hypnotic rhythm. There is a mud pool, a steam room, a poisonous river. A massage tent, an open stage with performers and music, a daily throw of coloured powders in a Holi festival style, and so much more..
It is real hard to describe, and hard to photograph because of strict photography restrictions in place. I tried my best to capture only willing subjects, crowds and a few things that should be of no concern. I would like to gift those to all attendees - feel free to grab them and use them as you will. And I would be very happy for you to find a great shot of yourself having the time of your life, maybe in the mudtribe or during the Spontaneous Choir.
I would like to share a few words from Peter Gleeson, the white bearded man who ran the Mud Tribe and the Spontaneous Choir:
”The Love Procession always followed Spontaneous Choir. Their sizes from Friday were 300 followed by 300 others. Saturday 400 followed by 300 others, Sunday 300 with 100 through the procession before the fire circle wedding commenced. Monday 300 followed by another 200 and all who wanted went through twice. I finished the festival with a chord cuddle puddle then had them improvising through the ‘thank you song’. Two men picked me up by the thighs so I could survey the kind of bliss 200 people could generate.
I managed to try out some new ideas. One was converting 4 concentric circles of 400 people, into 2 double spirals in procession position. The love procession could start from the inside so everyone got to go through before outsiders could begin forming a massive queue of an almost never ending 10 to 20. A long wait sometimes, though the reward was a longer procession.
I had to monitor the progression of each procession. Often people with eyes closed would lose connection with the people in front and begin walking at half the speed adding an enormous amount of time to the event and awkward gaps. Some people had to be told not to stop and hug and kiss people along the route. Some people had to be told to just say, ‘I love you’. The mantra is important for the person going through and important for each person who has to say it to each person going through. Some people couldn’t keep their eyes closed which degrades the sensation and creates a risk of psychological harm through a random bonding.
There were at least 1600 different people through the love processions. It is a very powerful form of therapy. It has true transformative powers and ways of healing lots of ills. I encourage people to tell the story everyone will want to hear and relive the adventure that changed your life in a very positive way.
Though the love procession works for everyone, the most affected are the mid to late teens and young adults. It is a kind of initiation, recognition and acceptance into the adult world. ”
And his comments on this year’s Mud Tribe:
“MUD TRIBE involved 200 people - the most ever by 60. I was able to run it because it was warm enough and the blue-green algae wasn’t a problem with washing it all off.
It began with 60 people in the mud bath where I was able to explain the simple rules and attributes for participants. Others waited for their turn in the mud.
Drying took about 3/4 hour on a 24C day around a fire. Some painting occurred.
We left the preparation area in a massive procession. At the end of that, I started a chord singing walk then led people in a dance at the junction of 2 roads. Some people stampeded toward the market and the rest followed which meant the tribe had little interaction with the rest of the ConFesters. I took my time and arrived to find them dancing to drummers so I met my daughter in the chai tent and we chatted for 10 minutes before returning to the tribe.
We formed a circle and did some grand ritual singing and mexican waves before I collected the 2 massive watermelons I had hidden earlier and we feasted.
I sent them off to disperse and interact with the market people but many of them thought it was the end of the performance and vanished. 40 of us performed for the chai tent. 20 of us performed for the medical crew. 6 of us returned to the preparation area.
It was extremely funny and everyone had an amazing time. Gibberish makes it difficult to control but gives the freedom to improvise. Many people had life changing experiences. All have a story they will tell for the rest of their lives.”
You can follow Peter Gleeson on Facebook . For more information on Confest: http://confest.org.au/
Consent: I have asked for consent to take photos in close ups, and there was consent for photography in the main group photo of the mud tribe. I have also cropped out faces, censored, and even asked for people’s consent when shooting their back. Where people are blurry or far in the background I have used my discretion and common sense. Still, if you are in any photo (or if you change your mind) and wish for your photo to be removed just let me know. You can write to me here: firstname.lastname@example.org