It’s difficult to explain Desert Hearts without gushing or falling prey to antiquated terms of the PLUR heyday. It’s equally worrisome to give them any sort of press because this is one of LA’s best (not so) secret events. I hope it stays on the DL for at least a couple years longer, but considering how precise Desert Hearts’s vision is and how effectively they execute, this thing is bound to get larger. In so many words: get there as soon as possible.
But, it’s fine. Desert Hearts should grow, and the more people exposed to this serene mix of humans the better. But with mainstream viability comes the difficult task of keeping one’s integrity. Desert Hearts seems up to the challenge, but even Burning Man has become a little too show-y now. It’s a dense moment, like when you feel proud at your friends success, but worried that they will lose their anonymity and by extension change your relationship.
But, let me backtrack for a second. This was my first Desert Hearts event. The fact that I felt proud of this event, akin to friendship, is more a testament to the purely accepting vibe of the attendees than it is to my ability to socialize. Without a doubt, City Hearts Los Angeles had the most down to earth and friendly hodgepodge of ambiguously ethnic free lovers I have ever had the pleasure of sharing a pillow couch with.
The crowd outshined every facet of the night. Which wasn’t easy. There was incredible deep house bumping from the heart-enclosed DJ booth. There were fire dancers and curtain acrobatics. No where was off limits, no “VIP” section to close off potential connections, if you wanted to dance on stage it was more than spacious. There were jewelry booths and artists painting on canvases. Yet, even with all that sensory overload, it was the smiles and hugs and laughter of the crowd that stuck most prominently in my mind.
Even the security guards felt it. So many people were thanking them that by the end of the night most of them were smiling and remarking how unlikely it was for an event like this to go so smoothly.
Which is true. For all of the preaching, PLUR is a bit corny. It also feels a bit adolescent and naive. Anytime I was around “PLUR” people in high school there was always someone who didn’t have a car, or didn’t have money, or started to send weird vibes or misjudged their limit. Sometimes those same PLUR minded acid heads would be the first to jack your phone. Such was not the case at Desert Hearts. It seemed like everyone was grown up, and their mentality of what a rave is supposed to encompass had matured as well. Maybe it’s a more responsible version of PLUR? One that, I believe the sages of rave intended. The type of Positivity, Love, Unity and Respect where you don’t depend on others for anything other than a good time.
Not to say the crowd wasn’t benevolent. A look at their Facebook event page the next day was more than enough evidence of how safe and caring this community has become. Besides for the “Awesome night, guys” exhalations, there were a considerable amount of posts asking about lost items, the majority of which has been responded to with “I have your wallet/keys/phone! PM me!” Let’s see that happen at Supperclub.
Speaking of the big-room bangers on Hollywood, tell them they can keep their sound systems and their $14 drinks. There is certainly a market for the Hollywood brand of blaring electro and cataclysmic drops; just like there is a market for Pitbull concerts. I don’t know how these things happen, but I want no part in it. If I had a penny for every time the DJ booth at Create forced me to say, “I can’t hear you!” and make that two-finger to the lip “let’s-get-a-cig” motion, I would be able to buy a fucking Big Mac.
The music at City Hearts was considerably more palatable. The volume allowed for causal conversation at only a few decibels higher than your normal speaking voice. While deep house never gets as totally eye-watering as a Skrillex coitus, there are certainly drops. But, said drops are less jumping out a plane, and more cresting on a wave. Like, if you were straddling a surfboard in the ocean and were being gently rocked by the current, when suddenly a swell started lifting you up; from the peak you could see further down the horizon, but only for a moment, until you are dropped down at the other side of the wave and continue to enjoy the gentle water. That’s pretty much how Desert Hearts’s music sounds. If that’s not your thing than grab your parachute and have fun at EDC.
But, maybe EDC is the exact cautionary tale that makes me worried for Desert Hearts. In 2010 an underage female at EDC LA overdosed. Her passing was the end of the carnival, and with EDC’s move to Vegas, it was the death knell of the otherwise vibrant LA Rave scene. Of course, every festival has their death toll. It’s always a tragedy and any means to curb, and hopefully end, the sort of dangerous activity associated with music, lights and people, is always welcome. But, so far, Desert Hearts doesn’t seem to have any problem with that. I pray that it continues as such. Desert Hearts may very well be the leaders of LA’s new electronic renaissance, if we’re lucky, it’ll be here awhile.
Words: Ziv Biton
All Photos: Wobsarazzi