The stages glimmered, the lights flashed, the music played and the people whirled.
But, alongside the beautiful souls perched atop the merry-go-round that was Babylon 2019 sat creatures of disconnection and ignorance coming along for the ride – a ride I was glad to get off in the end.
Welcome to Babylon 2019.
Blessed with sunshine, gorgeous Aussie bushland, and stellar tunes, this event had the basic elements of a good doof.
Babylon certainly knew how to get dusty asses off the ground or away from the campsites with no questions asked, and stompers and wigglers enjoyed a truly all-encompassing line-up. From the fist-pumping drops of Nina Kraviz and Carl Cox at Bloc 9 stage, to the transcendental musical journeys guided by Eagles and Butterfly’s at the Hanging Gardens stage, to the electronic Sydney duo Triforce who got the Mandala stage psy-stomping, all the way through to the soul recharging vibes of Hugo at the Chill stage, your music was always near.
Better yet, like a spoon to an icy cold acai bowl on a hot doof afternoon, the professional stage setups created that just-what-you-need, sweet, sweet complementary goodness of beautifully matched audio and visuals. The Hanging Gardens and Mandala kept it earthy with a shipwreck, shade (cheers gum trees), and a giant mandala to set those spiritual vibes.
Sunday at Hanging Gardens created a special place over the weekend. Pulling in a loving community of people, immersed in sprinkler water as much as the music, toes in the mud, and smiles all round, it was a downright vibe.
Meanwhile the Day-Spa stage kept the energy pumping with a design to transport you back to your favourite, colourful childhood fun park.
And, if the music and stages couldn’t keep you occupado, not to worry, Babylon had all the standard food stalls, yoga workshops, art installations and chill spaces festivals use to keep any dissatisfaction in its cage. Shout out to The Womb installation for all your fem love and herb lessons – your organic wooden hut vibes, hanging crystals and herb gardens got many-a-doofer through some looming masculinity over the weekend.
Which leads us to the biggest issue Babylon 2019 faced: Where there’s something for everyone, there’s a mix of different people. And, where there’s a mix of different people, there’s mix of different energies. That mutual respect and willingness to create a soul-growing doof experience which I’d witnessed in the Hanging Gardens on Sunday afternoon, was the exception not the rule. At other times that respectful vibe felt slightly astray or altogether absent.
Across the weekend, there was a lingering sense of ignorance from attendees who directed their toxic gaze towards those who came to connect and set themselves free. Some of Babylon’s crowd failed to assimilate and understand the doofer’s values when it came to women walking around topless, queer persons expressing themselves freely, and basic respect for the property of others.
Things were stolen, boobs were stared at and grabbed, and homophobia took up space – all of which make it hard to firmly place the event in the “good time” category.
But, if you’re good at blocking out the bitterness, and you doof for more than the crowd, Babylon had the potential to be a place where you have a weekend just for you.
For the rest of us, the sad truth of this event is you can buy a lot of things, but good vibes aren’t one of them.