Boogaloo Music and Arts Festival Brought a Slice of Burning Man to OC

Boogaloo Music and Arts Festival
Oak Canyon Park
April 29th – May 1st

Since Oak Canyon Park has reopened as a festival venue, it has poured at every event held there. So when one of the rangers working Boogaloo Music and Arts Festival last weekend told me there was 40 percent chance of rain on Saturday, I felt like the rain gods were conspiring against the festivalgoers yet again. But instead of a torrential downpour, a heavy mist descended on Friday night that blanketed the festival in slippery dew. But the mild rain didn’t stop festivalgoers from getting their Boogaloo on—nor did it stop the renegade campground parties, art cars and stages from throwing down tunes ‘till the wee hours of the morning.

The vibes on Friday evening felt like an empty Burning Man. Festivalgoers were decked to the nines in top hats, fur coats and vests, boots, glitter and feathers. Girls with furry boots, fishnets and blue wigs stood atop The Paddy Wagon—one of the many art cars from Burning Man—and glided along poles and open dance floor, showcasing the music that was felt in their veins. As more and more people danced inside and on top of The Paddy Wagon, the car began to shift and sway, which only caused people to dance harder and the DJ to keep spinning classic house jams.

But on the other side of the festival, in between the Decypher and Mountain stages—the hip-hop and jazz spots—was an open roof dome with psychedelic art that illuminated under black lights. Pillows scattered the ground for people to sit on and two guys— who looked like Cheech and Chong— sat behind a small table and served fresh, warm tea to everyone who came in. One of the guys, who introduced himself as Dave the Rainbow, explained that he and his friend, Steven, set up the tea dome at every festival they attend in order to provide a relaxed place to hang out— and that they did. The energy inside the dome was intoxicating and at one point contagious laughter infected everyone inside. Even those who had no idea why everyone was laughing, laughed hysterically. Multiple times throughout the festival, mobs of people spilled out of the dome. The Paradise Flower tea and feel-good vibes were magnets that kept people returning to the glow-in-the-dark tea party.

Once the mist faded away, it became evident just how intimate the festival was. The grounds of Oak Canyon Park seemed massive compared to the amount of people who showed up for the festival. In other words, there was tons of room for people to run, frolic, roll around and sprawl out on the grass without having to fear collision or getting trampled by others. In fact, a group of about 20 people lounged and picnicked on large green, aqua and pink fluorescent tapestries in front of the Mountain Stage on Saturday afternoon. They passed around two joints (at least) while snacking on their food and enjoying the music, until a laughing attack infected the group. The picnickers began rolling around and one of the girls in the group was laughing so hard that she threw a taco, causing the contents inside of the tortilla to go everywhere. Guacamole landed on her face and her friend’s massive purple flower, causing silent laughter and loud gasps for air to take over the group. Even people walking past the group laughed with (but probably at) them, and cheers-ed the girls who were overcome with the giggles. 
Although stints of outrageous laughter was the theme of the weekend, a somber aura embraced the festival, as tributes to Pumpkin, the late DJ who passed away in March, were scattered around the grounds. Posters were hung throughout the festival that said “Pumpkin Lives Forever,” murals were painted in remembrance of him and picture collages were created. People took photos with the various Pumpkin shrines, and even placed flowers underneath them. Several people even did sun salutations around one of his collages as a means of expressing their respect for him. 

Despite the heaviness of Pumkin’s passing, the energy felt throughout the weekend at Boogaloo made for an incredible festival. Everyone knew each other by the end of the weekend, which made the intimate fest feel like a big party. I’d even go as far to say that this last weekend was the best party Orange County has seen all year.  

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