Why People Love Electric Forest So Damn Much

Article by: Maddy Ozaetta

Mon June 11, 2018 | 13:00 PM

Electric Forest is a place that I am convinced is made of magic. For those of you who haven’t had the pleasure of prancing around the woods of Michigan, you definitely need to put this one on your short list. I've been lucky enough to attend several festivals in the past couple years, but nothing comes close to the feel of the Forest. It ties together freedom of expression, community, visually pleasing art, and music that makes all types of ears happy.

Won't You Be My Neighbor

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Photo by: Electric Forest

The excitement of the Forest is too much to contain, so the fun starts waiting in line to get your car checked in. As we slowly rolled through, we saw groups of people gathered together playing hacky sack, dancing on/in/out of cars, drinking beer, all waiting for their friends to join them to set up camp together. Setting up camp is where the true feel of the Forest comes to life. Neighbors introduce themselves to one another, offering to help put tents up, or to join their camp later on. A sense of community is well established from the start.

Freedom of Expression

Electric Forest 2017 Totems Andy Mc Erlean Cameron Waldo

Photo by: Andy McErlean

Walking through the Forest requires taking a moment to observe the people around you. Some festivals have become a little more homogeneous in the sense of what attendees wear. At times you feel like you are seeing the same person over and over again: fluffies, kandi, pasties, neon. It was refreshing to see the pure creativity and the variety of self-expression at the forest. Every person, totem, and even car was dressed to impress and express themselves freely.

Let It Go

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The single best thing you can do at the Forest is to LET GO. Don't go in with a strict schedule, planning to catch every artist playing. There are just too many places to explore and discoveries to be made to have your time ruined because you didn’t see "(insert artist here)." As one of the Forest Stewardesses would say, "Leave your worries behind, pack up an open mind, and get ready for a magical flight through the Forest."

Infinite Discovery

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On the path to daytime discovery, you can catch a variety of art displays and installations that are set up throughout Sherwood Forest. One of the crowd-pleasers one year was a series of saloon-like shacks that held grassroots performances, coffee ground readings, trading posts, all created with serious attention to detail and authenticity. Along the wooden boards of the shacks you could find old newspapers, antique telephones, pillows, small wagons, all giving that genuine olde tyme feel. And if you looked closely enough, you might've found a secret passageway like we did. A circular doorway led into a room that was straight out of the prohibition era, secreting away scandalous gambling, unbridled dancing and good ol’ fashioned debauchery. This is par for the course at Electric Forest, and there's no telling what they'll think up next.

The Magic Hour

Electric Forest 2017 Weekend One Courtesy Of 2   1 Of 27

Photo by: Electric Forest

And then, the magic hour begins. The sun dips lower, sunlight slowly fading from the trees, replaced by lasers energetically dancing off the leaves. The art you saw during the day takes on new life in the evening glow. The random saloons are filled with actors and bands inviting you to come right back in. The energy of the Forest turns from a gentle calm to a frenetic pulse, its waves filling your body and giving you new inspiration to dance. It is truly amazing how much the venue changes with just the rise and fall of the sun.

Hammocks, Hammocks, Hammocks

Electric Forest 2016 Courtesy Of   27

After dancing your heart out there really isn’t a better place to cool off and relax than in a hammock. Trust me, I tested this theory several times just to make sure. (The sacrifices I make, I know.) This isn't just a few hammocks scattered around the venue...this is hammock city. I have never seen so many hammocks in my life, let alone hammocks stacked on top of each other, like bunk beds, at least 20 feet high. Not only was the sheer volume of hammocks impressive, the communal culture of sharing your hammock is remarkable. A couple of friends were savvy enough to bring their own hammocks, my others friends not so much. Did that matter? Not really. If you weren’t in the know that a hammock was the single most important thing to bring to the Forest, you weren’t left standing on the sidelines watching others sway their cares away.

Most people would leave their hammocks out for other people to use while they left in search of food, drinks, or other shenanigans. Once the owners returned to find their own version of a hippie Goldilocks sleeping in their hammock, they'd either let them stay there or just kindly inform them that they were back. It was a beautiful sight to see, and the generosity and communal attitude really added to the magical feel of the Forest. Which brings me into the main reason people love the Forest so damn much...

Random Acts Of Kindness

Electric Forest 2016 Courtesy Of   06

For many people, festivals are mostly about the music. I mean, why else would you go to the trouble and the cost, right? But after hopping from festival to festival, I realized that music isn't the only driving force that creates a truly amazing festival experience. It’s the people. During my four days of dancing through the Forest, I continuously saw random acts of kindness wherever I went. I saw a house music head dance/run so hard her phone flew out of her bag. As soon as it hit the floor a fellow Forester picked it up and ran after her to make sure she got it. A friend lost a wallet and it was returned within five minutes with everything intact. Random exchanges of goods could be observed on the campsites, by the bathrooms, and by the great Giving Tree. Oh yes, the Giving Tree: a place where people leave items behind, and sometimes take something else in return...small things like gum, toilet paper, cigarette, charms, kandi, pins, and whatever else they think will help a person out or warm someone's heart. My friend left cigarettes and in return gave me a pin that said "I am loved." Generosity extended beyond the Giving Tree, though. If someone didn't look like they were "all there," people would stop and make sure they were doing all right instead of stepping over them and carrying on. The random acts of kindness are what keep people coming back to Electric Forest.

We Love It That Damn Much

Electric Forest 2015 Keith Griner 8

Photo by: Keith Griner

After you have been to the Electric Forest, you realize why people keep coming back to it year after year. It’s a judgment-free zone, filled with positive vibes, amazing natural and artistic visual experiences, and a great sense of community that is the perfect venue for great music. Hopefully we will see you next year.