After years of dreaming and wishing to be apart of Desert Hearts, it finally came true last weekend at the 11th annual Desert Hearts Festival which took place at Los Coyotes Indian Reservation. There was only one rule going into the festival and that’s to have fun by spreading the love and joy. Desert Hearts mission is spreading as much love and positive energy as humanly possible. Newcomers and veterans, Desert Hearts Festival is the family reunion that recharges the souls each year. The Desert Hearts community grows stronger each and every year.

Photo credit:    Jess Bernstein/JB Photo

It was a blessing to have an early day pass, giving attendees the opportunity to explore and set up a day before the magic begins. It was overwhelming at first from all the love that was being spread around. Normally at other festivals, the vibes and love aren’t as strong as Desert Hearts Festivals. Everywhere you turned people were helping each other out it was a beautiful sight to see. The property where the festival was held at is a sacred Indian Reservation, as the people of Desert Hearts, we had to take care of the land throw away every piece of trash. Everyone pitched in on cleaning up throughout the weekend (leave no trace behind). Desert Hearts even provided cigarette butt bags to attendees so there will be no fires or pollution. Besides from partying on the spectacular location, Desert Hearts had the most beautiful crowd ever, everyone had their own special festival fashion style, filled with colorful coats and sequins bodysuits. The festival also included healing sanctuaries where they had different healing classes like cuddling, cacao ceremony, and yoga. Giving the holistic and tranquil vibes. Along with secret healing virtual rooms and photo booths to make memories last for a lifetime. Desert Hearts was all about living in the moment and disconnecting from society that’s why it was a blessing that I was able to find all my friends throughout the weekend. Nothing but 80-hours of non-stop music from this year’s stacked lineup at Desert Hearts Festival.

Photo credit: Keiki LaniKnudsen

Photo credit: Keiki LaniKnudsen

Getting there was a journey in itself, after a 5-hour flight from New York, I had to find a ride to the festival along with purchasing camping supplies such as food and water with some beer. Timing is everything, the moment I turned on the phone I received a message through RickyRides offering me a ride to the festival. After picking up supplies and having a wonderful conversation we arrived. I had to get dropped off at check-in because I had a early entry pass. Again timing is everything because then a giant RV rolled up offering me a ride to the entrance. Never expected it to be so easy and stress-free, I had a prime spot near the RVs and close to the vendors. My neighbors were incredible as well so welcoming and warm. Thursday night (day 0) consist of exploring the campgrounds and discovering different theme camps. As well as making new friends with other early entry attendees. The highlight of the night was meeting Mamma Lion aka Mikey Lion and Porkchop’s mom. She was the sweetest and is the definition of a “cool mom”. The festival was set up with first the vendors before going to the Desert Hearts stage you had to walk through the vendors where my camp was located.

Photo credit:    Jess Bernstein/JB Photo

Friday, day one was a gorgeous sunny day, exploring all the vendors. The warm sun shining down on all the beautiful people around. It was around noon when I started to explore. The stage was officially open and there were Mikey Lion and Lee Reynolds with his family in the crowd meeting this year’s community. It was like seeing old friends, greeting them with big hugs. Later on in the day, I had the chance to meet Mikey Lion’s fiance Alexandra ‘Cookie’, she was a sweetheart.

Photo credit:    Jess Bernstein/JB Photo

The music started off strong and hard with a special back-to-back set from De La Swing and Toni Varga. As the sun goes down the music got even better. Since we are all Desert Hearts, anyone was allowed to go on stage. People all around were polite and friendly, especially when getting through the crowd. Desert Hearts Festival is one giant party where everyone just wants to have fun and have a good time. Groups of friends would bring their own bottles and drinks. If you had your own cup and found the free bars under the tents by the stage then your night got a whole lot better. The first night of music was Dirtybird’s, Will Clarke and the special guest was Justin Martin another member of Dirtybird. The night ended with incredible music and more wondering throughout the festival and campgrounds.

Photo credit:    Jess Bernstein/JB Photo

Saturday, day two was the Desert Hearts fashion show. To enter the fashion you had to be dressed in your best colorful outfit and be there at 12:30 PM. The fashion show began at 2 PM, in the background was Lubelski playing an incredible vibrant set. Some friends of mine were part of the fashion show and got lots of applause. With a brilliant set by Lubelski, the fashion show was followed by the Wine & Cheese party thrown by the theme camp. Boxes of wine throwing through the crowd, cheese, and crackers filling our bellies to soak up all the wine. The music was absolutely stunning thanks to Lubelski.

Photo credit:    Jess Bernstein/JB Photo

Drum n Bass/house producer Joyce Muniz took over the decks with a powerful set, moving the crowd in a natural form. Desert Hearts own Mikey Lion performed next with a dazzling set filled with classic tracks mixed in with his house and techno vibes. Mikey Lion always knows how to move the crowd with his unique sets. Followed by Porky, brother of Mikey, with another incredible set, filled favorite Desert Hearts tracks as well as old-school tracks with a nu-school vibe to it. Porky always gives his best at any event especially at his home at Desert Hearts Festival. It was time to take a little food break along with new art installations and Vibeapple. Back to the stage and there was Lee Reynolds performing another vibrant and colorful set, even playing tracks from his new solo Can’t Rewind EP such as Revolution Earth, It’s On, Sex Gangs, and Can’t Rewind. After recently reviewing the EP it was exciting the hear the EP live at Desert Hearts Festival. Slipping into the night skies more then comes Marbs the darker member of the Desert Hearts crew. Marbs played a special back-to-back set with Evan Casey that was outstanding, absolutely the best set at this year’s Desert Hearts Festival. All different forms of dark techno mixed with some lighter-house tracks, a perfect blend between the two artists. The entire night I did not leave the front middle area because my body could not stop dancing. Together Marbs and Even Casey played for four hours of dark house music and techno completely blowing everyone’s minds away including mine. As the sun started to come up the mountains behind were forming again giving off dynamic colors it was a beautiful sight to see. I kept turning around and admiring the colors in the sky and in the mountains completely taken back by the beauty of nature as we were all dancing together as one. After four hours of performing, it was time for DJ Three to take over the Desert Hearts stage with a vigorous set. A bit lighter, a perfect sunrise set for the crowd that has been there for hours. Towards the end of his set DJ Three started throwing joints into the crowd, first at me and then to everyone else. It was like diving for a flower bouquet at a wedding or weeding for us.

Photo credit:    Jess Bernstein/JB Photo

It was 8 AM on Sunday morning, day 3, and I was still in the same spot I was at night. Making new friends with the crowd everywhere I turn. New York native, Atish takes over the decks in the morning hours with an exciting set. He’s a natural performer who engages crowds with charm and a smile. An obsessive music collector, Atish pulls from a broad sonic palette, and with these sounds, he creates intimate atmospheres and emotional experiences that linger in your mind long after the music has stopped. After his set, I congratulated him on doing a fantastic job, his face lit up with satisfaction. After a few hours of resting it was time to head back to the stage to hear the end of Jacky’s set. After then came Sublevel label boss Doc Martin for an incredible set at Desert Hearts Festival. Hearing his music throughout the festival brought an even bigger crowd to dance the day away. Doc Martin’s set was loaded with groovy tracks that transcended throughout the entire crowd and festival. Later in the day, I congratulated him on an unbelievable set. The 80-hour marathon of music continued with DJ T, a live performance from Rodriguez Jr., Archie Hamilton, and Andreas Henneberg. Each artist played to their fullest, giving their best performance. French producer and DJ POPOF took over the Desert Hearts stage with an unreal set full of excitement and groovy baselines. The night ended with me passing out in a count of not sleeping at all the night before.

Photo credit:    Jess Bernstein/JB Photo

I woke up to freezing cold and raining weather on Monday the fourth and final day. It was a sign from the Universe that Desert Hearts Festival was coming to an end. After packing up everything I head to the stage for one last dance. DJ Dan first took over the decks with an exquisite set. Then came Wyatt Marshall to close out the stage before the Desert Hearts Family set, his set blew everyone away. Desert Hears Family closed out the festival with a special, vibrant, emotional set. Everyone who was still there was all dancing together as one family. Hearing each member play together as a family was amazing, playing all forms of techno and house music. Tears flooding from my eyes from the experience I’ve endured, all the love surrounding everyone, being free as a bird being able to do whatever you want. The art, love, fashion, food, and music was something completely different compared to other festivals. Desert Hearts is the one place where anyone can do or be anything they want. I am forever inducted in the Desert Hearts family, We are one, We are all Desert Hearts. See you all next year!

Photo credit:    Jess Bernstein/JB Photo

Top 5 Favorite Sets:

Marbs B2B Evan Casey

Lubelski

Lee Reynolds

Mikey Lion

Rodriguez Jr.

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