In March I went on a Spring Equinox road trip to a camping event with my sisterhood. I got to teach aerobics AND choreograph and implement a lantern dance to a Taylor Swift song in a blooming orchard. And then we had a star family fly by (my podcast episode 146 has the whole story and the videos). It was life changing.
On my way home I was feeling the spirit to listen to one of my favorite late 90s double cds, the Lilith Fair compilation. It still holds up! I saw the Lilith Fair only once in 1999 at the Shoreline in San Jose and had to take a forbidden day off from Girl Scout Camp in order to do it. Worth it to scream “I love you Leisha Hailey!” when the Murmurs were on the side stage. (I was a passionate 20 year old.)
I posted about the double cd and one of my beloved aerobics class Regulars suggested I do a Lilith Fair theme class! I said “challenge accepted!” and have now taught that class a few times!
I kept it true to the original line-up during the 1997-1999 tours. I polled my Patreon members for their top artists and picked songs that represented their favorites. Erykah Badu, Queen Latifah, Missy Elliot, Indigo Girls, and The Chicks were the top choices but I slid Sarah McLachlan in there because it was her original idea. Doing a theme class is lots of work for me but I love the artistic challenge to adapt or create choreography and the longer I teach aerobics (going on seven years!) the better I get!
And then my wonderful ADHD brain went into hyperfocus about Lilith Fair and lamenting that I wouldn’t ever get to teach aerobics on a side stage at a Lilith Fair. But why not? In this political climate, where we are already having body autonomy rights stripped right and left and experiencing a violent culture war, we actually really need it.
First of all, I’m a fan of camping and festivals. I like the culture created in communities that exist in temporary times and places. When I worked at Girl Scout camp and then later at feminist festivals, I learned how a lot of women live 51 weeks a year waiting for that 1 week (or however long) at the place that fed them spiritually.
Once I observed the area 51 phenomenon I declared to myself that I would work hard to create a life that didn’t feel like it needed escape, but I also see the value in temporary utopia. Nothing is ever perfect and using porta potties as your primary bathroom for however long is not utopic, but I always think when I’m using a porta potty it’s because I’m outside (which I love) having a good time with my friends (which I also love).
I let my beloved neurodivergent big dreamer brain imagine what was possible. If Lilith Fair revived as a Lilith Festival, we could do three nights a piece at maybe four venues around the continent. There are existing festival locations with camping and facilities for tens of thousands of people to converge. The most environmentally sound thing to do is to use existing infrastructure.
In addition to the curated festival line-up, I feel strongly there needs to be curated culture in order to achieve our maximum glow up.
I like to call my career path “Camp Counselor who has finally found her way in this wild world” because I am very much a Julie the Cruise Director personality type. (If you ever dig into the archives of this blog you’ll see how much culture I was producing and participating in NYC during my time. Now I’ve got a self care pace.)
Teaching at lots of retreats, festivals and camps for the past 30 years, I’ve seen how vital it is to instill and foster a culture. Culture in the sense that I’m referring to here is the beliefs, social forms and material traits of a social group. Much like a sourdough starter the culture of an event can allow everyone to rise to that maximal joyful group experience.
Especially among women, so few of us were raised to really love and appreciate other women. As we heard from the wise tween in the Barbie movie, men are socialized to hate women and women are socialized to hate women. I am SO GRATEFUL for my experience in Girl Scouts as a child/teen and in women and lesbian communities as a young queer adult that showed me what was possible for women to create.
If we can create a culture of support that regards women as the infinite creators of possibility that they are, I think the Lilith Festival could change the world. Imagine tens of thousands of women going to camp and enjoy music for three days and come out empowered, glowed up, more connected to their dreams and desires.
Vendor areas that support independent creators, nourishing food, safe camping areas, community creativity and support. The possibilities are truly endless. Free fruit for everyone in attendance has been a strong part of this vision.
(If we didn’t have the society we have we could just be born on Earth to live in nature, eating fruit, playing music and focusing on giving our unique gifts to the world. I just think fruit should be free and it serves as such a marvelous reminder of the bounty and sweetness of the world.)
I’m not trying to make the Lilith Festival exclusive to women, I simply propose it centers women. I know a lot of cool, gentle men and non binary folks who really enjoy the artists the Lilith Fair brought us, and I know they could be an asset to a culture that centers women.
If I could exclude anyone it would be mean girls, but I haven’t yet figured out how to do that other than to shine so brightly that it makes them uncomfortable and they leave on their own to go gossip with other mean girls. Trust your instincts about people. Trust and discern intentions–is someone grabbing power just to have power or to genuinely serve community?
Until my Spring hyper focus on Lilith Fair I didn’t know they revived the tour in 2010. How did I miss that as someone who definitely would have gone?? I went to two events summer 2010 in California from NYC, I definitely could have prioritized Lilith Fair tickets wherever. (I was stoked to read about it in Brandi Marie Carlile’s memoir and glad she got to play.)
I watched an interview with Sarah McLachlan about why 2010 Lilith Fair didn’t work and I’m actually not surprised it didn’t do well, given that I didn’t hear about it. A lot of things like that rise and fall on marketing and social support from people who believe in it. And… nothing is really a failure it’s a learning experience.
As my Spring of imagining the power of a revival of Lilith Fair as a festival moved into the Summer, I began cultivating a relationship with Lilith herself!
Lilith is distinct in a lot of different cultures, but my favorite way to describe her is the very essence of divine femininity in its raw most instinctive state. We see her depicted naked most frequently. (On True Blood we saw her naked covered in blood.) She’s not the femininity that dresses up, she’s femininity who creates and is in the most instinctive flow. Her magnetism is the ultimate receptivity.
I believe God is not a man in the sky but a life force energy animating our hearts, our breath, the energy that turns the acorn into an oak tree and is the infinite creative potential we all have. Lilith is the divine receptivity to that energy and conduit of that energy.
It’s an evolving understanding but I’m into it. And I want to foster it so I’m telling everyone about my dream for a Lilith Festival.
How thrilled and validated I felt to see Brandi Marie Carlile welcome Sarah McLachlan as a surprise guest to her three nights at the Gorge in early June? (I said internally “It’s a SIGN!” since I had only just started following Brandi on social.) I knew from the memoir that Brandi had seen all three Lilith Fairs at the Gorge. The full circle of what Brandi is creating is so gorgeous and fulfilling.
I’d absolutely LOVE to go to Brandi’s Girls Just Wanna Weekend in Mexico in January. (Janelle Monae?! Hello!!) I am so curious about the culture that the Bramily has formed and I think is only expanding as Brandi’s gaining momentum.
AND I really want Lilith Festival to be easy and accessible as much as possible. Camping accommodations make something much more financially accessible if the promoters aren’t price gauging.
Do we need Sarah McLachlan on board? Ideally yes but I don’t think she needs to be in leadership necessarily. She might not even want to be! (Realizing I can be the idea gal for my own company but also that once I’m able to scale and serve more clients I want to hire a CEO to be responsible for the business leadership was a real awareness moment for me. Just cuz you have the idea doesn’t mean you have to shoulder all the responsibility–humans are interdependent by design.)
Lilith is of course in the creative commons and a Festival is a different entity entirely than Lilith Fair. It’s not the music business (a toxic industry that doesn’t do a good job of fostering great art) it’s a music experience.
Anyway, this is me dreaming out loud something I want to see happen in the world! If you’re a visioning/spiritual/praying type, maybe think a good thought towards this possibility so that it can gain some spiritual momentum.
Thanks for tuning in and being in on my big dreams, besties! I love you!
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