Words by: Richard Saxe Coulson
Photos by: Ali Macadoodle & Chuubie Photo Bam!
Taking place a little over an hour from New York City was a first year festival by the name of Gratitude Migration: A Summer’s Dream at Hello Beach in Sandy Hook Bay, New Jersey. A small and intimate festival, A Summer’s Dream was not heavily promoted or widely known about. If you knew about or heard about this particular festival then it was probably through word of mouth – making for a very communal and familial experience.
A big part of the spectacular event wasn’t necessarily the music or the production or even the location. This was truly all about the people who attended and were present. When we embarked on the short journey from New York – we weren’t really sure what to expect or what exactly we were going to discover. Upon first arriving into Sandy Hook, NJ we walked into a local liquor store to buy beer and were quickly greeted by locals asking about the festival. They had no idea about it and was curious to why they weren’t informed that this was going on. This is an extremely rare case these days – since most of the towns and local communities are extremely highly involved in big festivals.
We then picked up our wristbands and walked along the boardwalk and the beach to enter the festival grounds. The festival was setup right on the beach with a designated camping area and one small stage and two other areas for music. We quickly noticed that the artistic community was alive, people everywhere were setting up art installations and playing music. There were fire breathers and dancers all around and everyone was happy and smiling. Even the staff and security were having a great time. Music was provided by artists such as Stadenco from Verboten, New York promoters Ebb & Flow, and rising acts from the North-east Burning Man and underground dance music scenes. Mainly purveying deep melodic house and tech-house tunes.
Everyone seems to play a part and be involved in this functioning community. There is absolutely no judgement and all your troubles are left behind. The creativity is endless and by the time you leave this festival you will have lifelong friends. It is very hard to find a festival these days that doesn’t have some type of corporate branding or investment and is truly organic and genuine. We walked into one tent and there was an impromptu acting workshop going on, another area was homemade tea, one group of campers brought something called the flipflopinator (a multi-colored instrument with different sized tubes that you play with flip flops).
The music at A Summer’s Dream is provided by local and budding artists without any major headliners or even any mid-sized artists. It isn’t the typical line-up you would expect for a 3 day music and art festival that plays host to nearly 1000 people. The real sell on this is the creative community’s sheer involvement and the incorporation of everyone who attends. Although we did have the chance to meet and experience one of the most incredible fire shows we’ve ever seen by a group that goes by the name of The Enchanted. The Enchanted is a congregation of some extraordinarily beautiful people who spin fire in unison incorporating aerobic and acrobatic movement all in a choreographed manner that would blow any festivalgoer away and is something that is absolutely essential to witness.
This festival isn’t for everyone. Especially those that are pretentious and flashy and materialistic. Many of the attendees don’t have much clothing on and if they do it might be handcrafted. I even had the honor of having my shirt painted by an artist through a dreamcatcher that turned into a tied-dye array of colors that glowed under fluorescent lights.
The next Summer Dream takes place in Sandy Hook Bay, NJ from July 15th to 17th, 2016