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Symbiosis Gathering

September 2018 dates TBC
Photos by John Felix and Jamie Rosenberg
Symbiosis Gathering

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Widely spoken about as The Golden State’s answer to Burning Man, Symbiosis Gathering is a festival that celebrates the right kind of lawlessness. Electronic music, arts and sustainability are woven into a kaleidoscopic cauldron of off-beat partying in a beautiful natural location. For a weekend, a special kind of creative community magically appears, “bringing together different sub-cultures who have a similar ethos, but who normally might not share common space,” says founder Bosque Hrbek.

The festival has been notoriously nomadic over its ten year history so far, producing different incarnations in over five different locations. Recently however, it seems to have found a more permanent home beside the Woodward Reservoir in Oakdale, California.

Expect a high madness quotient that somehow also feels wholesome. There’s minimal security presence, incredible stage set-ups both on land and afloat, zero corporate sponsorship, yoga domes, shaded dance floors, floating tree house-like structures to groove on and large scale art installations that are made for climbing. The cream of the stage crop however is the Swimbiosis stage, which sits directly on the banks of the lake, and features a ‘dance pool’.

In the learning department, festival goers are spoiled for choice, especially those who are interested in living more consciously and creatively. Take a workshop in everything from astrology, moon cycles and mythology to democracy, ethnobotany and modern surveillance. There are also classes on meditation, yoga and dance, not to mention the Permaculture Action Hub, which serves as a dedicated zone for all things natural, including wild crafting, sustainable building practices and agroforestry.

For those who need to refresh their vibe, and take time out The Oasis Spa continues to impress. Stop by for an hour to make the most of hot showers, massage therapy, a sauna and grooming station. A renewed willingness to let one’s craziest self out on the dust-kicked dance floor will revive once more.


  • Venture into the dance pool. Splashing about keeps the body temperature within reason and takes the dance floor excitement into a ridiculous new realm. The kiddy pool reimagined for adults who haven’t lost touch with their inner child.
  • For the luxurious Symbiosis experience, try Ready, Set, Camp. Organisers set up extra large canvas tents, which can be configured with either two double beds or one double bed. All linen is provided for, as well as tent locks, camping chairs, table, a battery-powered camp light and a communal lounge area.
  • Prepare for bulk nudity, but remember that one of the more inspiring elements of Symbiosis is that people are free to be themselves without fear of being ogled or objectified.

PRE-FESTIVAL WATCH:  Symb10sis Recap!

Visit Symbiosis Gathering

Photo by John Felix
Photo by John Felix
Photo by John Felix
Photo by John Felix
Photo by John Felix
Photo by John Felix
Photo by John Felix
Photo by John Felix
Published on March 10, 2016
Location: Oakdale, California
Country: North America ›
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