Universo Parallelo New Years Party

Trip Start Sep 29, 2007
Trip End Dec 20, 2010

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Saturday, January 5, 2008

Festival Population: About 15000 personas

What an intense week it was. I will try my best to explain how hard we smashed the party but we believe that words cannot explain the experience that was Universo Paralello. The sights, the sounds and the company we kept were all top quality, this party had it all and more than we could ever have imagined.

We stocked up on as much water as we could carry, brightly coloured supermarket bought made for tourists beach umbrellas complete with tropical fruit designs and chairs (mobile shade), cushions and our tent from Panama City and were ready to leave for the festival. The site of Pratigi Beach was further away from Salvador and more secluded than we anticipated. The Israelis we met on the flight from Rio had arranged a driver and hire van to make the 5 hour journey south to Pratigi Beach, near Valenca, Bahia. Along with a Swiss pixie, fire twirler boy we met in the hostel, nine of us split the bill (90 reals each, $US45)  for the easy, air conditioned ride right to the gate. After hours on the bus together we had received a fascinating insight into the Israeli culture including the involuntary role the young play in the military there and almost understood their reasons for not sharing the communal kitchens in the hostel. These guys were an interesting bunch made up of Yogi, Oreo (the leader), Curly Erek, Missy Moo, Elan Blondie and a beautiful woman from Argentina who lived in India named Arnvishna. The Israelis love to debate everything, they love to be the boss and are masters at negotiating prices for goods and services.

We arrived in the dark and with wrist band paid for and slapped on we realised we would have a mission ahead of us to get through a series of checkpoints and ride on the back of two different trucks before we would reach the campground at the beach with all our equipment. Our head torch chose this moment to pack it in. I liked the idea of no cars on site because they seem to upset the energy of the party and stir up dust. Our backpacks were given the once over by security who were checking for animals and alcohol. I managed to pass the party monkey and a bottle of the trusty 18 year old Flor de Cana pirate rum, absolutely necessary gear.

The introduction statement in the line up booklet we received at the entrance gate was this:

¨We are allegedly a generation struck with apathy and that has grown up listening to stories of all the revolutions that have already happened. Systematically, they have tried to convince us that the greatest objective of our lives is to ´have a 9-5 job, be  so called respectable citizens and make a few bucks a month´. Lo and behold! A psychedelic movement is born out of dance floors from the global underground scene to prove the dream isn´t over.

We are not a political party! We are not a political militancy! We have no leaders and we do not have the right answers. We are merely a tribe that innocently seeks to create a space to be together, to dance together and to celebrate all our differences. Dancers, pacifists, artists, thinkers, scientists, hippies, mystics but above all, individuals. Inspired by the psychedelic atmosphere, by love, by music, by dance and above all by our own consciousness.

We are the living expression of freedom, spontaneity and joy. The harmony and respect that guide our gatherings should be set as an example to a society that observes us astonishingly. But this very same society that observes us is not willing to observe itself and realise how ungenerous it behaves towards its citizens, the environment and human nature. This is the example that should not be followed.

Universo Paralello welcomes you to the eighth edition of this incredible adventure. Let us use this great opportunity with love and wisdom so that we can relish these 8 days of peace, love, union, respect and a whole lotta fun!¨

The party has been on this particular site for four years of perfect harmony and has received all support and respect from the local community. The party crew goes in and sets up, brings loads of much needed money to the locals and hires them for working then takes out everything and leaves the site pristine.

Our crew searched for a camp site amongst rows of palm trees lining the beach. The festival layout was very well done with each and every detail tuned and tweaked by organizers. We were instantly impressed and the anticipation of what was to come wound us into an excited frenzied state. The 4 man tent, was perfect in every way, 2 ladies and two backpacks fit in there with room to move, apart from the faulty front door zip which meant we had to live with an unsealed tent in malaria / dengue fever territory for 7 days. Not happy Jan with that one. I played the safety pin and duct tape game for a while then moved on to the use the emergency sewing kit. There are a lot of strange bugs in Brazil not to mention the enormous ants that attacked my left arm with six quick bites as i reached under the tent to clear debris.

We awoke to a blazing hot Bahia sun in the morning and decided we wouldn´t last the week if we didn´t  pay the local lads to build us a bamboo and palm thatched shade gazebo over the whole camp, gold. We had our own chillout space and the Israelis scored one too. We camped in the Namaste camping section. Two more Swiss pixies joined camp and some great Brazilian surfie lads from Rio de Janeiro were our neighbours. We stashed our passports in lockers and strapped our seat belts on for the wild week ahead.
The pixies turned out to be expert circus people and would juggle, twirl fire and generally play little tricks all day long, they walked with a skip in their feet.

The first day was spent exploring the site and making new discoveries at every turn. There was a lot to take in. The site was one long strip of around 1.5km running parallel to the gorgeous paradise Pratigi Beach. Crystal blue water, white sand, palm trees. The weather was fiercely hot and most women wore just the Brazilian bikini or g-string and the lads wore the hot pants type swimming trunks. We cut up some t-shirts and made some airy clothes, not quite ready for the thong thing yet. Everybody wore Havianas flip flops, we lost our two pairs the first night. *Note: Buy shares in Havianas, every foot in Brazil is wearing them. We met a Brazilian who had a tattoo of Havianas across his feet so when he stood in the sand, it looked like he was wearing real Havies. Classic guy too. This was a glamorous party and the participants seemed to wake up completely fresh and maintained despite residing in tents. The Brazilians drink alot but never get messy. Most young Brazilians are fit and sporting fantastic tattoos that you would glimpse on all the skin you could see at every turn.

Diversity was the trademark of the food areas. There was everything from basic coffee and chai to vegetarian meals, pasta, fruits, juices, crepes, acai pulp, sandwiches, barbeque, sweets, ice cream and typical dishes from Bahia presented by the local community of Itubera. Drinks available were energy drinks, fruit juice, beers (Skol and Nova Schin), Peach or Lemon Tea, soft drinks, Guarana drinks and of course, water. I was particularly fond of the green coconuts (coco verde), fresh off the tree and hacked open with a hole for the straw, completely re hydrating and full of electrolytes is coconut water. Not just for tourists.

There was a no cash policy so you bought some value tickets at the start of the party and traded them for food, drinks or products from the general store, tops idea and i feel this added to the concept of a festival community and of the parallel universe / society the party achieved so well.

The decor teams went beyond simple ornamentation. They transformed the environment into a huge art gallery. We were most impressed by two installations, large UV lit space mobiles that resembled DNA strands and turned into moving kaleidoscopes when you stood under the centre of them and looked up. There were also two large Buddha heads on the sand facing out towards the ocean and a giant hand with an Egyptian eye on the palm plus much more.

The toilet and showers were ecological and ingeniously designed to flush. They were maintained 24 hours a day by locals who cleaned every time you went to one and handed out the paper. We couldn´t work out the system but it was made from bamboo and piping and included large blue buckets atop towers, very different too our long drop and saw dust versions at home parties.

You could rent cute, red dune buggies to play with up and down the coastline and visit other beaches in them. There was also a guy giving rides in a glider plane that kinda looked like you were hang gliding over the party site, a birds eye view that would have been grand to see.

The dance floors were well spaced out. We were closest to the Goa Dancefloor of  which the idea was to reproduce in an unpretentious manner the environment, the music and atmosphere present in Goa, India- all the prime ingredients of psytrance. This stage hosted artists that were in Goa when it all began, the people who not only lived the experience but were active beings in the conception of what became Goa trance. We spent the least amount of time here as at was a little out of the way and we could here the music from our camp.

There was the Paralello Stage where both Brazilian and a few international bands brought cultural and musical diversity including Ethnic, Jazz, grooves, Trip Hop, Funk, Bossa Nova, Afrobeats, Candomble Drums, Maractu, Samba de Coco, Dub, Reggae, Ska etc. This was musical freedom through rhythmical fusion from classical to modern. We ventured past this area a number of times and had our shower very close to the stage so we could actually dance in the showers, it truly was a 24 hour a day experience, the music never stopped.

There was the Alternative Stage which we liked to call The Pirate Stage because it contained a large wooden ship broken in two across the dance floor and you could climb aboard and dance on the decks and lookout post. The stage was directly on the beach and there was also the Jolly Roger flapping away high above the stage. This stage seemed to attract the most fun, random, loose and interesting people plus all the pirates. The stage was more intimate than the others and had lots of live Dj sets. We had a ball here and you would often find the Israelis and Arnvishna and us dancing till we dropped then lounging and drinking in the deck chairs with the umbrellas for shade. Those two items were our best survival tools. We gave them to the Israelis when we left. The Pirate Stage was the space purely devoted to electronic music-  minimal, house, electro-house but more often than not, Progressive Trance which we feel has a funkier, merrier feel than the full on trance and more suitable for day time in the sun boogieing. Lots of  shenanigans went on here and there are too many stories to write about now. This is where we met Tetrameth and Sensient (Peter and Tim), the two Djs representing Australia on the main stage.

There were cleaners picking up every stray scrap of trash including cigarette butts and they would even clean the dancefloors by weaving in and out of the stomping feet. All the glass and metal was sorted for recycling.

There was also the Spectacular Zone which was a space that highlighted the proactive, festive and cheerful character that a music and arts festival requires. The zone was designed to expand the limits of  perception of our body and our sense and revealed a magical, psychedelic universe. The space was a true multimedia kaleidoscope of music, arts and healing. The zone represented the meeting point of contemporary psychedelic culture and traditional folkloric manifestations by adding the cultural  universe of the region and of other states of Brazil to the Parallel Universe. The stage had performance artists, theatre, circus, dance, juggling, fire acts, improvisation, clowning, tribal culture, burlesque, pop art, folklore, soiree, poetry, drums, shows and rituals. We saw circus acts we have never seen before. I recorded lots of the acts on the camera. One night we saw some wonderful fire acts and then the next day met one of the performers Jody who lives in Ibiza, is studying trapeze and ribbons in Rio but hails from Australia, top woman and we spent time over the next few days partying with her. One night she surprised us and turned up walking on stilts in a glamorous golden goddess costume. Also of worthy note was a couple of trampoline experts who did a UV show then performed a ´Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon´martial arts type show on a giant trampoline the next day. There were some guys with giant 3D metal cubes that they spun around and through their bodies rapidly until the audience got the illusion from the front that the cubes had morphed into oblong bubbles, well done. Plus a great clowning show.

There were some fantastic artists creating unique garments from leathers, fabrics, skins like ostrich, snake and crocodile and stones and crystals. There were belts, bags, clothing, loads of jewellery and earrings. I bought an arm and leg cuff from an awesome designer with the longest and most maintained dreadlocks we have ever seen and being an English speaker, he was able to introduce us to The Psyfamily, headed by a guy we like to call The Alchemist. The Psyfamily are a family of six who run a store on the Brazilian festival / party trail. We visited their store many times to chat. Their four children of various ages were divine children with gorgeous blue eyes who performed a show one night in the Spectacular Zone. Talented. Throughout the festival we would meet these guys and they really looked after us and made us feel welcome. They introduced us to lots of new friends. I bought a beautiful ostrich leather skin skirt that is dyed red, green and black and has studs and buckles that The Alchemist had made to be used as a ceremonial garment. I wore it for the New Years celebrations. We felt blessed to have met them.

One night a beautiful and large drumming and percussion circle erupted on the beach around a fire, i believe it was started by the beautiful people from three tepees who seemed to be singing and dancing a jig whilst playing little instruments like wooden flutes, tin whistles and ukuleles every time we passed them by.

There was the perfecto Chillout Dome, made with ambient energy in mind. The dome was large, spacious and open to all the elements but also provided shade via well chosen red fabrics and was located next to the chai tent. The entire structure was fascinating. The whole set up was built from thick bamboo and weaved grasses that stood the test of  strong winds and rain that sometimes beat the dust down during the night. This rain kept the party from being too dry and seemed to freshen up the site for the next days party. The dome was achieved by weaving grasses together to make fan shaped pieces then placing them next to each other and strategically tying bamboo together high in the sky as scaffolding to form a dome. The ladders used to place the higher pieces were ridiculously placed in the sand and the builders would scramble up and down. It was decorated with large organic shaped lanterns, pillows, mats to lie on and simple tables. The music here was ambient, spiritual, funky chill and we spent  a few nights lying on the sand inside in the middle of the dome and appreciating this music and structure. The dome, although open, held energy really well and you felt as though you had been on a journey when you left the dome´s force field. We spent the last night and morning of the party snoozing in the dome with our sleeping bags, recalling all that had taken place, all we had seen and a little sad as the party was coming to an end.

Then there was the Main Floor. The very cream of global psy, dark and progressive trance was present on the Main Floor. It was the real nervous system and heart of the festival, all roads lead there. Practically all continents were represented there by their very best artists. This great meditation field became a great launching pad for numerous colourful inter-spacial trips. Our Brazilian neighbors became our good amigos here and we visited there base on this dance floor many times. There were huge VJ (visual jockey / multimedia/ audio-visual) screens and lighting toys galore plus 5 or 6 diamond shaped pods made from lights that you could dance inside of and a good sprinkler and shade system (no water restrictions here). The main floor Dj box was made from bamboo and resembled a for tiered pyramid. The two side panels surrounding the Dj stage were psychedelic images of Krishna and Ganesh. This stage is where everyone (all dressed in white for peace) spent New Years Eve and we partied amongst endless fireworks and creatures of the night. We were still there for sunrise and all the next day. The biggest dancefloor i have ever been on. We saw many sets here including Paul Taylor- UK, Hujaboy- Israel, Wrecked Machines- Brazil, Laughing Buddha- UK, The First Stone-Brazil, Liquid Soul-Argentina, Ace Ventura-Israel, Rinkadink-South Africa, Atmos-Switzerland, many more plus the Australian lads Sensient and Tetrameth who nailed their sets and were very well appreciated by the Brazilians. We were flying high with pride during their set and danced at the front for two hours with our Aussie flag. We even tossed an Australian beach ball around for awhile, the lads were impressed with our effort. The main floor was a giant playground for pixies and party funsters to play with toys like poi, stilts, juggling pins, tightrope hula hoops and contact juggling balls. We saw some ladies perform a sword spinning show and fire machetes were juggled.

There was also a large healing area with non-stop free Reiki, meditation and massage along with other therapies to enhance the energetic, physical and mental bodies. Plus, a theatre showing comedy and global human movement feature films. There was a space for children too with trampolines, a jumping castle, workshops, games and toys and a communal kitchen area with cooking and nutrition workshops.

So, with all this to explore, we certainly danced and drank too much, didn´t get much sleep and enjoyed every minute. Great, well run party and a good warm up for Carnival in Rio.

Brazilians sure know how to party and how to live in JOY and it was a pleasure to a be a part of this life with them.

 Review of Party found in Mushroom News
Universo Paralello 2007/2008
New Years Eve in Brazil!

It was a crowd of about 8000 fraggles that got together on the world's biggest Psytrance Festival Universo Paralello for celebrating New Years Eve 2007. Almost 2000 working crowds, Brazilian and international artists and shop people served 6000 dancing aliens from all over Brazil as well as all over the world.

There were less visitors this year in comparison to last year as Organizer Alok said. The reason is that the organizers Alok and Swarup want to stay away from any commercialization. The didn't allow banners and posters of local or international companies. Other non-trance-festivals spread 10000s of flyers all over Brazil and attracted more parts of the electronic crowds this year while UP didn't even hand out one flyer in Brazil. The result was a higher concentration of the real Goa crowd and more than 20% international guests. On the other hand the festival turned to be bigger in infrastructure, in stages, in market stalls and music. It was the 8th UP this year. UP started 2000 in Alto Paraiso, a small artist and spiritual place in the state of Goias but was transferred in 2003 to the state of Bahia because of the gorgeous beach location and less rain. The couple of short rain showers this year were more a relief than a drag.

The villagers around the festival are profiting from the festival a lot. From food supply, shadow makers, shops and helping hands - the festival provides an important source of income for the whole region. Even the local police have the chance to work as life guards for the security of swimmers in the warm sea. The absence of any the fraggles bothering police is also a very convenient attribute of this festival. In 7 days at the festival I have seen no violence, no police, no problems and no annoying people. Security guards didn't bother and were patrolling around the festival borders to ensure a safe stay. Also the medical tent was more like a hospital with almost 20 separate rooms for treating the people's sunburns and injuries. Doctors and nurses guaranteed a medical care equal to the hospital in the near town of Itupera. From band aids to injections and infusions to treat sun allergies - I haven't seen such a fast and accurate medical supply on a festival so far. A great idea was the 24 hours guarded locker tent to get rid of the problem to watch valuables all the time. I haven't heard of any theft or break-in into tents on the festival while some people reported burglaries in pousadas in Itupera outside of the festival while they were on the festival.

The location of UP is set amidst a huge coconut plantation with 1000s of coconut trees directly on one of Brazils most beautiful beaches - in Pratigi Beach near the small-town of Itubera, about 200 km south of Bahia's capital Salvador. In the middle of nowhere the organizers built a trance-city which can be only compared with Boom Festival. 5 stages pumped super-clear music for 7 days. The mainfloor was beautifully decorated with a whole universe of light, lasers, huge Buddha images on the beach and a huge backdrop showing 12 Indian gods. A great idea was the trampoline in front of the main-floor to jump up to unknown highs. The huge chillout tent on the beach was a dream made of natural palm leaves and wood. This year the organizers established 3 new stages - the parallel stage with lots of different Brazilian music styles and Reggae, the alternative stage with electro, house and minimal and the Goa stage with old-school, full-on and dark tunes. The line-up consisted of hundreds of live-acts and DJs - too many to mention them here. Most came from Brazil but also many internationally well-known artists such as Ace Ventura, Hujaboy, Tristan, Atmos, Dimitri, Joti Sidhu, Deedrah, Etnica, Rastaliens and many more. The range of different styles reached from the fluffiest progressive over super-psy space tunes to the darkest psy-metal. For guiding into 2008 the organizers chose the excellent electro break-beat sound magician Gaudi from UK - accompanied by circus-like psy-performers on the Buddha stage right on the beach. The psy-performers walked across the stages and from one stage to another shocking and delighting the dancing crowds with their alien appearance.

For the incredibly hot and sunny days lots of shade places in tents were provided - for workshops from all kinds of meditation, rituals to poi workshops. The psy-cinema showed interesting movies during the nights. All kinds of holistic treatments completed the festival's offers. The festival guide offered so many activities that a month would have been necessary to attend just the most important. Also the children area was kind of an adventurous place for the younger ones not yet ready for the dance-floors.

I expected the prices in bars and restaurants a lot higher than they really were. Even if some Brazilians complained about them, the prices in the outside world in Brazil seemed mostly higher than on the festival itself. The newly installed bon system for different kinds of drinks and food guaranteed a fast service at the bars and shops. 1,50 Euro for a beer and around 3 - 5 Euro for a huge portion of food didn't seem too expensive. Water was only 80 Euro-Cent for half a liter and so cheaper than any alcohol on the festival.

One of the most amazing things on UP were the super-clean toilets and showers. I haven't seen such a great service yet so far - not even on the biggest festivals in Europe. Hundreds of showers and toilets were cleaned permanently almost around the clock by a huge crowd of cleaning people.

Very important for the organizers is the care for environmental affairs and to comply with all regulations of the national environmental authority IBAMA. The area outside the festival location is a national preservation area and had to be kept free of people - so trucks had to take the fraggles a few kilometers through atlantic forest to the beach. Unfortunately this led to long waiting times at the festival entrance at the starting day. The organizers promised to leave the area even cleaner than it was before the festival.

To wrap it up - UP 2007 is surely in a row with the best 5 psy-trance festivals in the world. The message of the festival - as organizer Alok (see picture) stated - is to open up the trance scene to other scenes, to the world and spread the spirit around the globe - trance is to find anywhere in the world and there are lots of docking opportunities to other forms of spirituality, social life forms and sustainable ways of living and experiencing the cosmic energy - and this should be realized without selling the psytrance spirit to sponsors and any form of commercialization - that's what the spirit of Universo Paralello is trying to show - with great success as anybody could see on this marvelous festival.

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