Check out the photos from Dirtybird CampOut (California)

Fri-09-Oct-15 16:12

The summer camp concept is a relatively foreign one to a Kiwi – the idea of going off to make new best friends, play tug of war and stay up all night telling bunk-bed stories has held some long-held romantic appeal, so when I heard that the Dirtybird record label was hosting their first summer camp festival, I knew it was an event I couldn’t afford to miss.

To the uninitiated, Dirtybird is the San-Francisco based record label that houses underground music legends such as Claude Von Stroke, Kill Frenzy, J Phlip and more. The brainchild of Christian Martin, Claude Von Stroke, Justin Martin and Worthy, the Dirtybird crew treated each other like family from the beginning and any event that they host – from BBQs to clubs to pop-up stores – they extend that intimate vibe to their fans. If they could bring that to one of their city tours, what could they achieve at a summer camp for grown-ups?

From entering the Oak Canyon Park grounds, an hour and a half out of LA, it was clear that something special was unfolding. As the afternoon sun shone through the custom Dirtybird Campout sign, I was transported to those American summer camp movies I watched as a kid. Games of kick ball were being played in one direction, shots fired from taunt bow and arrows in another and big kids in scout outfits were sitting outside tepees creating pictures to send home - the scene was set and it was enchanting.

By day, the schedules were multi-recreational and everyone was randomly assigned one of four teams to play with. Friendships were formed and comradery was inevitable as you spotted your team colours on former strangers. From the tie-dying area, to the talent show, to the giant hammock, everyone was open and approachable and some life-long bonds were created. The lack of internet and cell connectivity made it all about the here-and-now and it was all set to a backdrop of some of house music’s finest talent.

The Campout vibes were fun-yet-chill and aside from the inviting ambiance of a crowd who is willing to test the waters of a new event, the positive atmosphere was also due to the fact that only one stage was open at a time - there was little pressure to go anywhere else, find your friends or worry about missing another artist because everything cool that was going down was happening to everyone.

Musically, the weekend highlights had to be UK buddies Jesse Rose and Doorly’s back-to-back set, Justin Jay’s new material complete with 20 minutes of live vocals and the absolute slaying of the dance floor by the king himself, Claude Von Stroke. You could just sense the extra effort that went into prepping for that set. I wish I had had more stamina for the Barclay Crenshaw and Martin Brothers DNB sets but fingers crossed those were recorded so the sleep-regret goes away.

Activity-wise, the yoga opening ceremony as the sun was setting proved to be pretty epic, along with the apparent gifts of the 4000-strong crowd at the talent show. A night of heavy showers didn’t dampen spirits with tug-of-war still continuing Sunday after a night of heavy rain – testament again to how easy-going the campers were. I was grateful for my JUCY campervan when I saw those pools of water around the tents on Sunday morning though.

Throughout the years I’ve felt I have missed out on something as cool as a summer camp – a false nostalgia - but now I know I’ve just been waiting for the right one. No awkward pimples, no crushes on a guy on the dodgeball team and zero regrets when I forgot to make a postcard to send to my mum. Instead I got to be one of the cool kids who knew that this was going to be a weekend for the books! There is no doubt that the Dirtybird Campout will be back so add it to your festival bucket list and start saving for 2016. I’ll see you there – I’ll be the one wearing all my merit badges from this year’s event.

Words by Zoe Macfarlane

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