The Dancefloor & The Yoga Mat Beckon at Beloved Festival of Sacred Music, Art and Yoga
Tidewater, Oregon; August 11-14th
In an ancient corner of Oregon’s coastal rainforest, thousands have gathered each August, for the past nine years, to remember they’re not separate. Music in every shade, from every possible place, rings out from a single stage, a clear call for unity. Cell phones don’t work, but the dancefloor beckons.
This is the Beloved Festival of Sacred Music, Art & Yoga in Tidewater, Oregon (August 11-14). Bass music and global sounds, rustic surroundings and cutting-edge sound, lighting and visual technology intertwine to create a glimpse of the divine, in all forms.
“All music can evoke a sense of unity, which is the presence of the sacred,” muses Elliot Rasenick, the founder and artistic director of Beloved Festival. “Beloved is the idea that we can cultivate a community and hold a container that makes it easy to cut through the illusion of separation.”
That perspective inspired Beloved’s most basic feature. The festival highlights only one act at a time, one performance the entire audience immerses themselves in. When one performer concludes a set, another performer begins at the opposite end of the stage area. There is no divided attention, no hopping from set to set.
The shared experience extends to another central piece of Beloved: its wildly popular yoga classes, which take place in a large open hall, set in a clearing in the coastal forest, so close to the ocean that when the wind is right, you can smell the sea. It’s a magical space that resonates with the melodies and beats of live musicians, great DJs, and birdsong, offering festival goers an opportunity to engage with music and the spirit in a different context.
“Most people who come to Beloved have a strong self-care practice,” says YogiTunes founder Alex King-Harris, who curates the Yoga Hall. “They’re yoga teachers or regular practitioners, massage therapists, or they have another embodiment practice like martial arts or circus arts. They’re stoked about getting together with their tribe in a beautiful place with teachers and musicians who know how to take them into really cool places.”
Two to three hundred people show up for every yoga and movement class, which often spill out into the forest surrounding the Yoga Hall. Styles span the gamut from the mellow (Qigong, Yin Yoga, guided meditations, and Energy Medicine Yoga) to the active (Kundalini Yoga, AcroYoga, and Vinyasa). Highlights this year include classes by Beyonce’s lead guitarist Bibi McGill (whose yoga playlists include tunes by Jay-Z, Prince, and funk masters); the yoga, prayer & dance sessions of Church of Reggae Yoga founder Adam Tree; and binaural beats specialist DJ Akal Dub. Ecstatic dance parties and sound healing sessions take place in the Yoga Hall, too—encouraging festival goers to engage with the sacred in more creative ways.
But at Beloved, spiritual does not mean divorced from real world issues. “I often think, to paraphrase Van Jones, it’s in the convergence of spiritual people becoming active and active people becoming spiritual that the hope of humanity now rests,” reflects Rasenick. “Beloved has become an ideal platform for this meeting of spirit and action.”
“At the peak moment of the peak day of the festival, we interrupt the music and dancing to talk about relevant issues that are important to our community,” Rasenick continues. “This year, we’ll be talking about borders; we want to bring awareness to the aggressive and violent ways this country is enforcing borders and to express how counter to our values this is, especially the for-profit industry of detention and deportation.”
Singular focus and conscious community building contrast beautifully with the festival’s wide-ranging sonic offerings. Groups from around the world, some intensely traditional, some more experimental, rub shoulders with electronic dance music icons and innovators.
Highlights this year include South Asian and Middle Eastern classical musicians (sarod master Ustad Amjad Ali Khan and Oud master Rahim Alhaj), reggae legends (The Abyssinians and Dezarie), Malian superstars (Amadou and Miriam) and Tuvan throat singers (Huun-Huur-Tu). At night, Latin-inspired club music pioneers Nickodemus and Captain Planet will pack the dancefloor.
Rasenick purposefully chooses artists who speak to current tensions and questions. This year, that means music from the Muslim world and several bands representing the countries targeted by Trump’s proposed travel ban, including one from Yemen (A-WA).
“We want the festival to be celebratory, a place for inspiring artistry,” he says. “We also want the community to take on some of the questions and issues we face once the party is over. Together, we feel we can shift the conversation and bring the spirit that animates Beloved to the rest of our daily lives.”
For tickets and more information, visit belovedfestival.com.