Oil painting 24”x 18”
He called me California and smiled when I told him I wouldn’t take the tab of acid on his finger. Pupils dilated, he put his arm over me and either his blonde dreadlocks or the loose hemp threads of his sweater itched against my neck. “It’s okay, California. Let me show you around.”
It was night, and he walked me around the festival grounds as the rain swelled. Because of the weather, the space was mostly empty. Those dedicated enough to the psytrance music blasting over the neon-glowing speakers danced in hypnotic circles—limbs attacking the air in no predictable fashion. You needed a good six feet of space around you, it seemed, to pull off the full effect. Everyone else was under a tarp either drinking pilsner beer or spacing out on large colorful pillows—enjoying the fractals, I assumed.
The festival came to Valeč on my last day at the farm. After graduating from college, I backpacked in Europe for a few months, volunteering in different countries in exchange for food and a place to stay. It was my last night in the village, and it just so happened the annual Funny Moon Festival came to town.
Hanging over the dance space was a demonic face with technicolor eyes. It looked like it could have been made out of papier-mâché, but it held up too well in the rain. It blinked as I stared into it. “Oh yeah, California, that thing is wild.” My friend pulled me under a tarp as we watched the scene play out. He handed me a beer.
It was my first time listening to psytrance (though you don’t so much listen to it as you feel it become your bones). It made my head move the way ribbons do when Olympic gymnasts take to the floor. As I sipped my beer, I began to sense a hesitation in me. I realized that I wanted to give this bizarre dancing style a try, but I was embarrassed. Back home in the States, I wasn’t the kind of person who could let themselves go like that. I was too afraid to shed what people might think of me.
I stood there and watched the rain fall around the possessed danseurs. They didn’t make excuses for the rain, and they didn’t care what they looked like. This was what they came for—to set themselves free.
I decided that maybe I was here for the same reason. I set my beer down and told my friend that he could finish it if he wanted. I danced into the rain and raised my hands to the bright blinking eyes of the creature above me. The rain fell over the sway of my arms, the sudden and shocking kick of my legs. I could be anything, I decided. My body became one determined circle after another, no care in the world to contain me.
Based currently in California, Anthony Gibson is a writer and recipient of a Chicago DCASE Cultural Grant. In 2020, he was selected as an inaugural fellow in the Chicago Independent Producers Lab. He is on Twitter @anthjgibson
Hyeseon Kim is a senior attending North London Collegiate School Jeju in South Korea. She is currently preparing a portfolio to attend university. Her other hobbies include contemporary dance, piano, and soccer.