Haida Gwaii has one giant hippy festival per year, and we scored the last campsite by the water before the rest of the hippies descended. Set up camp then walked over just in time to see the lantern parade, lighting up the night as the last rays of sun shone over the Tlell river.
The lanterns looked like spirits dancing in the dying light.
Local young rapper JSB came on (listen here, so good), rhyming about all the places on Haida Gwaii, about gratitude and respecting Elders and women, and also about how hard it is to get over drugs and partying. It floored me to see all these kids singing along with him, raving to tracks about gratitude with someone who grew up with them, now onstage.
Then Dirty Radio came on and I danced every emotion I’ve had in the last month, absolutely stoked to boogie. The next day it rained, the skies opening in such a torrential downpour that we stayed in our tents half the morning before venturing over to dance some heat into our bodies.
Went to a cedar weaving workshop with a master weaver and another on songwriting, then watched a local drum group and dancers sing stories from this land.
It’s amazing to see a festival centred around Indigenous talent, with every second artist from this place, workshops on local arts and language, local features everywhere.
A dance to honour women brings out the sun, and it’s followed by one for the men, where they get up to see who can dance the lowest for the longest.
We go back to the beach to make dinner, and my sweet friends offer to clean up so I can run back and catch Iskwe, who sings about missing and murdered Indigenous women with such ferocity that I get chills over my whole body.
Another unreal dance session with an encore of Dirty Radio, the DJ even more stoked than we were to have his tunes projected in this unreal place. He never stopped smiling the entire set, letting teenagers jump onstage and dance with him, counting down to the drops in his microphone and handing it to young people to sing along to the hooks. One of the best dances I’ve had in a long, long time.
Walked exhausted and happy back to the campsite, but diverted last minute to the beach to watch the Perseid meteor shower over the waves. The tide was out over a kilometre, and we leapt over sandbars under a million shooting stars to reach the water, reflecting the half moon above, still bright enough to cast shadows on the sand. This island! What a place!