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BaoBaB: A psychedelic start to the summer
Revellers got down to DJs from as far afield as India, Iran and the Netherlands.
Revellers got down to DJs from as far afield as India, Iran and the Netherlands.
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BAISOUR, Lebanon: Over four days and three nights, an unremitting thump of intense psychedelic trance music pulsed from the bottom of Lebanon’s Baisour valley and through the damp mountain air. The source was the BaoBaB Psychedelic Music Festival, the perpetrators a lineup of 30 international and local “psytrance” DJs and artists.

Named after the baobab tree (aka adansonia digitata), the BaoBaB Psychedelic Music Festival was organized by the Psyleb community, which set up camp at the Baisour Country Club (some 5 km south of Aley) and kindly invited fellow psytrance aficionados to join in and camp out – for cover charge of $85 at the door, or less during the pre-sale and late-bird periods.

There were two venues. The “Stomp’in” stage was set up at a riverbank, replete with the sound of croaking frogs. A smaller, slightly quieter, “Chill’in” area squat many windy, ankle-threatening steps away.

Once the event got started at noon Thursday, the throbbing speakers rested for a scheduled total of 14.5 hours before being unplugged and packed up 68 hours later, at 8 a.m. Sunday.

But BaoBaB wasn’t only about music. “The food is all super local and wholesome,” one organizer explained. It was also highly affordable. “In the morning, you’re gonna wake up, eat really well and do yoga. That’s the idea here.”

The event offered workshops on organic agriculture Friday, along with meditation and yoga sessions. An earthy tea lounge was set up in an incense smoke-infused venue bound by geometric cloth-art.

Next door, a bodega-style marketplace sold glass paraphernalia. Nearby, fair-trade Nepalese clothing, associated in certain circles with “hippie-fashion,” was on offer, as were wooden trinkets and imported, luxury-taxed salt lamps.

The delicious smells of food, incense and other evocative odors wafted rich through the air and dogs of all dimensions roamed among the humans on the tent-festooned country club grounds.

By the time the event wrapped, organizers said psytrance festival-goers and DJs from India, the Netherlands, Jordan, England, Iran and Lebanon had found their way to Baobab.

“It was a huge success,” one Psyleb organizer reported in the waning hours of the festival, estimating they’d hosted some 250 attendees.

It’s not a bad figure, considering the recherché music, medium-to-small size stages, and the challenging festival location – at the bottom of a dubious, hairy mountain road – dubious, at least, until the pounding rhythms arose to guide the way.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on June 25, 2012, on page 16.
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