Returning to the European psychedelic trance floor after many years of hiatus was a eye opening experience… and instead of psychedelic substances we took… IQ-ME :)
Freedom Festival was a stunning production set in a beautiful forest in Portugal - art and nature seamlessly intertwined with extraordinary 3D decor, a sandy beach (albeit a manmade one) and a rushing river coursing through the site. And the best part, which absolutely can not go without mention… there was a carpeted dance floor. Now that’s hippy luxury.
After a morning dip in the river, sitting in the beautiful chill out dome and getting down to an IQ-ME - calmly colouring while listening to the latest, greatest psy-chill out music around - was pure delight.
Firstly, IQ-ME offered purpose. Perhaps you too have emerged from more nascent years of festival experiences, and no longer want to smoke a crazy quantity of anything, or shop the latest apothecary menus on offer, or blast yourself into the outer hebrides of consciousness to find out what lies beyond. That side of festival life may, or may not, appeal to you like it once did. It might be that you want to enjoy the high vibes and colourful tribe, but that dropping psychedelics or classified substances doesn’t speak to you (we can say a good part of the psychedelic magic comes naturally with the music and environment anyway, if you are open to it). But that abstinence can leave a gap in your festival schedule because - truth be told - there are only so many hours a day you can dance when you’re completely sober. And only so much you can eat or shop too, since its likely both your stomach and budget have limits.
So how about IQ-ME as a new festival accessory? Having been pretty convinced of the multifaceted beauty of this little tool for sometime now, we decided to give it a shot… Armed with IQ-ME, we immersed ourselves in the rainbow swathes of people, music and beautiful madness. When it started to rain (yup, rain in Portugal in August), I took shelter in the chai shop next to the dance floor. It was one of the higher end hippy chai shops, with Morrocan rugs and beanbags and little tables and eco-ashtrays made from recycled cans - all perched just on the edge of the heaving dancefloor (which, did I mention, was carpeted?!) Since everyone else sheltering from the unexpected shower seemed to be rolling something, I began my IQ-ME experiment - which basically involved colouring IQ-ME in a relaxed fashion without a further plan. I soon had a huddle of people gathered around me at the table, in various states of psychedelia, and all as curious as Alice herself.
I showed them my humble colourings, which generally consist of a random variety of colours applied within the shapes as mindlessly as possible. I invited each of them to choose an IQ-ME - their favourite - so I could tear it out and give it to them as a gift. I was experimenting, free styling, a sort of spontaneous social experiment with the psychedelic community and - despite my faith in IQ-ME - I wasn’t sure I would retain my audience. There are a million distractions at a festival, and people are high as the hills. But they loved it. Each of them studied the book reverently and selected their artwork. It was as if each piece chosen had been made for the individual who chose it, like bespoke art reflecting their personality, and you could somehow recognise why - even at a simple glance. Each individual had a genuine affinity with a specific character, which spoke to them and simultaneously seemed to speak of them. It was extraordinary. Within the random group of friends and relative strangers gathered around this little colouring book, was clear recognition of why each particular character matched each person, and a pervasive sense of wonderment. I felt like I’d just performed a magic trick. Except without the trick part. I too was in awe. And as sober as the trees.
Needless to say over the course of the five day festival I quickly ran out of books, tearing out pages when I realised this was the only way to ensure as many people as possible could take a piece of IQ-ME with them, and withholding only the last book so I could run spontaneous workshops with the kids onsite. These children… some wild and some wilder… swarmed around me bright as fireflies and dived into colouring the IQ-ME characters with total focus and verve. Equally as keen were their parents, who learned about the properties of IQ-ME with enthusiasm, laughing that they wanted books for themselves as much as their children.
IQ-ME was, essentially, a perfect festival accessory. It filled all those in between moments so I was never at a loss, even and especially when by myself. And I made a lot of friends. Rather than sticking with the people I came with, IQ-ME opened up a shared experience wherever I was, which everyone naturally felt invited to be part of. It opened doors, conversations and psychedelic experiences I wish I’d been able to film, but instead heard described like poetry flowing from the most unlikely bards.
I also found that giving people in varying states of consciousness the simple task of colouring, was an amazing experience. I was able to see the benefits of these little books as if through a magnifying glass. More than one person came and found me after an impromptu colouring session, and said the colouring had helped them through a tough part of their trip. Others just sat beside me, peacefully watching the colour filling the shapes - a bit like people do on the tube in London. The difference was that instead of the surreptitious suspicion that tends to emanate from the average metropolitan tube-rider, the festival native evidently felt liberated to communicate their appreciation, without the need to look away or go back to their phone, or study the advertisements.
Another IQ-ME adventure this summer took place at The Giving Tree Festival in the UK - a brand new festival which brought together some of the most established names in the psychedelic scene with fresh new musical talent (Dardelica included). We were running the Temple - a space dedicated to art (home to the Goddesses of DAR the BOOK), the feminine, and nurturing the community (through Johny Dar’s artworks, abundant chai, IQ-ME colouring and more). With a ‘Giving Tree’ at its centre, IQ-ME was laid out with colouring pens around the cosy seating areas, for those that felt inspired. And inspired they felt! Throughout the festival the all ages tribe cultivated a cornucopia of extraordinary artworks - beautiful individual expressions which found their way to the tree, and were placed in between its branches - a collective artistic celebration of creativity. As the weekend rolled on, the same friendly faces returned again and again to pick up a pen and have yet another colour. It was heart warming. Downright mushy in fact. We absolutely loved it.
And so, to summarise the many, many magical moments and interactions and exchanges - IQ-ME at festivals was a hit. Watch out for us next year you lovely festival goers, we might just bring a shop :)