It’s strange how things change so rapidly here in Tofino, and the night of the full moon beach rave was no different. It was so hot all day I was more than steaming in a muscle shirt and shorts. But as the fog rolled in and carried us through to dawn, I was glad I brought multiple extra layers — fisherman’s jacket, extra polo, button-up flannel.
The mysterious cloak of water particles on our coastal shores was benevolently porous enough to let a constant stream of lunar light down. It provided fertile ground for meetings between Quebecois cherry pickers, geoduck fisherman, ex-Canadian Forces servicemen and New Zealanders. Last time one of these sweet jams went down I was a bit sick from a high calibre wedding party (DJed by an underground electronic artist), so I had to skip it. So I didn’t want to miss the festivities this go ’round.
While the music took its cues from international bass music culture, with perhaps a bit of influence via the Quebec student movement, the atmosphere was decidedly one-of-a-kind Tofino. The closest thing I can compare it to is the Soundwave music festival that used to take place just down the road at Mussel Beach.
Today, when I finally woke up and was sipping on Folgers coffee with hemp milk, a friend quickly popped in to score some frozen water bottles on her way to Diversity on Texada. I obviously was regretting I won’t be attending due to work obligations, but it made me think about how I loved hitting up another Gulf Island weekend summer rave — but ultimately decided the one thing missing was legit waves.
In a way I’d say it’s hard to call 1-2 foot rollers legit waves — bit it is definitely the reality of what the ocean has to offer in this part of the world this season. I looked at the forecast yesterday and it’s 1-3 feet at the biggest beaches for a full week at least. That makes me think today might be the day I pick up a soft top surfboard. Plus, most of the people at the party are just experiencing Tofino for the first time ever — so it’s all majestic, you know?
I told a few people from work about the party, and at least one of them did show up. But I think when I said “beach rave” others might not have gotten the full picture of what our soundsystem culture is becoming. These are kids with a legitimate desire to see and understand the world — and embrace seriously dope frequencies along the way. We keep the best from the genres that rise and fall, and take these, along with wayward friendships, to whatever our next destination might be.
So the dubstep got crunchy and hard — but not annoyingly so. The bass plunged and became repetitive — but only on the most choice and dirty of loops. The psy emerged — but didn’t vault itself into arpeggiating triplets by any means. Someone shouted “Play quel’que chose de drole!” and I was half expecting a chanson traditionnelle. But the DJs meticulously stuck to their program of engulfing sound.
For some, coming to Tofino is fulfilling a longheld desire — to retrace the steps of your parents, to see the edge of Canada, to learn how to surf. For others its simply an amazing space to meet people, witness exceedingly beautiful surroundings or blow money made in the orchards of the Okanagan Valley, before heading back up for the next fruit season (perhaps grapes, perhaps apples).
It was cool to speak with some of the participants, not about how they wanted to get wasted off their faces with incredible drugs, endless beer and liquor, but about how lucky they felt to have stumbled on a party like this in the first place. Some walked an hour and a half from town, with full camping gear in tow. One of the DJs told me about how he used to live in a town on the other side of the world where preminent involved bassline production due Truth helped develop the dubstep scene. It was cool to know they’re trying to do something similar for our transient culture in Tofino too.
There was something entrancingly beautiful about how the full moon never actually rose above the treeline. All night it voyaged on a simple sideways arc — as if it were a giant circular camera in the sky shooting a party-long time-lapse segment. It remained bright enough to appreciate the waves, fog and forest throughout the duration.
And when the violet skies shifted to morning light the hippies busted out their Thermorest mattresses by the fire, curled up together under sleeping bags or went back to their tents on the beach to take care of their kitty named Bealzabub who isn’t really a partier and no doubt had meows of caution (we joked) for those who would choose to drink and smoke for hours to trippy music.
But for me, it was cool how just sitting by the fire you look up and see a friend you met the previous year in similar circumstances, and you can carry on conversations as if you never left off. At the same time, you know in the back of your mind that, given work, changing plans, and other obligations, this might be the last time you see them for another extended stretch.
Among these kids so much seems possible. They have the right attitude. And you know they’re not going to screw you. They’ll tell you, I’m only in town for one week, a day or two, or until school starts back up — whatever the case may be. They remind you that life is for living and that it doesn’t take bucketloads of cash to connect with people from literally all around the world.
As I walked along the creamy brown sand, back towards my life, one of the organizers morphed from a shadowy blob to a somehow still energetic human. He handed me a plastic bag.
“Here. Take this,” he said. “And if you see any beer cans along the way on your way back, can you pick them up and throw them out?”