Tribal Gathering – A Festival Like No Other
There are many amazing psychedelic trance festivals in the world, and each has its own special vibe, but Tribal Gathering, that will be taking place soon on an amazing beach in Panama is really like no other. We know, we’ve been there a few times. We hooked up with Tim Raper, the visionary behind GeoParadise, the charity that is organizing this special event to learn more about it.
Get a feel for it:
Q: Tell us a bit about Tribal Gathering and Geo Paradise and the people behind it?
A: GeoParadise is a 501(c)3 Public Charity based in the U.S. that has been working with native communities throughout the world since 2011. GeoParadise encourages and supports indigenous communities to participate in its main annual event “Tribal Gathering” to share, learn, and connect with one another and to propose project ideas that they would like to see implemented in their villages to improve their livelihoods while preserving their culture and natural habitat.
…we will have 60 tribes from 35 countries, coming to the jungle to share their culture, arts & crafts, music, ceremonies, workshops of all sorts. … the festival is 16 days long as it is intended to be an immersive transformational experience… It is held in the jungle on the Caribbean coast, so yeah that’s another key element of the gathering
GeoParadise charitable goals are to assist in providing basic necessities, education and to promote art, culture and civic engagement. We aim to create programs which will have a lasting effect, helping to develop long term sustainability within the communities we work with.
Tribal Gathering is the main charitable program of GeoParadise and a platform for cooperation where our indigenous outreach projects are inspired. The people behind it – well it was ignited by myself and my partner Noa Lago, and today it is a whole global tribe working with laptops and screwdrivers to create the event annually.
Tribal Gathering 2019 aftermovie:
Q: This is a very unique festival that involves the local indigenous people – can you expand about the concept and how it works?
A: We envisaged that we could create a space for the indigenous tribes of the world to meet annually, live together for a few days and surround them by an incredibly creative and inspirational multicultural natural setting for this mutual exchange of knowledge, hands on workshops and shared experiences. And naturally, come to the realization that, aside from governments and big corporations, we, the people’s of the world, could also come together to find a way to plot solutions for the environmental and social problems we face today and make a difference to the future of our planet for all of us. We felt that providing the unique chance for the western audience to meet and make friends with some of these oppressed/disadvantaged communities, who are still suffering from the devastating effects of colonization and imperialism from Europe and North-America, listen first hand to their often silenced stories and of course, party, laugh and dance with them…. would likely erase the artificial separation between them all, build trust and cultivate a new conscience that we are all here in the same boat, our planet, with the same shared future and will hopefully spark the urge to team up, co-creating projects and solutions from the bottom up, that could help overcome the widespread savage capitalistic approach that’s killing the Earth.
Photo: Shoot Your Shot Photography
Q: What can people expect to find in Tribal Gathering that is different than other festivals?
A: To start, Tribal Gathering is the most international gathering of tribes. In 2020 we will have 60 tribes from 35 countries, coming to the jungle to share their culture, arts & crafts, music, ceremonies, workshops of all sorts. Tribal Gathering is unique in that sense. Also, the festival is 16 days long as it is intended to be an immersive transformational experience for all participants. It is held in the jungle on the Caribbean coast, so yeah that’s another key element of the gathering
Learn more and get your tickets: https://www.tribalgathering.com
Q: Describe a little the settings – how do the festival grounds look?
A: A breath-taking Caribbean beach off the edge of the map in Panama. The north coast of Panama has a raw unexplored quality. Large swaths of exotic jungle sweep down to the coast. The flora and fauna is amazing, monkeys, sloth, jaguar, cayman and a multitude of colorful birds.
A balmy 30 C° with a constant refreshing breeze. Golden sandy beaches, majestic bays, rock pools and coral reefs, a river and a waterfall, making it the perfect location for Tribal Gathering.
The festival is built from the ground up every year, using as much driftwood as possible and really doing our best to be as sustainable as we can. For 2020 there is going to be an expanded Tribal Village space dedicated to the invited indigenous tribes. There are going to be 4 musical stages with different genres, a circus & performances area, a holistic wellness area, an art & crafts barn, and of course miles of pristine Caribbean beach and jungle for camping as well as enjoying the magic of nature. There is a river stream, a waterfall/rock-pool area. Paradise!
Q: You did something un-paralleled this year when you decided half of the line-up is going to be female artists & DJs – what motivated you to go this way? Why do you feel no one else does that?
A: Well yes, we noticed in 2018 that just 19% of festival artists were women and so we wanted to aim to achieve 50% of female artists for 2019 considering how many amazing artists are out there and we wanted to give more opportunity to balance the gender ratio. Women are often left out of the spotlight in the party scene and we wanted to change that to support and encourage female artists. We also adopted this in our build crew and ensured that our build managers in trades such as carpentry and electrical were given equal opportunities to women in this industry. We were definitely among the first to do this and its been inspiring more and more leading festivals to balance their male/female ratios.
Q: What are the musical highlights of this years’ edition?
A: The musical highlights for 2020 on the Lotus Stage are Gorovich, Earthling, Darshan, James Monroe, Lucas among many many others! And then we have the Global Stage Highlights, second week there are artists such as Dnox, Blancah, Seth Shwarz, Acid Arab, Luna City Express, and for a unique experience the first week we have Tribal bands from littérally all accross the globe. The whole first week is properly incorporating the indigenous, ethnic music more fully as we have over 35 live bands, many Grammy nominated artists like Salsangroove and Novalima, and a wide range of all styles of ethnic music with a true musical journey through “time and space”. Starting off from the most ancient of sounds including throat singers progressing all the way into Reggae Cumbia such as Dr Nativo and into Latin infused electronic music such as Ácido Pantera and South American Shamanic soundscapes such as Jakare.
Every moment is as profound as the next one. From seeing all the tribes gathering together, praying each in his/her own way for peace on earth, to the mind-blowing fire sacred ceremony of an Indian tribe, then there’s an ecstatic musical experience on the dancefloor, drinking the most delicious aztec hot chocolate, the sunset over the Caribbean ocean and the billions of stars shining when the night comes.
Q: In what way the different tribes and their people are taking part in the event?
A: First it’s important to know that the festival being the main charitable action of geoparadise, the proceeds from the micro donations participants give when purchasing their tickets are then used to cover the costs of transportation, food and accommodation of all the 60+ invited indigenous tribes coming to Tribal Gathering. During the indigenous immersion period which is just over a week long, each tribe is encouraged to share a variety of workshops from their culture, traditional ceremonies, conferences, arts & crafts, music & dances, food and more with all the participants of the festival. They are also sharing between each other which is something that is having a huge impact for them! They get to find commonalities that their people have, similar problems they are facing, they get to learn from one another, to be inspired, and now they have asked for a tribal forum to have time just between different tribes to discuss topics such as pollution, global warming etc. Its really a game changer for them to find out they are not alone in the battle for survival and its beautiful to witness that they are connecting even beyond the festival and nurture these relationships.
Q: What’s weirdest thing that ever happen in Tribal Gathering? What was the most profound moment you experienced?
A: Hmm.. Well weird is very relative it’s quite a tough one! I’m torn between a carny performer dangling himself from the bar by being attached to 8 rings pierced throughout his back, mixing up bloody mary’s, with a big big smile on his face.. Oh it can also be our beloved Doug, the man behind the Plastic Paradiso, dressed as a mermaid with a horrendous make up and wig, posing laying down on a huge pile of collected offshore plastic, lip singing some proper rock music.. Come to think of it there is a lot of weird things happening at Tribal Gathering! We even got a coconut catapult, the only living functional catapult since the 17th century!
The most profound moment is impossible to tell. Every moment is as profound as the next one. From seeing all the tribes gathering together, praying each in his/her own way for peace on earth, to the mind-blowing fire sacred ceremony of an Indian tribe, then there’s an ecstatic musical experience on the dancefloor, drinking the most delicious aztec hot chocolate, the sunset over the Caribbean ocean and the billions of stars shining when the night comes.. I’ll say it again, at Tribal Gathering every moment is as profound as the next one trust me!
Q: What is your vision for the future?
A: Well after the upcoming festival in 2020 we have set the date for Tribal Gathering 2021 starting February 2021 🙂
On the long term our vision for the future is to continue to learn, grow and empower people through this unique experience. Expanding on what went well from years gone by and leaving behind what didn’t, always with our motto “Leave a Positive Trace” vs “Leave No Trace” .
If you attended last years you will surely see an evolution in our program and focus’s changing. Integration is probably our biggest theme.
We also want to give more opportunities to indigenous people to be deeply involved in the event planning. We don’t want to be the ones dictating the direction of the festival for the tribes because its not about us, it’s about them and what they need from the festival, not about us telling them what they need.
The long term desired goal is to hand the indigenous immersion part over to tribes to continue hosting their own tribal symposium with their own needs, in a sustainable way, and also eventually we aim to create a parallel event in another region of the world to reach more people. That is a lofty goal as first we need to at least break even on our event. Money has never been the end game for us but to create a quality event that will leave a long lasting beneficial impact it needs to be financially sustainable.
Check out our article about Tribal Gathering 2016: https://trancentral.tv/2016/02/tribal-gathering-2016-panama/
Cover photo by Nomadic Daughter.