- James Teej called it "mind blowing." Noir tweeted a photo of happy partygoers with the caption, "RESPECT to everyone at Desert Hearts. What a great initiative and party." Atish gave it a "huge monster thank you," and DJ Three ranked it alongside the famous Sunset and Symbiosis campouts. Since Desert Hearts' first birthday came to a close, its attendees haven't stopped talking about the festival's unconventional yet radically accepting vibe or its near-constant barrage of fantastic music. The three-day extravaganza made for one of the most community-oriented, well-organized and memorable parties to hit the West Coast this year.
Desert Hearts, which took place in a remote location about an hour northeast of San Diego (not exactly in the desert this time), was a one-stage, 80-plus hour event. Both international and local talent graced the stage, a floor-level, wooden structure complete with a four-foot wide, heart-shaped disco ball. The dance floor was a cozy clearing in a mass of spindly trees, hugged on either side by illuminated Funktion One stacks. Simple lights danced in the leaves above, while the sun and the moon took their turns peeking through at partygoers. Whether you were resting in your tent or relaxing at any of the Burning Man-themed camps, the music could be heard clearly.
The six-man, San Diego-based promotions team behind Deserts Hearts had set out to create a party "based on house, techno and love, [with] no rules and no limits," a feat they achieved with undeniable success. From Dance Spirit's dreamy live emissions and Noir's unrelenting techno to DJ Three's Sunday afternoon master-class and Marc Houle's freakish and endorphin-wrenching minimalism, the comfortable atmosphere inspired the artists to push and test their own boundaries. The international talent more than lived up to the hype, while the local DJs played some of the best sets of the weekend. At any one time across the three days, the dance floor was a synchronized gyration of wide-toothed grins, found amongst the mayhem of witty placards, stuffed animals, chairs and blow-up objects.
In the words of Dance Spirit: "There were four generations of party-people present. I ran into friends that I hadn't seen out in years. The vibe was off the hook." What the organizers have managed to achieve in one year—from a small, 200-person gathering to a fully-fledged, 1000-capacity festival—is impressive. All in all, the enchanting ambience they created for both artists and attendees makes Desert Hearts one of America's best electronic music experiences.