Mysteryland Electronic Music Festival, Chile. December 2014
Unforgettable, Action-Packed, Raw.
Experienced and written by Libby Griffin
Relatively normal world-weary adults arrive at this massive playground, relatively clean and calm. And after
three days of play they reluctantly pack up their tents and leave, transformed back into dirty, inspired and
fearless little children. Come to this festival with an open heart and I promise you will find yourself transported
back to the enchantment of childhood, often losingand finding yourself, running around in joyous ecstasy,
shrieking at the magic and the mystery of the landaround you.
“FRIENDSHIP, many people will walk in and out of your life, but only true friends leave footprints in
your heart…Friends… you and me….You brought another friend…and then there were three… we started our group…
our circle of friends… and like that circle, there is no beginning or end, yesterday is history, today
is a gift…tomorrow is a mystery”
When you read these famous last words, they seem a little poetic but nothing mind blowing. When you hear
them slowly unravelled over the speakers at the end of the mesmerising finale show, impressed under a
colourful web of fireworks, lights, effects and surprising delights, united in a sea of love; thousands of
strangers dancing, hugging and embracing each other, these words will melt you right down to a pile of
gooey love. For in these final epic moments of the show,you no longer seem an individual; all those strangers are
now your brothers and sisters, and you feel at one with eternity, the universe, with all-that-is, because you
have remembered that nothing is more powerful, nor more important, than love.
Mysteryland is the world’s longest running electronic music festival, but I only discovered it recently on an
In the Mixarticle about festivals with epic locations. For just a few days, you escape the city and go sleep amongst
the trees and mountains. You forget your social identity, your everyday concerns, and can simply be you in
whatever form you choose. Many party goers will agree Mysteryland is more than just a few musical acts; it’s
an advocate for community, art, culture, self-expression, creativity, healing, and pure fun. It can offer transformative
experiences, but only to those who seek them, and of course everyone’s experience is unique, but mine was certainly unforgettable.
It was a journey, an adventure, a memory I will always have and treasure, and a story that I can share with others in hope of
inspiring them to take one of their own. I glimpsed something sacred that we all long for and seek, for they say that when you find yourself, you also find love, because you see, they are the same thing. This is my Mysteryland story:
Think Lord of the Flies meets Rum Diaries meets a music festival. There I was at 8am, dancing, covered in dirt,sweat and someone else’s beer, wearing my new gift; an original 1978 Argentinian football jersey, jeans and Adidas trainers, and I couldn’t understand a word people were saying, but it didn’t matter; the music had worked its way into my bloodstream and I was now at the mercy of the beat of the drums. In my heart Iwas an
innocent child again, free and fulfilled and fully in the moment. It was the morning after the first night, and when the electronic music show had finished hours earlier, thousands of us grabbed instruments, formed tribes, and paraded through the trees keeping the music alive.
Suddenly I realised all eyes were on me and soon I was encircled by drunk and over-excited Chileans who were now all laughing, cheering and yelling at my failing samba in Spanish. I thought to myself ‘good one Libby, howare you going to get yourself out of this one?’ Being one of the only blondes of the roughly 17,000 attendees does make it difficult to blend in, and it turns out if you are still able to coordinate your exhausted limbs to
actually dance at a time like this, then you will become not just a source of much amusement, but perhaps placed on the tribes pedestal, worshipped like Jack Sparrow and offered marriage proposals.
Blending in was a goal of mine, to avoid awkward conversations due to my shameful lack of the native language, but going under the radar has never been one of my fortes. I really hope I made Argentina proud wearing their national football jersey for almost the entire weekend. It seemed the Latin dance classes I took before I left Australia on my one way adventure had royally paid off. Outdancing South Americans in their own
dance styles on their territory was a moment of glory my ego had daydreamed of. However I do admit the reason all eyes were on me in the first place was because I had tripped myself up yet somehow managed to impressively catch myself just at the last second, just escaping being flattened in the dirt. Everyone saw it but weren’t sure if they should make fun of me or applaud, although I’m sure they agreed it looked ridiculous.
The sound of the drums has always seemed to awaken deep ancient instincts within me. And when you have been dancing to them outside for hours, under the stars, surrounded by old trees, and covered in the earth;something else takes over and soon you and your newly founded tribe have pretty much been striped back to wild animals. And not being able to understand a word anyone is shouting at you takes it to the next l
evel. You adapt; your other senses are employed, and your instincts kick in and carry you to a place beyond verbal language. You see more clearly than you ever have that the vast majority of communication is not spoken, that peoples truths are easier to find not in the words they speak but in their tone, their body language, and most revealing, from the look in their eyes.
Their eyes tell you all you need to know. Sunrise was looming, so me and my bff headed to the far side of the camp to find somewhere peaceful to
witness it, sneaking through the chaos all around us until all that remained was the majestic silence of the mountains and song of the birds. A fog was rolling down from the mountains covering the star dazzling sky. It would be one of the most wonderful sunrises I have ever watched; covered in my own sweat and filth while sitting against the rear side walls of the most horrific public bathroom I had ever seen. As the sun began to rise
over the Andes, I sat there and reflected on the incredible series of events that had led me to where I was now sitting. Totally pleased with my accomplishment; I had ignored the doubters and beaten the odds, and I knew I  was exactly where I should be.
I remembered that less than a week before the festival I flew to Chile from my beloved Argentina without a ticket, tent, or camping gear, no willing friends and no plan. Armed only with a hopeful heart and ridiculous optimism, I decided that if it was meant to be, it would take care of itself. Two days before the festival I was chilling in a hostel courtyard in Vina del Mar, a beachside city hours from Santiago and all I had to do was
mention the magic M word. The universe had done the rest, and on the morning of the festival I was sitting on a privately organised bus with thirty excited, patriotic and well-prepared Argentinians who travel to Chile every year for the festival. It took one hour to get from polluted Santiago to Picarquin, the valley we would call home for the next three days, where we would be free to get expressive amidst our very own isolated utopia
of pleasure, peace and chaos.
Blue skies with no clouds in sight, I stepped off the comfortable air-conditioned bus and into the overwhelming dry heat of the valley, I nervously grabbed my small backpack which was stuffed with the bare essentials, and we headed over to join the thousands of Chileans in the long queue, stopping a few times to take some quick pictures, my Argentinian companions looked back at me puzzled like I was a total amateur. Who is this
random Australian girl? And why is she taking so many pictures when we aren’t even close the front gates? But I had a feeling in my gut, destiny was in the air and I wanted to capture it.
As I got closer to the entry, I noticed the ground was littered with evidence of a pre-party that took place the night before, and after sweating it out in the long line, we entered and I was pleasantly surprised; we were all soon to be happy campers in a huge adult playground, with anything we could want. It seemed to be in theshape of a long rectangle; with the camping grounds at one end and the very impressive main stage at the
other. Connected down the middle by a tree lined road, spirited with entertainers and decorated with hanging lights that were delightful during the day and enchanting at night.
As luck would have it, it turned out my new Argentinian crew and I shared much in common, most obvious was our commitment to a good party. The problem was only around five of them spoke English, so for the rest of the group there was not much hope of proper communication. Since Mysteryland was born in The Netherlands, I was expecting to meet fellow English speakers at the festival. But soon after arriving
I realised this was highly unlikely when I heard only Spanish. The vast majority were understandably Chileans, with a handful of Argentinians and Brazilians, a small mix of assorted South Americans and a pinch of Europeans.
My desire to find fellow Australians was short lived after briefly meeting three Aussie blokes on the first evening of the festival because one of them wasn’t looking where he was going and spilled his beer all over me. Typical, I thought, and I decided to go undercover and disguised with my new shirt I pledged myself fully to Argentina. After all, sometimes it’s nice when nobody has a clue where you’re from, when they can’t look at you and
know your story, when they are surprised to learn the truth.
At 3am on the first night of the festival, we were at the techno stage, lost in the music and dance from what had been an incredible set by Gregor Tresher. When suddenly and shockingly, the music stopped. The silence was momentarily deafening and heartbreaking. Seconds later we realised what was happening when we heard music and fireworks beginning to explode and coming from what seemed to be a faraway land. With childlike
excitement, and serious FOMOs, hundreds of us immediately headed for the main stage; running, dancing and skipping down the magical lantern-lit tree-tunnel, just making out the first explosions of colour and light through the trees above and ahead of us, until reaching the clearing at end where we could witness the full magnificence of the extravaganza.
It took my breath away. The main stage looked incredible, unlike anything I had ever seen before. Everywhere there were strangers hugging each other with excitement, and hundreds of us danced our way over the join the sea of happy love-filled people, lit up like art by the colourful
lights painting them from above. All these memories replayed themselves to me as I watched that glorious sunrise after the first night
of the show. The sun was now well and truly up, but there was still no light. The smog that had been rolling down from the mountains was now a thick haze all around us, so we pulled ourselves up and headed back to camp for some much needed rest. Passing by all kinds of mad scenes, we made it back to our tents and joined the rest of the gang in the refuge of our dream worlds.
Slowly I fell asleep to the strange sounds that surrounded me; of random people still chirping out and mixing with the early risers who were already starting the new day. Everywhere there were sounds of people laughing, singing, drumming, chanting, cheering and sometimes
shrieking. And when I woke up, the sounds of the Mysteryland madness were even louder and stranger. The party had never ended. It was around 3pm, it was raining, and had been all day. I could hear electronic beats in the distance, and lots of drunken commotion. Someone informed me that since it had been raining all day, many of the Chileans had just decided to become extra drunk to cope, and were now covered in mud too.
Luckily, the rain stopped soon after I got up but the clouds remained. Feeling a little dazed and confused about what action to take, I walked around aimlessly with my new Argentinian bff, observing the variety of amusing sights and exploring more of the grounds and attractions. We checked out the markets and the workshops on the ‘artist boulevard’; some people were getting their bodies painted, while others were getting creative in the arts and craft area, meditatively making mandalas; colourful geometric designs that are an ancestral practice South America shares with India. Discovering the ‘healing garden’ was like a breath of fresh air and was my personal favourite. Never before in my life had I seen so many people deep in meditation.
On stage, the hippiest looking gurus played hypnotic healing instruments, sending people into a light trance. As deeply relaxing as it was, I was too fascinated to keep my eyes closed, and I noticed a wise looking woman slowing walking around the crowd, carefully selecting those who were deep in meditation and gently banging an instrument over their heads that seemed to be some kind of cymbal that sounded like a gong. The only disappointment I experienced was due to an unfortunate event that occurred on the last night of the festival, during the final moments of the last set. After the spectacular main stage finale show ended, the Techno tent was the only place still playing music to the last few standing.
The djs and VIPS were all there hanging out behind the dj box celebrating together and counting down the final moments of the festival with
the crowd while Chris Liebing crafted his incredible final set. I was front row centre, and was dancing like it was my last night on earth. When I looked forward I could just make out the mysterious dark figures of the VIPS blowing me kisses. When I looked behind myself I was reminded of the sea of people I belonged to, who seemed to be hypnotically swaying as if under some mysterious spell. Over the course of the weekend, the
magic of Mysteryland had slowly made its way into every cell in our bodies and was now holding us all deep within its embrace; everywhere I looked people were hugging, holding and kissing each other, united in a web of love and oneness. The music was incredible.
When suddenly, our bubble was burst: The music seemed to just stop without warning. It felt like someone had cut off my air. Panic and hope overwhelmed the crowd, and loud applause filled the tent. I was sure he was just teasing us. Sure that he would play his devoted fans one last song. Based on my previous music festival experience, the DJs almost always do. They give you one last epic climatic song that ends the
weekendperfectly. But to our horror, Chris didn’t even look at us and started packing up. Joining the desperate crowd, I began screaming at him and begging for one more. Living up to his reputation, he was unmoved, threw up his hands to signal he was done and walked away. It hurt, but more than anything it was puzzling.What the hell are we supposed to do now?
Partly from disbelief and partly from defiance, the confused crowd didn’t move a muscle. We continued to chant, yell, clap and stomp. The lights came on and suddenly the dark figures were clearly visible, exposing their mixed emotions. Many of them looked disappointed and seemed to feel sorry for us, they seemed to agree we deserved one last song. Their pride from being on stage was slowly turning to shame as the mood of
the audience began to turn. Surely we had not come all this way, spent days camping in our own mess, dancing in the rain and mud, having a once in a lifetime experience right up until the last moment…only to belet down so unnecessarily. Our mood fell from hopeful to hopeless as sound technicians unplugged the decks while I stood there with my hands were in the prayer position…when suddenly there was a beacon of hope.
Touched by our reaction, you could see there was now debate amongst them whether something would be done to console us. The gorgeous presenter Lex Empress grabbed the microphone, but when she went to speak, there was no sound and she signaled for them to be turned back on. It appeared they wanted to reach out to their fans with one last message. But the words she so eagerly desired to speak to us were left
unsaid. The sound did not return in time before much of the audience at the back gave up and left since they couldn’t
see what was now happening on stage. It was a sad moment and both the crowd and VIPS looked disappointed. But in a way it was beautiful too: so
much love in the air. There we were, the artists and the audience, totally inspired by each other and wanting to connect but with no way to do so. I could not take my eyes off the enchanting Lex Empress and suddenly she was looking straight at me. For a few brief moments that felt like a lifetime, we stood there with eyes locked, and if one look can speak a thousand words, then her eyes told me a story that she never got to tell.
Inspired, I knew then and there that I wanted to share mine. My story of trust, courage and of making new friends. Of a lost love found, that’s inside us all and all around, of my journey to a place that was mysterious and raw, a land that transformed me with its magic and awe.

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Libby Griffin:

Libby is an adventurous free-spirit, born and raised in Perth, Australia who travels the world in search of fun, enlightenment and new friendships. She is currently back in Australia after extensive traveling through Latin America and Europe. Her next destination is currently unknown. Viva la vida.

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