It was about half a year prior to its occurrence when I first heard of the Eclipse Festival 2016. At first, I remember, I got surprised and bewildered and I was like: “what! a trance party in Indonesia?”. A Muslim country where drug possession is punishable by death and alcohol consumption is highly discouraged and discriminated didn’t sound like the right place to make a trance party at. Just for the sake of the eccentricity of the idea, I felt right away inclined to join the feast. And as fortune, after all happened to bring the things about, one hot morning, me together with a group of nice people, we were driving by an old van towards the festival ground…
As soon as we arrived we got introduced, in the hard way, to what would be the main feature of the next five days the festival was to last, and that was heat, extreme heat. Originally the organizers had proclaimed availability of 5000 tickets, at the end though I believe we weren’t well above 1000. And that was very good, as, still, the camping space was marginally enough for the ones we were, and nevertheless, in my opinion, you don’t need any more people than that to have a great festival. Several were the things with the organization that didn’t work well: There was no potable water, there was almost no shower water either, there was barely any shed at all, the stage didn’t open on time, some of dj’s didn’t show up due to some alleged terrorist threat… and many people were complaining about all this, but, I mean, come on, you are coming to a festival in Sulawesi, what do you expect? In my opinion, notwithstanding all the rest, the people were nice, the place was beautiful, the music was good – and at times very good also – and the party was fun!
There were two very unique things about this party’s character, which singled it out from a conventional psytrance festival. First, it was the discretion in drug consumption and a relative sobriety prevalent in the party. For me, it was the first time ever I was at a rave party, not smelling weed coming from every direction at every step I was to make, and not seeing everybody using and exchanging any sort of drug openly anywhere. Having the Indonesian police around – I must admit that they were very kind and friendly people, but still… – one who would want to find and use anything should do it very, very carefully. The second unique thing was the powerful presence of the local people. Many of them would come to set stalls selling food, cold beers and whatever. Others would come with their entire family for a day trip out of sheer curiosity. Others would come only to take pictures with foreigners. Others would also go to a stage and dance all night long. All of them, no matter what reason brought them there, had always a wide smile to give out and they contributed a great deal to the general positive atmosphere of the festival.
The highlight of the festival was, of course, the eclipse. It had not been long after the sun had risen above the stunning mountains of Central Sulawesi and that crazy night of light, colors, motion, luminous geometry, jigging flowers, jabbering stars, liquid undulating earth and golden twittering fish swimming jauntily through it was left behind. The party was going on for good and everybody was waiting excitedly for the dark to fall again, in so short an interval, upon that spectacular landscape around, looking frequently through the special glasses at the progress of the eclipse which had already started. What a creepy feeling it is to look at that black mass, slowly yet steadily, covering up that fire ball which alone stands in the middle of a total blackness! Outside of that creepy glass world, the sunshine had started finally to fade away, the eclipse was soon to climax. The music stopped and everybody took place to marvel that so rare and magnificent phenomenon. Getting darker and darker… yet darker and darker… and there it was! At the place where the sun was standing a few seconds ago, you could now see with naked eyes a black hole in the sky with a brilliant crown surrounding it! One of the most sublime joys a human eye might ever have the privilege to experience!