Life is all about experiences. It’s about being part of something bigger than yourself. Things that make you take a step back, breath in deep, and acknowledge the strange occurrences that surround you at any given moment. What if I told you there was an event that took place on a secluded island in Vietnam that’s sole purpose was to highlight the magic of human experience through deep sounds of house music? What if I told you you’d be escorted on a zippy speedboat for this exclusive mind altering opportunity? What if I told you the location for this event resembled an organic paradise from a distant planet? What if I told you this was a once in a lifetime experience that couldn’t possibly exist at any other point in time? Would you trust it? Would you take that step toward a higher conscious? Judging by the minuscule crowd at Utopio, most people would simply say say no. I urge you to question your intentions in life and take chances on unique experiences for the simple reason of expanding your sense of what existence can be. The world is chaos, suffering, and so much more. The world can also be a place of fun, and full of excitement, and you should fully embrace those opportunities as they arise.
I enjoy underground electronic house music. I’ve attended clubs around the world and have danced till my hearts content. I’ve partaken in countless music festivals ranging from all genres of music. What I’ve never done before is attend a festival consisting of 13 hours of straight deep repetitive and expansive beats that vibrate your sole and the ground you walk beneath, until now. The event was called Utopio. The first ever house music festival held on the Cham Islands in Vietnam, just off the shore of the adorable ultra touristy town of Hoi An. It consisted of 7 different international dj’s, and one Vietnamese native, who have all played part in raising the bar for the underground house scene in Vietnam. It’s a scene that’s young , but vibrant and passionate as hell. Generally speaking, the admission for Utopio was fair, but I suspect it was the “expensive for Vietnam” price tag that kept away most party goers, especially the Vietnamese scene kids. Cham Islands is a beautiful and peaceful place that can’t, and shouldn’t, really support a large footprint. The price of admission was more than likely intentional, for this reason alone.
The evening started with a congregation at a pier in Hoi An, where everyone hopped on a few speed boats and were escorted 15 minutes away to another world. As the speed boat approached the island, the faint sounds of bass appeared and grew louder by each passing second. Stepping on the island gave me an immediate sense of overwhelming excitement. You know, that kind of emotion that’s spawned from the pure joy of a situation with the awareness that it’s only just begun. The entire crowd was welcomed with a passion fruit cocktail, as everyone worked their way into orienting themselves on what was about to go down. Some staked a hammock spot, some grabbed a chair near the ocean water, some went straight for a swim in the enchanting inlet, other’s began to wiggle their bodies and move their feet in the sand that was oh so incredibly soft. When I say this little sliver of Cham Islands was beautiful, I’m being for real. Lush jungle lined the entrancing inlet of a beach with an array of mountain peaks and plateaus off into the distance of the ocean. The DJ booth was constructed from bamboo in a tasteful yet psychedelic way. Honestly, the whole setting was pretty unreal.
As the sun dawned, you could feel the evening beginning to take form. Sunset swims, spliffs, and lone trance dancers filled your gaze. Dinner and breakfast were both promised with the price of admission. As nightfall was amongst us, dinner was served and it hit a much needed spot. It was a buffet style spread of Vietnamese food. No complaints.
People departed the dinner tables and the night began to open up and reveal itself for the strangeness it was. Feeling loose and buoyant , the dance floor started coming alive. Fire twirled and swirled. The music bumped and thumped. I suspect if anyone happened to take mind altering substances, this was probably the time. When you needed a break from dancing you’d simply walk ten feet, sit in the sand and stare into the ocean. As much as I can recall, this is how most of the night went from this point. It was a marathon of techno, that pushed my limits to the edge.
I cashed out around 2:00 am. Considering I started at 5:00 pm with no stimulating aide , I did quite well in my opinion. I never got word of where the sleeping area was, so I plopped down in a net hammock that scratched and ate at my skin, about 10 meters from the dance floor. Actual sleep never occurred. More of a dream like state with a low frequency thump thump thump pulsating through my intoxicated mind as I lie there. At times, I couldn’t wait for it to be over, questioning my existence and every decision I’ve ever made that led me to that point.
I made it through, and opened my eyes to a blue light on the horizon. The morning was amongst us. The music was still bumping. The dance floor that was still moving. I struggled my way out of the hammock and made my way towards the ocean. A few couples and hookups were swimming in the water. It looked as if they were all having sex, but I simply tried to not pay much attention. I sat next to my love as we both looked at each other and wondered what the hell had just happened. What were we just a part of? What was the point of all this? It was at that moment, when I realized Utopio was bigger than myself and the 60 people there. It was a random point in time that defied all logic and commonsense that solely existed as a human experience in the world that had never before existed and may never exist again. Sure, Utopio may become an annual event in Vietnam. And sure, there have been other festivals and parties that have happened throughout the world since the beginning of civilization. Experiences come and go. They’re points in time that are often not duplicated. The world is full of them and they’re not stoping anytime soon. I encourage you to seek them out.
Contributor: Cody Baldwin. Follow him on social media @codythyme