37364_405047069388_578359388_4525560_6794977_nIs anyone else in the belly dance world feeling down these days? Like there’s a big hole in our universe and there’s almost nothing that can fill it?

The closer we get to May, the sadder I get that there won’t be a Tribal Fest to attend this year. Sadder still that we didn’t have the chance to say goodbye last year – not knowing that it was going to be the last year. There was so much more to Tribal Fest than just being a belly dance festival. It was a place of community, of feeling like coming home, a place for family. A wacky, fun, creative, and amazing family. A family of chosen peers. And it being one of the largest belly dance festivals left, it was a place where we saw more of that family than we did all year at our local events.

37364_405047044388_578359388_4525555_5473483_nBeyond the family, the Tribal Fest stage was the BEST show I’ve ever seen. Each year, growing and becoming better than the last. All thanks to the performers and the space to show such creativity. The safety of being able to try out something new, or something ridiculous, something funny, something serious or sad. The idea that with each new act that came onto the stage, the audience would have no clue what was about to happen. How much their minds would be blown. How much beauty, grace, and genius was about to enter the stage. Some of the most amazing performances that will stay forever burned in my brain have been at Tribal Fest and in the early after parties put on by Unmata (back in the day). Women with horse bits in their mouths and tails swinging to and fro as they danced.  Women dressed in crimson as the most beautiful vampires I’ve ever seen… stepping up on to boxes making them tower fourteen feet over the audience – looming over us with grace and beauty. A stage filled with color, smiles, and quick group improv steps. Dark, eery performances – remember the implanted steel wings?! Gorgeous slinky male performances. Props, fun, mayhem… costume malfunctions… singing – wow, did you know that she could sing too?! Remembering them all is like seeing a huge part of my life flash before my eyes.

27827_425891456390_608486390_5837394_406313_nAnd there’s so much more to miss! Arrival day, stopping by the market to pick up food for our vacation rental. Running into all of the other dancers. Spending a week in the forest, surrounded by people I love, admire, and respect. Catching up with old friends, meeting new ones. Impromptu performances at our house for the week. Drinking wine and talking all night. Laughter filling the air everywhere I turned.

The festival is pretty much irreplaceable. I, along with some of my other housemates, have been discussing potential events that might fill the void, might bring us all together from across the country, might give us the opportunity to have a pay-cation (where we make money as vendors to help pay for the trip). Nothing yet discussed has filled that idea… that spot in the universe where all of these things line up. I hope with all hopes something arises. Or that maybe another, older festival might return. Something to fill the void left by the loss of Tribal Fest.

SLOFarmersMarketIn the meantime, we do have a plan. I’m pretty excited about it and I think it will definitely take the sting out of missing Tribal Fest so much this first year. We’re putting together a trip to San Luis Obispo the same week as Tribal Fest!! There aren’t any belly dance plans yet, but I’m sure if enough of us are there, plans will get rolling. If not, there is still so much to do there. From the quaint small-town shops, to the delicious restaurants (anyone been to Moe’s?!), the farmer’s market, the pubs, Avila Beach, and even the Monterey Bay Aquarium is just up the road a bit! We’ll be there from the 9th to the 16th… and we would love to have any/all of you join us who might be missing TF that week and just want to get together, have some fun, and maybe even do a little dancing!

RIPHopefully, with friends, laughter, and love all around us, it won’t hurt so bad that week. RIP Tribal Fest… you will be sadly missed.


What will you miss most about Tribal Fest? Leave your notes and memories in the comments!



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23 thoughts on “RIP Tribal Fest

      1. Oh!! This is Victoria! I’m sorry, I didn’t recognize the user name at first. Aww! I miss you!!! I was so hoping you would get to come stay with us again one year. Here’s hoping we end up at another festival again in the near future. *kisses!*

  1. I will miss being part of the most radical, potent and powerful group of women I’ve ever been part of. I will miss seeing those performances that opened my heart and brought me (us) to tears. Thanks for making this post and thank you to everyone who made Tribal Fest what it is.

  2. My heart aches whenever I remember that Tribal Fest is no more. From my very first experience I felt that it was the real world, how we are really meant to live and be in the world, and everything outside of TF was the pale dream. From our “group home” to the fest itself, everything about it and everyone participating made it magical. 💖

  3. I am humbled to have experienced year 12 and 13 (and even meet and share a house with you!), and they are memories I will forever cherish. Sad that its over, but smiling because it happened. So many wonderful people. I look forward to see other things grow and flourish!

  4. Why not plan a meet-up in Sebastopol that week? See the places and shops that you love, and have impromptu dance in the Fountain Plaza? Sebastopol loves you and misses you. ❤

    1. Oh Carly, that really is a beautiful idea! The problem for us is that most of our group are vendors from Southern California and the expense of a trip that far is pretty far out of our budget without getting to vend and make back the costs. But we would love to be there again someday. We are going to miss Sebastopol so much!!

  5. From the first year to the last there are so many memories that swim through my head all the time and I just want to cry happy tears for the good fortune of being there for so much of it. The thing I’ll miss the most is all the friendships growing deeper each year.
    I want to tag along to Santa Cruz.

    1. Incredible friendships that deepened each year. So true! Mahalia, you totally have to come to San Luis Obispo with us!! The dates that we will be there are May 9th to the 16th and we’re reserving rooms at the Sunbeam Motel (cheap and clean and quaint). We would love for you to join us!!

  6. I feel sad that it ended the way it did and that I never got to go. I used to run an annual event myself back in the UK, nothing at all on the scale of Tribalfest though, but it brought people together and definitely encouraged wacky ‘out of the box’ performances. I really miss doing that. In Malaysia I rarely even have the opportunity to perform let alone get together at a proper hafla or show so I was really hoping to get out to TF one day. I am sure that in time, the wonderful community spirit that thrived at TF will be the same thing that births something new and equally magical. As sad as it is to say goodbye to something so beloved, perhaps the universe felt it was time for change. At every end is a new beginning.

    Much love – Bea

    1. Bea, I so hope that is true. That something magical and beautiful will come out of our wonderful community – maybe not a replacement, but at least something small that we can build on. Thank you for your sweet words!

  7. I am not sure I can articulate what I’ll miss most. I was there every year from 8 forward. I grew as a dancer with every workshop and enjoyed the inspiring performances. I’ve always been shy. It took me years to really break free from my shell and start speaking with all the dancers and venders I’d see each year. I think maybe I’ll miss those burgeoning friendships the most.

  8. I loved every single minute. And I cannot express how sad it makes me that it’s gone. The people, the music, the shopping, the shows! The hundreds of hugs from friends from all over the world. I love you all!! I could cry with grief but I smile instead. It may be over but my memories are priceless. And if I am honored to have my path cross any of yours, look out! I’m going to hug you SO hard I’ll leave a dent.

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