“Playas for Life” by Kinsee Morlan
Wow. I made it. I survived. There was one point when I didn’t think I’d make it. I was in a tent somewhere outside of Rosarito, and as an inordinate amount of flashlights streamed by the broken flap in the tent, I tried my hardest to look away from the lights and focus on the rapid-fire Spanish the crowd of Tijuanenses surrounding me were speaking.
I picked up every sixth word or so and began to freak out as my mind went into dark places it doesn’t belong. I felt alone, alienated, confused, stupid and out of place.
Full disclosure: I may have partaken in the pot brownies. Maybe. I’m not admitting anything here, I’m just saying that I was suffering from the worst case of paranoia I’ve felt in a long, long time.
As Goa Gil played his speedy set of spiritual techno outside on a stage built into the trees, I sat inside that damned tent, freaking out like a chihuahua on crack.
“What the hell am I doing here?” I started to think, as more and more kids tried to talk to me in Spanish and I was barely able to respond.
But as 2 a.m. turned into 4 a.m., I calmed down and eventually slipped into my roll as the outside observer. A beautiful little lesbian Tijuanense crawled into the tent and talked to me about what she wanted out of life. She tried her best to speak in English while I tried my best to pull out my Spanish.
And the boy who had invited me to the two-day rave — isn’t there always a boy behind these type of things? — eventually got me to calm down, too. We talked about cow bones (he says he uses cow bones in the handmade electric guitars he makes in Playas) and other such nonsense and we intermittently tried our best to go back outside the tent into the world of black lights, loud music, stars and trees, only to gyrate for a few moments before we’d give each other this look like, “Man, it was just so much nicer inside that tent, wasn’t it?”
In the morning, when the dust from the all-night dancing and partying had settled, I finally got to see the true beauty of the place. Apparently, every year the same party promoter rents out a ranch off of kilometer 81 on the free road from Rosarito to Ensenada and they invite the Great Goa Gil to play. And the kids (as in kids as young as 14) come swarming –they pack up their little tents, or casitas as they call them — ‘Where’s your house?’ they kept asking me all night — and sleeping bags and head out for two days of dancing.
When we first arrived, our tent had been one of just a dozen or so, but by the time I woke up we were surrounded by hundreds of tents filled with kids who would have been full-blown hippies if only they’d been born two decades earlier. And for a moment, while picking my way through the squashed Tecate cans and empty plastic water bottles, I felt as young and as free as they all seemed.