From April 28th to May 2nd, Lake Perris was the destination for all things Desert Hearts. With over 6,000 attendees, over 72 hours of non-stop house and techno tunes, eccentric burner-inspired fashion far and wide, art, cozy hangout spots surrounded by nature, and so much more, this five-day celebration is an anniversary to remember for decades to come.
As Desert Hearts relocated from Los Coyotes Indian Reservation, this is the first year that the crew didn’t celebrate the festival at their signature venue.
Accommodating their growing fanbase, and finding a gallant way to celebrate a decade of house, techno, and love- Lake Perris became their new stomping grounds.
Still encapsulating the seclusion that their previous venue amplified, Lake Perris surrounded attendees between a mountain-rimmed valley with grand sights of a gorgeous lake that ran for miles, bringing the most stunning sunsets and sunrises as late nights faded into early mornings.
The campgrounds spread far and wide, as options for standard or premier parking, car camping, and RV camping filled the venue. Now, attendees had more amenities than before as showers and bathroom facilities were spread throughout the park. This made the camping experience more enjoyable.
The distance between parking lots, camping, and glamping was a considerable walk as these spots were a distance from the festival grounds.
Walks through deep trenches that were poorly lit made treks back to campsites dangerous once nightfall came around.
However, with the giving-freely and unstintingly nature of the Desert Heart community, inground lights were eventually added and lined along pathways to add ease to these dark passages.
Desert Hearts offered glamping for those who wanted more of a luxurious experience as they were promised ready-made tent areas with outdoor seating, a bar, easy access to purchase ice, and overall, the ultimate camping experience.
Attendees complained, claiming what was advertised as extravagant camping versus what they showed up to was not what they paid for and never received.
Although this is something to not be ignored, the festival grounds itself was a phenomenal experience as the music, art, and high spirits all-round had such a welcoming and incomparable energy that truly took your mind off of these flaws.
Once you entered the festival gates, sights of the beautiful lake never left your eye, and spread throughout the grounds were immaculate pieces of art. Even giant inflatable mushrooms!
From live paintings, art cars, LED decorations, to the iconic trademark Heart Stage with a disco ball hanging front and center- enclosed by a disco framed heart, the art left you speechless at every moment as you would constantly lock your eyes on something new.
As this year’s edition embraced changes, the Desert Hearts Crew also added a second stage to the festival, creating another temple of fun to their already flamboyant stage.
The Desert Stage greeted the edge of the waters and met the lake, creating a dancefloor in the sand. This was one of the most unique stage experiences, as attendees had the option of dancing amongst others in the soft terrain- some barefoot and others stomping in platforms that coordinated with their fits, others enjoying the water on floaties, some swimming, and others dancing on the art cars that surrounded the stage.
With room to dance, everyone enjoyed this daytime stage however they pleased.
The Desert Hearts fashion show took place here, and some of the most extravagant, bold looks danced their way across the stage as others watched in enjoyment.
Mikey Lion’s set at the Desert Stage was one of the most memorable sets of the weekend, as everybody danced happily and smiles were found in every corner. At one point, the techno provocateur had a baby dressed as a teddy bear and raised it as if he were Rafiki and the baby Simba.
The iconic moment brought laughter and more joy to the dancefloor- the type of witty and goofy humor that kept thriving the entire weekend.
As the sun began to set, the Desert Stage took its final moments and the Heart Stage stole the rest of the show, where the real party began and carried nighttime shenanigans into the early morning. Stages alternated the spotlight as the days flowed into each other, but the music never stopped.
On Saturday morning, a special guest – Justin Martin made an appearance and played a beautiful and serene sunrise set. The stage remain filled and never missed a beat as everyone’s spirits stayed high.
Some of the grooviest and most pounding sets that highlighted the weekend were Township Rebellion, Shaded, Heidi Lawden, Kevin Knapp, Lee Reynolds, SuperFlu, Tara Brooks, Carl Craig, Robag Wruhme, Anja Schneider, and others.
With over 72 hours of music, choosing the ultimate set that stole the show while keeping each artist’s unique sound in mind makes this comparison scale very difficult.
If you wanted to explore, you could get lost in the hangout areas of the festival where DHtv’s own Camp Plamp had a photo booth area accompanied by couches and many teddy bears, welcoming anybody and everybody a spot to hang out.
If you wandered further out, you’d find Tonight's Tavern, where the ultimate entertainment took place and you could enjoy comedy from some of Desert Heart’s finest artists and staff.
The Healing Sanctuary lay not too far from Tonight's Tavern, where you could get lost in the Soul Palace where an arrangement of pods each had themed hangout rooms. One pod was filled with merch and videos of boy popstars NSYNC, another solely of Lisa Frank, a tea room (yes, tea parties happened here), and even a whimsical themed room.
This was a great spot to take a quick disco nap, embrace your inner child, and connect with oneself.
There were many vendors that lay across the venue, selling one-of-a-kind pieces that couldn’t be found anywhere else, which was a blast to explore.
The food options were also great – the Tom Kha soup is a meal 100% worth trying, especially once the coldness of the night rolls in.
At nighttime, there was also a fire performance that took place, showcasing some of the most talented fire dancers. The ooh's and ahh’s that came from viewers were such a thrill, and describing the talents of these performers is still beyond words.
The 10th anniversary of Desert Hearts Festival reflected the years of gatherings that the Desert Hearts Crew has created over the years. From renegades in deserts to evolving into a larger festival and still growing into a larger loving community of house, techno, and love, this celebration certainly touched the lives of many, including myself.
Although many felt this edition lacked how tightly-knit and more intimate previous editions of Desert Hearts Festivals have been, it is important to consider the growth of the community and overall embracing change and appreciating it as they work to constantly improve the experience.
Feeling the inspiration from the DH crew, the participants who shared their art and talents over the weekend, and the fashion statements that were made- all these different forms of expression truly showcased the beauty that the Desert Hearts Crew has curated and brought together within their community.
Desert Hearts Festival surely can’t be compared to any other festival, as it remains one of the most unique underground events and brands to exist.
If you would like to fall off the grid for a weekend and get lost in the beauty of wonder, art, music, and self-discovery, you should keep the month of April free so that you can experience the magic of Desert Hearts Festival in 2023.