Playtime in the Desert

We recently returned from our first Joshua Tree Music Festival, held from May 18-21. The trip was rocky to start, but we powered through and ended up having a fantastic time in the desert as a family. We’ve very slowly eased our way back into social settings and events over the past year or so, and I’ve been wanting to get back into the things I used to do before the pandemic — and really, before I became a mother. This festival, being extremely family-friendly, felt like a good opportunity for us to get back out into the world.

The desert heat made the festival challenging at times, but what I loved about JTMF is that it’s independent and managed/produced by a community of volunteers and local folks. There are so many families and kids running around, and just happy, drama-free people. They don’t pack in the crowd, and there’s lots of space everywhere for people to wander and play. Music-wise, as a whole it’s a bit too mellow and granola for me — give me more loud electronic music, more fast beats, more bass — but we did discover some new bands we like: Balkan Bump, The Last Internationale, Trouble in the Streets, Sgt. Splendor, Golden Dawn Arkestra… Still, I was able to go out dancing for a bit on Friday night — when Garza was DJing during an unexpected rainstorm with thunder and lightning — and we were also able to stay out late on Saturday night to catch Balkan Bump‘s really fun, lively set while Emilia was passed out in our wagon.

JTMF is held twice a year, in May and October, and we hope to return in the fall!

This way to Kidsville
Welcome sign near the entrance
Entrance to the Queer Salon
The Queer Salon, a space for drag, queer, and trans art, performance, and talks
The kids chill zone, a shaded space for kids to hang out, watch performances, and do yoga
The kids chill zone, where Emilia spent a lot of time
The fidget fun board in the kids chill zone
Painting a canvas at Kidsville
Inside the Music Bowl, near all the shops
A view of the Music Bowl from inside the art gallery
The cafe stage and coffee shop
One of the festival’s artists at work on the massive, ever-changing mural near the entrance to the Music Bowl
Resting in the sanctuary, a quiet shaded spot
The Kidsville schedule of activities
Emilia and other kids transforming another sign from last year
Artwork near the food vendors
In the Music Bowl, near the entrance to the Boogaloo stage
Hanging out in the shade of one of the wooden structures
The boogaloo stage and lounge
Previous festival artwork and posters
Vendors selling clothing and accessories
Chilling with Nuna, our camp neighbors’ cool cat
At the entrance to the Music Bowl
One of many rainbows at the festival

Published by Cheri Lucas Rowlands

Senior editor at Longreads / Automattic

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: