Music by VICE

​We Got Life Advice from Some Crazy Kids Raging in a Pool at What The Festival

We got weird in the woods at the Pacific Northwest's best boutique festival.

by Jemayel Khawaja
Jun 23 2016, 3:05pm

All photos by Daniel Zetterstrom

Tucked into a forest outside the town of Dufur, Oregon (that's pronounced "Doofer," by the way), What The Festival brought thousands of hippies, bassheads, woodsfolk, club kids and ravers alike into its illuminated forest of trippiness last weekend. Even with the likes of Claude VonStroke, Bonobo, Thievery Corporation, and Penthouse Penthouse on a the bill, the sound leaned towards bass-heavy breaks, and the Pacific Northwest's finest miscreants from Oregon, Washington, and Idaho alike came equipped with stankfaces, hugs, and North Face jackets in droves as they introduced warm vibes to the sometimes chilly and wet environs.

Even more beloved than the glowing dance fortresses, neon disco clam palaces, and fire-breathing dragons, What The Festival's crown jewel is it's splash pool, a permanent fixture on a vista atop the gorgeous grounds, where everyone from Jai Wolf to Le Youth performed to a crowd that was equal parts sexy and surrealist.

While the first night of the festival was dampened by a near constant drizzle, the hardy Pacific Northwesterners who head to WTF donned their extra layers and kept the festival vibrant until Sunday, when the sun came out and the splash pool party officially popped. We got amongst the splashers to find out what the fuck actually goes down in those woods at night, if there is such thing as a Portland vs. Seattle rivalry, and if there are any life lessons to be learned whilst partying in the forest.


Describe what's going on around you.
I'm at a pool that is just outside a beautiful forest. There's lots of crazy people in costumes, lots of mimosas. I see a giant blow-up Sriracha bottle, Paul Rudd's face, a giant hamster ball with people in it rolling around, and there's really amazing daytime, synthy-house music going on.

What's the trippiest thing you've seen in the woods?
The trippiest thing I saw was by the food vendors. There was this guy passed out, and people had stacked all these objects on him, an enormous, toy cars, Barbie dolls. I felt bad because I thought people were picking on him, but at the end, he stood up, and it was all glued to him! It was a big joke. They duped everybody!

Tell me something unique about your posse.
The Idaho crew rolls deep. There are hundreds of us here. There's shenanigans upon shenanigans––My friends brought the hamster wheel and a giant spider that walks above the crowd. Oh, and we have five hot redheads. How is that genetically possible that one crew comes with five bangin' redheads?

Are they all cousins?

Give me some festival life advice.
If you follow the frequency of music that you love, you will find your people.


What are you dressed as?
I am a sparkling mermaid fairy with some shoulder pads.

How's the water?
I was in the water even when it was raining on Friday! It's great. At first, it's a little chilly, but once you're in, you're feeling the vibes and feeding off of everyone's energy. It's the most amazing place on Earth.

Seattle or Portland, and why?
Okay, lemme get this straight. I love Portland. Portland is the shit. It's a great city. I just like Seattle because it's a bigger city and there's more job opportunities there. That's the reason holding me there. It's become a little hectic because it's growing so fast. We're starting to become like LA with the traffic. It's rough, but the economy's good, so fuck it!

What's the trippiest thing you've seen in the woods?
I really like the clam jam. There's a giant clam, and it's purple and it's glowing and you can lay in it. Around it are all these platforms that light up like DDR times 100. You can dance on them with people dressed up like animals and they're bumpin' disco.

Give me some festival life advice.
Accept collective consciousness. Love everyone around you. I know I sound like a cliche-ass hippie right now, but, like, just try the best you can to live in the moment. We live in a really, really crazy world out there, and it's getting more and more messed up, so we've created our own world in here where we can be as happy as we can and express ourselves.


How 'bout the rain yesterday?
One of the things about the Pacific Northwest is that the weather is never going to be one way or another. Yesterday, we had [our] shirts off for thirty minutes, [and our] coats on for thirty minutes. Last year, it was sunny the whole time!

What's the trippiest thing you've seen in the pool?
I've seen a guy in a wacky inflatable armpit costume doing crunches on top of an inflatable pizza slice. This place is nuts.

Give me some festival life advice...
Have fun. Party hard. But be responsible. That's what separates this from a lot of other festivals. Security here is pretty lax. That's because there's a certain level of responsibility that we hold ourselves and everyone around us to. That doesn't happen at mainstream festivals.

How did you end up becoming a lifeguard at the pool here?
I'm not a lifeguard here! This is just an old uniform I have from when I used to lifeguard a lake in Washington. I converted this jacket into a party vest.

Zack and Amanda

What's going on here?
I'm dressed as an elderly woman. She's dressed as an elderly man with a walker. Our whole crew dressed up like this!

Does this roleplay go back to the bedroom?
I mean. I hope not! I don't wanna. Uh...No.

Which is better, Portland or Seattle?
Portland, for sure! I've been to Seattle before. It's just not my vibe. Which is totally fine! I just don't like traffic. I'm from Portland. I love it there. I like the smaller town vibe.

What do PNW kids bring to the party that nobody else does?
The vibes. Everybody here is pretty chill. We're not here to impress anybody, even though I think we look pretty sexy as old people.


What are you wearing?
I found this at a thrift store seven years ago on Halloween day in Virginia Beach and it has been with me ever since. I wear it at festivals like this and at the Bowie vs. Prince ride in Portland last week.

Have you been in the pool?
I helped build this pool! But I've not been in it. I don't know if I'm gonna go in. It's fucking cold, dude!

Give me some festival life advice.
Don't take for granted the people you meet, regardless of what they look like.


Is this your crew with you?
I'm just here with myself. These are my stuffed animals in case I get lonely.

What's the most interesting thing you've seen in the woods?
Butts. They're round. They're bouncy. They're pretty even. Really nice butts.

What do you think of the Pacific Northwest?
it's much better than the midwest. Think of everything shitty you can think about from the rest of the United States, and eliminate all of it. That's what it's like here. Everyone's nice. Things are great. We can smoke our plants and be happy!

What's the whistle around your neck about?
Angerfist. New York City. Hardstyle. Gabber...That's the shit, man. I'm tellin' ya. There's not much of it here. There's higher beats per minute, everyone's a little more hyper. I like being hyper. I like hyper people. I'm ADHD, alright? I like flailing around.

Give me some life advice.
Smile often.

Jemayel Khawaja is Editor-at-Large of THUMP - @JemayelK