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Hulaween 2021: An Emotional Reunion At The Spirit Of The Suwannee [Review/Photos/Videos]

Throwing a festival in this day and age is even more of an ambitious, frustrating, and confounding undertaking than it ever was before the age of pandemic. Consider that Suwannee Hulaween is hosted in Florida—an epicenter of the culture war with deep social and political divides on issues of the day—which meant that the situation with testing and vaccines threatened to become a conundrum before the festival even began. State of the union, I suppose, but still, there was an ominous energy in the run up to the event that troubled me, and I know I was not alone in those concerns. The fact that Suwannee Hulaween 2021 even happened at all was a miracle in itself, yet somehow the fest managed to manifest something as magical as ever.

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Allow me to report that almost none of that kind of negativity was present at the event altogether. After a torrential rain soaked the Spirit of the Suwannee Music Park on Thursday, October 28th, the entire festival and its imbibed inhabitants were thoroughly rinsed of any preconceived drama, fears, or default-world concerns. People were unabashedly stoked to be back at the glorious music park, and it felt like just about everybody surrendered to the phantasmagorical flow that so defines the Suwannee Hulaween experience.

Something about the esoteric environs dripping in organically psychedelic Spanish moss, the towering, defiant live oak trees that envelop us within the dank swampy confines, the divinity and mystery of the Suwannee River, its fertile soil for transcendence and transformation, for healing and community, for dancing and revelation, inspiration and collective vibration—of course it would be on these sacred grounds that societal walls of illusion would crumble at the gates, and the people would indeed roam foot-loose and fancy-free once again.

This iteration of Hula seemed to be an evolution of sorts, a collective leveling-up in ways both subtle and substantial. 2021 saw many more people of color attending the festival, and it seemed the LGBTQ community was present, prouder, and more vibrant than ever. There were open displays of love and affection for and from all humans; for the first time in a long time, feelings of togetherness were fostered in earnest.

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