Why I’m Addicted to Wanderlust

We may be biased—but we aren’t the only ones obsessed with Wanderlust. This festival veteran shares the reason behind her addiction.

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It’s been a full day of yoga and mediation classes. You are blissfully subdued, consciously taking note of every flower, the moon rising against a celestial sky. With your yoga mat in-tow, you begin the trek back toward your room. As you round the corner, you see a mass of people dancing with their limbs waving—yet there is no music. Um, what? Have all those inversions and Kundalini classes triggered hallucinations?

It’s when you approach that you notice the headphones, relaying beats that permeate through uninhibited bodies. A stranger catches your eye and senses your intrigue. Grinning, they reach for their headset and, continuing to dance, slides it over your ears. The music fills your head with rousing pulsations, traveling through your extremities and beyond. And there you are, a group of blissed out yogis moving as one. 

The above was Karen Corsmeier’s first Silent Disco experience, which she now refers to as a “standard” part of her festival weekend. I recently had the privilege of speaking with this Wanderlust vet and was blown away—all of her stories illustrate the overarching vibe of the Wanderlust community. It’s a place where unique individuals come together; where different pulses meld into one big vibration.

Karen, now a devoted Wanderluster (and cherished Wanderlust volunteer), attended her first festival back in 2015. A retired flight attendant, she is no stranger to travel. And she does it with fervor, chasing Wanderlust Festivals around the globe like a loyal Phish or Grateful Dead fan. Karen has attended Wanderlusts O’ahu and Squaw Valley since 2015, along with a detour one year to Wanderlust Snowshoe, five 108s, and the strong desire to keep going.

This is a place where unique individuals come together; where different pulses meld into one big vibration.

Her passion for attending these festivals is three-fold. Most obvious: The yoga classes, meditation sessions, lectures, and activities enrich her daily life. Second, there is the unique environment of each location (Vermont, California, Canada, West Virginia, and Hawaii), which intoxicates the senses and often allows for a much-needed immersion in nature. But most of Karen’s stories and noteworthy experiences seem to revolve around the final piece of the puzzle: the unlikely surprise of the ever-changing, ever-powerful community.

With a stockpile of multi-colored bracelets under her belt, we can trust Karen when she says, “None of [the festivals] have ever been the same.” Though there are delightful standards you come to rely on—“There is yoga, meditation and fun in every festival”—Karen reiterates that each event is a living, breathing entity. The reason? “Each festival has its own personality because of the people who come.” The structure, the location, the classes, the music… They provide a container for the experience. But it’s the people who fill it, and how they interact with one another, that give the festival its own energy.

“Each festival has its own personality because of the people who come.”

With a revolving door of one-of-a-kind attendees—festival addicts, the occasional goer, and newbies alike—you can be sure each event will continue to have its own life force, no matter how many times you partake. 

Though Karen’s inaugural Wanderlust experience was shared with her niece (and the two still frequent festivals together to this day) she advises people that they don’t need to come with their friends. Make it a solo trip. The community will welcome you with open arms. That’s why Karen suggests, whether or not you come with a group, that you give yourself the opportunity to meet new people.

“It’s great to go with friends. But sometimes it’s nice to go alone and be open to meeting somebody you may have a connection with,” Karen says. Surprise encounters with kindred spirits, meeting like-minded people from around the world, sharing moments of laughter and stillness and growth… These are things that deepen your itinerary’s face value. Consider each event a uniquely profound, 360-degree enrichment.

But don’t think you need to be an extroverted fire-twirler to make new friends or feel at home amidst the crowd. (Fellow wallflowers, you’re in good company.) Whether you identify more with the former crew, chasing Acro classes and slack-lining during your free time, or the latter, moving quietly from asana to meditation, Karen pacifies our need to be-all, do-all. 

“We’re all experiencing it at our own pace and need,” she reminds festival-goers. The good news is this experience is uniquely yours. What’s even better is that you have the palpable support of an incredible community surrounding you.

When asked about advice for the curious first-timer, Karen, whose festival experiences have been peppered by beautiful strokes of happenstance, serendipity and fate, offers up sage advice: “There are things in life you may never get to experience unless you’re open to the opportunity.” So when that stranger offers you their headphones, accept them with a big smile and just dance. Dance your heart out. You’re in good company.

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Kacey Janeen Waxler is a California-based yoga instructor and writer on the hunt for adventure and good stories. Her words can be located amongst noteworthy brands including Corona Extra, Athleta, and Darling Magazine, and in the flesh she can be found reading unapologetically from the glow of a headlamp, geeking out over sequencing, or neck deep in a deliciously hot bath. Follow her adventures at @kaceyjaneen or kaceyjaneen.com.