T’was the afternoon of Shabang XI and all through Laguna Lake, vendors and artists were singing and stirring. But at the Funk Safari, there was hardly a shout as they danced to house.
At the silent disco, guests were wired into headphones and danced away to house music in a jungle-themed corner of the festival.
Respect the Funk, a local production company specializing in magazines, videos and events, was behind this “Funk Safari,” which challenged disco-goers to break out of their own personal zoos while maneuvering through vines, bamboo cages, and even a 15-foot inflatable elephant.
This is the second time they have held a Silent Disco at Shabang, and like in the spring, the lines were out the door.
Ariana Filice, a fire dancer and performer from University of California, Santa Barbara, acted as an animal wrangler for dancers dressed as a lion, jaguar and bird.
“The theme is they’re too funky to stay in a cage, they break out and they’re gonna break out onto the platforms where they do their performance solos,” Filice said while supervising the dancers’ makeup routine. “They’re evoking the animal in the audience and evoking the animalistic sides of themselves.”
If the dusty grounds proved to be too wild for attendees, they could seek refuge at The Janky Barge, a bus with 10 Burning Man festivals under its belt. Jenni Fick, a Barge crewmember, said she was proud of the homely-looking vehicle’s features, although some are left unspoken for, like the five different subwoofer speakers on the bottom and back of the bus.
“We also have a full bar inside that we’re not serving right now ’cause there’s underage kids at this event,” Fick said as she smiled next to the ladder leading to the Barge’s top balcony.
Up there, DJs from KCPR, Respect the Funk and SubSessions live-mixed with their friends. While the bus teetered back and forth with the weight of its stampeding passengers, a firm grip on the balcony’s railings could keep eyes locked on the rest of Shabang’s festivities happening down below.
Near the shores of Laguna Lake stood the main stage, which featured local bands and musicians like the Breathing Effect, Daisy, .paperman, Rowan McGuire, Depressed Specter, VeryDeadly and Sonoda.
Leven Kali, an up-and-coming R&B artist from Santa Monica, headlined the festival. His energy brought the audience to sing along with his songs and share his excitement.
“Something that I pride myself and we pride ourselves on is the borderless, genre-less, race-less quality to everything we’re doing,” Kali said in an interview. “We could take this show anywhere across the country and across the world and connect with people through music.”
Kali has a growing fan base and collaborates with other artists, including The Internet’s Syd. When it comes to artistic expression, Kali said he believes in being yourself.
“[People] definitely know when you’re being honest,” he said. “They can feel it and nothing’s stronger than that.”