Don’t let the name fool you, Day Zero is an event that consistently promises an infinite amount of transformational possibility. And if you are someone who appreciates all ancient cultures and is enchanted by their profound perceptions of the universe, then this festival is for you!
Photography by Jack Pasco for Here & Now
In its 5th year, Crosstown Rebels‘ Day Zero was set to reveal once again, it’s world class immersive experience on the sacred grounds of AK TUN AK (Turtle Cave), located 15 kilometers just north of Tulum in the Dos Ojos Cenote Park. Anticipation surrounding the event was compounded by the incredible light of the ominous Full Wolf moon.
The countdown to Day Zero had ended and I finally found myself in the magical splendors of Tulum, Mexico. The yogi in me was eagerly looking forward to the experience of unadulterated emancipation and the reflective power that would inherently come with being in the jungle, throw in some of the best underground music talent and an altered state of consciousness was bound to occur. I was ready for the art and music to stir commotion within me and to take me on a mystical music journey that encompasses Day Zero.
Walking along a 2 kilometers dirt road that led into the jungle, with only the light of a sky full of stars and an impregnated and ominous moon illuminating the way, I felt a nervous yet excited feeling begin to brim up inside of me. I could feel the humid mist from the tropical vegetation whisk against my skin, as a faint cool breeze raised goose bumps all over my body. I paid close attention to the stirrings of the creatures of the night, which began to fade out as alluring sounds of tribal drums mixed in with a dominating bass began to emerge from a distance. I started to feel a little bit like Alice in Wonderland ready and willing to go down the rabbit hole of time and space.
I arrived to the entrance only to discover an incredible line of attendants who were being told that there was a shortage of wristbands immediately I was thwarted from my meditative state of being connected to my surroundings, and thrust into reality. Festival organizers worked tirelessly to ensure that everyone was taken care of and in very little time we were directed into the venue. So, with wristband in hand and a refillable “credit (type) card” to enjoy all the amenities that the event had to offer, I continued to immerse myself back into my mental state of infinite “zero” bliss.
I had to briefly stop and close my eyes to properly indulge in what I was witnessing. My senses were on overload and I needed a moment to process the effulgence that surrounded me, and bless the sacred land that was supporting me. The jungle was garnished with bewitching geometric structures, crystal quartz and ropes around the trees that had me feeling like I was in a treehouse community. Vibrant lights of bright hues like that of a rainbow laced around me.
I excitedly sauntered along an illuminated path to the “Go Get Lost” cave that was entry into the sacred Cenote caves, which were revered by Mayans to be entry ways into the Xibalba underworld where they could communicate with the gods and ancestors that came before them. I took my sandals off to bath my feet in the murky waters hoping to feel what the ancient Mayan felt. I watched as others jumped in free of clothing to bask in the glistening and cooling cave waters. It was a refreshing rest to prepare me for the arduous dance journey that would soon be upon me.
As I gathered my things, I decided to discover the many local artisans offering beautiful hand crafted jewelry, art and food that were sprinkled along the periphery of the event. Spiritual cleansing sessions with copal had me captivated. There are not enough words to describe the way I was feeling at this very moment. Ancient Mayan ideology denotes that the act of dancing creates a sacred space that closes the clove between here and the otherworld, and releases the dead from the clutches of the underworld spirits. Essentially the Mayan believed that through dance they became gods and gods became people, but only for a brief moment in time. This would often be induced by potent hallucinogenic sacred plants or psilocybin mushrooms that would transport the dancer into an altered state of consciousness connecting them to the gods. The “dance” was upon me, and dance I did!! The hallucinogen was the music and it had me cajoling to its rapturous and seductive vibrations.
Barefoot is the only way to properly feel the music and become connected with the ground that supports us. My body continued to sway and move to the music of Serge Devant who delivered a heart thumping performance that perfectly prepared me for the sounds of Dixon. The sound system was eargasmic, you could feel the intense vibrational energy bouncing off of everything and everyone. We were all in synch with the rhythms of the jungle, the music and one another.
I was over the full Wolf moon, knowing that I would once again be smothered in Dixon’s elusive and haunting sound. He relentlessly guided us through twists, turns, on an oscillating journey that dragged us methodically down into deep harrowing corridors and then frantically catapulting us up to beatific climaxes. With errorless and meticulously mixed song selections he and Damian Lazarus kept us all hanging on for more, awaiting the next thrilling direction change. Swimming in a sea of song, I repeatedly found myself coming up and gasping for air.
These artists were well aware of their ceremonial prowess and their music was a pivotal component for the ritual. Their tribal sound aligned itself with the sacred ceremony that was taking place in a big pyramid lit by torches adjacent to the stage. Dancers chanted and performed ancient sacred rituals that were in synch with uplifting music. Cirque du Soleil inspired fire spinners wore traditional ceremonial Mayan costumes and malefic masked skulls, came down from the trees to whisk by you to ensure that you were fully engaged in the experience, all this in impeccable synchronicity.
Perhaps the greatest and most impacting part of experiencing such a magnanimous event is the people I met and the human connections that were formed. It’s true, that music and love are conduits to the foundation of community and eternal soul-filled relationships. Much love and respect to the Crosstown Rebels team for the unforgettable music that was heard and the spiritual human connections that were made to last me an eternity.