Love Your Neighbor

Yes, of course, there are limits to PLUR. Sometimes you don’t feel unified, or peaceful, or loving. Maybe there’s a zionist DJ or muscle gay who bumps into you. Maybe you’re annoyed at your friends. But at Whole, for some reason, it was giving as much PLUR as possible (AMPAP?). People were so warm, so nice. Here’s what I mean: One morning, walking home from dancing at 9am (there was about a half hour walk between the stages and the camping area, which meant it was actually quiet if you wanted to sleep) I saw a slug, squished on the wet trail. I actually have a mild phobia of slugs, but perhaps because the vibe at Whole was so open and gorgeous, that I not only felt like I wanted to push myself to be loving and compassionate to the many slugs I saw in the German countryside, but I actually wept when I saw this one dead. I stopped to contemplate this dying entity, guts oozing out, and wept.

I must have looked like I was about to throw up, leaning over and my hands on my knees, because a stranger stopped to check on me, put their hand on my shoulder, and ask if I was OK. This checking-on ritual happened to me over and over at Whole. I would be contemplative on the dancefloor and someone would check on me. I would be squatting looking at my phone in a crowd and someone would ask if I needed anything. One person came up to me as I was backing off the dancefloor, introduced themselves as Bougie and said my dancing was so beautiful they wanted to give me an earring they had made, which was a dangly earring with a tiny spoon on it. One person in the cruising space with a giant tattoo of a stork on their bare, muscular thigh stroked my cheek, shaking their head, murmuring “gorgeous, gorgeous,” before they kissed me. A DJ ended his set and then threw his arms around my friend, telling them “you were my dance teacher in Amsterdam 12 years ago. I am so happy to see you.” He was wearing a t-shirt which simply read “Palestine.” AMPAP.

Ok, yes but also it was a techno party. Were there multiple stages? Yes. Was the production immaculate? Yes. The sound systems were so beefy, and so thoughtfully arranged, marvels of the telltale German efficacy with machines. When the marimbas on the house track would come in, you could hear how clear and undistorted the highs were, even if the ragged kick on the hardstyle interlude from a few moments before made it sound like the track was clipping. The sounds were polymorphous and perverse. The sets were unpretentious yet undeniably virtuosic. The dancefloors were thoughtfully arranged on sand, among shipping containers, with one stage even floating in a lake so you could dance on the shore or in waste deep water. It rained, but then the sun came out. My glamping tent was luxurious, with multiple mattresses, bedding, lamps, a power strip and total dryness throughout a potent thunderstorm (I split the cost with a friend and for four nights came down to about 30 euro a night per person).

There were copious drugs. I once saw a man with curly hair collapse on the dancefloor, and we all curtsied in towards him and caught him easily and elegantly, like choreography. We lowered him to the ground and then he rose back up like a biblical miracle, and returned to dancing as if nothing had happened, pumping his fist. I did see an ambulance once, but I didn’t see anyone get in it.

Of course, there were hard moments, mostly private. At one point, I wondered what had become of the iron mine that the festival was being thrown at – what did Germans do with the iron, I wondered, then decided I didn’t want to think about that. I saw old train tracks in the woods, and wondered why there would be an abandoned train track, and decided I didn’t want to think about that. Someone said someone’s ass prolapsed in the douching station, but I think that actually might have just been a joke from a meme. Someone said all the 3m and 4m in Berlin right now were actually this sister molecule, 3cmc, which is cardio and neurotoxic. So I just stayed away from 3 and 4. It wasn’t hard to steer away from these little blips, and then to give myself time to contemplate difficult things when I wanted to, for example the squished slug. Back in Berlin, days later, I heard more complaints, political and social. The app for the festival actually had a forum where I think people are still giving each other a hard time (more meme fodder). But I have no complaints. I got to have as much PLUR as I needed.