What The Festival Oregon
1 of 19
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The Massive Pool Party
The massive wading pool—packed with DJs, inflatable pool toys, and a whole lot of half-naked revelers dancing under the sun—remains a central attraction of the daytime party action.
What the Festival Oregon
2 of 19
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The Massive Pool Party
A human-sized shark, making its way around the pool's perimeter.
What The Festival Oregon
3 of 19
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The Massive Pool Party
When we first arrived at the pool late Saturday morning, only a handful of partiers had made their way out. But as the afternoon sun rose and people indulged a bit of “the hair of the dog,” the pool transformed from a calm dance-off kind of space to a massive rager. The colorful costumes, props, and booty-popping people were an event photographer’s dream. The twerk action alone was enough to make Miley Cirus’ MTV VMA performance look tame. Problem was, almost every time I whipped out my camera to capture the best of the action up close, the subjects would spot me and get just a little camera shy. I guess, for the most part, what happens at the WTF pool party will just have to stay at the WTF pool party.
What The Festival Oregon
4 of 19
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Costumes and Props
Trending heavily toward the Burning Man–aesthetic, the most common costume themes for the weekend included animal ear headbands, furry onesies, belly dancer hip scarves, faux fur coats, belly-bearing crop tops, animal tails, neon anything, space-themed metallics, and light up, well, everything. Future fest-goers, take note!
What The Festival
5 of 19
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Decked Out Dwellings
Attendees need not rough it at WTF if that’s not their style—glamping is de rigueur. Even if they’re not renting one of the festival safari tents, complete with private patio space and A/C, most folks dress up their campsites, and make sure their tent can fit not only a wardrobe, but a full-length mirror to appreciate it. And if tents just aren’t your thing, you could always settle for a sweet jungle-gym dome with a few of your pals—just don’t forget the swing, trampoline beds, and fully-stocked bar like these glampers. Clearly, no dome is complete without them.
What The Festival Oregon
6 of 19
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Laid Back Staff
The staff at WTF treated partiers as they could only hope to be treated—as adults. Case in point, upon arrival, everyone at the festival had their cars and belongings searched. Sounds a bit draconian, doesn’t it? But here’s how the scenario really played out: We drove up to the security check and two outfitted men approached our car. At first it was a bit intimidating—like that feeling at the airport when you’re nervous you’re going to be pulled aside and frisked by TSA even if you have nothing to hide. (Or am I the only one that feels that way?) The WTF security staff then asked whether you’ve brought in any weapons or glass. And then: “Have you brought any EXCESSIVE amounts of drugs with you?” Emphasis on ‘excessive.’ "As in more than an ounce of weed or an abundance of pills or anything,” he continued. We spoke with several fest-goers about this security check experience and all agreed: they appreciated the cautious yet relaxed policy on substances, took note of security’s low-key out respectful approach, and repaid it by partying safely (from what we could surmise) and maintaining the festival’s “pack it in, pack it out” policy. Well done, WTF.
What the Festival Oregon
7 of 19
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The Crowd Goes Wild for Kaytranada's Beats
DJs and performers kept spirits high throughout the weekend, but one of the highlights was the live performance by Nightmares on Wax, which drew in flocks people from all corners of the Ranch. Other crowd favorites included Kaytranada, Cashmere Cat, and Emancipator Ensemble.
What The Festival Oregon
8 of 19
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Friendly Fest-Heads
“Sharing is caring” seemed to be the motto around the tightly packed campsites, where tent neighbors for the weekend became fast friends, passing tools, food, booze, and joints, along with other unmentionables, across sites—all showing what’s mine really is yours at the summer’s best adult summer camp. A special shout out to the dude who kindly ordered several elephant ears pastries to share with a table full of hungry strangers late-night, including yours truly. You, sir, are my new favorite person. And elephant ears, for the record, are pretty damn delicious after a day full of partying.
What The Festival Oregon
9 of 19
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Big Art: Interactive Murals
So-called “big art” was scattered throughout the 250-acre Wolf Run Ranch, which overlooks both Mount Hood and Mount Adams, making for a truly immersive experience. While it’s hard to choose a favorite, some standouts include the live interactive murals (by Xavi Panneton) and the massive wood Zomes (by Rob Bell).
What The Festival Oregon
10 of 19
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Get In the Zome
As things started to wind down at the pool on Saturday evening, my husband and I meandered over to one of the Zomes to see what it was all about. Upon entering, an oh-so friendly twenty-something woman stood up and walked around the interior circle, offering everyone in the dome a small orange pill. As a journalist on duty, I, of course, declined politely. (Though, I admit, it might have made this report slightly more…shall we say colorful?) The pill pusher laughed, as did several others, and then offered one to my husband who accepted her offer. WTF, I thought we were in this together?! He passed it over to me, laughing knowingly. Upon closer inspection, I realized the little orange pill I had so cautiously avoided was just a Pez. And now I feel like a jerk for thinking the generous 90s-candy-toting lady was a pill pusher.
What The Festival Oregon
11 of 19
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Bob Marley Yoga and Other Enrichment Classes
The list of classes and workshops was jam-packed: Bellydancing, Booty Luv, Burlesque, and Bob Marley Yoga—and that’s just the ones beginning with B. In keeping with the spirit of the festival, Bob Marley Yoga, a popular morning class for early birds who crawled out of their tents in time (or didn’t go to sleep the night before), promised a yoga session that was musically driven and just a little bit heady. Yoga instructor Chris Calarco began the class by telling more mindful fest-heads that, much like the experience of losing yourself in music on the dance floor, his musical yoga class was all about “emancipating yourself” from your mind. The class, which was coordinated with some of Bob’s classics as well as remixes, was so popular that it filled up 30 minutes before it was scheduled to begin. Lucky for Portlanders who missed the festival (and the lazy bones who got there at the scheduled time only to find it was already packed), the class’s instructor offers similar classes right here in PDX.
What The Festival Oregon
12 of 19
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The Performers
Musical performances took place on five separate stages, all impressive in their own right. Our favorite, though, was the little low guy on the totem pole: the Late Night Lounge (LOL for short), which showcased impressive Vaudeville-inspired musical acts from 10 pm until the early morning hours. One particularly notable performance came from an impressive group of Portland-hailing, ukulele-playing women known as the UkeLadies. The group had an upbeat vibe, a 1920’s-inspired wardrobe, and cracked dirty jokes throughout their set. At the end of it, the crowd adamantly chanted for an encore, which they delivered in the form of a sweet little rendition of Radiohead’s “Creep”. There’s just something about a group of uke-toting women, one who was very pregnant (mad props, lady!), dropping the F-bomb and joking about getting high that is utterly hysterical. And we sure hope there’s more where that came from!
What The Festival Oregon
13 of 19
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The Illuminated Forest
One of the main questions I had going into this festival weekend was, “WTF is an Illuminated Forest?!” As its name implies, the Illuminated Forest features light-filled sculptures, immersive art, and experiential art installations. Flecked with pink, green, and yellow lights, this loop through the forest is one that is best absorbed in the darkness of night, when the bright neons pop against the blackness of the wilderness. What follows is a series of photos from this year’s Illuminated Forest. But to get the full effect, you’ll just have to check it out for yourself next year.
What The Festival Oregon
14 of 19
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The Illuminated Forest
Lounge in the multicolored electric pod and be amazed by the changing colors.
What The Festival Oregon
15 of 19
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The Illuminated Forest
Hang like spiderman in a comfy two-tiered spider-bed as you watch LOL stage performers.
What The Festival Oregon
16 of 19
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The Illuminated Forest
It really is an illuminated forest.
What The Festival Oregon
17 of 19
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The Illuminated Forest
Hanging lanterns offer a boho feel to certain parts of the forest.
What The Festival Oregon
18 of 19
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The Illuminated Forest
One of my favorite parts of the Illuminated Forest was the area where a Nintendo 64 Mario Kart station was set up. Okay, I’m biased here…and I’m not too proud to admit that my husband and I actually own an N64 and whip it out to play Mario Kart when we want to feel kid-like again. But watching fest-heads run their respective carts around and around in circles and off course was absolutely hysterical. I don’t think I’ve ever witnessed a more terrible bunch of Karters in all my life—but I guess when your head is spinning from an afternoon full of twerking, you deserve to be cut some slack. PS: If Portlanders want to redeem themselves, I have an N64, Mario Kart, and 4 controllers sitting at my house…just sayin’!
What The Festival Oregon
19 of 19
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The Illuminated Forest
And if nothing else, many of the Illuminated Forest installments make for sweet “secret” make out spots.
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