Wanderlust California 2011: Creating a ‘positive vision for the world’
OLYMPIC VALLEY, Calif. – It’s Monday morning, and Jeff Krasno is already hard at work at Squaw Valley USA.
Nothing new there.
“I work all year long,” said an out-of-breath Krasno, a co-creator of Wanderlust California, which lifts off for its third-annual run on Thursday. “I always say you have to be certifiably crazy to work 365 days a year.”
On this particular Monday – day No. 206 this year for Krasno – he’s busy making sure a special private yoga event with world-renowned yogi John Friend goes on with ease.
“We’ve already got 300 people here,” says Krasno at 9:15 Monday morning, his enthusiasm easily filtering through the soft crackle of the cell phone receiver he speaks into.
Call him crazy, but if it means putting on the biggest and best yoga and music festival yet, well, then it’s all worth it.
“It’s a lot of work, but seeing it all come to life, it’s as great as getting married or getting ready to have a baby – things I’ve already done in my life,” Krasno said.
Wanderlust was created by a high-profile couple from Brooklyn, N.Y. – Krasno, owner of Velour Music Group, and Schuyler Grant, who heads the New York City’s Kula Yoga Project and yoga retreats throughout the world.
Wanderlust’s goal? Krasno explains it best in a recent email interview: “I want Wanderlust to be about discovery for people. Sometimes, it’s not the big headline acts that really touch people. I want people to stumble across something amazing that they’ve never heard.”
Achieving that goal has progressed throughout the years. The festival’s first run in 2009, like many inaugural tries, saw its ups and downs, the latter of which was realized when headliner music act Michael Franti and Spearhead canceled at the last moment due to Franti’s appendectomy.
But the overall reception from the large Tahoe crowd that attended was positive. As Grant said after its completion: “The startling and magical thing is the entity itself (Wanderlust) superseded the loss.”
Truckee resident Lydia Griffin, who conveniently – and perhaps fittingly – celebrates her 27th birthday on Thursday, was part of that entity in 2009.
“I went the first year and I loved talking with like-minded people about creativity through life, such as yoga, art, music, nature, writing, cooking and how important these forms are to all of our well beings and learning about ourselves and who we truly are,” Griffin said. “The conversations I had with complete strangers that left a lasting impression on how I view life is something I look forward to experiencing again.”
If the 2009 event itself superseded any unfortunate energy, it was the Tahoe faithful who made sure the festival was here to stay. The second-annual Wanderlust saw a whopping 13,000 people filter in an out of the Squaw Village in 2010, up from the roughly 5,000 spectators the year before.
As Wanderlust’s popularity grows, there’s little doubt 2011 will see an even larger crowd. And Krasno and Grant are ready.
“We definitely expect a lot of people to come out, and we’re planning accordingly with supplemental volunteers, staff, security and a greening team,” Krasno said. “We have numerous volunteer orientation sessions for the first time so that attendees can easily access information from fully informed volunteers.”
Tahoma resident Whitney Parks plans on being there this week.
“It’s great to see such a neat festival like Wanderlust grow bigger and bring more people to the Lake Tahoe area each year,” Parks said. “I’m excited to practice yoga with the pros and check out some awesome bands.”
While John Friend kicked things off privately on Monday, the man credited with creating the Anusara form of yoga will lead seven sessions between Thursday and Sunday.
Three of those sessions will be paired with live music by Todd Boston and Ramesh Kannan, in what has become a mainstay in the yoga world and one of the top goals of Wanderlust – to provide the perfect mix of energies that yoga and music paired together can offer.
While the top music this year in the form of The Wailers and Jai Uttai, Girl Talk – and yes, Franti and Spearhead – serves as headlining night cappers, it’s the slew of acts throughout the day at Squaw who will work together with more than 55 of the country’s top yoga instructors and experts to provide the ultimate Wanderlust experience.
One of those musicians is Steve Gold, who performs Friday, Saturday and Sunday, providing an auditory compliment to many of the classes. He explained in a recent email interview why yoga and music are such a good mix.
“Together music and yoga draw us within the heart of life and our emotions,” Gold said. “They are powerful and healing tools accessible to anyone. When consciously blended, music and yoga can transform our minds and bodies into a peaceful and powerful expression of ourselves.”
In the end, that’s really what Krasno hopes to accomplish with the third-annual festival – for people to express themselves.
“Wanderlust is meeting the demand of a growing culture that likes to have a good time and also live mindfully,” he said. “We’re essentially optimists and feel that if we build an event based on a positive vision for the world, then people will show up. And so far that is working.”
The location can’t hurt either. As Krasno says: “Our venue also is simply unrivaled.”
Many of the festival’s yoga classes, meditations and lectures take advantage of the region’s mountainous backdrop, with descriptive class names that may intrigue even those new to the practice, including Awakening the Global Heart; Detox Flow; Sky Dancers, the Way of Love; the Shoulder Girdle Mantra; and Rivers of Prana – Diving into the Flow.
And if yoga’s not your bag, this year’s music selection offers a wide range for any taste. A year after blistering DJ shows from Pretty Lights, Bassnectar and Moby (who also performed an acoustic set) and electronica from Brazillian Girls, the 2011 festival features a wide range of genres, including the reggae rhythms of The Wailers, the mashup styles of Girl Talk and the hip hop and rock/funk/jazz-spliced jams of Franti and Spearhead.
When choosing music, Krasno said each year presents a unique challenge.
“I think it’s a balance and we’re still learning. I definitely know that people in yoga programs want to let loose and dance at the end of the day, so dubstep is definitely great for this,” Krasno said. “We also look for artists who align with some of the underlying ideals of the event, which is why Michael Franti is such a great fit.”
And it’s perhaps only fitting Franti will perform Friday night, almost three years after his unfortunate medical event forced him to miss the 2009 show.
After all, it’s not like he can get his appendix out again, right?
“I’d be very surprised,” Krasno said with a chuckle, then, slightly more serious: “I’m just excited to be able to provide a platform for thousands of people to be able to commune.”
Wanderlust California kicks off Thursday – be sure to see what work-day No. 209 for Krasno has in store.