Chiara Baldini
Independent Researcher

Mysticism, escapism, or activism? Spirituality and politics in festivals today.

The phenomenon of psytrance festivals bloomed in the late 90s, as a result of the diaspora of the psychedelic tribes leaving the birthplace of Goa Trance in India and migrating back to Europe. In these 25 years, this sub-genre of electronic music has birthed a flourishing scene worldwide of mainly independent events, which were “transformational” even before the term was popularised. One of their key features was, in fact, their distinctive spiritual dimension, a heritage of that part of the hippie scene that left the West to pursue a life of love, peace, yoga, and psychedelics-fuelled full moon parties on Indian beaches, away from the political complexity of their times. Drawing from two decades of experience as a raver, a scholar, and as the curator of the cultural areas of two of the main independent events in Europe, Chiara will highlight the specificities of the spiritual dimension of psytrance festivals. At the same time, she will also make the case for the need to integrate spirituality with a renewed interest in the kind of politics that can secure the implementation of those countercultural values inherent to the hippie lineage and beyond.

Chiara Baldini is a researcher and freelance curator from Florence (Italy). She investigates the evolution of the ecstatic cult in the West, particularly in ancient Greece and Rome, contributing to anthologies, psychedelic conferences and festivals. She is the program curator of Boom Festival’s cultural area Liminal Village since 2010. In 2015 and 2016 she also set up and curated ConTent, the first cultural area in Fusion Festival, Germany. She has recently co-curated an anthology called “Psychedelic Mysteries of the Feminine” investigating the intersection between the feminine principle and altered states of consciousness. She is currently a PhD candidate at the California Institute of Integral Studies. She has been living in Portugal for the past 12 years and she often plays as DJ Clandestina.