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Last summer I heard about a music festival called Fusion that was shrouded in mystery, as the lineup of artists isn’t announced until you arrive, there are no advertisements or sponsors, and it supposedly caters to all forms of alternative cultures. Hearing these things made me instantly want to attend, so after talks over the past year with my friend Hauke and his brother Ole, we decided to enter the raffle system that occurs in order to “win” tickets. There are two tiers of tickets that one can sign up to be entered for, and after they have “sold out” (which happens very quickly), the only other way to get a ticket is by getting it gifted from someone who cannot attend. It has many of the same principles as Burning Man, and is lauded as Germany’s response to the famous North American festival. Entering the lottery as a group of ten, we found out that all of us has gotten tickets, and were extremely excited to know we would be going.

After spending an amazing five days in Berlin and befriending a group of locals who we stayed with (see Jeremy’s post on Berlin) we found out they were also attending the festival. On our last day in Berlin, we headed to the Haupbanhauf (Central Bus Station), took a train to Neustrelitz, a small town about an hour north of Berlin where we would then take two buses and finally arrive at the festival grounds. At first we had some difficulties with directions and feared that cutting it tight for the train would result in us missing it, but when we got to the station it was PACKED with other Fusion-goers, and we realized the rest of the journey would be a breeze. Annoyingly, there were so many people that the tickets we purchased for the train didn’t even get checked, so we could have just walked on without them. However, everyone was ecstatic, and the non-stop partying that would become our lives for the next five days began as bottles were popped off (it’s legal to drink in public so that took a bit of getting used to) and people lit up cigarettes and joints among music blaring from someone’s speakers. Think about the scene when a ton of DIY punks, clubbers, hippies, stoners, and rockers are thrown together in a small space, and that’s what it was like.

Seeing how packed everything already was, Jeremy and I were very happy that we decided to arrive early because we couldn’t imagine how big the queue would be to get in the following days. Upon entering the festival grounds, any forms of wifi went out the window, and there were barely any phones that we saw during the whole time. It was incredible to see so many people disconnecting from their digital lives and living in the moment, dancing and partying the day and night away. On our first day, we went to shows from four in the afternoon and danced through a rainstorm in the early morning, ending back at our camp site around eight AM the next day. When we received the programs for the festival, we decided to walk around and check out any artists that sounded interesting, as there were several hundred playing from the night before the festival until late morning of the Monday following the festival. Also, there were only a couple names on the lineup that we knew off the bat.

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The sound systems were massive, the art installations were beautiful and crazy, the food was all vegetarian/vegan (and CHEAP!) and delicious, and there were no moments I witnessed anyone without a smile on their face. It’s a necessity to end our year abroad at this festival next year, because everything was just so incredible. One very memorable moment was people watching for hours mixed with delectable beats in the background as we sat on the roof of a small building overlooking the crowd at the main techno stage. The combination of grass roots efforts, no corporate sponsorship, zero police presence, and a tie between anarchist/hippy vibes was the perfect way to kickstart our travels for the next year.