My introduction to PlayThink as a sober festival.
It was the second year of PlayThink way back in 2012 when I joined the team as an Audio Engineer. I was working as a freelancer at the time, meaning I was on the grind, hustling for gigs through several connections with Louisville-based production companies and let me tell you business was great. My phone was constantly ringing. It was to the point that I changed my Voicemail message to “ You have reached Cookie, If you are requesting my availability, please text me with the Date, Position and Rate and I will get back to you ASAP, Cheers”.
It was mid-June and I had decided to take a weekend off. I think my plan was to visit some college friends who still lived in Nashville. My phone rang, as it frequently did, it was the owner of a production company. We had worked together long enough that he usually skipped the call and would send me a text with the gig details. So something must be wrong if he is calling. Before I even have time to say “Hello” he says something similar to “ I f*****ed up man, We got a gig in Berea (Kentucky) and I got no one to do it. I’ll load the gear up for you. Can you take this? I’ll owe you” Thinking about it now. He most definitely doesn’t owe me anything. After some back and forth about my original plans I agreed to the gig, a 4 day Flow and Music Festival. “Cool, yeah, I’ll grab the gear and go, when does it start?”, “… Yesterday, I told you I f*****d up”.
That year was, among many things, exciting. Not just because of the last-minute grab-and-go, but also the culture of this fledgling festival was incredibly unique to me. The care, passion, and playfulness from the organizers to the artists and guests was massive. It took me a while to put my finger on it, all I knew, at that time, was something is different here, something is very special. It was probably not until the final day I realized what it was. Everyone was present, Everyone is alive in this moment, in their element and feeling it, without substance. This pack of, there is no better word, “PlayThinkers” are sober.
As I became deeper involved with PlayThink I discovered this wasn’t a happy accident but a keystone holding PlayThink at its status as the safest event I had ever been involved with. The lack of available substance did not reduce any element of PlayThink but inversely enhanced the magic of the moment and held a safe container to bring generations of PlayThinkers to be themselves and an opportunity to discover more about ourselves.
PlayThink has defined itself as a sober festival but what does “sober” mean?
That was the question we posed to the community. The PlayThinkers who responded had a lot to say about this question and we as organizers saw many responses that matched our definition but all the responses are quite different. This is because we believe in absolute medical freedom. Did we ever intend for “Sober Festival” to mean for a PlayThinker to abstain from taking prescribed medications? Of course not! So I’ll pose another question: Does “Sober Festival” mean abstaining from taking any medicine that aids the day-to-day living of a PlayThinker? Of course not! So are we really a sober festival? Let’s dive into some of the responses to what sober means to the community.
“Not trying to numb your big feelings with substances. Instead finding presence in your life and emotions.”
“Content with reality, and not trying to escape it through drunkenness.”
“Walking through life without substances that disconnect you from your current thoughts and physical reality. Facing the trauma, challenges, and happiness with the same state of consciousness.”
“Sobriety is a state of mind. A way of living and loving of one’s self.”
Our reaction was a resounding “YESSSSSS!”, This is also what we believe sober means. As we move forward PlayThink will always be a Sober Festival. As the state laws change we will continue to strive to keep PlayThink Sober. As more medicines become available to the community (long overdue). We will keep PlayThink Sober to maintain the Playful, Safe and Magical space we have.