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House, Techno, Love [A Desert Hearts Preview]

Last year, The Kollection sat down with the legendary Oliver Koletzki to discuss all things life, music, and style.

As the German described his travels, our conversation turned to the well-known shortcomings of US club life; after all, “it is at the hours of 4, 5, 6 AM that I feel the party really is getting started…that people really lose their inhibitions and become free.”
In his following praise of our festival scene, though, he said something really interesting:

“America has such amazing festivals though…you know, Burning Man, Eclipse, Desert Hearts.”

Full stop.

The interview moved along, but that little comment stayed with us. Did Papa Koletzki really just put DH on the shortlist with

Burning Man

Photo by Jonathan Clark

and Oregon Eclipse??

Photo by Sam Scholl (2017)

We must investigate.

Because somehow, some way–despite everything we’ve heard about one of the best parties around–The K hasn’t made it out to Desert Hearts…yet. As we finally get ready to get down with DH at their 10-Year Anniversary, we turned to our close friend and designated DH ambassador Austin Bullo for an idea of what to expect.

Photo by Austin Bullo

Founded upon House, Techno, & Love, Desert Hearts is a community first and foremost (much like The K). Since their first desert renegade in 2012, they’ve grown from a party of a couple hundred to a family numbering in the tens of thousands. Yet they keep their yearly gatherings small, preferring the intimacy of a ~5,000 person crowd:

“You will see that person you had a funny dancefloor conversation with again tomorrow, and the next day, and the next year.”

Photo by Haley Busch (2018)

Desert Hearts is headed by a lively quintet–Mikey Lion, Lee Reynolds, Porky, Marbs, & Kristoff McKay– who describes themselves as dreamers, as party commanders on a mission to radiate love, radical self-expression, and positive energy in everything they do.

And it’s their community built on these values, really, that makes this “music festival” the one-of-a-kind experience that it’s become over the years.

Pictured: Austin Bullo (Desert Hearts, 2019)

What on earth is going on here?!

Air quotes there because Desert Hearts is about so much more than just the music. With art galleries, health & wellness workshops, interactive live paintings, and themed camps (“they pulled up on the dancefloor with like $2000 of wine and cheese and started slicing gouda into peoples’ mouths”), the festival constantly invites you to immerse yourself and participate in the creativity of the community.

“Every year they put on a fashion show that pairs everyone who signs up with vendors from the festival and you get to wear whatever you want down the catwalk.”

So, everything in the show is for sale?

“Yeah, I ran into the dude that bought that suit the next day–it was like $1000!!”

Desert Hearts is renowned for the colorful, eccentric, and outlandish outfits that turn up each year. Giving an “EDC and Burning Man met in the middle” vibe, this sure ain’t your standard, all-black-too-cool-two-step techno party (cc: dancing hotdog below).

Photo by Haley Busch (2018)

Nope, the good people of DH are here to let their freak flags fly and have a damn good time doing it.

Those flags will be flying all weekend long, because at Desert Hearts the music doesn’t stop. 72 straight hours of world class House and Techno acts powers this party through “One Stage, One Vibe,” making sure that that one-off D floor chat turns into two, then three, and then a family that’s grown a little bit bigger.


Finally, landing at a new venue for the first time ever, this band of renegades looks to build a fresh start while dancing through the sunrise on the shores of Lake Perris. Legends like Carl Craig and DJ Harvey are joined by up & comers including Rinzen and Township Rebellion (both on Desert Hearts Black) on a lineup that’s guaranteed to make DH’s 10-Year Anniversary their biggest and best yet. All eyes on that Surprise Guest slot!

Photo by Eric Allen (2018)

So, nonstop music, themed camps, art cars, sunrise yoga, extravagant fits, and endless surprises…sure sounds like Burning Man. Except for one part:

“Desert Hearts isn’t really trying to be some massive, transformational festival. It’s definitely Burner-oriented and has the whole art, culture, community thing going, but everyone’s there to let loose and be good to each other more than they are to transcend. It’s a PAAARTY!”

Who’s to say a party can’t be transformational, though?

Only one way to find out!

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