Though Elements may be a simple word, there’s a world of meaning tucked away in its syllables. As the name of our festival, it represents our yearly mission to harness the ever-changing interplay of elements that construct our reality and funnel them into a unique experience for our tribe to enjoy. As you can probably guess, 2020 hit us with the most challenging maelstrom of elemental chaos we’ve encountered to date.
Life was upended and the world took cover as an invisible yet destructive force swept across the globe. Amidst a wave of cancellations, the Elements team took a chance by postponing the festival until December. This decision was powered by little more than hope and stubborn determination. It was a big risk because it positioned Elements as one of the first festivals to resurface post-pandemic. This meant the crew would be blazing their own path in terms of COVID-Safe planning and all the extra precautions that needed to be put in place.
International travel ceased, toilet paper shortages ruled the news headlines, and there was a very real possibility that Elements Festival would be reduced to a single stage with no dancing allowed (or no event at all). Though we know our core Elemental tribe would’ve made the most of this dystopian nightmare, we were thrilled to see the amazing progress Australia made in combating the virus. Thanks to this (and a lot of campaigning from the Elements crew), we were able to bring you the full-spectrum event you deserve, with multiple stages and your right to dance reinstated.
Still, there were border closures and travel restrictions to contend with, and the Elements crew were constantly gambling on potential outcomes and scrambling to find ways to deal with the insanity 2020 might throw at us.
With no precedents to go by, the COVID-Safe rules were being constructed as we went along. This left our crew to handle a year’s worth of work in just 7 weeks. The state of organised chaos we were all operating in during this time was intense yet strangely invigorating. There was a sense that reality was throwing its full force against us, but we were leaning into it, resisting where necessary but also flowing with the forces of nature.
However, any time we allowed ourselves to feel like we might be getting the upper hand, the universe found a way to knock us back down to reality. During the final weeks of the festival build, fire began licking at the perimeters of the property, threatening to engulf our mini-world in flames. Once more, the threat of cancellation loomed. Thankfully, our fearless venue owner rallied his troops and fought the blaze, defending his land and allowing the festival to proceed.
And of course, after the fire came the flood. Because why not, right? The coast of South East Queensland was hit with an onslaught of rain so fierce the festival build was brought to a complete stop. Though there’s a lot to love about a wet and muddy festival, we faced the very real possibility that some of our installations and infrastructure would not be feasible if the torrential downpour carried on. Likewise, many of our staff, performers, artists, vendors, suppliers, and guests may not have been able to attend.
Throughout all of this, the Elements crew persevered, determined to make the most of it, come what may. With so much going on, we honestly lost count of how many things didn’t go as smoothly as we would’ve liked. However, we are so proud of how our team pulled together, and we couldn’t be more thankful for the endless effort everyone was willing to put in to ensure the festival came together, against all odds.
In the end, nature gave us the break we needed. Thursday rolled around, the gates swung open on time, the music and arts program rolled out on schedule, and a collective sense of relief, exhilaration, and joy began brewing on-site. Exhilarated, exhausted, nervous, yet quietly optimistic, the crew was a bundle of smiles and pride at the stellar effort we’d all put in as a team.
The days that followed were filled with laughter, hugs, dancing, shenanigans, and the kind of free-flowing good vibes we all desperately needed after such a challenging year. It was a celebration of life in all its epic weirdness, and the collective release of tension was palpable.
Though most of the festival was a buoyant explosion of beauty and love, we were also confronted with one of the inescapable realities of life. As most of you know by now, we lost one of our tribe members during the festival. It’s impossible to fully express the sadness and compassion we feel for the friends and family of this young man and the paramedics and crew members who did everything they could to save him.
This was a devastating event. However, we are filled with gratitude for the way the community rallied to support each other. This incident stands as a reminder of how important it is for us to foster a safe and loving community in which we care for ourselves, our friends, and everyone who crosses our path. A Go Fund Me account has been established to help this young man’s family. Please click here if you feel moved to donate.
This year’s festival, and honestly 2020 in general, has brought us face-to-face with the fragility and unpredictability of life. Our minds are swirling with a strange brew of emotions, and in the midst of this mayhem, there’s really only one thing we’re all in agreement on: the deep sense of love and gratitude we feel for our community.
From the depths of our beings, we cannot thank you all enough for the support you’ve shown us in this monumental year. We would like to take this opportunity to send a massive outpouring of gratitude to all the festival management, heads of departments, build crew, site crew, shade crew, medics, security, harm reduction team, festival staff, volunteers, contractors, vendors, markets, suppliers, production teams, technicians, musicians, performers, artists, media teams, and everyone who played any part in making Elements Festival 2020 happen.
We’d also like to extend our love and gratitude to you, our Elemental tribe, for trusting and supporting us this year. You are all essential co-conspirators in the Elements experience. Your messages of support throughout the year and your positive vibes throughout the festival were what kept us going, despite all the challenges. We feel honoured to be able to create this space each year, and we couldn’t do it without you all.
Trent, Dave, Natalia, Sonja (on behalf of all the team!)