Welcome to Planet IDA, a place of stellar proportions and heavenly emotions. Where civilization feels light years away and your only worry is, What shorty-shorts am I going to wear to the barn dance, or should I even bother, they’re coming off anyway?
Nestled ever so quaintly in the backwoods of Tennessee is a 200-acre compound comprised of lush vegetable gardens, a greenhouse, party barn, sleepy barn, solar shower, a rocket shitter, garden resident/intern housing, a freaking waterfall (!), an outdoor sex play space and copious amounts of queer love and magic. This beautiful place is called Planet IDA (Idyll Dandy Arts) and the residents refer to it as an “intentional queer community” but what they’ve really created is a dazzling utopia where queer and trans people from all over the world are welcome to come learn and share rural living skills, live, love, hang, bang, camp and once a year TOTALLY RAGE!
For the past 11 years Planet IDA has hosted the Idapalooza Fruit Jam, where queer musicians, artists, film makers, performers, zinesters, activists, lovers, believers and fighters from all over the world do whatever it takes to haul ass, carpool, ride share, bike, Greyhound or fly high to make it to this week long festival.
The line up this year was epic, to say the least, with bands from all over such as Shellshag (Brooklyn), Annah Anti-Palindrome (Oakland), Dark Dark Dark (NY/New Orleans/Minneapolis), Dangerous Ponies (Philly), Twat Sauce (Tennessee), Songs for Moms (Oakland), Signals (Philly), The Degenerettes (Baltimore) and oh so many more in addition to the 500+ turn out this year, making 2010 the largest Idapalooza yet.
In addition to the six nights of music and performances and the nightly weekend dance parties that lasted long into the night and sometimes the beautiful morning were endless amounts of day time fun like workshops on welding, silk screening, sex work, nature hikes, yoga classes, a beautifully fascinating presentation about mountain top removal brought to us by The Beehive Collective. Their newest project can be seen here.
Everyone was also able to enjoy three square vegan/vegetarian meals a day, brought from the garden to the kitchen to your mouth from the countless volunteers and residents that keep this well lubed machine going year after year. Each meal was signaled by a conch shell that would resonate between the mountains and tree times each day people would have the opportunity to make announcements to everyone in the meal circle updating workshop schedules, plant walk meeting times, lost and found items (glasses, weed, home made sex toys, whatever) and the Sissy Bounce focused yoga classes lead by Piper.
There were three separate camping areas, one of which was a sober camp and another being Yucca Fields where the jungle gym converted sex play space was set up. I distinctly remember stumbling upon Yucca Fields at dawn after my sunrise Psychic Handbook set and seeing countless dykes, fags, transmen and transwomen all playing safely together in multiple BDSM scenes while “Warm Leatherette” by The Normal was playing at full blast, echoing up and down the valley providing the perfect soundtrack for the joyous screams of pleasure and pain. So heavy.
This year was my first time being able to make it cross country to take part in the festivities and nothing could have prepared me for the total mind blow that would follow once I had officially landed on this strange and beautiful planet. I was instantly struck with an oddly familiar feeling, for this felt like the other home I have been searching for and I had finally arrived . Once I finally settled into my tent I headed straight for the party barn that was already jam packed with homos of all sorts getting down and dirty to The Degenerettes pumped up live set (see the video below) and I couldn’t help but get sucked into the sweat drenched tornado of unstoppable fun.
While trying to figure out what exactly I was in for, the only thing I could do to prevent myself from over stimulation was to just sit back and let the music and the energy of this magical place take me over. In no time I had run into old friends from Denver who quickly introduced me to new friends from all around that I would end up spending most of my remaining weekend with.
Together, we spent the rest of the our time exploring the land, mostly half naked and covered in left over glitter from the previous night’s madness, scouting the area for perfect make out session stops followed by a dip in the creek. During any downtime I would steak out near the barn with my sunglasses and a big ol’ mug of tea just watching all these beautiful people interact with each other and share stories about life histories, lovers, the world around us as and the dreams of the future that we could create together through self-evolution and positive changes in our communities back home.
Before I knew it, the weekend was coming to an end and it was time for me to fly back home to planet Earth, more specifically Oakland. I felt heartbroken leaving all my friends, new and old, but I knew deep down that I would see them all again, in some future time and space because that’s how IDA works.
Despite my initial parting sorrow I was also fully rejuvenated by the spirits of the land and the people I had met in a very short but intense seventy-two hours. I left Planet IDA with a renewed sense of self awareness in addition to a greater sense of urgency to make changes, create and contribute in any way I can to my own community. I have nothing but the utmost respect for these people taking their lives into their own hands and creating this intentional community that has become a haven for homos of all histories to come and share their unique experience free of homophobia, classism, sexism, racism or anything else that totally sucks!
Planet IDA, I love you.
UP THE QUEER PUNXXX
Alejandro Archuleta, 2010