It’s not a secret anymore… What started 10 years ago as an unadvertised forest party name Oliloqui (also called The O) is now a full grown festival renamed as The Digital Desert Campout.
A Brief History of The Digital Desert Campout
Small Start, Big Community
The Digital Desert Campout began life 10 years ago as a small gathering of friends in New Mexico, called Oliloqui. Just a sound system and a campfire. No flyers. No posters. No expectation that it would grow the way it did. Within 5 years, a small weekend excursion had grown into a party with over 400 people in attendance. Still, no flyers, no poster, no public mention. Only word of mouth.
What made Oliloqui special was the type of community that formed alongside it. For a time, it became a who’s who event of New Mexico’s creative artists and event producers. To find it you had to be in the know, and the best way to be in the know was to be a part of it. Almost everyone who attend in the early days also performed or helped produce the event. It was musicians playing music for other musicians at first, but as the secret spread fire performers, visual artist, and theme camps started popping up. By it’s 5th year community chill spaces, small art galleries, and renegade stages had made their way into the event. What’s magic about all this is that not a single thing I just mentioned was ever commercially curated. That is to say; not once did the event organizers reach out and negotiate with anyone to build something like an art gallery or serve community tea. It just happened naturally.
Enter: The O
With all things that grow, some things are outgrown. After year 5 it became clear that Oliloqui was outgrowing it’s original location. Despite zero advertising the population eventually became too big for the land to sustain. The event moved to a new spot and tried to go back underground. The name was changed to “The O” – a term many early participants used in reference to Oliloqui. The new name was a clue to the creative community, an invitation for continued participation at the new location. However, The new spot was short lived. There is something about the magic of a community that grows around an underground event like this; it is just too alluring to contain. Despite the move and the name change, participation in The O continued to grow.
2015 – The O Goes Public
2015 was pivotal year for this formerly small festival. With expected attendance reaching the 1000 people mark, The O could no longer stay underground as it had been the previous 8 years of it’s life. Larger population demands larger infrastructure, more planning, bigger stages, and yet again a bigger location. The O moved to Wheaton Creek Ranch in Ocate NM, and the decision was made to go public with the event for the first time. Crowds were treated to hugely increased production, 4 stages, and the debut of the first Funktion One sound system in the Southwestern US. It was a gamble. Could a secret party go public in a big way and retain the magic community that made it all work in the first place? I’m happy to report the answer is yes! The gamble paid off and it was a huge success, the event had a stronger level of community participation than ever before, and left us all eager for more.
2016 – The Digital Desert Camp Out
So why change the name again after a successful break out as a public festival? Digital Desert has been promoting events in New Mexico for the last decade. Oliloqui, The O, started as a small weekend campout. Now it has grown into a regional festival. Community has been and continues to be the driving force behind it’s growth, but Digital Desert has been there since the very first weekend providing the production, planning, and infrastructure of the event. Both Digital Desert and The O have grown alongside each other in a symbiotic relationship, neither would exist without the other. This year, Digital Desert has decided to sign their name to the annual outdoor party and make it their flagship festival. Expecting national draw, and hosting a larger roster of musical talent than ever before, The Digital Desert Campout is making an entrance onto the grand stage of the US festival circuit. The title “Campout” was chosen to reflect it’s roots and origin, as exactly that; a campout with friends.
Check out last year’s recap video at the top of this article.