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“Whoever is not here should be here:” Finding A Community at Munduzer 2016

From the second you approached the site of Munduzer 2016, it was clear that “adventure” would be a major theme that would play out over the three-day festival.

Aside from the obvious adventurous tones that stem from camping out under the stars (and a few clouds) several miles outside of the city, the festival offered a myriad of old and new experiences to partake in from yoga classes to sound healing to hula hooping (and even a mysteries workshop on “flavor tripping” – more on that later!).

Even Desert Canvas co-founder Todd Van Duzer discussed how meaningful adventure can be after a morning yoga class on a mountaintop: he recently made the decision to give Desert Canvas his full and undivided attention and left the tutoring company he founded. And while adventure often brings you “slightly outside your comfort zone,” with that comes other incredible feelings such as those of discovery and accomplishment.

However, after spending my weekend surrounded by a bunch of strangers who also thought they’d be down for an adventure out in Goodyear, AZ, I learned that one of the most powerful and meaningful feelings that can stem from adventure is a strong sense of community and a connection to those around you that you many not have immediately discovered.

I had the chance this weekend to talk about the individual experiences of a few festival-goers and each conversation was echoing the same themes all throughout.

Friday evening I found myself questioning what exactly I was doing as I sat in traffic on I-10 heading west (a direction I rarely head on said freeway). Was I really cut out for this? Sometimes my idea of adventure is a bold hair color choice or going a spicier hot sauce on my tacos – not exactly the stuff I believed Munduzer was made of.

But within minutes of parking the car and getting things situated I saw that I was in for some good times over the next two days. And I also was not alone.

Picture of Rain Locker performing with DJ Jeremiah Christo.RAZI33101

While listening to local indie outfit Harrison Fjord at an amphitheatre (a stage on a hill that overlooked the campsite and rest of the festival), I had the opportunity to connect with Tamera and Josh, two friends, who just like me, didn’t know too much about the event but decided to take a chance and make their way to Estrella Mountain Park. Both were amazed at the overwhelming sense of community that they experienced within hours of being at Munduzer.

“This, right here,” Tamera told me, while gesturing to the audience around the stage, “is a close-knit group.”

Josh agreed. “As I was walking down the hill, I was like, ‘I’m home.’”

Tamera even went on to describe it as close to “a modern day Woodstock” in terms of the connections and experiences.

Picture of Saturday morning yoga class sponsored by Ironwood Yoga. yoga class

Munduzer offered several opportunities to make connections by offering many chances to take on a new adventure: Creating a meditative wall of sound with new friends after experiencing a sonic sound bath with Bhavani. Whipping up some sweet açai bowls with Sambazon. Feeling some friendly competition during a huge game of flip cup in the afternoon desert sun while the thumping house music of DJ Dusted plays. Perfecting your downward-facing dog and morning yoga with your campsite neighbors at the amphitheatre. Or even simply aweing over stunning performances from the fire dancers of Circus Farm or the Desert Canvas Hoop Troupe.

Picture of Ash Leigh Rex one of the Desert Canvas fire performers. 12998247_259602601047722_4473869055711618447_o

I was chatting with festival-goers Payton and Joy about their Munduzer experience in between activities. They attend the weekly Yoga And More In The Park events thrown by Desert Canvas. They were lulled to Munduzer by the possibilities of adventure. “[At Yoga and More] ‘Todd asked, ‘Do you like adventure?’” Joy recalled. “And we were all, ‘Yes!’”

The two friends were looking forward to the contact improv workshop later that afternoon. “You have got to try the flavor tripping!” Payton insisted when I asked their favorite adventure so far.

Picture of flavor tripping workshop sponsored by mberry.12986995_259601607714488_6053472150274360680_n

Later on, Munduzer attendee Galiel talked about the sonic sound bath. “The guided hypnosis chakra meditation was my favorite,” she said when talking about her Saturday afternoon. She told me that she was familiar with sound healing and types of meditation and it reminded her of teaching in the past.

“Oh, and I made a dream catcher!” she recalled enthusiastically.

As with most festivals, some of the smaller moments helped to solidify Munduzer 2016 as a true community experience. Between the workshops and performances are moments like struggling to make paracord bracelets while laughing with a table full of strangers-turned-new-friends. Or drinking cheap beer under the mesquite trees and creating a bond with those you’ve known only a few moments before. Or comparing the incredible sunburns you acquired from your adventure hike just a few hours ago because for some reason the idea of sunscreen never crossed either of your minds.

Picture of massive beer flip cup tournament. 12970756_259602104381105_8497670073555904060_o

Munduzer was a great time for both festival veterans and newbies alike. During the cool curated sounds of David Avatara’s set I was able to connect with Will and Azrael, two ASU students with a passion for adventure. Will had his fair share of festival experiences which prompted him to take a chance on Munduzer. “Another festival is another festival – it looked like a lot of fun!” he told me.

As for Azrael, this was his first experience but he was definitely seeing the appeal that first night, describing the variety of attendees as “almost like a little community.” “It’s a lot more personal,” he described, talking about the connectedness throughout.


Munduzer had plentiful opportunities to explore and develop new interests with its varied music lineup and unique workshops to choose from. Personally, my favorite moments included having my face painted on a mountain while Steve Ayotte and The New Analog performed acoustic versions of crowd favorites (I definitely remember hearing a Justin Bieber song at one point!), admiring the ominous storm clouds that arrived on Day 3, and taking in the scene around me on top of a giant light up barrel cactus art installation.

Video from some participants who attended the adventure hike. Here they hiked to the top of a mountain and listened to live music put on by Steve Ayotte and his crew. Around 30-50 new people took off together on this hike every 30 minutes. 

Munduzer 2016 promised adventure and it’s safe to say that it delivered. But while adventure encourages people to make their way to future festivals to see what all the festival is about, it is the overwhelming sense of community and connectedness that results from these adventures that will leave with attendees and bring them back the next year. While I’ve been to a few other festivals in my life, none has provided such a strong feeling of togetherness and belonging in such a short amount of time.

I believe Josh summed it up best: “Whoever’s not here should be here,” he stated. “Everyone in the Valley is missing out.” Munduzer should find its way on your list of festival goals in 2017. It’s safe to say that it’ll be back in 2017 – with more adventures and even more connection, of course.

What do you think? Did you attend Munduzer 2016? Please let us know your experiences by leaving a comment below! 


  • Neel says:

    Dear Melissa,

    Thank you for this blog post. I’m fascinated and still in the moments of Munduzer 2016!! It was an incredible experience. So grateful to the Desert Canvas team especially Todd for taking a step out of his comfort zone and doing this “ADVENTURE.” I also enjoyed Yoga and Meditation by Brittany (IronWood Yoga Studios) and Sunday hike by Brand Brothers.


  • Ashlie Stella says:

    I found home. Now I’m living in a dome.

  • […] has had to deal with storm conditions. We ran into similar weather conditions at our own event Munduzer. We know how frustrating it can be dealing with things that are out of your […]

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