RAD Spotlight: Jasper Vallance, Founder of Xstatic Sunsets

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Born out of a mission to create dance parties so good, you can get high naturally

Xstatic Sunsets is changing the rave game. The launch party on Shark Island saw hundreds of partygoers join the movement for healthy parties and dance into the sunset. Among the crowd was Jasper Vallance, the founder and ‘chief party officer’ of Xstatic Sunsets. We had a chance to chat with Jasper about his vision of sober parties, the success of the launch and the future of Xstatic Sunsets.

RAD: What inspired you to create Xstatic Sunsets?

Jasper: I realised that drugs and alcohol weren’t serving people from a mental health perspective and it was mostly ingrained in party culture; on the flip side, I realised that any sober party is actually good for your mental health. It lifts your vibrations and enables a more genuine connection and from my own experience, partying sober was better and better for people’s mental health essentially.

Why is creating this type of sober party environment so important/to you?

Having had my mental health challenges in anxiety and depression a year ago, coming out of a breakup and a period of life where I lost faith in myself. I was really conscious then of what served me and I realised that drugs and alcohol weren’t serving me. I always did it in moderation and I did it sensibly late in life but I realised I was a better version of myself sober.

Last year, I went to the Bali Spirit Festival in March, and it had breath work and yoga which was uplifting, but I danced for hours every night. They had this awesome main stage and I just got this amazing natural high from dancing and it was a bit of an epiphany. I didn’t realise you could actually get that high from dancing and it sparked the vision and from that point on, I went on a bit of a research mission to go to all the sober dance party experiences. I realised half the problem with growing this movement is that a lot of events are quite small, not quite spiritual and just not that cool. So I saw what we needed was really really cool sober dance parties and that was the vision for Xstatic Sunsets.

I noticed that when everyone is under the influence, it changes the vibe; like if everyone’s drunk or on drugs, it changes the vibe and I notice since going to festivals, it’s actually quite sad. People aren’t connecting and nobody is expressing themselves. My take on it is that people take drugs and alcohol because they are trying to lose their inhibition and connect with others and it’s an accessible way to let go, but doesn’t actually do that. It actually does the opposite and doesn’t enable genuine connection and it makes people go inward and people are doing this to escape the challenges they’re facing in their life and coming off it feeling probably more anxious and less happy.

I realised there’s a great opportunity there to vibe naturally and have a more genuine connection and have a lot of fun and for people to actually wake up the next day feeling better and remember the conversations they had.

Why Shark Island?

Could you imagine a better location? Dancing in nature and partying in nature is so good for you and for me it’s all about letting people feel vibrations naturally in nature and enabling that connection in that environment.

 How did you decide on the guest speakers and the type of workshops that would run during the event?

An obvious one was Dr Kaushik Ram. He’s a neuroscientist and he’s been studying the natural high for 16 years in terms of how all our ancestors through the centuries have used music dance rhythm beats to connect and to tap into elevated states, and he’s a good friend of mine. What’s fascinating is that there’s science behind it and if you go to our website and look at the story, there’s a whole bunch of vlogs and backstory of Xstatic Sunset; but I like to explain the science behind it that it’s not just me making up an event. We had Louise Walker talking about how to let go and express your inhibitions and all about getting out of your head and into your body with music. It’s helping people lose that fear of what people think, and really coming into themselves because I think that’s one of the main reasons why people drink. It helps them relax and lose their inhibition; but naturally, it’s even better!

In terms of the movement workshops we had running; twirling, contact dance, anything, some sort of movement that could enable a natural high; and obviously the body paint thing where people paint each other and it’s about getting comfortable in your own skin and being more expressive and helping people connect with each other. The sound healing can be really uplifting to deliver that natural high to deliver beautiful tunes, which unfortunately I wasn’t able to be there for; but the beautiful location on the beach with two sessions was really cool. All the talks and workshops had the intention to give people that natural vibe and a high vibe.

How do you feel everyone has responded to the event?

Everyone absolutely loved it; more wildly than I could have ever imagined! People are just calling me and emailing me and I’m being inundated with messages and there are written reviews on Facebook with 5 stars saying ‘best festival I’ve ever been to’. It’s insane, and saying stuff that I could only imagine them saying because that’s what our intention was. I knew this whole thing was an experiment, but I didn’t know how it was going to go down.

Another thing is that it attracts people of all ages and families with kids. One of my favourite moments was the last half hour; the entire dance floor was going off, like little kids with their dad. I was like isn’t that beautiful; a safe environment where everyone can go and party and that come together. The five principles of Xstatic Sunsets are inspired by Burning Man Principles about inclusion and I love that no matter what religion, like you can come with a turban and come to our parties and feel comfortable and you won’t feel threatened; everyone comes together and music is bringing people together to connect.

I think increasingly, we’re so disconnected because of social media; especially the younger generations. I spoke to one kid at a festival recently and we spoke about the drug and alcohol thing and why it’s so important; and he said because we don’t see each other very often, it’s only on social media, we need something to lubricate the conversation! They’re not used to having face-to-face connections; and it’s like, what a sad reflection of how things are changing with things like social media. I just think it’s great to be able to bring people together to connect, and that was my key intention.

Our relationships are the key to happiness, and if we’re wondering why the suicide rates are going up, I think it’s because people are being increasingly disconnected and they can’t see a way out. They don’t have friends to talk to about it or they don’t feel comfortable opening up about it because people worry what people think. 

If you could do anything differently or add something to the event, what would it be and why?

I’m so happy with how it went; I think just double the size of the event, double the amount of people, double the energy, and double the vibes. There’s so much opportunity with shark island to double the size because honestly, we didn’t quite break even, we had to sell more tickets but it was our first event and now we have so many passionate people out there that want to bring groups or their mates. I think it’ll be great to bring more people together.

I think there’s a real opportunity to bring better-known acts, which could draw in a crowd as well and to have more bands; but maybe more stages or alternative points of music. The vision is to outgrow Shark Island and have different stages and what I visualise is a festival of natural highs, which could be yoga, breath work, games, trying different experiences, but fundamentally all based around a big dance party at sunset. So basically introducing any experience that can give a natural high.

Will Xstatic Sunsets be back next year?

Definitely! Given the cost of running this, I was like jeez how can I make this profitable, but I can see an opportunity to bring better-named acts, bringing double the amount of people and make it profitable and Shark Island is made for parties like this. It would be terrible for a party like this not to happen again.

National Parks will not allow any more parties there and given how challenging it was in executing this, no one else is going to be able to do a party like. I feel like we’ve got this unique opportunity to allow people to enjoy Shark Island, this beautiful spot of nature; but we’ll also plan for other venues and events throughout the year. Basically, there are a lot more events coming but we’re not quite sure where and when, but we’ll definitely be doing some more events during the winter and spring. 

Where would you like to see the event a year from now? Five years from now?

Next year? Imagine Shark Island but twice as many people. Just growing it, getting more people involved and really growing the movement. Inspiring more people with the opportunity to get high naturally so it can motivate more moderation and happier people.

Five years? Going global! The great thing about drug and alcohol-free is that it opens up unique venues. So finding amazing sunset locations in huge cities around the world and pulling off massive sunset dance parties. I think there’s so much opportunity to expand and have spectacular dance parties in spectacular locations where it’s so good, you don’t need any drugs or alcohol.

Check out our Rad Review of Xstatic Sunsets Festival 2019

Photo credit: Yvan Fournier
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Katarina Cvetko

Katarina is an international journalist and photographer from Sydney, Australia with a strong passion for music festivals. Since her first solo adventure in 2015, Katarina has travelled to over 30 countries in 5 continents and has attended over 100 music festivals worldwide. After conquering a bucket list journey of 52 music festivals in 52 weeks in 2018, Katarina continues to live a digital nomad lifestyle, travelling to festivals in a different country every week and sharing her experiences on social media.

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