It’s a bit like joining a secret society – that is, if secret societies were open to everyone.
“Send a cloud emoji to this number,” reads the Instagram bio of Floating, an LA collective presenting sound experiences in natural settings. Soon your phone will be ringing a few times a week with invitations to events like a singer-songwriter performance at a historic art ranch in the San Gabriel Mountains, a new moon sound bath at a botanical garden in Pasadena or a ceremonial improvisation by a Mexico-ethnomusicologist based in Montecito Heights.
On a recent Sunday at the Storrier-Stearns Japanese Garden in Pasadena, Argentinian DJ Barbarelle and electronic composer Byron Westbrook enhanced the already idyllic vibe of the historic property.
As their ambient soundscapes filtered through the verdant tiered garden where turtles and koi fish swam through the rock formations, attendees gathered on picnic blankets, settling into the dappled golden light . Some were families with children, who clearly relished exploring the bridges and pathways of space. Other guests wandered solo and found private places to read or meditate.
Floating’s eclectic events, launched last August, are rooted in the healing power of nature and give us the opportunity to simply be. Founder Brian Schopfel, who faced “a crippling case of burnout” after working for years in commercial production, said for him being in nature was the fastest and most sustainable path towards healing, so he wanted to help facilitate that kind of connection for others.
After launching Haven Nature Studio, a hilltop sanctuary in Montecito Heights with regular yoga and meditation classes, breathing sessions, sound baths and musical performances, in 2020 he realized that sound-related activities attracted the most people and repeat visits. He also personally enjoyed these events, because it was impossible to go wrong.
Schopfel teamed up with musician Noah Klein, a certified naturalist and Los Angeles native, at that time. Klein had worked with local conservation groups like Outward Bound Adventures, Tree People and Heal the Bay, and was familiar with the many undiscovered or underutilized amphitheaters and gathering places in the Los Angeles park system. Klein helped crystallize the floating concept by linking it to the practice of “deep listening” — a term coined by composer and UC San Diego music teacher Pauline Oliveros to connect listening with healing and healing. activism.
After hosting a few events on the hillside of Montecito Heights, they expanded Floating’s geographic and artistic footprint. Typically, Floating presents one to three events per week in a rotating slate of outdoor settings (the current count since last August is 200).
Some venues, like the Malibu Movie Ranch where soul singer Jimetta Rose will perform on July 3, or the Philosophical Research Society’s Mayan Revival-style courtyard in Los Feliz that will host a Sun Ra celebration on July 14, are collaborations. rare.
Meanwhile, Bronson Canyon in Griffith Park has hosted performances by local classically Indian-inspired psychedelic collective Liberate Elemental Forces as well as experimental duo Lucky Dragons. Queer singer ranchera San Cha, whose three-part floating residency just ended at the Audubon Center at Ernest E. Debs Regional Park in Montecito Heights, also performed her moving and breathtaking show at Los Angeles State Historic Park in Chinatown, and the Storrier-Stearns Japanese Garden, all of which regularly host floating people.
Consistency has always been part of the mission. “I think consistency is comforting and reassuring on its own,” says Schopfel. “He’s there for you like a therapist would be, or any type of studio or gym.”
The floating business model offers two levels of membership, $11 or $22 per month, giving members the option to attend one or two events and receive 50% off all others. In addition to encouraging people to discover artists or spaces they may not be familiar with, memberships also help support staff. Direct donations are also welcome, and float organizers say no one is turned away if they can’t afford the suggested amount.
In floating space, the encouragement to simply be applies to all forms of self-expression. “We’re making a conscious effort to make this a place where people can come and feel their identity is respected and affirmed,” says May Rose Smeback, the band’s production manager, who identifies as non-binary.
Schopfel makes an important distinction between “well-being” and actual well-being. He says, “I feel like wellness, as it’s positioned in the market, is very task-oriented and very tethered. … Well-being is simply about existing and enjoying the space around you, without any expectation. This is what we strive to create. Although the initial seeds were planted before the pandemic, COVID brought a more urgent need for safe outdoor gathering spaces where people could heal together.
The promise – and the fun – of Floating is that one day, hopefully, will be come to a park near you. Tate Chavez, who handles permissions, notes that what Floating does “really aligns with a lot of the core purposes of these spaces.” Most park managers are happy when something like an amphitheater, for example, is used for its original purpose. Floating organizers hope to hold events on the beach this summer, but are still working on logistics.
All events are listed on Floating’s website with detailed descriptions of performers and environments (and whether the event allows pets). But subscribing to the text list is the best way to stay up to date. Each event is for all ages.
“If we go out and try to pay more attention to the environment or the bioregion we inhabit, we begin to pay a deeper sense of care and attention to our environment. Then, once we have does that, we fight to conserve,” says Klein, who leads floating nature walks at Griffith Park.
For example, Arlington Gardens in Pasadena, a public botanical garden that includes a 48-tree orange grove, has survived on sales of its signature marmalade and private donations. Now Floating’s weekly sound baths have added a new revenue stream. The floating team also plans to help produce Arlington’s annual fall fundraising gala this year.
Light Liu, Community Platforms Manager for Floating, describes each event as “a specific moment. These are beautiful and magical events, but they are fleeting.
“You want to be present and absorb as much as you can and be part of the gathering as it unfolds. Afterwards, you leave with a feeling, and the feeling remains.