The Do Lab's Trip to Egypt Was Some Sort of Revolution + Exclusive Video
Between political strife, rioting, demonstrations and the general cultural upheaval caused by the aftershocks of the 2011 Egyptian Revolution, the country seemed like a less than ideal location for a music festival and sightseeing tour put on by a group of Americans. Yet, nearly 300 people, mostly of them from Southern California, flew to Cairo late last year to take part in the Do Lab's winter solstice event The Great Convergence.
Credit: Galen Oakes, courtesy of The Confluence
In the planning stages for nearly a year, the itinerary for the trip included visits to ancient sites throughout the country and lectures and panel discussions by Egypt experts Dr. Carmen Boulter and geologist Robert Schoch. The music event (held in front of Great Pyramids, no less), featured sets from Beats Antique, Random Rab, Apparat, Eskmo and Bluetech. The eight day trip ended with a cruise down the Nile.
It was to be a once in a lifetime experience. Everyone told them not to go.
Despite myriad warnings from concerned family and friends, The Great Convergence's intergenerational group of travelers touched down in Cairo this past December. What they found on the ground was not chaos or hostility, but a warm welcome from locals excited about their presence and grateful for their contribution to a suffering tourism industry.
Still, it wasn't an easy venture. "We've done much larger events," says Do Lab cofounder Jesse Flemming, "but we've never actually organized people in other countries with such a huge time difference, a language barrier and all kinds of travel arrangements. We were outsourcing a lot of what we normally do in house as a company. It was a lot harder than we thought it was going to be."
Among the intentions for the trip was for attendees to participate "in a great astronomical alignment, drawing upon the lessons and wisdom from our past and inspiring us in our creations for the future" As such, The Great Convergence was designed as a spiritual tour of Egyptian holy sites during the period of "galactic alignment" as outlined by the prophecies of the Mayans and other ancient civilizations. (Stay with us here).
Tour stops included the Great Pyramid, the Sphinx, and temples and holy sites including Dendera, Luxor, Edfu, the Valley of the Kings, and Karnak. Each location served as a place to take part in offerings tied to the spiritual awareness mindset that is a defining characteristic of other Do Lab events like Lightning in a Bottle.
This itinerary and intention was largely influenced by the event's co-executive producers Flemming, Isis Indriya and Tamer El-Shakhs, along with author and Egyptian mysticism expert Nicki Scully, who first visited the country with the Grateful Dead in 1978. Core members of the Do Lab team studied the historical and spiritual aspects of ancient Egypt with Scully for months in preparation for the trip.
Scully also connected the Do Lab to Mohamed Nazmy, the president of Cairo-based Quest Travel. The business caters to spiritual tourists and has worked with individuals including artist Alex Grey and author and lecturer Marianne Williamson. Through Quest, the Do Lab was able to secure private access to sites including the sub-chamber of the Great Pyramid as well as a rare private sunrise ceremony at the Sphinx.