Posted by: adventuressetravels | June 10, 2011

Escape from Rainbow

The second evening found me huddling by the communal fire for warmth, scrunched in alongside innumerable members of the Rainbow Family.

Without warning Permaculture, the boy who had brought me to the gathering, came up behind me.  He now went by Smudge, it was his Rainbow name, he informed me.  Everyone at the gathering got their own Rainbow name.  Sitting down, he introduced me to the girl he was with, Tuesday was her Rainbow name.

Even in the firelight I could tell the dark-haired girl would have looked more at home on a college campus than in the middle of the woods fraternizing with the “homefree” Rainbow family.  She sat down next to me and begin to talk excitedly.

We immediately hit it off, bonding over the fact that we were both couchsurfers and feeling out of place at the gathering.  A recent university Disillusioned.  She had researched the gathering before coming out to the woods and this was nothing like what she had heard about.  She had arrived a few hours earlier but she was already fed up with the judgmental attitudes and superficialities she had encountered at the Rainbow Gathering.  She missed civilization. 

I was completely with her on that and we made plans to head into Tallahassee the next day.  With an escape route I breathed a sigh of relief… now I just had to figure out a place to stay…

Far too cold for camping, Smudge, Tuesday, and I spent the night in Tuesday’s large van.  She had a bed set up in it and had planned to take a roadtrip sleeping in her van.  Although this was closer to the hippy “Rainbow” ideal than I was quite accustomed to, Tuesday was clear on her sentiments about dirt; the van was immaculate.

The next morning I got my computer out of Smudge’s car and we prepared to head into town.  As we were preparing things, one of the Rainbow denizens approached us.  Odor lines practically visible he pushed a shock of matted brown hair out of his face and leered at us with a predatory broken-toothed smile.

“Are you going to town?  Can I come?” The squatter was practically salivating as he undressed us with his eyes.

My skin crawled as Tuesday, nice to a fault, hedged. “Um … maybe later … we’re not really sure….”  She didn’t want to be alone with this creep anymore than I did but it was considered rude not to share everything and she was doing her best to stick to Rainbow Rules.

We walked around for a bit, hoping that the guy would find another ride, and then when we really needed to head into town made our way back to the van.  The creep was still waiting for us, mud-smeared jeans even dirtier than before.

“Are you girls going to town now?  Where are you going?”  He slurred, clearly far from sober.

“Um… we’re going to Wal-Mart,” Tuesday reluctantly said, unable to lie or say no.

“And Starbucks” Thinking quickly, I broke in.  Wal-Mart and its cheap products may have been frequented by this Rainbow gathering, but the overpriced yuppie culture of Starbucks was the antithesis of everything this guy held dear.

You could just see something in the squatter’s eyes die when I uttered the name.  Without a word he shuffled off.  He didn’t want anything to do with girls who would be caught dead going to Starbucks.  We were off the hook.

I have never been as happy to be in a Wal-Mart in my life as I was when we walked in the vast supercenter.  I bought a prepaid phone, phone card, and was ready to get back to civilization.

The next stop was not Starbucks, but a wonderful vegetarian restaurant and coffee shop in Tallahassee called All Saints Café.  I walked into the place and breathed a sigh of relief.  With a relaxed atmosphere, tables and couches strewn about the room for lounging, great artwork and a smattering of a variety of indie rockers, and hipsters in their skinny jeans sipping lattés I knew at once: this was my sort of place.

Unfortunately I looked horribly out of place.  Wearing my most rainbow clothes – a sarong I had recently bought in Mexico over workout pants I cringed at my wardrobe choice.  I had tried to mitigate the stares I was getting at Rainbow and now looked horrible in a place I would much rather have been wearing my own clothes.

Luckily I really just needed to use the internet and get in touch with some people on Couchsurfing.  I ordered what turned out to probably be the best chai latte of my life and got online.

A few minutes later one of the friends Tuesday had happened to see at the coffee shop sat down next to me and we started to talk.  With disheveled hair, adeptly done makeup, and bedecked in thrift-store chic, right away I could tell at once this waify girl was about as far from Rainbow as a person could be and someone I’d hang out with.  Within minutes we had gotten to the obligatory music discussion and we bonded over Sonic Youth, Shellac, and various indie bands.

When she heard my tragic Rainbow tale she was horrified and immediately offered to rescue me and let me crash at her place.  She had never been herself but had heard about it.  Unfortunately my backpack and all of my things were still in the woods.  So even with an exit strategy I still had to go back…

Luckily Tuesday offered to go back with me to get my things, and my stories had piqued Lindsay’s curiosity so the three of us headed back to the festival.

Lindsay was appropriately appalled at the gathering.  “It’s like Lord of the Flies with Hippies,” she said with horror.  “We could make a video game out of this.”  And she was right.  The festival hadn’t gotten better, hadn’t grown on me like some sort of hideous fungus, it had just gotten worse.

After hours we were able to drag Tuesday away.  (Somehow she seemed to be acclimating to the gathering)  It was nighttime before we got back to Lindsay’s apartment in Tallahassee.  We each took several through showers to wash the Rainbow stench off and did all of our laundry, just to make sure we were clean.

To this day I am convinced that Lindsay saved my life.   I really don’t know how much longer I could have survived in that atmosphere.

To be perfectly fair I did hear complaints that this Rainbow gathering did not have many people with real “Rainbow” ideals and that it was filled with posers.  I cannot say for sure if this were a good example of today’s “Rainbow Gathering” mentality.  I have no interest in returning to one.  I like to try new things, some things; however, trying once is more than enough.

Rainbow Gathering may not have been one of my favorite adventures but not all the new things you try can be great.  Still, I say I came out of this one on top, I made it out of Rainbow, made a new friend, and found out what an amazing city Tallahassee is.


  1. this whole Rainbow Debacle was pretty entertaining… for me at least who didn’t have to deal with it! nice work on the ‘starbucks’ bit!

  2. haha yeah, I’m with you. If it hadn’t been me I’d have been right there with you, pointing, laughing, and being entertained by the Connecticut Yankee in Hippy Headquarters

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: