What I Learned Teaching Psychedelic Hippies How To Party

The Party Scientist
7 min readJan 16, 2024

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  1. Get inspired to take more risks as a facilitator.
  2. Improve your social intelligence.
  3. Learn from hippies.

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Every summer, I take off my professional mask and venture out to festivals.

Festival culture is unique. Humans are exceedingly open, friendly, cheerful, and playful. There’s gifting. There are funny outfits. There’s a willingness to appreciate new perspectives.

Unfortunately, there’s also a lot of drugs.

And alcohol.

And escapism.

And smoking.

Typical partygoers are not my people. But they want what I have — the ability to create joy from within and get high on their own supply. The mindset of loving reality as it is, not needing it to be any different.

I am acknowledged for this skill. People are impressed. And it keeps me going back. Eager learners are fun to educate.

Whenever I am educating partygoers at a festival, my message is this. There are alternative ways to socialize that generate more joy and energy. To change your quality of life, change the quality of your social interactions.

Me, standing in the very back.

My hope for everyone leaving my workshops is for them to turn off their ‘social autopilot’ and take more social risks. To take the driver’s seat for their social interactions and discover there’s much more joy and closeness to be had!

I do this for corporate people and festivalgoers alike.

One thing I’ve noticed is that festivalgoers take more risks and inspire me more than corporate leaders. They show me new paradigms for living, playing, connecting, and self-improving.

In this article, I want to show you what hippies have taught me in the last month. I will debrief the experiences I facilitated for them and explain how to bring sprinkles of festival culture wherever you go.

Practice constructive responding.

I was overlooking the dance floor, on a balcony made of scaffolding. There was a ladder to climb up. As everyone reached the balcony, I said, “Excellent, you’re right on time for your dancing shift.” I then proceeded to teach them how to dance on the balcony, using the railings and all.

Every single person responded constructively. They chose to participate. In the default world, a lot of people would find a reason to distrust me.

When we connect with others, we can respond to them constructively, neutrally, or destructively. Disagreement, criticism, and neglect are destructive. Curiosity, positivity, encouragement, and participation are constructive.

Other humans diffuse your attention.

The default way to socialize is with many people — all at the same time. In other words, multitasking.

I was participating in a partner stretch workshop. Then, I noticed my friend was sitting right beside me watching. I started to catch up with him while participating in the workshop with my stretch partner. During the debrief, my partner said to me: “It felt different once you started talking to your friend.”

The great irony of human connection is this.

Opportunities for human connection can distract you from creating a deeper connection with the person in front of you.

Too many social opportunities, like at a festival, can actually have the opposite effect — they can reduce the quality of our connections with others.

There’s joy in making others shine.

I was dancing on a platform, overlooking a crowd. On my left, there was an older woman with a stroller. I looked at her and motioned to the platform, she nodded. And so, I took her hand and helped her get onto the platform with the stroller. Then I danced beside her. She had a big smile. It made my night.

The more I lift others up, whether literally or through ‘positive gossip’, the more I feel good myself. I also feel their joy when they feel empowered and seen.

I love pausing an interaction entirely to compliment them.

I love inviting others up on stage with me.

I love sharing good things about someone with others.

Choose people who are excited to connect with you.

People differ on their ‘excitement to connect level’ broadly (with everyone) and specifically (with you). Let me explain.

Certain individuals are not excited to connect at all. They may have internal triggers or anxiety. Or they may just enjoy other non-social activities. Other individuals are excited to connect with others, just not you. You can tell in an instant by asking yourself the question: Have they reciprocated attention & curiosity?

On the first night of one of the festivals, I approached someone and we were discussing health. I asked them: What is the greatest thing you do for your health? Their reply: “I feel like you’re interrogating me.” Low specific excitement to connect! This was a gift. They were telling me. MOVE ON.

Some people are not going to like you or your passions. Move on. Otherwise, you waste time on people you’ll never connect with again.

“Jacques, you’re judgemental.” You may say to yourself.

No, I am perceptive. I know in an instant if someone is genuinely excited about me, my quirks, and my obsessions.


People can get triggered by deeper questions.

Most people are at a party or festival to escape. Along with that theme, they are not looking to have conversations about personal growth, which requires focused attention. Nor do they want to be vulnerable.

I was sitting in a hammock with someone I met moments ago. We were joking around about being Buddhists. Then I started to get serious about my Buddhist meditation experiences. I was sharing my 5 step model to enlightenment, and then she stopped me. “This is not cool.” Froze me in my tracks. What did I say?

She asked me to get up and leave. So I did.

The next day, she approached me and gave me negative feedback.

We don’t know someone’s trigger profile. Don’t assume it’s your fault.

Focused conversation takes effort. And when people are in a recreational environment, sometimes they prefer being mindless. Unfortunately for them, research suggests they’d enjoy themselves more if they engaged effortfully.

“The best moments in our lives are not the passive, receptive, relaxing times . . . The best moments usually occur if a person’s body or mind is stretched to its limits in a voluntary effort to accomplish something difficult and worthwhile”

(Csikszentmihalyi, 1990).

Create a shared social contract to change behavior.

Everyone behaves differently at festivals. They’re more expressive, open, and colorful. In their normal life, they may be none of these things. When they return, they may bring back none of these things.

Because there’s no shared social contract in the default world.

When people arrive at a festival, there’s an implicit social contract: If you express yourself, be weird, goofy, and extraverted, you will be rewarded and included.

Because everyone follows the contract, a ‘new normal’ is established. At festivals, people are behaving normally — according to the new normal. They’re not actually being weird at all, because everyone else is behaving the same way.

A lot more courage is necessary to behave outside the norm. Following the implicit festival contract in the outside world has a huge upside, but it demands incredible audacity. You just don’t know if people will reciprocate! It will repel some and attract some.

There are two insights here.

To change social behaviors in your community, create and communicate a social contract that answers the question — How do I behave here?

Breaking the social contract in the default world has a big upside, because humans are starving for emotional expression and disinhibition.

Make a habit of silence and solitude.

Hundreds of humans to talk to. Loud music and bright lights. Substances. Staying up all night. This is all hyper-stimulating your brain. For this reason, festivals inherently exhaust the brain’s neurotransmitters.

Welcome to the 21st century, where we stimulate ourselves all the time with audio and visual media.

It’s not healthy to do this. The brain needs a break from stimuli. Attending festivals has reminded me of the importance of silence and solitude.

Without silence and solitude, I get sick of social contact and loud music. To restore my excitement for human connection, I spend time alone. I go on solo walks. I put my phone on silent.

To get the most out of joyful human connection, give your brain a rest.

Hippies certainly taught me this, but by omission.

Final Recommendation

Go outside your community of comfort. Meet new people and you’ll be surprised by what you learn.

If you’re feeling thankful, could you like or comment this article? What wisdom do you have to share with other readers? We’d love to hear your additions.

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Thanks for spreading healthier human connections 🧠



The Party Scientist

Human Connection & Belonging Strategist | Professor of Shared Joy | I help leaders reinvent how they connect their people and build community