Your Paradise Fiji | DJs, Discrete Joys, Delight in the Mamanuca Islands

The destination music festival is jubilant and dreamlike in its 8th year

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All photos provided by MY Media Sydney

Paradise, as it stands linguistically, operates as somewhat of an ideological mirror. The best part of Paradise is that it’s not obligated to be a real, tangible place. Instead, Paradise hovers, a flimsy pleasantry in the realm of dreams; a broad, unspecific, and deliberately unattainable promise of unfettered happiness in a space unmoored from the difficulties of the everyday. I’ll admit– I originally found it rather bold for a destination music festival to bear the idyllic responsibility automatically imparted upon it as a casualty of the word Paradise. At the time, what I found even more ludicrously confident on the festival’s behalf is that it not only promises Paradise but that it implies specificity: the festival is any visitor’s Paradise. It's Your Paradise

Your Paradise has made a business of fulfilling this promise since 2014. Every year, the team flies eight hundred-or-so electronic music lovers from various major cities across the globe thousands of miles to the Nadi airport in Fiji. From there, it transports those visitors on a series of buses to a port, where visitors board an hour-long ferry to Malolo Lailai. From there, the team distributes these guests (singles, couples, groups) across the Musket Cove and Plantation Island resorts on the island, and then, after all this transport, the team orchestrates a tight, symphonic, five(ish) day itinerary: day parties; water excursions; yoga and mindfulness meditations; mangrove planting; night raves. Guests can purchase add-ons, like boat trips to local floating bar Cloud 9 or exclusive spots at a party on Fiji One, one of the largest catamarans in the southern hemisphere. All of this and more for five days straight (not counting arrival/departure days) and then everyone is home safely. Paradise made concrete.

If a certain disastrous island event that rhymes with Wyre Festival comes to mind, you’re not the first to attempt to draw the comparison. As unbelievably bloated as the logistics make the Your Paradise festival sound– as nebulous of a promise to have been made in such earnest— I find myself on the last day of Your Paradise, nursing a mojito and a mild sunburn under a clear Fijian sky, admitting to my effervescent travel-vlogger-suitemate Blaine Musca (who exudes a sincerity rarely found in California yet ubiquitous on Malolo Lailai) that everything about the week exceeded my expectations. From the indulgent weather, to the conspicuously blue water, to the conversational warmth between fellow festival goers, Your Paradise nimbly performed the stunt of self actualization, and performed it well.

It’s been a week of consecutive, discrete ecstasies: there’s been the joy of walking, alone, under the shade of lush green foliage atop white sand after waking up to the sound of birds chirping. There’s been the jubilant satisfaction of joining a collective crowd, writhing to Dimension under a brilliant meteor shower. There've been a multitude of drunken delights, among my favorite being a member of the intimate Cloud 9 dance floor while Prospa spun WANT NEED LOVE (afloat on ludicrously blue water a couple of miles off the island). There’s been the hilariously surreal PrettyLittleThing party, a private affair at a villa overlooking the beach, where I kept accidentally getting in the background of Too Hot To Handle star Georgia Hassarati’s immaculately posed photos. There’s been minute elations, too: rubbing shoulders with world-class DJs (Hey, Partiboi69! Hey, Bonobo!). Tasting passion fruit for the first time. Shaping my lips to form new words, Bula, Vinaka. Befriending Australians, lots of them.

There’s this meme that gets thrown around every so often on the internet: it’s a Slavic kid in a sweaty nightclub, famously miscaptioned with the quote: “the club is bumping, the ladies look good, the alcohol is flowing. There is much pain in the world but not in this room.” Over and over, while I sip complimentary tequila soda on a boat full of beautiful women and Australian men with tattoos taught over cartoonish muscles, while I snorkel over a vibrant coral reef, while I watch bartenders greet guests from years past like family, I think of the meme and feel a rush of incredulity. There’s Paradise of the imagination, and there’s Paradise in practice. The two aren’t necessarily meant to align, but by some virtue of miracle and labor, they have here, on Malolo Lailai.

 Anyway, on the last day I’m telling Blaine a version of these thoughts and she agrees: “I definitely manifested this,” she laughs.

Talk of manifestation is everywhere. Many talk about the practice at mealtimes. At the luxurious Musket Cove Resort, where I and many of the performers stay, the flavorful buffet draws disparate groups of guests, influencers, and artists together over abundant plates of freshly-prepared fare. After chatter about past iterations of the event (After 8 years of Your Paradise the general consensus is that after you come once, you feel compelled to return annually) and projections for the future (Rich DietZ, jovial DJ duo, invites everyone to their 4am set in Los Angeles, 17 hours after we’re set to land), long-winded conversations often take on a spiritual tenor. Perhaps instilled within guests by the festival’s daily morning yoga meditations, or, more likely, already ingrained within the type of electronic music fan drawn to Your Paradise, many people are enormously fixated with the regular practice of the self and its projection into the future. 

Though I don’t disagree with the efficacy of spiritual enlightenment– one can see its benefits at every point throughout the festival, given the high baseline of respect everyone seems to hold for themselves and each other, on and off the dance floor– I find myself smiling at the extent to which the festival organizers have pulled off the idea that Your Paradise is a near-divine endowment;  an effortless, seamless endeavor. Perhaps many people have manifested their presence in Paradise, but Your Paradise didn’t just manifest itself– it’s unequivocally an arduous work, produced by co-founders Ignacio Garcia, Dom Furber, Hadi J, Daniel Farley, and Steve Pillemer; fabricated daily by the employees of Musket Cove and Plantation Island and Cloud 9, stitched together by companies like MyMedia Sydney, and executed, minute-by-minute, by attendees who have opened themselves to the possibility of being residents, albeit temporarily, of Paradise.

For this week, Paradise is real and you’re a part of it. For the rest of the year, it resides happily in that temporal dreamworld of memory, yours alone to pull from in the darkest depths of winter, in the sweltering recesses of summer. This Paradise is yours, inevitably, until it bursts forth anew, next year, teeming with all of the excess and beauty and love and soul that make it so special, again and again and again. Experience this festival once, and it will unequivocally become a part of Your version of Paradise forever.

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Your Paradise Fiji, Annie Bush, Music