By: Kaylie ‘Violet’ Starkey
This life is such a fleeting, precious gift.
This week, the stars are putting it all in perspective, as I thank them for my life and mourn the loss of another’s. The life of Nicholas ‘Pumpkin’ Alvarado, a new friend and one of my favorite DJs, was taken in a car accident just a few days after I grazed the cusp of death in a crash of my own.
Last Monday, my heart pounded as I spun 360 degrees in the fast lane, the wheel past the point of control. We were flying towards the median at 70 miles per hour and though my voice cried out, the world seemed to slow down as my fight or flight reactions kicked in. When your life flashes before your eyes, you may be immersed in chaos but a sense of stillness seems to wash over as if you’re given a choice to either accept or combat your impending fate.
It is with a deep sense of gratitude that I write this here, now, a few days after the accident. I made it out alive, with nothing more than a bump on the head, and the comfort of knowing that on the cusp of danger, my spirit soars in a state of acceptance. But the blessing of this fate is put into shaking perspective as one of our tribe’s dearest artists and friends, Pumpkin, shared this humbling experience in another car accident Friday night… but didn’t live to tell his story.
Nick, I can only hope that in those final moments, your world slowed down just enough to breathe in the profound love that our huge family has for you around the world—all the sights, sounds, smiles you have co-created, and the sacred seeds you have planted in our hearts… they will continue to grow long after this day.
His last sets at Serenity Gathering will be playing on in our hearts forever. Nick was the last kindred soul I spoke to before leaving the festival; he had stuck around long after the gathering came to an end to throw his energy into helping the Green Team, an expression of his intentions that always proved so pure. We bonded over our mutual inspiration by the passion of artists like Ben Bridwell of Band of Horses, whom he opened his set with Monday morning, and the strength of these gatherings in opening our hearts and minds. When he found out I was cold, he offered me his fur coat and I warmed up from both the gesture and the loving energy he radiated.
Some say it’s a bummer that we faced noise violations and the volume at his last set had to be so low… but I can’t imagine anything more fitting. The tunes were so quiet we could hear each other whisper from right in front of the speaker, and though we yearned to rage, it challenged us to experience his music in an entirely new way. The low volume just drew us all in so close we were all dancing right next to him, embracing each other, sharing intimate conversation, connecting through words in addition to movement. The crowd that stuck around served as a testimony to his fans’ commitment, honoring his tunes even when they’re barely bumpin’. A new goddess friend and I spent nearly his whole set swaying back and forth while holding each other, talking about why we come to these events and the powerful role dance music plays in our lives, falling in love with each other’s spirits and swooning over how blessed we are to have stumbled upon this fate. We were all hanging on to the beats no matter how low the bass boomed, groovin’ by his side. That last set was like a lullaby…
Artists like Pumpkin serve as the glue for our community—their music is a profound excuse for us all to get together and celebrate, heal, grow, inspire, transform. It brings all of us visionaries together, catalyzing the alchemy of our ideas, blending backgrounds and perspectives—an array of various archetypes dancing to one beat. Dance music has a way of tearing down the walls that separate individuals, showing us that we can connect through surrender to the sound, letting it flow through us like water… and if we liquidify, we can’t help but blend into one element, one powerful force that makes waves in our society. Pumpkin had a way of sparking these feels, blending genres, mixing magic, and most importantly creating and holding space for us to explore the depths of friends as family. He wasn’t just an artist, he was a catalyst, and I’m confident I can speak for all of us when I say we’ll keep dancing in his name.