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The Amapola festival transforms the Rambouillet forest into an ecological and feminist festival

Night has fallen on the Bois de Gazeran, in the Yvelines. Friday, July 29, a shimmering enchantment has just seized it. Flashes of light escape from it, bass shakes it… Arrived at the edge of this micro-forest, a panel changed into a cloud opens the way towards a festive and colorful nature. “Welcome to Amapola” (“poppy” in Spanish). In recent nights, two scenes with flowery ornaments have grown. From one to the other, some 900 spangled faces of twentysomethings and thirtysomethings stroll, bewitched by the electronic rhythms. For its second edition, the “Poppy Tribe” bewitches the lands of Yvelin for 48 hours of multi-artistic festival.

A make-up by Sisi La Paillette at the Amapola festival, July 30, 2022, in the Gazeran wood.  (PIERRE KRON)

“I am from a disenchanted generation”: on the solar scenography of the “Capsule Radieuse” and on an over-boosted remix by Mylène Farmer, the nine hyperactive ones of Tous & Chaos offer festival-goers their first moment of communion. Big party or festival on a human scale? A few minutes after the doors finally closed at midnight, the siblings of organizers have still not decided. After several years of mini-festivals “with and for friends”Sylvia (28) and Yvan de la Baume (26 years) have scaled up. “We simply wanted to create an event that resembles us and which highlights the music we love. But also our values: ecology and feminism”summarizes the little brother.

Throughout the beautiful summer night, commitments begin to germinate in the four corners of the wood. While emerging artists follow one another with perfect parity, purple vests roam discreetly. Their nickname appears in a sign of the same color: “the mongoose brigade”. The principle ? Identifiable and trained volunteers to monitor and respond to sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV). “You can’t guarantee a 100% safe space at a festival, but we can create something dissuasive and which makes it possible to talk about these VSS”, explains Sidonie Gouvard, partly at the origin of this brigade. Why mongooses? She laughs. “Because they prey on snakes”.

Otoko's contraceptive ring workshop at the Amapola festival, July 30, 2022, in Gazeran wood.   (PIERRE KRON)

The hours pass, the dance floors empty, the campsite fills up, the game of rural Twister ends. When noon strikes, the most revelers crawl to the vegetarian food trucks. As for the more rested, they let themselves be guided to the ten workshops of ecological and/or feminist associations in the woods. A fresco of sexism, a fresco of deforestation, awareness of gender-based violence… For an afternoon, some of the festival-goers transform into studious students. The male contraceptive ring making course by Otoko is particularly attractive. “We came a little for the valvesmiles Benjamin behind his sunglasses. But in the end, it’s not unpleasant and it seems healthier than all these hormonal pills.”

At the same time, the edge of the wood turns into an open-air theatre. Straw bales as folding seats, the company Notre Insouciance opens the ball for an hour. Monologues, songs, dances… Their adaptation of The reddest Rose blooms by Liv Strömquist humorously deconstructs love. And even the (large) part of the public who did not know the feminist designer is conquered. The director, Juliette Hecquet, is delighted: Touching people who did not think of themselves as theatergoers is what interests me.” The proof: without having foreseen it, Manon was able to relive the comic strip of an author she has been following for a long time.

The theater company Notre Insouciance for their play

However, the 30-year-old makes a mixed assessment of Amapola. I was attracted by these commitments that I lead on a daily basis and it’s nice to see this younger generation gathered around these themes.” But the public sometimes very “business school” and the omnipresence of music “club”even during the workshops, made him feel “a lag”.

As for the organizing team, the objective of this second edition is more than fulfilled. “Amapola remains a festival of awareness more than activistsrecalls Sylvia de la Baume. We will always put this music that we love first, because that’s how we reach the public, whether or not they are aware of these issues.” For its next festival and its next one-off events, the Poppy Collective has only one word: a festive and friendly parenthesis, where seeds of reflection are planted.

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