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Cuckoo for Summer Camp | The Unique Culture of Dirtybird Campout

by Aaron Nguyen

What makes Dirtybird Campout stand out in such an iconic way is the culture behind the brand. Imagine the best parts of childhood summer camp made much better for adults, taking back the essence of true freedom without the need of technology to have fun, just lively activities with your best buds at Campout. The attire theme is a khaki shirt & shorts like a Boy Scout camp counselor, but decked out in unique patches that many of the birdies personally design, bringing their patches to trade with others or gift to those who earned it. You don’t have to dress the theme to be part of the culture as there are quirky outfits galore – just remember to suit up comfortably for the cold weather during the nights.

Dirtybird Campout is clearly Claude’s favorite time of the year, with as much effort that’s instilled into this wonderful creation of a festival as he tends to it like his own baby. There’s so much attention to detail and enthusiastic energy everywhere, you can tell it’s all made with utter care and love for this special event. The people of Dirtybird Campout are amongst the friendliest of festivalgoers out there as we take care of one another on the dancefloor and provide for each other at camp to make sure everyone has a massively memorably time.

Dirtybird Campout redefines what a “Music & Arts Festival” can be as it feels more like an adult summer camp with its extraordinary culture and array of imaginative activities! Making totems with VNSSA & Nala at Craftopia was a definite blast as artists take on an intimate role interacting with the Dirtybird flock. Sacha Robotti personally screen printed his signature Sloth Acid logo on the back of my fiery red dragon robes making them one-of-a-kind gorgeous while chatting us up. You can tie dye shirts, do face & body paint, create your own patches to swag out your camper shirt and even make essential oils at Craftopia. 

Right behind Craftopia was the infamous Frick Frack Blackjack, where you play the card game Blackjack wagering not money but your belongings, with the house matching your bet with items they determine hold similar value. I tested my luck wagering my personal Sriracha bottle for a rare limited edition Nerf Action Pistol, had 16 in my hand however the dealer stole the round with a 21 Blackjack. I didn’t take it too hard though as even the man in charge, Claude VonStroke, lost one of his personal coonskin caps the first night – but was able to win it back on the last day in a legendary bet that raised the stakes with a signed Wu Tang Clan album.

The Game Fields of Dirtybird Campout, located south of the Bass Lodge, hosted a range of activities such as Kickball, Dodgeball, Archery, Tug-Of War and the famed Ironbird Olympics, testing the athletic skills of fierce campers through a series of competitions & races to see who comes out on top! To partake in the sports you have to register at the Games HQ, where you choose between the Red, Purple, Orange and Green teams and are bestowed with a colored Dirtybird bandana to rep your team all weekend. The Red Team is my personal favorite and we even won the Ironbird this year! What’s super rad is that many of the artists participate in various games (Claude steps up to compete at virtually all of them) so you get to enjoy a different side of these DJs beyond the music with fun you won’t find anywhere else!

Campers from across the country make the trip out to the serene locale of the Modesto Reservoir Campgrounds, decorating their campsites and elaborate renegade sound camps in style, with the more expensive option of Bird’s Nest Luxury Camp for those who want a quiet place to camp located inside the venue. The layout of the festival this year was organized in a loop that circles around every stage and activity area. At the first stop inside the venue you’d see the official Dirtybird merch store right next to the Games HQ & Info booths. Continuing on the right-side path takes you to the Birdhouse, the main stage. Along the way lies a huge selection of food vendors lined up from $4 ginormous dumplings to brick oven pizza & of course the tasty tummy ramen bowls and dinner rice bowls to fill up your appetite.

Before heading down the stairs from The Birdhouse check out the Roller Disco in the back of the lot to get your boogie on and show off your skills in those shoes with wheels. Just south of the main stage is the Bass Lodge, a unique stage that books the more diverse acts such as R&B singer Jhene Aiko in 2019 and famed Oakland rapper Too $HORT this year as their surprise guest. It was such a treat seeing him live for the first time, truly a magical set for the books!

Following the route to the next stop is the Games Field then Claude’s Cabin, which is my personal favorite stage as anything can happen there with constant jaw-dropping and mind-blowing moments! Right next to Claude’s Cabin is Grillson’s BBQ, serving delicious, finger-licking BBQ with a good portion of ribs or chicken with your choice of cornbread, potato salad and coleslaw. Completing the loop is the Dirtybird Radio Renegade, where artists like the Fantastic Voyage band and Claude’s hip-hop bass persona Barclay Crenshaw would play during the day. At night The Fungineers music and ice cream truck performed goofy sets full of improvised songs, always churning up a lively crowd.

Some of my music set highlights included Dirtybird staples Justin Jay, Steve Darko, Walker & Royce, and Sacha Robotti. The expanding musical talent for the worldwide, booty-shaking signature grooves of Dirtybird seriously impressed, while seeing up-and-coming artists such as Luke Andy, Arnold & Lane and distinct, interesting bass sounds such as Ivy Lab, Yheti and Medasin performing resulted in quite the lineup! Everywhere you go there’s amazing music especially in the afterhours when the festival ends, the famous Dirtybird Campout renegades go into full effect where RV sites set up awesome sounds camps attracting campers in droves till the sun comes up. The party never stops until you tap out!

Claude’s Cabin has a well-known reputation for hosting the wildest things you can imagine, as one night you could see people showcasing their freaky best at Lap Dance for Your Life and the next see lots of campers putting their skills on display for all to judge at the Talent Show. I personally partook two years in a row with my Sriracha-chugging skills, inviting someone from the audience to challenge me this time – which a girl named Mikela accepted and actually just beat me as we pounded copious amounts of hot sauce.

The Great American Bingo Revival is out of this world as well, where a limo, dancers, crazy prizes and unapologetic extravagance turn Bingo into a glorious madhouse of must-see entertainment. The engagement of the Dirtybird campers was in full effect this year as many of the activities were full such as the dating show, talent show and stand-up comedy. There’s so much to do at Dirtybird Campout it’s not only about the music but truly everything. I can’t wait to come back next year to enjoy these festivities once again!

Check out our photo gallery of Dirtybird Campout 2021 here.

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