in Normandy, a surreal “bubble” far from the pandemic

Facing the old stones of a Norman manor, a bare silhouette emerges from the moat. “Welcome to Havre de Perche”, says “Ziggy Lou” the “witch”. Here, masks and barrier gestures have disappeared: the Covid-19 has given way to “art, poetry, love”.

Like this fortune-teller, about thirty of them have been confined for three weeks in this fortified 16th century building, lost in the middle of the grove and surrounded by teepees. In this refuge far from the pandemic, the days pass to music, to the rhythm of dance, shamanism or drawing workshops. With three key words: “letting go”, “transcendence” and “ecstasy”.

“We really wanted to create a kind of bubble, where we forgot a little the external shit”, summarizes Louise Vallex, alias “Ziggy Lou”, 30 years under her crown of flowers.

To penetrate this parallel universe and this secret place, the participants all presented a negative PCR test, at the request of the Perchépolis collective, which supervises this miniature event because it cannot organize its annual electro festival. A necessary proof to relegate “social distancing” to oblivion.

“Our bet is to say that we can have fun like kids while being responsible like adults”, explains its artistic director, Samy El Moudni, crimson dress and mushroom earrings. Contacts with the outside of this atypical “summer camp” are limited to supplies.

“Without judgment”, everyone is here encouraged to “be their best human”, with lots of biodegradable costumes and sequins. Enough to create a mid-“Rocky Horror Picture Show” mid-“Donkey Skin” atmosphere: between the thick walls of the mansion, a young naked child serves as a model for princesses in dresses of light.

“It is completely improbable confinement,” says Thomas Lasserre. The young Basque “bathes in happiness”, immersed in a jacuzzi where his happy guests bask, after a “contact dance” workshop, where everyone has learned to wave in a duet by constantly leaning on the body of their partner.

– Time regained –

“Carnal contact is still better than being on video behind your screen”, resumes this bachelor, for whom the pandemic, with its procession of confinements and curfews, has “raised the hugs to the rank of basic needs”.

At 20, the student readily admits “being lost” in the face of “a world in upheaval”. “Suddenly, diving into a universe where experimentation is allowed, it seemed ideal to me to know myself better and find my way in the middle of this chaos.”

“Maybe it’s a leak, but I didn’t want to live in an anxiety-provoking climate,” “Maya” muses, in her pink robe embroidered with a dragon. While the government is publicly worried about the risks of the second confinement for mental health, the young woman of 27 years – who wishes to remain anonymous, like other participants met by AFP – “watches less and less the news” .

The fortress is however far from being disconnected. Under the artificial canopy of the “coworking” room, located at the top of a tower, residents spend half of their days developing websites, real estate projects, giving legal advice …

Work, creativity: the balance seems to stop the decay of time caused by the pandemic. For Maxime, the days of the first confinement, which were all alike, are over: the IT developer “differentiates the days” thanks to the artistic workshops that punctuate his evenings.

Tattoo artist, Rose Bûcher, takes advantage of the energy of teleworkers to draw. “It pushes me to do things, rather than spending my days alone sleeping,” says this 29-year-old woman from Strasbourg.

The participants even see in their “little utopia” inspirations for “the world after”. Chloe, 26, already dreams of “relocating” her job in the pharmaceutical sector outside of Paris. “This experience comforts me in the idea that one can feel less lonely in the countryside than in a big city.”

“People always think that living in the country is getting bored,” Ziggy Lou smiles. “But culture, you can create it yourself by moving around a bit.”

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