It’s a chilly day in Landers (pop. 10,000), a town in the Mojave Desert two hours from L.A., and though the wood fires are blazing, the gourmet S’mores bar is busy and the chai tea is boiling, all eyes keep turning towards the bright white construction just a few yards away: The Integratron.
At 38 foot high and 50 foot wide, this boxy dome is built from fiberglass, wood and concrete – but not a single nail – and rests on a geomagnetic anomaly in the earth, as well as a confluence of three underground rivers. According to its late creator, former engineer, UFO enthusiast and meditation advocate George Van Tasell, it uses electromagnetic forces to rejuvenate energy.
He learned this secret during an encounter with Venusian aliens in 1954, and it’s these powerful forces that draw visitors here all year round; tonight it’s a couple hundred people who have come to welcome in the New Year with a unique harmonic event: the “sound bath.”
Dedicated sisters Joanne, Nancy and Patty have been running the Integratron since the early 21st century, and today it’s Patty who will be playing the quartz crystal singing bowls in the hour-long sound bath, a mesmerizing experience that takes place in the perfectly acoustic sound chamber.
As a gust of desert wind ruffles her colorful scarf, she describes it as a “kindergarten naptime for grown-ups,” before stepping inside to prepare the second floor space, which is full of woven blankets, fluffy pillows and – if required – an assortment of instruments.
Sonic frequency healing and aliens may seem far out, but scientists, musicians and the curious have been coming here since the sisters took over, and today’s mixed bunch includes plenty of bearded 60s throwbacks, but also middle aged couples and hipsters in neon spectacles and ushanka hats. The first group gingerly step inside, all of them stopping to look at the small shrine of statues, shells, rocks, international coins and flowers left by other visitors, before making their way upstairs.
Back outside, the bearded DJ spins vinyl for those swinging in the hammocks or shivering by the fire, and confesses that Led Zeppelin legend Robert Plant visited a couple of years ago, and that UK pop star Jarvis Cocker recently arrived late, “but we sneaked him in – and he gave us tickets to Coachella!”
Young and old, everyone emerges from the dome with a smile on their face and chatting happily to their fellow travelers – an encouraging sign for the next party about to take the trip. Some are camping out overnight in Joshua Tree, but everyone vows to make the GPS-unfriendly drive down this dirt road and come back again soon.
Open Wed-Sunday for groups, private hire or pop-ups; no dogs. www.integratron.com