2015 Trip Report

Carnival of Mirrors

Well, we survived another year at the burn. Burning Man: Carnival of Mirrors was spectacular. It was a year that felt inspiring again after a few years of transition with the organization that makes everything happen. Since 2012 Burning Man feels like it has gone more commercial than ever yet somehow maintaining a grasp on the desired core values of the past.

Big Picture

photo-aug-19-5-37-21-pm-1
source www.maddogmadigan.com

Carnival of Mirrors theme was another big hit. The abomination that was Fertility 2.0 that went to Cargo Cult (loved it), then Caravansary (Fabulous), and now Carnival of Mirrors… what’s next: “Carrot Top”? While struggling to think of something Carrific we are eagerly awaiting next year’s theme.

Carnival of Mirrors featured a Midway that was as superb as the Souk from last year, showing that Burning Man is working on elevating the features of the-man experience. If this is the working model moving forward it certainly brings a greater sense of excitement to the event. It’s very marketable.

The Gayborhood

Another change to the Gayborhood layout made it much larger this year. It also lent to a greater opportunity for the queer camps of Burning Man to make a greater presentation. We were laid out on “D” street between 6:30 t0 8:30 which the Gayborhood renamed Rainbow Road.

rainbow-road
pre-event estimate of Rainbow Road: not the actual

Some new camps in the Gayborhood made quite a splash:

  • Hanging Gardens rocked the hood with an exciting presentation
  • Cubhouse participated in the Naked Bike ride and served it
  • Bierdhaus struck out from their village last year and rocked it
  • Sun Guardians delivered and grew rapidly

Some established camps in the Gayborhood schooled us animal style:

  • Mudskippers: Whitney Houston Party always epic
  • Glamcocks put on an amazing show
  • Celestial Bodies, BloAsis so many…

…they killed it. There are so many camps in the Gayborhood who really uped their game this year and make Rainbow Road spectacular. But there were a few Queer camps outside the Gayborhood that brought it as well.

  • Disco Château  – amazing
  • Peterson’s Pink Pagoda – awesome
  • Burner Buddies – Nacho Daddies sexiness….

Queer camps were all over the playa. Our preplaya map that was published before the event including Get Nailed that was over on B street. It was exciting and having the chance at having so many friends all over the city just a huge bonus.

Evolution in the Gayborhood

Rumor has it that a few more camps are going to enter cocoons before the 2016 unnamed event and come back in new forms. We hear that Comfort & Joy are going to go through a few changes again. Also, rumor control has it that the Down Low Club is not coming back in the same form as they have since 2001. It seems that Comfort & Joy is always evolving anyway and as they seem to be always at the epicenter of the Gayborhood we appreciate the work they put into their real estate with those amazing lights and art displays.

Theme camps and villages are the interactive core of Burning Man. An ideal theme camp should create a visually stimulating presence and provide a communal space or other opportunity for interaction. Burning Man Theme Camp Organizer Facebook Interactive Group

Is it rumor or true? We will find out next year, but the sources were rock solid, and if these camps and others grow, evolve or transition then we stand behind them. Many camps have stayed the same for years and Burning Man is demanding that camps evolve in order to get placement. Staying the same is just not acceptable. We have to offer engaging and interactive camps that bring something to the event.

Working Together

We as patrons and proprietors in the Gayborhood make choices of what we engage and offer in the neighborhood. The growth and new structure of the Gayborood, aka Rainbow Road, lends to a whole new level of opportunities and leverage that we have began sampling. Working together, like the 7:30 Block Party by Hanging Gardens, is a big win for the community.

This is not the first time camps working together have found such a huge success. Glamcock’s Cock-talks and Beaverton’s workshops are another level of success. Comfort & Joy has also been a champion in this area of radical inclusion.

We, as a community, have chances to make our community and culture stronger. We are certainly not confined to just Queer Camps (because we are radically inclusive) and have non-queer neighbors interlaced with the Gayborhood that want to benefit from the A.D.D. razor like focus and creativity we have to share.

The Good, The Bad, The Ugly

good : Other than all the previously mentioned goodies at the burn this year, there was an amazing piece of history that reappeared on the playa this year. Taking Burning Man back to it’s roots of radical expression was the ‘art piece’ that appeared on the playa in 2001 that was censored by the Org. It was an important and amazing presence on Comfort & Joy’s courtyard.

Learn more about this bit of Queer Burner History in our Burner History X article on this site. Having discovered this piece on the day of the Naked Bike Ride found friends taking pictures with it. It seemed to be quite the attraction and if only those people knew the history behind it.

Queer camps had a chance, better than any year before, to make a presentation that was a solid win. The stretch of Rainbow Road was phenomenal.

bad : Unfortunately this was not the year where the Burner Gods smiled upon the BAAAHS crew as they experienced a lot of challenges that they did not expect to meet. A neighbor or two or three or so complained about their sound levels; an absurd idea as they and Camp Conception were camps with some serious speaker action. (Yes, many of us knew going into the burn this year we had new restrictions on sound).  One neighbor actually made it her mission to rally the neighbors against BAAAHS but many stood by the BAAAHS crew solidly.

But that was not all. This was BAAAHS 3rd or 4th year on playa and this year they got dinged on a legal issue that may or may not have been noticed before, they were just over the legal size to move through the street by the DMV. Aparently mustant vehicles have to be on a diet to roam the streets of the BRC; maximum size is 14′, And it seems BAAAHS was 14′-6″… yikes!

The restrictions greatly limited what BAAAHS was able to do in the city and it was sad. We, as a community, support and love what BAAAHS and their support team delivers. It is awesome and it is entertaining. John Major, aka M*J*R wrote on Facebook how the year could result in diminishing his passion for Burning Man (heavily paraphrased); well we hope not.

ugly : Evolution is the only way Theme Camps can survive on the playa. As a community and subculture we also have to police ourselves. Reputation can follow for years but here are a few notions that we need to revisit:

  • Glamcocks is an unfriendly camp to visit for anyone over 30

GET OVER IT: Leadership in the Glamcocks camp has worked really hard to change the perception of this. Key leaders have made very public and vocal efforts to show they are welcoming to all. They have initiated concierges for their camp and a requirement for camp mates to welcome people who come to their camp and their events off playa.

  • The Gayborhood keeps people in and others out

GET OVER IT AGAIN… yeah! Many camps in the Gayborhood host events clearly programmed to welcome people from all lifestyles, orientations and genders. While a few may be specific to one of those demographics the bigger picture is that this is an unfair projection from people who dismiss the Gayborhood who typically have never been to it.

Annual events suffered this year for a variety of reasons like th Official Queer Burner Meet & Greet as well as the Gay Pride celebration.

  • The Official Queer Burner Meet & Greet on Monday failed to appear in the What Where When, but many burners remembered that Monday night was the night to come to the Down Low Club camp. The event itself was in memory of a beloved burner who left us a few years ago; Mario Cisneros. Participation last year was off the chart, but on this occasion the event was nice and cozy.
  • The Gay Pride Parade was supposed to be a strong show of pride and celebration but fizzled into nothing before we got very far. The restriction that knocked BAAAHS off the city streets also put the smack-down on our parade plans. Thankfully Burner Buddies party with Nacho Daddies was still a huge win.

While there are more, the politics of keeping a positive focus prevents them from being written about here. The goal of this project is to promote and encourage growth, evolution and elevation of our part of the city.

Conclusion

2015 was an awesome year. The borg is demanding, even forcing, change and evolution on the community. The people feeling it most are the people building camps, art cars and attractions. With new sound restrictions and a surging growth in law enforcement the radical side of Burning Man is waning. Fortunately it is still a life changing experience with the chances of our own individual growth and chances to grow our community. All it takes is a ‘we’.

 

 

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