Burning Flipside: Ayo’s Impressions

1 06 2012

Yair and I attended Burning Flipside this past weekend and while Yair had an incredible time, my experience was more mixed.

I enjoyed camping with a small but fun group of people, meeting some new gems, taking part in afternoon yoga and bouncing around in the evenings from camp to camp for karaoke, music, dancing and assorted fun.

I had a great time at the acrobatics camp, I was selected to walk the runway during the Burning Glam fashion show and I marveled at the performances, fire conclave and spectacle of the burn itself – which were remarkable and humbling in their grandeur.

Vibrant Body Paint Colors

Vibrant Body Paint Colors

Positive Messaging in the Flipside Community

Positive Messaging in the Flipside Community

Finally, I had a lot of great firsts – including being body painted from head to toe by an accomplished painter – and learned about myself in the process.

That said, the week was a mixed bag.  During my first night in Pyropolis, I felt very ostracized for being one of the only people in the entire city not drinking alcohol, on an assortment of mind-altering substances or seeking out kinky sex with a random partner.  After feeling a bit left out and alone, I went to the greeters’ station the following day to see if there was a designated substance-free camp (as there is at Burning Man) where I might be able to find community.

In response, the greeter told me that there was sort of an Alcoholics Anonymous group in the far area but that many of them were heavily drinking anyway.  At hearing that comment, I felt frustrated, angry and perhaps a bit judgmental.  I thought:  “I have my shit together.  I didn’t leave Austin for the weekend – Shavuot weekend – to hang out with a handful of lapsed AA people.”

Yair and I (As a Body Sushi Chef) At Our Camp

Yair and I (As a Body Sushi Chef) At Our Camp

Working It For The Burning Glam 2012 Fashion Show

Working It For The Burning Glam 2012 Fashion Show

Regardless, even if there had been a substance-free camp for evening company, I’ve always been more of a “daytime burner” and enjoy the yoga, art, conversations and expressive creativity that happen during daytime hours.  The smaller scale of the event and the lack of a formal program / schedule made it a bit harder to find what I was looking for during the day, but I eventually found my way there.

The final frustration was that everyone seemed to be smoking cigarettes and so I frequently needed to choose between taking an active part in theme camp life and protecting my body.  (It probably didn’t help that I overheated and discovered on day two that I was running a 102-degree fever.)

If it sounds like a hard time, parts of it were.  But the good parts were just as good as the bad parts were bad, so it evened out.  By the time Flipside came to a close, I had a positive taste left in my mouth, though the experience helped me confirm that Burning Man is not the right place for me this year, so I’ll be sending Yair solo.

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posted by ayo




5 responses

1 06 2012

I’m so sorry that you came away from the experience feeling a bit ostracized, and so wish time had been made for us hang out more. We often feel that way at these events, as we don’t partake in the heavy drinking, drugs or random sex stuff either. I think a little more time hanging with the mini-Camp Nomadia folks out in the Badlands may have helped you feel a little more grounded… and I’m sorry that didn’t happen.

25 06 2012

You’re probably right. Thanks for the love and I’ll look forward to more shared time in the coming months.

4 06 2012
lavie m.

Interesting. I think it’s hard for most to separate a “free” lifestyle in following one’s own compass vs. a truly bohemian lifestyle and all that comes with it. It looks like you guys have that balance but many do not.

5 06 2012
Gregory Jackson Haley

A burn is what you make of it. You get out of it what you put into it. Many of those that attend spend the entire year building up to this week. Making the burn really just a goodby party- or a new years party. Spending the year getting to know each other overt a project is really where the pay out is for the event as i see it.

I see you as one who sees what they want to occur at a burn …and can CREATE IT!


I had a beautiful moment painting you. If you find something you are drawn to other than a burn let me know. I would love to explore that space as well. If you find there is a project or idea that you are wanting to bring to a burn –please share it and learn how a community can be created around it to share with others . to create community is something you were born to do!

while drugs are a way to create a feeling of immediate connection i believe there are longer lasting more potent forms of connection creation…such as painting on bodies/acro yoga/food creation/Theater….

use that inner desire to show the community what you desire and watch the transformation.

We are the village raising ourselves.

Ps. i would love to see the rest of the body paint photos and if i could get a copy for my flickr all the better.

25 06 2012

Thanks for your thoughts, Gregory. Looking forward to hearing about Colorado!

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