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.
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.”
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.
posted by ayo