Happy Burn Day
Hello again, it seems like its been a while since I’ve last written a blog for all you wonderful people to read! Last time I blogged I was telling you all about how I was preparing for afterburn, and let me tell you, it was amazing! When I went to preheat in the spring semester of 2013 I went with an alum friend of mine who graduated early on in my New College career, and it an experienced burner having gone to more burns than the amount of time I’ve experienced as a New College student. This time around, I caught a ride to the burn with three friends-Chai, Jake, and Kelly- closer to my age who have a few more burns under their belts than I do. Since it was three of us riding together with a car load of camping supplies, I had to carefully consolidate all of my supplies and bring only the essentials and a few key items to add my own unique touch to this burn like several types of poi and some costume material I’ve collected over the years. Like preheat, afterburn is held on a ranch in Lakeland and for three days a bunch of people get together to create these experimental communities and create something more than themselves.
Chai, Jake, Kelly and I made it to the ranch around 4 because of a late start and getting lost in Lakeland on our way to find food having make the mistake of skipping both breakfast and lunch. When we made it to the front gate we showed the volunteers our tickets and licenses and we proceeded to the check in station where some of our other friends were waiting and greeting the other burner, and paddling the virgin burners. Allow me to explain that last part; part of the tradition of the burns is for first time burners - knowns as virgins- have their bottom paddled with a paddle/hand/flog any number of items; as a way of welcoming them into the burner community. After the initial greeting and being welcomed back home by the volunteers, Chai, Jake, Kelly, and I made our way to the part of the ranch where the rest of our friends -whom I have affectionately taken to calling them “Miami Crew”. They were camped in a location close by where we were during my last burn, the low noise section close to the trees over by the horses. After setting up my own tent I headed out to explore the burn and see who else managed to make it here. It wasn’t long before I ran into my friend Diana who I hadn’t seen since a week before PCP quite sometime ago. We were overjoyed to see each other again, and made it a point to find each other again at some point during the weekend.
For the first hour or so that I was there I wandered around looking at all of the other themed camps set up and getting ready for the festivities tonight. I ran into my friend Johnny- a phenomenal poi spinner- who was camping with Hippi Trix this year. Hippi Trix is a group of burners that specialize in the use of flowtoys and fire props, and hold workshops teaching people how to use poi, staves, hoops, and other insane flowtoys I don’t even know how to describe . Last year at preheat I went to one of their work shop where I learned how to eat fire and run it across my arms and hands. At the end of this burn I spoke to a cool dude named Tommy who has been playing with flowtoys far longer than I’ve been in College. Later on in the night I went to my first CATS meeting. CATS stands for Combustion Arts Technicians and Safety. The meeting was on the procedure for proper fire safety and what to do if we wanted to spin in the conclave on Saturday night.
As it got darker on Friday, more people with poi were out showing off their skills for all to see. I joined in as well and put my pod poi to the test. I met two other spinners by the geodesic dome where my friend Pringle’s camp was.. Their names were Tony and Ireland, and I was fortunate enough to have their good company throughout most of the burn. I also had the pleasure of running into my friend Cyrus who was in his typical fashion dressed to amaze. When I first met Cyrus he was wearing black robes and had in his hand a color changing double lightsaber. This time around he was in a purple and blue garment with a hat and his mustache was twisted into handlebars. Eventually we parted ways over the course of the night and didn't see each other again until before I left Sunday morning. I spent the rest of Friday night wandering the burn with old and new friends, spinning poi and having an amazing first burn day.
Saturday morning I woke up feeling refreshed yet strangely exhausted from some reason. My friend known by all as Bacon was up at the grill cooking bacon to cure our hangovers and tired souls. The day also started with my friend Chris- This is the Chris I talked about dressed as Dionysus my first year- and I getting captured by the Rebel Union camp, being taken prisoner back to their camp and being fed grilled cheese sandwiches! Those Rebel scum gave me one sandwich and two to Chris, one for him to eat and one to cover his junk- they captured him while he was running around naked FYI. Once Chris and I escaped, we made our way back to camp and we chilled with some of the Miami Crew in Jake’s tent which was named the mansion -and appropriately so compared to the size of my tent. We also hung out in Bacons tent before getting ready for the Wedding of my friends Story and Aaron. The wedding itself was amazing and in no way traditional. The bride was the groom and the groom was the bride.With Story leading the hoard of wedding goers everyone parts of the wedding under story’s command through the entire ranch searching everywhere for Aaron and picking up people along the way. Over the course of the hunt, Justis Mills- an alum that graduated last year served as the bridesmaid and the riddle master, leading us astray in the hunt for Aaron. Eventually we found him hiding out in the ball pit over the the Church of immaculate consumption. Several other guys and I pulled him out of the pit and carried him back to camp where the wedding ceremony and held and the Bride and Groom exchanged their vows. While I’m personally not the biggest fan of weddings, I’m very glad that I was a part of this very special and weird wedding full of so many generations of burners.
Once the ceremony of the wedding was over, I headed back to my tent to recuperate and fully absorb the emotion of the events that transpired a few moments ago. Once I caught my breath, I changed into my sith robes and went back outside where I ran into Tony and Ireland over by the entrance. As we greeted each other again we could all feel the energy and excitement that was building in the air as it was almost time for the Conclave and burning of the effigy. I feel that the conclave this year topped my expectations from last year. The performance started with a routine from the fire breathers, one of whom was my friend Keegan who was just starting out a few months ago. Then it was the fire performers turn, most the performers were people whom I knew really well or had met at the last Burn, some of my mentors were in the conclave spinning and showing off their best tricks for all to see. I remember seeing Story, Aaron, Jordan, KC and Johnny-whose workshop I was at earlier in the same day. Johnny was the most hilarious of all the fire spinners, since half the time he was clowning around while spinning fire. Once all the fire spinners completed their round, the firework spinners came out and blew my mind with their fireworks poi. I want to play around with a set of these poi and create smokescreens the way these guys did.
Finally when all of the fire spinning settled down, the pyro techs in charge of setting off the effigy made sure everything was clear before lighting it on fire. When they finally set it off, it was one of the most beautiful things I’ve ever seen. It brought new meaning to the old New College saying Burn it to the ground”. As I watched the effigy burn, I thought about the last couple of months, and how far I've come and all of the hardships I've had to endure. it was cathartic letting it go up with the huge plume of flame that I could feel rushing towards me as people around me started to back away from the fire I stood where I was and put my hood up to protect my face from the heat.
The rest of the night while not as exciting as the effigy was still memorable.Everyone who wasn't asleep was out and about at the late Electronic music shows hosted at the themed tents and watching fire/glow spinning of all kinds. From midnight to 4 in the morning I served my first time shift as a Fire patrol and it was fun, challenging and very intense at times. At one point towards the end of my shit there was a burner who was trying to put out his staff, while he was standing next to a fueling station, I had to rush to his side and yell at him to move away before putting his staff out for him. By 4 AM when my shift ended, I was exhausted and happy to crash in my tent for however many hours I slept until Sunday.
When I woke up Sunday, I took my first shower in three days, and it felt awesome! When I headed back to camp, people were starting to pack up and getting ready to head out. It didn’t take much time for me to pack up all of my things, since I packed light. Afterwards, I wandered the burn again to try and catch people I knew before either I or they left. I met a couple and a body spray artist nudist who was spray painting the girlfriend of this guy I was talking to. Her top was and face was covered in white, purple, and pink spray paint, and on her chest was a visage of a skull blooming out of some flowers. I also talked to CK a burner I met at preheat and Tommy who were smoking hookah bubbles-Where you smoke from a hookah immediately blow bubbles filled with smoke. I talked to Tommy about wanting to join up with Hippi Trix and and I caught up with CK. I ran into Johnny before I left and gave him a hug and a bite before heading out. As as I said earlier in this Blog, I ran into Cyrus, who was dressed in white robes and trying to balance on aboard. We embraced and bid each other goodbye. Chai, Jake, Kelly and I loaded up the car, said some last minute goodbyes and made our way back to Sarasota. On the way up, we stopped by Wendy’s to grab a bite to eat. When I got back to campus, I spent the rest of the day in my room passed out fast asleep.