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Euphoria 2013 [Jun. 18th, 2013|11:11 am]

Euphoria, the smaller of the two Georgia burns[1], was this past weekend. In short, I had a great time overall, but because the bar has been set so high by other events this was the least enjoyable burn I've been to.

Some of it was due to the organization of the event.

Before the event, I commented publicly that I thought it was a bad idea to use so much land (as much as Alchemy used for a 2000+ person event a couple of years ago) for a smaller event. The people who *want* to be isolated, or to walk in the dark, are always welcome to do so. However, by stretching the burn out, people who want to experience many different areas are forced to deal with this situation. I spent more time passing people in the dark at Euphoria, either blinding each other with headlamps or having no chance of recognizing each other, than I have at every other burn I've been to combined. I also lost count of the number of times I found myself contemplating whether I really wanted to trek to the next camp over, where I'm used to having multiple other interesting things to do within throwing distance of anywhere I might find myself sitting down. I would say that this was the single biggest contributor to the negative parts of my weekend.

Euphoria and Alchemy are trending from "Safety Third" to "Safety First", a deplorable state of affairs that I am seeing echoed across many organized communities I am involved in, including burner events as well as makerspaces. It grieves me to see a few stupid people impairing the enjoyment of thousands of others. My solutions to this problem are, sadly, not popular, and the trend is toward simply ensuring event stability by creating more rules.

Some of it was my fault.

I brought with me expectations about some interpersonal situations that led to disappointing results. Some of these were romantic or intimate, some were financial, some were reconciliatory. I won't make that mistake again. This falls into the category of default camp[2] bullshit that I shouldn't be allowing to taint my experience at a wonderful event.

Some of it was due to logistics.

I flew to Atlanta for Euphoria, from Boston where I live now. Except for a few last minute necessities from a local store, everything I took to the burn, including my tents, came with me in my luggage. This meant leaving behind a large number of things that I usually bring to a burn. Things that make me happy. Things that make others happy. Things that occupy my time and give me a creative outlet. Without all of this, my typical burn experience was severely impaired. I won't be allowing this to be an issue again in the future. I will organize a fundraiser to ship my hot air balloon (a very large interactive art installation project that I usually bring to burns and other festivals) from Boston to Atlanta. I will check a second bag on the plane to bring my sex and kink toys. I will arrange to store things in Atlanta to have ready for events down here.

Because I didn't bring anything with heavy infrastructure, I also didn't qualify/need to arrive early or leave late. I have previously observed that some of my favorite times at a burn are with the smaller and more intimate groups of people that work and relax together on the days and nights before and after the main event. Being at Euphoria from Thursday to Sunday was a lot less enjoyable than being there from Wednesday to Monday would have been. Fortunately this problem will solve itself when I fix the lack-of-projects problem.

And, finally, some of it was due to other people.

I had to be the mean adult for the first time in my life. Some people showed up to the effigy burn in costumes and a couple of kids (age 6-7?) started attacking them with toy weapons (a plastic axe and foam poi). They did not stop when asked, repeatedly, and even chased the costumers (who couldn't see or move well because of their costume) a bit. I ended up intervening and telling the kids to stop. One of them still persisted. I took his weapon by force (touching only the weapon, not the child), bent it in half, and put it in my pocket. He was not happy, nor was his friend, who yelled at me for a minute or so before running off to confront his guardian about the matter. She, thankfully, took my side. I later returned the weapon to her. As much as I enjoy that people can bring children to events like this, I cannot absolve them of responsibility if their unsupervised children are engaged in mischief.

All that being said, I still enjoyed myself. A subpar burn is still a hell of a lot more fun and eventful than even a great weekend at home. I reconnected with old friends, made new ones, saw some amazing things, and enjoyed a much needed vacation.

Thus ends my burn report for Euphoria 2013.

[1] A burn is a camping festival organized by members of the Burning Man community and spinoff communities. They last a few days, range in size from 200 to 5000 people, and generally involve a lot of interesting art, performance, costumes, music, fire sculpture, dancing, etc. They are defined by the Ten Principles of Burning Man (http://www.burningman.com/whatisburningman/about_burningman/principles.html).

[2] Every group of people arriving/working/camping together, a "camp" or "theme camp", at a burn is different. Some bring food or art to share with everyone, some build things, some share resources with each other, some are assholes, some are entirely passive. "Default camp" is the ~6 billion people who collectively decided not to attend.

[User Picture]From: uglor
2013-06-18 05:34 pm (UTC)
A big part of the reason everyone was spread out is because shade is a premium. Space in the woods, or along the treeline is critical to keep cool. I think that if they can move the burn back to April, it will be cooler, which will solve a lot of problems. Colder nights would mean more campfires, which are an excellent combo of light, landmark and social gathering.
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[User Picture]From: sparr0
2013-06-18 05:36 pm (UTC)
I disagree that shade played a big part in that problem. There were many unused shady areas, and many used sunny areas.
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[User Picture]From: uglor
2013-06-18 05:57 pm (UTC)
It's not always the case, but it's a big factor in site selection for a lot of camps. Science was where we wanted to be. We chose that spot because it had level ground, plenty of shade and we know it from being there previously.

In some cases, camps request to be placed near others. Sleepy Fox Tea House got moved specifically to be near us. Low Key chose their spot because they thought it would be where we were.

For established camps, knowing the space is a huge part of it. Science camped in our spot multiple times before, so we knew exactly how much space we had, and how we could use it. Spooky Forest camped where they did because they know the spot, and they could plan their art for the location. Bartertown asked for the space they know.

Your complaint seems to basically be that you wanted people to be closer together. A large number of the camps were where they wanted to be. It wasn't in the best interest of the organizers to force a more densely packed event.
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[User Picture]From: sparr0
2013-06-18 06:01 pm (UTC)
There were camps that wanted to be on effigy hill, or in the pentagon, or in roswell. "camps where they wanted to be" is not even an argument, let alone a good one.
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[User Picture]From: uglor
2013-06-18 06:20 pm (UTC)
What do you think they should have done differently?
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