Our city that we built is now gone, the bustle of people dwindling down.
I arrived to Camp pARTicipate with two of my closest friends on Thursday afternoon. It was a chill, drizzly day. Everywhere people were setting up their tents and tarps and magnificent structures. Two members of our camp had arrived early to set up. These two set up the camp obelisk, constructed from wood, cut pieces of mirror, polished stones, and grout. This beautiful structure was a sight to behold. The warm fires at our camp had been started off our plentiful supply of firewood. Our camp fires would attract people from the road throughout the evening. Later, one of the friends I came with would set up her paintings and sharpie artwork. It was nice to see so many coming by and admiring it all. I also set out my book of aerial silks themed pastels, though it turned out not many realized they should flip through the book.
The effigy and temple were both beautiful. Right before the effigy was closed for artistic additions, I managed to claim a box. I have no photo of this work, and no one I knew came to see it before it was dark. It was a bit of a rushed work, but I hope that those who were on the right side of the effigy enjoyed it as it burned. If you consider the circle around the effigy as facing the event, with radius parallel to it point A on the left and point B on the right, my work was near point B. If you were directly on point B, you would see a multicolor amalgamation of assorted triangles. If you were a bit more to the left, you would have seen a burning fire with “You” as the blue portion of the flame. If you were closest to the left still in view of the box, you would have seen “VALUE” in colors of blue, green, and purple.
Because our camp was full of active volunteers, and we provided the potential services of art, board games, and intoxicants, we were given fantastic placement. We had flat ground for sleeping and a personal portapotty. We were also near some event portapotties, which was definitely nice. We were right next to the fetishist theme camps of the party, the poly, bsdm, and bondage folks. Walking past them one way and up the hill would bring you to Circus Combustus. These awesome folks let me practice on their aerial silks rig. Outdoors aerial silks was quite an experience. They hosted a spectacular circus show that I plan to participate in next year as an aerialist. I had a photo of me performing dragonfly pose taken, though I see now that they didn’t quite get the camp in the photo, though it’s a great angle for me XD. Also, you can see the effigy behind my knee! Going past our camp the opposite direction and you would pass Brownie Brothel, who served delicious brownies throughout the event Connexus, an important place for volunteering and getting news, and eventually hit Center Camp, a place of awesome dancing at night. One night was an 80s/90s themed prom night. Our campfire was in view of all of the major effigy burns, the Foodigy, the Tardis, the temple, and the effigy. A unique part of the Tardis effigy was that it also functioned as a photo booth. The artists plan to use the photos in a follow-up project.
The skies each day were beautiful. It was quite warm, so I was able to wear lighter apparel. I enjoyed going about in the various “costumes” I brought. I found it amusing that people kept referring to my wear as a costume, since I merely dressed as I would without the usual constraints of society. To be fair, it was probably the elf ears. An important aspect of the burn is freedom, I don’t use that freedom to act, I use it to be. I don’t hate the world outside our temporary autonomous zones; I don’t mind casual or business attires and I aspire to be satisfied with my 9-5. But these moments we share together where we can embrace our full creative freedoms are something I treasure.
One day, my friend was the “victim” of pranksters who waited outside her portapotty with red carpet and applause. This amusement was much in the spirit of an event where everyone works to make lasting memories for one another. Shenanigans were everywhere to be had.
The city was beautiful, though cold, at night. The chill kept me stuck to the fire for hours at a time, but fortunately, the fire brought many to us as well. I adventured into Area 51, the Spooky Forest, and many other camps around that area. These were the areas with the best music for breaking it down, in my humble opinion. The maze in the Spooky forest was a delightful experience, with its glow in the dark art guiding the way, large webbed spider area in one end, and circle of mirrors in another. I bumped into many familiar faces, from life and from last Alchemy. I like that aspect of the regional nature of this burn. I also met many strangers. One stranger had the most delicious mead I have ever tasted.
The night of the effigy burn was the coldest night. This burn seemed less fearful than the burn before (the multiple huge explosions last year made me wonder how it was I was still alive), but it was an impressive and emotional sight to be seen. Just as the last major explosion commenced, and a moment to experience the finality of the past which it symbolized had passed, I turned to find my best friend’s boyfriend fall to bended knee. I burst into tears to see their happiness and to think of the new life they are starting together. He presented her a beautiful aquamarine solitaire.
I could not be more honored than to have been present. When she first brought him for my assessment, I was not sure what she wanted with such a philistine, even if he was a handsome fella. But as their relationship developed, I saw how happy he made her. I watched them fuse together, as they loved and learned from each other. I remember thinking that if they ever split up, I must lose hope that love could ever be forever. No pressure, of course, if these two read this…. To the couple, if you do, I am proud to be your maid of honor and I love you both.
I napped a bit after the effigy, which meant I was awake at sunrise for the temple burn. My friends and I lit sandalwood incense as we watched it slowly burn. I returned to camp to nod off to the fire, until it was warm enough to pack.