Flipside 2014 – Love, Fire, Stilts, Death, and Holy Fucking Shit



After starting in 2002, this may have been my favorite Flipside ever.

We were Camp Hyperbole, The Best Camp Ever!, large enough for eating and socializing, but small enough to be fast to deploy and disassemble. The second was really important when we got struck by a huge and unending thunderstorm during teardown. Almost everyone there was a lover, a metamour, or one of *their* partners, so I knew and trusted just about everyone in camp. We had a central location beneath the glorious and only occasionally wildly dangerous pecan trees, allowing me to use my simple tent instead of my hard-to-set-up hexayurt. Colored lights on our shade structure made finding home in various states of sobriety easy at night. I got lost on this property less than ever before, which will make Rangering in subsequent years easier.

I chose not to take any camera beyond my phone, a choice I will make differently next year. I really enjoy photography at these events, and often get shots others don’t, and even a simple point-and-shoot pocket camera with some manual controls would have really enhanced my experience. I still got some fun shots, click the one above to see the rest.

The single biggest Fabulous Thing about this year was constantly having mind-blowing interactions with all the people I’ve known for years at Burn events. Everywhere I went, there was yet another person nearly shitting themselves with excitement, welcome, and gratitude for my presence. As someone who consistently lost all his friends to forced moves for over half my life, having a long-term community is valuable to me in ways it isn’t for many. I’m so grateful to have so many amazing relationships with so many fabulous people.

Thank you all for being in my life! I am deeply grateful.

We also had a huge part of our pod at Monkey Camp near the Badlands, and, regretfully, I didn’t get to spend nearly as much time with them as I’d like. There was one chance/Chance encounter at the Inevitable Lava Lounge for long enough to have the Dance Adventure of my Life, but that adventure tapped the last of my water, and I’m too much of a veteran to allow my camel pack to stay empty under such circumstances. By the time I made it back from camp, they were gone.

Trying to describe all the peak experiences is always impossible, but let’s see what comes to mind.

The Effigy Burn! Holy Fucking Shit! Not just beautiful, not just meaningful, not just cleanly integrated with the spectacular lighting effects and fireworks, not just artfully broken into the High Show and the Low Show, but all of these things ON FUCKING TIME!!! We are all used to waiting for the Burn, and are almost always happy to do so once it’s on, but DAFT set a new standard this year for pulling off an incredibly complex orchestration with record speed and smoothness. Way to FUCKING go, DAFT!

The perfect weather, so unlike most Flipsides. High eighties during the day, low sixties at night, with only cosmetic rain until the very end. Flipside is often into the 100s, so the break was super welcome.

Circle of Water and the Shower Truck for providing much-needed and hugely-appreciated central shower locations to make getting laid so, *so* much easier. You may have been the most important non-official infrastructure camps on site.

After running into the Monkey Camp crowd at Lava Lounge on Sunday night, a wildly grinning dervish accepted my body language invitation to shake her shit with me. What ensued was the most manic, uncontrolled, clothes-ditching and fun partner dancing whirlwind I’ve ever experienced. After each song we dived for our respective water sources, only to leap up again afterward and do it again. I depleted about 25% of my remaining energy resources in under ten minutes, but Holy Shit was it worth it! I’m a life-long dance enthusiast, but I almost *never* dance with other people. All that frustration came out at once. This time was different, and now I’m hooked. I’ve known for years that if I let myself get into partner dancing, my life would completely change in ways I wouldn’t able to fully control, but fuck it. As soon as possible, it’s time to start with lessons. Motherclucker!

The epic Rainstorm Teardown, with everyone in camp pitching in to make sure our completely soaked gear got back onto our vehicles ok.

Regaling a group of pretty boys at The Island with mostly accurate history of Flipside and the Enchanted Forest which the Island so much resembled. I really appreciated that last point with the EF up for sale now. I’ve been part of that scene literally since the beginning, since my very first firedancing lesson with Sage was at Albert’s old house on Westrock before he even purchased the EF. Giving it up has been hard for all of us, and it will remain an indelible part of my journey and my soul forever. The Enchanted Forest is Dead! Love Live the Enchanted Forest!

A similar set of feeling around the departure of the Circle of Fire theme camp, which was absent from Flipside for the very first time *ever* since the event started. I camped with them for the first 9 years I was in the scene, have always been a core member, and actually ran the camp (poorly) for a few years when no one else had time. It’s always been the main firedancing venue at Flipside, and has also been responsible for the immense cat herding necessary to pull of the 100+ firedancers that participate in the Processional before the main burn. We provided a fantastic centralized venue for firedacing right near the effigy, a second-to-none fuel depot, and thousands of crazy, original, and occasionally very dangerous performances for the citizen of Pyropolis. I had conversations with Adam and Stephen, the other two main leaders of the camp over the years, about the camp and its history. I wrote a little teary-eyed note on the effigy to send COF off in the flames from which she was birthed, and keeping my hand steady was an exercise in futility. The old COF and Brothers of the Flame folks from Spin Camp and Circle of Water did a great job pulling off the processional, as we knew they would, and we’re looking forward to seeing what else moves in to fill the gap at future events.

I cannot even begin to express my gratitude at the Austin firedancing scene for all the massive changes and fabulousity it has brought into my life over the past twelve years. Before I knew about Flipside, I was firedancing at the much-missed Cafe Mundi. The moment I identify I became a Burner was, when, at my first Flipside in 2002, Down the Rabbit Hole, I firedanced naked in front of a huge crowd at a wedding with Bob, Stephen and about 7 other performers. No other single thing has been more responsible for changing me from a soulless tech yuppie into who I am now.

Despite all this, the past two times I actually burned was at Flipside in 2012 and 2013. Both time my gear broke due to poor maintenance and neglect. Both times my gear bucket was filled with some terrifying white mildew that can grow inside a sealed plastic box moisturized only by flammable petrochemical fuels. This year I’d had it with my own lameness and procrastination, so I actually used C.L.R to literally knock the rust off my gear.

It took two days.

Repairing my 4′ peg stilts, and excavated my drywall stilts from somewhere deep in storage. I remembered there was something subtle but dangerous wrong with them, but couldn’t remember what it was.

Finding out what that was after having walked all the way from the pecan grove to the Godzilla fire cannon on the drywall stilts in the dark, then proceeding to spin my meteors on stilts for the first time in seven years. About half way through the burn, the front strap on my right leg slid off. From that point forward, every time I was forced to take a step onto my right leg, I wasn’t sure if the stilt would still be there. And since it was only the second time I’ve been on *those* stilts in seven years (the first being earlier that day), I had to step a *lot* just to remain upright on the uneven, grassy ground. I made it through the burn, though, without quitting or asking for help, because the Show, my friends, must Fucking Go On. I lost the strap two more times on the walk back to camp before temporarily giving in.

It was then that I remember that had been the problem from years before.

Oh. Yeah.

The Total Inevitability of Lava Lounge. After dusk, I never managed to escape for more than a few hours before being sucked back in by the best dancing environment at the entire burn. Thank everyone who worked so hard to bring us this glorious monstrosity year after year, I’ve never been more grateful for a dance camp. I danced my fucking ass off over and over and over again.

Camp Cosmos both for the amazing fire and water art, the greatest theater at the event, and for hosting actual Cosmos people to answer questions from the audience. Wow, what a surpise!

Thunder-Om and Meditation Death Match. What a great fucking idea! I wish I’d taken time to participate and watch more. If you return next year, I will rise to the challenge!

All my campmates from Hyperbole Camp for making the Best Camp EVAR!!!! Let’s do it again next year!

More will come to me, I’m sure, and then I’ll post some more.

Love, Light, and Fire,

–Nametag

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