This is the third in my series of profiles of theme camps. For the first two, see the related posts at the bottom of this entry.
Food and sex. They are two of humanity’s most primal desires. Both are at the very core of what creates our identity, and both are sometimes stigmatized. The two drives cross over, as human urges are wont to do; people talk about great food giving a ‘mouthgasm,’ beautiful food photography or recipes are described as food porn, and of course then there are euphemisms or slang for genitalia like “melons,” “sausage,” or even “taco.”
Burning Flipside 2007 was an infamously rainy and muddy year at the event. Two Burners, Don & Nova, attended for the first time in several years and had a great time despite the weather. They spent some time at Red Camp (which is just what it sounds like) and learned that the Red Campers had fantasized about other color-themed camps appearing on the grassy playa. It was easy for these two to make the jump to the idea of creating a purple camp.
That idea didn’t solidify into a real theme camp until the two got into conversation with André and Julie, two talented artisans and fellow Burners who would end up being the camp’s cofounders. Both couples have a daughter, and they had recently gone on a shared trip to the grocery store that had led to the girls giggling over a certain food-based euphemism for female genitalia. Julie also came up with the idea of making the camp a cult. She notes: “Everyone who is a member is required to have a purple sarong” so that the group can travel together properly coordinated. And so, the Cult of the Purple Taco was born — a theme camp that would worship the color purple, tacos, and purple tacos (in every sense of those words).
At noon time in Pyropolis, the hot sun has driven almost everyone from their tents. They’re awake, but maybe still feeling the effects of the night before and most of all, they’re hungry. That’s when we make the stumbling journey toward the hot food that awaits us: Delicious purple tacos (technically made from blue corn) with all the fixings, featuring André’s famous home-made spice blend. After you grab some food, fill your cup with some ice cold purple kool-aid; in the heat of the day, a cool drink can feel rarer and more precious than the finest wines.
During the day, the camp’s purple shade structures are an excuse to escape the sun while lounging on their purple chairs. But at night, the tone of the place changes as the camp becomes one of Burning Flipside’s best known sex camps. The comfortable furniture and lounging spaces, along with a sex swing, provide for a wondefully playful, open, and intimate environment to share with your lover or to meet and experiment with others. In addition to sex, there is a lot of good conversation and sensual touch and cuddling.
The camp premiered in 2008 to immediate success. While more logistical planning has become necessary over time, that first year everything came together with every camp member bringing what was needed to make things work. Don vividly remembers how gratifying it was to see huge lines of hungry Burners and hear a participant yell out, “WE LOVE YOU PURPLE TACO!” on her megaphone.
As the camp has grown they have started charging camp fees to support the food and other supplies. Their only major rule is No Drama, and the good attitudes of the Purple Tacoteers have made it easy to maintain a safe, chill, sexy space. The camp is deliberately designated as a sex camp and not a kink camp, but of course kinksters are welcome to join from neighboring BDSM camps for sexual or sensual aftercare.
Over time the Cult has upgraded to a sturdier Temple structure with a floor, and added the purple pop-up known as “The Stoner’s Lounge” (named for a brownie-related incident that took place there). Overall, however, the vibe has remained the same: a place to worship good food and good company. While Nova says they’d love to bring the love to Burning Man, they do not currently have the plans or the means to do so.
The Cult of the Purple Taco will be back for their fourth year at Burning Flipside 2011: Bad Idea. If you’d like to keep up with their activities, you can ‘Like’ their Facebook page or join their Yahoo! Group.
Thanks go to all the camp founders for being willing to share their story; Don & Nova wrote extensively about the Cult’s history and outlook, and Julie offered valuable corrections. Check out more of Kit’s writing about Burning Man in A Burner Lexicon at http://kitoconnell.com/lexicon/