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Burning Flipside 2011 (& After)

Posted in Burning Man, and Life

Burning Flipside was wonderful this year. My theme camp, Halloween Town, was one of the best ever. Perhaps that was unsurprising given who I attended with this year — the camp consisted of Pet, Mz Honey J, Grace, our friend De’Juan, and myself. The camp was on Kink Row, a new neighborhood in Pyropolis set aside for sexy camps like ours.

Though I experienced a lot this weekend, what stuck with me was the sense of family. Last year at Flipside I found myself building a family with Pet and the other lover I brought with me, but the latter woman quickly fled my life within a month or so of the end of that event. This year felt like we built something more lasting and real, interconnections between the four of us that are already being tested — and strengthened — by a very difficult re-entry. It was wonderful to return to this event with Pet, and bring two new Flipizens who not only enjoyed themselves, but truly understood the event and its core rituals.

Fireworks burst above the 2011 effigy, Burning Bridges, setting it aflame. Pyropolis, Texas. Photo by Thomas Fang, used with permission. Click for full-sized version.

Thanks to the theme, this year’s event was full of wonderful Bad Ideas. “Jesus” of Easter Camp got scourged and crucified next door. There was a tiny RC-vehicle with its own flamethrower. At Halloween Town, we lit probably over a dozen people on fire one night using isopropyl alcohol, including some people we found out afterward were more than a little altered (but loved the experience even so). There were naughty puppy piles, on and off trampolines. I tried my hand at being a Pyropolis Ranger and almost exploded from all the free food I was given. There were lazy afternoon discussions about polyamory, late night discussions of children’s literature, and a beautiful medical anthropologist who told us about her thesis while flashing her genitals. Bad Ideas were built, burned, eaten, drank, sung, and danced with glee.

And the effigy was breathtaking — known as Burning Bridges, it was a long arching bridge held aloft by two female figures. For months Texas has been under a burn ban so pervasive we were making plans to haul the effigy to That Thing In the Desert, but then the county lifted it at the last minute. After an amazing performance by fire spinners and the infamous fireworks hats, the effigy seemed to light itself in a shower of sparkles. The burn was one of the most technically perfect and moving I have ever seen, with the flame crawling up the sides of the bridge, whirling around it in an amazing backdraft, and then collapsing the entire structure simultaneously. The crowd was reverent, barely needing the Rangers to hold us back until it was time for all of us to circle around the burning pyre. It was so beautiful I cried.

There was joy, pleasure, both the good and bad kinds of pain, hunger and satisfaction, exhaustion and exhilaration. Nobodobodon, author of the alternate principles, likes to warn that you should expect a few hours of misery at any Burn event. This one was no different, particularly when I started to get sick on Sunday. I’m not sure if it was the return of the ick I’d been struggling with the week before or a brand new bronchial yuckiness but I returned from Flipside with a fever and cough. I spent most of the week asleep in bed, and the rest of it catching up on my freelance writing work. It took me till Tuesday to get caught up to this week’s work, which is also why this blog sprung back to life today.

In addition to my sickness, I’ve had to deal with some bullshit drama caused by the craziest tenant at Patton Asylum, the hippie flophouse where I’ve lived for about a year. Even though the very nice slumlord who owns this place offered to evict him, I still decided it was the last straw. At the end of the month I’ll be moving into a room owned by a long time Burner friend of mine, in a beautiful house where all the cabinets have doors, free of screaming drama queens and cavemen, and full of pillows to cuddle in. I’m especially happy to escape the growing cockroach infestation that has been slowly creeping up on my bedroom.

As I hinted above,  the return to the default world has been rough for everyone in my life. GTFO is the new motto for my whole poly family, with Grace and Pet struggling to move to find work in Austin and Mizz Honey J finding herself suddenly unwelcome in the group living situation she returned to from the blissful escape of the playa. We’re all struggling a little, but we’re also stronger than ever. With my spirits still held aloft by our blissful experiences at Home, I can’t help but feeling like the next few months will bring many good things.