A beautiful insight into the BM microcosm once more…!
And so, the Playan diary begins…
Note to self: no matter how busy you are, try packing your bag several times before you leave…
For some reason I knew this would be an area I would fall down in (organised? me?) and now I’m sat in Vancouver airport without the rather-important-piece-of-equipment known as a tent. The fire fans took up so much room in my 85L backpack nothing else would fit in – I essentially packed all my clothes into my carry-on luggage… cue lots of crying the previous night, phoning Dav in Norway without regarding the cost to both of us, and Alex from Fireworks Collective coming round to: a) give me a message for the Temple of Juno; and b) console me during a near-breakdown experience. Eventually at 12.30 a.m. I pulled myself together and finished packing, and set my alarm for 4.50 a.m. Since my hysteria had subsided I was still too excited to sleep. My first transatlantic flight! My first time in Canada! Then my first time in the US! My first burn! (My second transatlantic flight with a sub par company, and my first time in Belgium… the “firsts” began to lose their appeal after a while)
I got to Heathrow without a hitch, albeit later than I expected but looking just as awesome (like a female member of The Darkness, but slightly tired, and not brimming with innuendo), and mooched around, hoops folded and around my neck (they also didn’t fit into any of my luggage). I thought after the previous night and with my sudden head-full-of-cold-from-hell I’d be tired enough to sleep on the plane but I totally failed. There’s something oddly exciting about flying even though it takes a long time. Especially when you get hundreds of movies to choose from. I ended up watching Falling Down, The Avengers and The Illusionist (I was tempted by Silence of the Lambs – as always – but unfortunately the woman next to me had sat her child in the middle… possibly not the best idea. DAMN!). Sleep is for the weak… oh jetlag!
I arrived in Vancouver pretty excited – even though I would have to stay in the airport – my real father spent time growing up here, and I’ve always been curious to see it. And meet real Canadians! And see a waterfall in the airport. Wait. What?! Yes, that really exists. Unfortunately I didn’t think ahead during my flight and forgot to buy water – I ended up in Vancouver very dehydrated, so much so my lips cracked (N.B. My lips cracked then swelled so badly that my filtrum piercing (top lip) started to suffer) and when I passed through the US Border my fingers created no fingerprints on the scanner.
I sound so ridiculously English it almost hurts to talk to people. I sound like the Queen, if, you know, she was a rough-type from the Midlands with a potty-mouth.
I went Home. I’ve kept a day-by-day journal, the photos are uploaded, and I have a brain confused by modern life. I’m ready to talk about the playa.
I actually said “See you on the other side” to the Fire Troupe yesterday. That’s so f***ing surreal… 6 days I’ll be in San Francisco!
We had a rehearsal last night. A little bit rusty, and my bad shoulder has flared up, but it’s all there and it’s do-able. Now to teach myself to “spot” and stop screwing up would be a good idea! Unfortunately the famed war wound that is my left shoulder is flaring up again – not good. Hoping it’s going to have settled by next week. Flukily enough I have a hospital appointment the Tuesday before I fly, hoping for another steroid injection but not sure if this is going to be the case. It would definitely help…
Last minute preparations so far consist of me moving several items from one pile to another, and writing yet another list. I really don’t feel prepared. Or excited. It’s all a bit… unreal. after all this, I could quite easily not go. I WILL, because my brain is being stupid, but a good percentage of me is saying “you don’t have to get on the flight, y’know.” Either way I have a pile with my backpack, sleeping bag and air bed in, and another of legwarmers. Also have to write detailed instructions for Dav on his return for looking after the animals for 2 weeks… So much to do!
I’m using CouchSurfing again to save money on my trip, I’ll be staying near Ocean Beach with some other vegans. Pretty exciting! I’m very excited about San Francisco, I don’t even know where to start. Everything in my guidebook looks soooo good. I do have an international hoop jam on Thursday so at least I’m diving straight in to meet people, just not sure if I’m going to know where I’m going! I think I’m going to get up early and explore a little bit of the city so I have a rough idea. I just wish I were going for longer! On Sunday I’ll be meeting with the troupe and riding into Reno, to pick up final supplies before heading down to Black Rock City… and then on to Home…
Made vegan bakewell tarts for Mum’s birthday this weekend. Nom! Blackberries from my own garden!
Apparently Bm is having some of the worst weather in a long time. Whiteout, rain, storms, crazy amounts of dust…
Scary. Very scary.
I think, apart from my horrendous sunburn, I am recovered from Secret Garden Party, which was my first full weekend festival ever (like Glade, which I will post about later, I normally show up and get the hell outta there fairly quickly). It was pretty epic and also a good test of my Burning Man equipment, to see what works and what doesn’t, although Zoe, the shin of Fireworks Collective, pointed out that under the circumstances SGP’s weather conditions made it a little more extreme than Burning Man!
I trolled up with Alex (a member of Fireworks Collective) and Steph (otherwise known as Aurora Starr, of Slamboree and Surefire Circus fame *namedrop clang!*) about 8 p.m after some fairly ridiculous artist registration system, in which our car was put into a queue that didn’t exist… anyway! Zoe picked us up from the gate and the sea of mud was revealed – by the end of the weekend it was 6 inches deep in places. We were all meeting next the “Charon”, the zoetrope art installation of Burning Man 2011 as sadly conditions were too bad to do our scheduled performance, and with a collection of near-dead phones we attempted to contact everyone to warn them not to show – so disappointing, after all that worrying. I trudged to camp with Zoe and set up camp, though with the help of Danger from the collective – my amazing £20 gumtree tent appears to be what only can be described as “very f***ing weird”. So definitely need to practice that and make it stronger for the Playa! Nevertheless we ended up doing a free-spinning performance that night, though it was difficult – dropping the props meant certain death for the wicks, and happened frequently. Emma Kerr couldn’t stop falling over (it’s all that awesomeness) but actually it was a pretty awesome spin. Charlie and I did our choreographed hoop section together and I also got to play with the fans on a second spin. After that we went on a hunt for music and lovely, lovely food, and I spent the first night on my own in a tent 🙂
Saturday was the night of the big burn. I woke up, saw the sunrise, went back to bed (so cold) and on my second attempt at getting up I went for an early morning explore, as getting there so late meant everything looked different by daylight. Definite highlights were finding all the art installations around the lake, and when trawling back seeing the “Where the Wild things Are” stage, fashioned to look like a giant wooden monster’s mouth (also a nice indie band were playing at the time). We had a big crew meeting at 2pm, and so having had my explore I headed home for a nap. I have to say, I really enjoy the daytime parts of festivals, but the mud and heat was too much at SGP – I couldn’t be bothered to wander around.
For the big gig, we were split into segments around the lake, to perform outwards towards the crowd. I took my fans – I’m still not as happy fire hooping as I should be, really need to crack some hours to shake that feeling off – and faced the WTWTA stage – lots of people! I did a lot of gunslinging moves but I definitely need to get some cool fan moves. Sarah is totally nailing them at the moment and I’m very jealous. We had 2 minutes to spin, when one of us would light a white flare, indicating when to down tools, and then red flares would go up from the island of heads in the lake, and we’d each pull a red flare. Man those things are so hot! There was then 15 minutes of fireworks from the man who organised the Queen’s jubilee fireworks… It was amazing. Eventually the heads set on fire burnt down (so very pagan) and all the stages started playing. Most of the Collective watched Orbital from the river bank… so many awesome things in the space of two hours. I realised how lucky I am to be doing all this, and what a beautiful thing it really is, the amazing people I’ve met along the way… it was so magical. So I had a little weep, after all the stress of trying to pull it together… and then went on a long mud-based adventure to see Slamboree, who were amazing!! All hail Secret Garden Party!
Conclave costume is done!!! Time to work of clothes to wear the rest of the time!