Wednesday, June 01, 2005

interfuse 2005

by Andrea Johnson ~ photos by LuckyBrent ~ Interfuse was started in April 2004 by a group of Midwest Burners who noticed a need for a community event to bring the Burning Man principals to the central Midwest. 186 people from 14 different states showed up for the event, bringing art, theme camps and a sense of community with them.

This year, for InterFuse 2005, over 360 people from all over America converged at the Ozark Avalon Campgrounds on May 13-15th.

I attended InterFuse with seven of my good friends after finding the information posted on the Interfuse web site. Our ThemeCamp was “BubbleMania”, since I am known in some circles as the Laughing Bubble Chick.

The name InterFuse means “To pour or spread between or among”. “Fuse” means, “to become liquefied from the heat. To become mixed or united by or as if by melting together.” The “F” in “Fuse” is capitalized because “Fuse” also signifies a small fire that prepares the way for a larger fire.

Arriving in the early afternoon with my camping buddies Brent and Michael, we were greeted by Diana and Brett, two lovely greeters who took our tickets and blessed us with real Playa dust from Burning Man in Black Rock City, Nevada where the annual Burning Man event takes place.

After setting up camp with our fellow friends Andy, Dave, Gina, Mike who arrived shortly thereafter, we proceeded to crack open a few beers while I set up the industrial strength bubble machines and set up shop for people to play with the bubbles.

It was a beautiful day, everyone in really high spirits as they set up their theme camps. One guy across the way from us had these amazing black lit flower arrangements that he painstakingly hand painted with black light paint. Another camp had stuffed animals that you could make yourselves. Yet another was full of hammocks to lounge in. We met many people in fun costumes as well as street clothes and some with no clothes as we walked around and checked out our surroundings.

InterFuse officially kicked off Friday night when Diana lit the InterFuse sign, a beautiful metal sign that blazed and warmed us all up mentally and physically. It was time to party!

Mother nature rained down on us Friday night, so Brent, Michael and I huddled under the shade tent while our camping buddies decided to pass out. Eventually the storm passed and Brent and I sat out by our campfire welcoming passer-byer’s with a warm chair and interesting conversation.

We finally passed out in the wee hours of the morning, with the music from the Mindlicker Dome (the DJ booth and dancing area) booming out into the night.

Saturday morning we awoke, had a bit of breakfast, and headed down to the shower area affectionately known as the “Frog Bog”. There was actually hot water, and it felt so great to clean up a bit after the previous night’s rainstorm and partying.

Michael, who is an awesome fire spinner, let me tag along as we went down to the poi spinning practice. Poi spinning is the complicated art of spinning a flaming ball that is attached to a chain. When done correctly it is one of the most beautiful sights one can see, plus the sound of little fireballs swooshing around the air is really cool.

After an afternoon nap and outfit change, Brent and I once again headed out to explore the rest of the campgrounds. I was told there was a lake on the property too, but didn’t get a chance to see it. Andy made dinner, yummy steaks and baked potatoes over the fire.

Then, it was Burning TIME!!

Someone had made a large obelisk to burn, and it was so HOT, everyone took a few steps back once it caught on fire. The energy was crackling in the air. We then made our way down to the FrankenMann effigy and patiently waited for the show to start.

Now, I have never been to Burning Man. I have friends that have gone, and have heard many stories from the Playa and have seen the website as well. I have seen lots of fire dancers and a lot of crazy costumes, parties etc in the past few years. None of that would have prepared me for what came next.

The drums starting beating, and the crowd held it’s breath. In the distance we could see the soft glow of fire. Suddenly, the circle surrounding the Man was filled with dozens of fire dancers, fire-eaters, and anything else fire related. Each one of them took their turn showing off fancy moves, blowing or eating fire and building up the crowd’s energy. It was such a show!

The crowd clapped and screamed as the torchbearer came to light up derFrankenMann. It was beautiful. Everyone had added his or her own adornments to this crazy wooden creature that was carefully raised up. It took ablaze rapidly, warming the faces of all those who looked on. Clapping and cheering, suddenly the Man broke out in a beautiful firework display that popped off every 5 minutes or so. There are a shortage of words to describe how this looked…look at the pictures for an explanation.

The whole procession took about 45 minutes or so, then the crowd started to disperse down to the Mindlicker dome to dance the night away. I went down to the dome to dance and got distracted by some fire dancers of in the distance. I have since figured out I’m a fire dancer groupie, so I left the DJ area to go watch. I found my friend Michael was there with his friend Karen and they were spinning fiery whips and more poi.

After helping them clean up and put their fire toys away, we headed back to Karen’s camp for a bit. We noticed that the sky was a funny green color, and we saw soft waves of light pulsating across the horizon. At first thinking it was pollution, or someone’s campsite giving off funny light we dismissed it, but it stayed around for over an hour and we watched it pulse in time to the Psy-Trance beats the DJ was playing. It was comforting that my other friends could see this as well, so I gauged that on how much partying I had done that night! I found out a few days later that there was a solar flare, and that the sunspot had caused Northern Lights to be displayed in our atmosphere. It was like Mother Nature was giving a nod to all the Burners out there!

Sunday morning I awoke to Andy and Matt making breakfast of bacon and potatoes. Brent and I went out exploring again, because we had heard that some one was making pancakes for anyone who stopped by. I was restless too, and wanted to walk. We found Benry not too far down the road, with a huge grill, and an even bigger pitcher of pancake mix. After having some yummy pancakes and chatting with some of the people milling about, we went back to our campsite to start breaking down. I still can’t believe we got all our crap back in Brent’s car. It seemed like we left with more stuff than we came with!

We left about noon Sunday, tired, dirty but very happy and in great spirits. After finally finishing up the last of my laundry when I got home, I slept for almost 2 days to recover form the wonderful time we had. I believe the Burners call it Decompression. I sure didn’t want to go to work on Tuesday!!

The Midwest Burners became a Social and Recreational Association with free membership in January, 2005. InterFuse is a gathering for members and their guests. It is highly participational. You get more out of it, the more you put into it.

If you ever have a chance to meet up with some Burning Man peeps and are invited to go to a Regional Burn either here, or anywhere, I highly recommend it. …Because it SHO’ IS FUN!

To find out more information about the Midwest Burners, check out MidwestBurners.com, or to find out more info about Burning Man, check out BurningMan.com.

Special Thanks go to Zay, Chairman for the Midwest Burners, for filling me in on the history of the Midwest Burners, and InterFuse.

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