Once again, my adventures in Regional land bring me back to you with a little update about Flipside in Austin, TX. Believe it or not, Flipside is my very first overnight Regional event that I have ever attended. This year. For real.
Located just outside of Austin, TX on private land, Flipside is one of the largest and oldest of Regional Events. I’d known about it for years and have always wanted to go, but my former duties as Ticket Manger for Burning Man didn’t allow for travel at that time of year. I arrived in Austin and met up with some fellow BMHQ staffers; DA our Playa Restoration Manager and Carmen from Burners without Borders.
Upon leaving the Austin airport we were hit full on with the humidity and heat of Texas. The air was thick and heavy with moisture and the clouds were big, fluffy and looked like rain. We took off on a mission to find yet another fellow BMHQ staffer, Logan the Volunteer Coordinator for DPW (and Austin native).
In true Burning Man caravan fashion, our numbers grew and thus did the time we had to wait as we all gathered supplies for the weekend. It felt good to know that even us veteran burners face challenges when attending an event.
As we got closer to the gate of Flipside, the clouds grew dark and menacing and opened up in a torrential down pour. Thunder and lighting cracked and lit up the sky. The idea of arriving in the dark during a thunder storm was daunting but we did it.
The morning brought cool grey skies and the realization that many friends were there with us. Odwally from the DMV was there!
Having read the Flipside Survival Guide, I was more than a bit cautious and wary of the uh… wildlife found here. Warnings of scorpions, ticks, rattlesnakes, mountain lions and fire ants were never far from my thoughts. I’m thankful for the info, those fire ants SMART when they bite! Signs popped up around ant colonies to warn people of the hazard.
Walking sticks (which don’t bite) were everywhere! Giant cicadas, a Dobson fly, baby Praying Mantis, scorpions and a whole bunch of stuff that I just don’t know the name of were frequent guests in my camp.
A few years ago, the Regional Contacts started a tradition at Flipside of getting together for some real face time with each other. In a community that is 128 Regional Contacts strong (and ever growing) they don’t often get a chance to actually see and spend time with each other. I didn’t want to miss an opportunity to see my fellow Regional friends so I stopped by the FreezorBurn Lounge at sunset to see who was there.
Anthony from New Orleans
Miss Kitten from Virginia
Laura from Toronto
Champa, Pat and Nobody who are part of the LLC that produce Flipside joined us as well as Abby from NYC.
Lohr from St Louis.
Even Dana from Orange County was there!
Also along for the ride were KLo and Vespa from the Transformus Board (Transformus is the North Carolina Regional Event).
So many Regionals and no sign of our Austin RC, George. Eventually we did see George as he went zooming by on a golf cart, waving and yelling hellos as he zipped off with radio in hand to tend to something important.
It was a wonderful evening of catching up, filled with laughter. Some had seen each other in Feb at the Regional Summit in San Francisco, but for a few it had been since Burning Man 2006.
Eventually we all parted ways and went off into the once again soggy, wet night to see the marvels that Flipside was hiding.
A visit to the Dirty Southern Burner camp brought decorating time in their mobile photo booth and a glimpse of a big ol’ pot of gumbo.In between the rain storms the sun did occasionally come out allowing brief visits to the creek for a swim and a laugh at the often vigorous battles being waged between various floaty toys and participants.
The center field hosted the effigy and several theme camps and art works. A Temple gave people a place to write messages and have a peaceful moment, the BurningGlam Costume Emporium was full of fabulous clothes to try on and play with, Camp Lick n Suck cooked up some of the tastiest BBQ ever… you never knew what you would encounter in the field.
As true proof to the unexpected wonderful surprises a Regional event has in store its participants – on Sunday afternoon, before the biggest of all rain storms hit, a well planned snow ball fight broke out. Two teams, armed with coolers of crushed iced and trebuchets came at each other from across the fields. Before long it turned into a full on free-for-all-every-man-for-himself-SNOWBALL fight. It ended with the participants reduced to giggles in the puddle strewn, muddy field, then running for cover as the clouds parted and let loose with another monsoon like storm that lasted for hours.
You would think with all that rain that the effigy might not burn. Thanks to the fire team, they saw to it that the effigy did in fact burn as planned. It might have been the coldest, wettest Flipside ever but I thought it was fantastic and wouldn’t have changed a single thing!