Freestyle: Burning Man bash

Apr. 26, 2013 | 0 Comments

Honolulu DJ and burner Miki Mayhem spins flaming fire poi. Awesome: That shape looks like the Burning Man icon! (Star-Advertiser photo by Bruce Asato)

Honolulu DJ and burner Miki Mayhem spins flaming fire poi. Awesome: That shape looks like the Burning Man icon! (Star-Advertiser photo by Bruce Asato)

BY ELIZABETH KIESZKOWSKI / ekieszkowski@staradvertiser.com

Preparations for this year’s Burning Man are already under way for most of the “burners” who return year after year. If you’re building a theme camp or an art installation, or need to get yourself from Hawaii to Black Rock City prepared for the event’s essential “radical self-reliance,” like I do, then you’ve got some planning to do.

Collidiscope Hawaii 2013

» Where: Camp Timberline, Makakilo
» When: May 16 through May 19
» Cost: $85 until May 1; $95 tickets available at gate (debit/credit payment only)
» Info: kapilina.org

Aside from getting there, another element of Burning Man that needs nurturing is the sense of community and accomplishment that the gathering fosters. For many (and I count myself among them), once you’ve wandered the kaleidoscope of camps, crowds and creations, and experienced the concept of “gifting,” Burning Man style — giving without expecting return — you want to keep that feeling of delight and reward coming.

That’s why Hawaii burners continue to gather throughout the year, sometimes to dance and spin fire, and sometimes to plan something more extravagant, demanding and intense, in the spirit of Burning Man itself.

And that’s where Collidiscope 2013 comes in. Burning Man takes place from August 26 to Sept. 2 this year, but the 50,000 tickets for “the burn” sold out on the first day.

Never been? Interested? You can experience the self-reliant, generous and creative nature of the event and its contributors without traveling the 2,600-plus miles to Black Rock City, Nevada by taking part in a sanctioned Hawaii event here on Oahu.

Elizabeth Rademacher dances with her fire hoop at a burner gathering on Thursday night. (Star-Advertiser photo by Bruce Asato)

Elizabeth Rademacher dances with her fire hoop at a burner gathering on Thursday, April 25. (Star-Advertiser photo by Bruce Asato)

Collidiscope offers a couple of amenities in comparison to Burning Man in the Nevada desert: The weather’s not as harsh, and there are a limited number of bunk beds available for those who do not have camping gear. To reserve a bunk, contact the sponsor organization, Oahu’s Ka Pilina Interactive Arts Society, a registered nonprofit that exists to connect local burners and to administer events in Hawaii: info.collidiscope@gmail.com.

Advance tickets are available via the website until May 1; after that you must buy your ticket at the door.

Mac Kaul, who calls herself a “Fire Diva” and is the Burning Man regional contact for Oahu, has recently taken on the role of top officer for Oahu’s Ka Pilina Interactive Arts Society, a registered nonprofit that exists to connect local burners and to administer events in Hawaii. I met with Mac and a group of burners who are planning Collidiscope on Wednesday, April 24, at the Aloha Beer Company, and we caught up with her again on Thursday, April 25, spinning fire with Collidiscope tickets in hand.

Mac Kaul, wearing her burner hat, shows off Collidiscope tickets at a fire jam. (Star-Advertiser photo by Bruce Asato)

Mac Kaul, wearing her burner hat, shows off Collidiscope tickets at a fire jam. (Star-Advertiser photo by Bruce Asato)

Kaul, who’s been to Burning Man multiple times, is skilled in fire safety, and knows how to run a meeting or make it though a dust storm. She says the Hawaii Collidiscope event is expected to attract more than 100 participants, including some from Europe and the Mainland.

“It’s going to be great fun,” she said. But at the meeting, she and organizers also emphasized a set of principles associated with Burning Man.

Among them:

» “Radical inclusion”: Everyone is welcome, including newcomers.
» “Radical self-reliance”: People are expected to be responsible for themselves, bringing their own food, water and shelter, and cleaning up after themselves.
» “Leaving no trace”: What it sounds like. Campers pack out their own trash.
» “Participation”: There are no spectators at a Burning Man event. Each participant is part of the experience.

Last year, Collidiscope’s planned location changed at the last minute, when its original host got cold feet about having burners at the site. Despite that, Kaul said, more than 150 campers came together and put on a “satisfying” event, despite an unfamiliar site, wind and rain.

That’s part of what Burning Man is — creating and coping despite, or because of, challenges.

 Dan Amato twirls a pair of fire knives at the fire jam. (Star-Advertiser photo by Bruce Asato)

Dan Amato twirls a pair of fire knives at the fire jam. (Star-Advertiser photo by Bruce Asato)

If the weather’s great, the challenge will be to see how much astonishment everyone can create.

Rio Gordon, who’s bringing an installation that will put on a light show to accompany music at Collidiscope, promises his gift to the gathering will “blow your mind.” That’s in keeping with the spirit of Burning Man.
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Elizabeth Kieszkowski is editor of TGIF, the Honolulu Star-Advertiser’s weekly arts and entertainment section. Reach her via email at ekieszkowski@staradvertiser.com or follow her on Twitter.

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