I went to my first beach burn at Assateague Island this past weekend (April 27-29, 2001). I was fortunate enough to have been invited by some friends, who happen to be on E2, and met some more E2 folks that I've been in contact with. Lucky me! I didn't know anything about what this event/happening was, except "It's like Burning Man, but it only lasts a weekend instead of a whole week." So I was expecting a giant party, basically.
It's a bit more than that. Quite a bit more. I unloaded my gear (why did my friends pick the campsite farthest away from the port-a-potty anyway?) after a really lovely drive down alone from Baltimore. It was now time for lunch, so I broke out the organic vodka and proceeded to show everyone what a lightweight I am when it comes to drinking.
I met many, many beautiful people that afternoon. I met knarphie again, and this time I remember! (The last time was at a party at a friend's house and I was trashed.) I met the inspirational deeahblita, whom I've been dying to meet for a while now. She's simply the most huggable, adorable, and beautiful woman. Introductions went all around, and she said, "You mean this is drummergrrl?" and ran over to me and gave me a huge giant hug. I can't explain it rationally or even emotionally but I could just feel her soul and how genuine and sweet she is.
My friends who had come down earlier were SlightlyMadman and anomaly. It was practically an officially sanctioned E2 gathering! Well, except for the other 95 people who were there. I can pretend for five minutes, can't I?
OK, on with the show. Some of the main points (from what I gathered) are pretty simple, but very powerful, and to me, this beach burn was sort of a metaphor for how I want to live my life. First, we live on a fragile, beautiful and powerful planet, and we're just a small part of the entire system. As we are so good at destruction, the first thing we should try to do is leave no trace. The second, but to my mind, equally important in my life, is that there are no spectators. Everyone participates, and gives what they can.
All day and all night, there was random drumming and guitar playing. It was very windy, and the music would sift through on the breeze as you went about the beach. This contributed to the feeling of community and camaraderie, which grew and grew through the weekend. I had brought two of my drums, but was feeling incredibly shy and awkward, and then I got really, really, really drunk. So the drums didn't leave my tent. (boo hoo!) Some folks had made a scuplture in the sand that looked like a representation of the sun with about nine rays sticking out, and the ends of the rays were bigger than their starting point. Sorry to bring this image to your mind, it was so full of life, but sort of like the cingular icon plastered all over the billboards in Baltimore. There was a lot of drugs and alcohol floating around, but also a lot of people who were sober. All were enjoying the beautiful island and each other.
All day long ten people walked around in green monkish robes. When asked what was up, they merely stated that "all would be revealed," building up more mystery. Many people had brought sculpture to the burn that was beautiful and haunting. There was a game in the afternoon, just a silly thing, where judges were picked, and gender-specific contestants lined up: to give the best one-liner. I was a female contestant, but lost out (only a 9 out of 10!) with my line of "Hi. I'm Brad Pitt." I then became a judge for the men. The judging was done from sitting inside the sand sculpture. It was so cool, like a sand cocoon! I was halfway cocked by that point, and although I laughed my ass off the whole time, I can't remember a single other line. (If anyone who was there remembers, /msg me and I'll put them in.)
As afternoon became evening, I got more drunk. And stoned...
Everyone (well, a lot of people) went on to the beach, which was a lot colder than the campsite, and settled around the gigantic bonfire which was in a big pit. In addition to this big bonfire, there were three neon statues of "man". (One had an erection that blinked on and off, tee hee).
There were several dj's, monk-e was the best. Hey, if anyone knows when/where monk-e is playing again, I'd love to see him. He spins some serious tunes. So I danced and danced and danced while the spinners spun. The spinners were people who I had seen practicing earlier that day, with a strangely shaped ball on 3 foot lengths of chain. That night, they set the balls on fire and spun intricate circles and danced with the fire, all night long, apparently. It was a beautiful sight.
The 15 or 20 foot statue of a man was dragged down closer to the water's edge, along with the pony statue, and I think a third statue, I can't remember (sorry). Late in the night, the wooden statues were set afire. .
I really wish I could tell you exactly what happened then, but I had passed out by then. Which is why I am berating myself still for being such a lightweight, and not knowing when to slow down or stop. I will go again, as soon as I can find the next one, and bring art, and participate more soberly, and bring more friends (who have gotten more than two hours of sleep the day before and don't pass out from sheer exhaustion. Poor babies.) It was an awesome experience. I expect the next time to be even more so.