2015 MPYRE Strikes Back
Saturday, June 6, 2015
12p – 10p
After a hiatus of eighteen months, MPYRE – Monterey Burners produced the summer edition of our Official Burning Man Regional Event. True Grit, our winter beach burn, last took over Del Monte Beach in December 2013.
Attendance was very good, with a nice flow throughout the day into night. Without tickets or a gate, and on the public beach where participants and attendees can arrive from many different angles, we can only guess at actual numbers. Over the 10 hours, 300-400 people attended.
Conversations had and reported were universally positive, with much gratitude and pleasure that we had returned for another edition of our beach burn. The weather was beautiful, and many groups set up blankets and spaces for the whole day and evening.
Donations were adequate, but lower than expected. Overheard: people wanted to donate, but greeters did not mention the donation boxes and didn’t request contributions. People didn’t know how and where to give. So we missed breaking even on production costs.
Suggestion: DJs to announce how, where, and why to donate.
Pre-Event Donations $95.00
Day of Donations $454.75
Porta Potty $208.40
Bank Charges $2.49
We had a great turnout for set up of all spaces: one sound stage, effigy & fire ring, art projects, theme camps, costume swap, and greeters, which was completely well stocked throughout the day and night. Thank you to Elsa and Lori for organizing everything and everyone so well.
Load out was also managed quickly, and the beach was clear by 11p.
We had wonderful greeters all day and into early evening. Some dedicated greeters stayed longer than their scheduled shifts, really enjoying meeting passersby and letting them know about our event.
Suggestion: Better script for asking for and receiving donations.
This year’s effigy was built by Lilly Scott, Turn n’ Burn, inspired by this year’s Burning Man theme—Carnival of Mirrors. Fabric ribbons were offered to be personally inscribed by anyone to engage and add to the piece. Many more ribbons and decorations were added throughout the afternoon, and by evening the piece was overflowing with participants’ contributions.
Memory Lane, an interactive memorial piece by Lori VanMeter, was also installed on the sand. Marking a lane from the bike path towards the burn ring, Lori’s piece also invited all to decorate and commemorate wood chips, streamers, and ribbons for the wood poles lining the walking space. In a short ceremony, Lori de-constructed the art, and added the piece to the effigy in the burn ring.
Both Turn n’ Burn and Memory Lane were lit and burned.
Very exciting, and much less than safe, the pieces exploded with the use of white gas as fuel. Not good. Plan noted for next year: We need a defined fire safety perimeter and plan for our burn receptacle. There were concerns about the burn ring being unattended.
With sunset around 8:20p, fire spinning was shorter than at past beach burns. But after the effigy lighting, the fire monkeys gave a great show. We had a number of new spinners join us, as well as quite a few glow artists. An observation by many—the safety perimeter originally set up somehow was not maintained, as everyone crowded in, mesmerized by the fire spinning. This also pushed the fire spinners closer together. No one was burned or injured, but all was too close for comfort.
Suggestion: Fire safety plans for effigy burn and fire performances – A MUST!
Lucho handled sound again this year, and all was great, of course. Sets were on the hour, and though we had a shorter event by two hours than past beach burns, all DJs were awesome. I only heard huge love for their music!
We received input about bringing back a second stage for 2016, with proper placement to keep sound separate.
We hoped to enjoy the return of Dark Sparkle’s burlesque performers, but the timing did not work out. But happily a local group of belly dancers came! Their dub-step music and incredible dancing were definitely a highlight of the afternoon.
And just at dusk, Lillie Lemon had a half-hour set. All original music, with vocals accompanied by electronic mixes, their music was a great change in mood.
Theme Camps and Public Participation
A new theme camp joined us: Camp Shiny: A Burning Man Camp for Autism, and with the return of art car StegaTron, and other unexpected contributions—a local art car and slack line set up. The kids loved all. Camp Shiny installed their hexayurt and made a cozy quiet space for anyone to chill in.
Cat’s Meow again donated to the Costume Swap, as did many of our local MPYREians. Loads of costumes came and went to many happy people. There was everything from actual costumes to fun, dressy, glittery, furry wear. Everyone was pleased, especially with the cozy ‘dressing room’ space that Elsa, Lori, and Melissa created.
Suggestion: Post out earlier to the community to bring old costumes.
Two participants set up food to share: one offered hotdogs and popcorn, the other Bloody Marys. Everyone loved eating and drinking together, but we are in agreement that our beach burn’s food and drinks will remain participant-driven only.
We got great press as the cover story on Monterey Herald’s Thursday Go! Calendar supplement and the Monterey County Weekly’s online edition. I did one interview with each publication. I’m guessing that with Burning Man’s greater presence in popular culture, our local papers were interested in covering our gathering—especially as we use a public space as our event venue.
Instead of postcards this year, we printed only posters to display around town. I did hear that one person learned of our beach burn from seeing the poster displayed near his work. This is a first for me! I believe most hear of MPYRE events through word-of-mouth/social media, though our traditional press this year was excellent.
Suggestion: Posters and postcards are preferred for easy handouts.
We had two rangers in attendance: Rangers Lothos and Triumph. Neither reported any incidents or issues that required their intervention.
We would like to have more ranger presence, especially for fire safety during the effigy burn, as well as keeping a fire perimeter during fire spinning.
As far as we know, no one called into MPD about the event. But the police did stop by when a local parked his art car on the sand. That was a no-no. Luckily he did not receive a ticket, and he quickly moved his vehicle back into the parking lot.
Leave No Trace
With several trash and recycle barrels set up in the event space, we had no issue with garbage. The City of Monterey donated recycle cans and liners, along with a recycling dumpster up the way, though a fair amount was captured by homeless community members who live at Del Monte Beach.
The next morning, five+ of our dedicated super-organizers showed up to help with our final beach LNT sweep. Kudos to all for the grocery bag of zip ties and cigarette butts. We also emptied our burn receptacle of all ashes, taking bags home to dispose of individually.
Improvements & Future
Fire safety plans for effigy burn and fire performances – A MUST!
Better script for asking for and receiving donations.
DJs to announce how, where, and why to donate.
Posters and postcards are preferred for easy handouts.
The next beach burn is planned for 2016, likely in June again. We like the summer weather!