2018 MPYRE Strikes Back
Saturday, June 2, 2018
12p – 10p
MPYRE – Monterey Burning Man Regional Group has produced a community gathering at Del Monte Beach, Monterey Bay Park since 2009. The summer event, MPYRE Strikes Back, follows the Ten Principles of Burning Man, and welcomes the public to its one-day celebration.
Completely volunteer-produced, MPYRE Strikes Back is the first, ongoing, free-to-the-public Official Regional Burning Man Event in the world. Community members set up sounds stages, art projects, costume exchanges, kid’s activities, as well as inviting live dance and music performances, DJ music sets, fire spinners—all with the intention of creating and connecting people to each other and to themselves in a welcoming, creative atmosphere—a temporary community where everyone is encouraged to join.
Attendance was even, 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 directions, we can only guess at actual numbers. Over the 10 hours, we estimate 300-400 people joined the celebration, with most people on the beach from 3p to 10p.
All ages, from young kids to seniors, were present, though the majority were adults ages 20–50 years. Based on my personal acquaintance with some of the attendees, over half the people were local to Monterey Bay, from as far south as Big Sur and up to Santa Cruz. The Bay Area and Santa Clara County were also well represented.
We heard only positive comments about the event itself, with all happy to join the gathering, whether happening upon us by accident or by design. The weather was beautiful, the atmosphere relaxed, and the connections among people warm and friendly.
At a suggested contribution of $10/person, donations were very good this year. We continued the donation request announcements from the main stage with microphone. Day-of donations totaled $920.
Unfortunately, donations did not quite equal total production expenses by $290 and change. As I walked around with a donation can after each announcement, many younger people asked if we took debit cards. We will definitely have a card swiper for next year, as well as Venmo set up to offer more options for donating.
Day of Donations $920.00
Porta Potties $245.59
Badges & Signs $39.92
We had a great turnout for set up of all spaces: two sound stages, effigy & fire ring, costume swap, and greeters, which was completely well stocked throughout the day and night. Thank you to all who brought their energy to participate and create.
Load out was also managed quickly, and the beach was clear by 12:00a.
We had a good crew of greeters all day and into early evening. With the greeter’s station placed next to the bike path, passersby could easily learn about Burning Man, both about our local group, as well as the annual event in Nevada. Burning Man literature, information, and email subscription sign up to our local list were available.
Lilly Scott designed and built the effigy this year. In memory of Larry Harvey, and inspired by his Stetson, she created a wire and paper-maché hat on a redwood base.
Last minute circumstances affected our community artists who usually bring interactive art pieces, so we were without this year. But an unnamed participant/artist formed sand balls of different sizes, arranging and rearranging them in a line, a pile, a pyramid. Spontaneous art at the beach—pure gorgeousness!
Effigy lighting started just before sunset with Lilly Scott lighting Larry’s hat. With the super dry redwood planks, the fire burned super hot and fast, drawing people to the flames for the rest of the evening.
Fire performers gathered at 7:45pm for a mandatory safety meeting. Safety procedures: tool fueling procedure, dip can lock down, and spin out area procedures were reviewed. Also discussed were performance circle etiquette, forming a queue for performance order, and entering/exiting the performance area.
Fire spinning started at sunset, approximately 8:30pm and continued to 10:00pm, when all music and performance ended.
As usual, care was taken to place the fuel station far enough away from traffic but still close enough to maintain a clear path to the performance area. The performance circle was large enough to safely support three performers at a time. At least one safety person with a duvatyne cloth, to suffocate any uncontrolled flames, watched the circle at all times performers were lit.
Fire spinning has always been one of the highlights of our beach celebration, and this year was just as every year has been—mesmerizing and dramatic!
With this year’s super engaged DJs, we brought back a second stage. Speaker placement was perfect, so zero sound conflicts. Lucho’s DJ wrangling and performance scheduling offered different styles of dance and chill music all day and night. Big Mike generously brought the main stage set up again, while Carri and Carly coordinated DJs and set up for the second stage.
We welcomed three groups for live performance this year: Hipnautic Flowers Belly Dance Tribe, Lillie Lemon, and Jayson Fann Drummers. Live drumming with effigy lighting was a highlight. All three groups brought spectacular energy and excitement!
Theme Camps and Public Participation
Our Costume Swap is always super fun and popular. The Cat’s Meow again generously donated, and with the always great contributions from our community, Elsa and Traci made a cozy dressing room in the sand.
Unfortunately, we were theme camp-less the second year in a row… But with our greeters, costume swap, StegaTron, and everyone’s beach blankets, umbrellas, and chairs, the beach was filled with burners and newbies connecting, dancing, relaxing.
Media coverage was good this year, with press releases going out to local Monterey media only. 2018 was the ten year anniversary of our annual beach gathering, so locals from Santa Cruz to Big Sur have it
A majority of our non-local Burning Man community heard of the event through social media and Burning Man email announcement lists, both specific regional groups and Jack Rabbit Speaks, the primary Burning Man email newsletter.
Ranger Triumph again coordinated the ranger call-out, but was not able to make the event. Lead Ranger Sir JJ was joined by Rangers Frosty Paws, Seal Pup, Diffuser, Dreamweaver, Berkage. As our event often goes, just a few band-aids were distributed, and no other incidents were reported. Huge appreciation to our wonderful khakis!
Monterey PD did not stop by our gathering. No complaints were called in!
Leave No Trace (LNT)
The City of Monterey donated recycle cans and liners, along with a recycling dumpster up the way at the Municipal Wharf. With several trash and recycle barrels set up in the event space, we made sure garbage was collected in the bins, and not on the sand.
The next morning, ten of us showed up to help with our final beach Leave No Trace sweep. All recycle bins had been sorted through by conscientious recyclers, and we dropped off the borrowed bins at the dumpster. Again this year, our community members did a great job picking up all moop. The LNT walk filled one plastic grocery bag with the usual: cigarette butts, zip ties, candy wrappers, and etc. We love leaving our Del Monte Beach home cleaner than we found it!
Improvements & Future
…Continue with announcements at the DJ stage to request donations to support continued production of MPYRE Strikes Back, as well as bringing card swipers and setting up Venmo.
…Earlier invitations to theme camps and other artists, so more interested community members may co-create our annual celebration.
…MPYRE – Monterey Burners has already received a City of Monterey Special Events Grant for 2018-19 fiscal year.
…MPYRE Strikes Back! is scheduled for June 1, 2019.