2017 MPYRE Strikes Back
Saturday, July 1, 2017
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 participated throughout the event, with most people on the beach from 3p to 10p.
All ages, from babies to seniors, were present, though the majority were adults in the range of 20 years – 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 the space by accident or by design. The weather was beautiful and chilly, the atmosphere relaxed, and the connections among people warm and friendly.
At a suggested contribution of $10/person, donations were excellent this year. Based on 2016’s successful donation request announcements throughout the afternoon and evening, we followed the same plan, announcing, in between DJ and performance sets, that donation canisters were available and being walked around through the gathering.
Day of Donations…………….$1100.00
City of Monterey Grant……..$599.00
Badges & Signs……………………$31.95
We had a great turnout for set up of all spaces: one sound stage, effigy & fire ring, art project, 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 11:30p.
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 to our local list were also available. Thank you to Carri and Cirilo for managing Greeters and its schedule of volunteers.
This year’s effigy was built by Don Landis. Returning to our Burning Man roots, he created a fisherMan constructed from scrap plywood and draped with fish net. Re-introducing silver paper sardines, first used in MPYRE Strikes Back’s 2012 art project, participants decorated the fish, then tied them to the fish net. As is MPYRE’s tradition, the fisherMan effigy was set on fire at sunset.
Lori VanMeter installed a version of Everybody Leaves, her memorial art piece. Participants were welcome to decorate small wooden leaves tied to cords hanging from a shade structure. At sunset, the leafy cords were removed and draped over the fisherMan, all to be burned together.
Effigy lighting started just before sunset Don, the builder/artist, Alicia, Regional Contact for Burning Man in Monterey, starting the burn. Prepped with kindling and charcoal lighter fluid, the fire started small and easily, and the fisherMan was completely engulfed in 30 minutes.
Fire performers gathered at 7:45p 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.
With over 15 performers this year, fire spinning started at sunset, approximately 8:30p and continued to 10:00p, 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 fabulous!
We had eight DJs scheduled over the day and night, on just one stage this year. Though fewer DJs played, their music kept the day and night full of fabulous beats for great dancing and relaxing. The sound levels stayed comfortable, at a volume that allowed for easy conversation. Big Mike not only contributed his sound equipment, but also built a very cool MPYRE stage set!
We welcomed three groups for live performance this year: Dragon Lotus Tribal Fusion Belly Dancing Dragons, Hipnautic Flowers Belly Dance Tribe, and Samba Legal Afro-Brazilian Drum and Dance each performed, with Samba Legal playing as our fisherMan effigy was set on fire—spectacular energy and excitement from all three!
Theme Camps and Public Participation
Along with our local Burning Man community’s many costume contributions, The Cat’s Meow again generously donated to our Costume Swap, Traci created a super fun ‘dress up’ closet on the sand. Having a space and collection of fun and furry, sparkly and dressy clothes always raises the energy of our gathering—gifting at its finest!
Unfortunately, no theme camps were able to join us this year. But a few groups of friends came early, set up their own cozy spaces with shade tents, blankets, and chairs, and spent the whole day on the sand.
Always great for us to see, StegaTron, MPYRE’s resident art car, arrived in the afternoon. With its colorful, LED lighting programs, StegaTron anchored the space after dark, and complemented the fire performances and effigy burn.
Media coverage was good this year, with press releases going out to local Monterey media only. MC Weekly selected MPYRE Strikes Back as the Pick of the Week. Based on casual conversations, a good number of locals and visitors saw the MC Weekly article and showed up just to see what was happening.
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.
We had a group of rangers in attendance: Ranger Triumph was lead, and he was joined by Ranger Sir JJ and Ranger Merit Badge. As our event often goes, just a few band-aids were distributed, and no other incidents were reported.
Monterey PD did not stop by our gathering. Good news that 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, four 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 City cans at the dumpster. Again this year, our community members did a great job picking up all moop, aka matter-out-of-place. Our morning LNT walk filled just over one-half of 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.
- In response to last year’s idea to design an MPYRE/Burning Man logo for our regional group—initial designs have been started. Next step: inviting community input.
- Meet with Monterey Fire Marshall and Recreation Department officials to discuss the potential for approving a fire art sculpture to be installed for the 2018 event.
- Plans for 2018’s event… June or July?