Treasure Island Thumps Through The Night

Massive (35)
Josh Keppel

A new party venue has just landed right in the middle of the San Francisco Bay, and boy are we lucky!

Two adjoining hangers on Treasure Island were used on Friday night, March 6, 2009 for a fundraiser for Opulent Temple, a Burning Man theme camp that specializes in bringing local and international DJs to the one-week festival in the Nevada desert where they provide a huge sound system for revelers to dance the night away.

Syd Gris, organizer of the fundraiser, said that the Burning Man organization doesn't give grant money to sound camps, like it does for art installations, even though he feels that many people go to the festival primarily for the music.

It does seem a bit strange that none of the ticket price funds spent by these people going for the music gets used to help bring that element, and I'd be curious to see what would happen if all sound camps took a year off, just to see.

Because of the large expense of bringing this massive camp to the playa each year, and because having a number of fundraisers throughout the year is too much work for too little payoff, this year they decided to go BIG.

So, Gris called some friends in the Burning Man community and wha-la, a plan was put in motion.

Two of the coolest art pieces I've seen at the playa were on display Friday night, one in each of the two side-by-side buildings.

When I first came through the entrance that had a line before the doors opened at 9 p.m. with the party scheduled to go until 4 a.m., I came upon the Steampunk Tree House, a beautifully rendered Victorian era tree house made of metal by artist Sean Orlando and crew.

Then, strobe lights started flashing and I looked to my left to see monkeys 15 feet in the air swinging from branch to branch on a metal tree.  A snake slithers down the monkey's arm feeding an apple to the monkeys before being swallowed up whole.

It's Peter Hudson's Homouroboros, a stroboscopic zoetrope that spins around with life sized monkey figures that, with careful timing, lots of math, and participation from the audience, appear to be in motion, even though after a minute or so, the piece stops spinning and you can see that the monkeys and immovable, and are in fact almost the same, but each one is in a slightly different pose, helping to create the visual effect (like a flip book with an animation).

I know, sounds crazy, and it is, and trying to describe it doesn't really work that well (much like the event in the desert), so I took some pictures and there is some video from our news story that will best show what is going on...

In this first building, there was a DJ set-up with dance floor and video screen to the side of Homouroboros, but the real action was in the other building where the Flaming Lotus Girls had set up the Serpent Mother, a 65' by 50' footprint of a huge metal snake coiled around an egg that had split open.

In this room there was the main Opulent Temple DJ booth set up where Carl Cox was the night's headliner, complete with light show, lasers, and video screens.

Outside, there were occasional fire dancers and an art car that was keeping the people outside warm by blasting big flame balls into the air every few seconds, often to the music.

It looked like thousands of people were there having a great time and after the event, the Opulent Temple website made it sound like they met their goals and they will be making the trip to Black Rock City again this year.  Mission accomplished.

Maybe next year Opulent Temple will get some Burning Man grant money, at least for the artistic stuff they build like this year's new DJ booth that was there Friday night, but if not, I hope they have a Second Annual Opulent Massive.

Josh Keppel is a finally giving in and admitting to the public that he goes to Burning Man.

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