Flipside essays

For Burning Flipside 2015, the organization had some tickets left over after the normal ticket distribution. We decided to sell these in what I call a “bonus round,” but we decided that anyone who wanted one of these tickets needed to demonstrate some commitment. Our normal ticket-distribution process is kind of a pain in the ass. Without including some hoops to jump through, access to a ticket in the bonus round ticket would be easier than in the normal distribution, and would give the appearance of rewarding flakiness. So for the batch of tickets that I sold in the bonus round, I required that requesters “write me an essay about what you hope to get out of the experience. If you have been to Flipside, you can write about what you hope to get out of this year that you haven’t experienced before, or write about an experience you had that was particularly meaningful to you.”

Following are the essays that I have permission to share, anonymized when requested.


I am very excited to take part in Flipside because for once I feel like I have something significant to contribute. For many years friends have wowed me with stories of the great people, amazing creativity, spirit of giving, and fun socializing that goes on at these events. I have always enjoyed my time at other burner events such as Burning Man and Firefly in New England but I’ve always been a consumer of content rather than a creator. This year I, along with my friends will be giving back to the community through an exciting themed camp. While I look forward to experiencing all the fun that Flipside has to offer, I’m even more thrilled to showcase my own creativity for the benefit of others.

A small group of my friends and I have been putting together themed parties for over a decade. These started out small but have grown in size, complexity, and popularity over the years. Past events have included goth revival nights, hellfire club style drinking and dancing events, semi-psychedelic 60’s British mod events and more. The focus of these events has often been dancing and drinking against a creative (and often dark) backdrop. This year my friends and I are planning to take our work from parties in previous years and turn that into an exciting event and themed camp at Flipside. The Dark Dances in Wonderland camp will be a semi-psychedelic camp based on dark depictions of Alice and Wonderland inspired by the vision of artists such as America McGee and the Tim Burton film. This camp will most likely appeal to anyone who likes down tempo music with a bluesy feel, slow and sensual couples dancing, fancy drinks, and dark fantasy brought to reality.

Beyond my plans for a themed camp, I am a mechanical engineer, an amateur 3D CAD artist, and additive printing hobbyist. While I’ve only recently started turning my talents toward artistic endevours, I love developing kinetic sculpture and using 3D printing technology to bring it from the drawing board to real life. I have seen a lot of interesting creations that Austin’s maker community has put together and showcased, particularly at the local maker fairs. The projects I am most interested in are projects that involve kinetic sculpture. Many of the people responsible have for these works have let me know that Flipside shares a lot of the same attendees with the Austin Maker Community. I’m hoping that what I see and experience will inspire me to try something new of my own.

But I have not been to a Flipside event before and I am trying hard not to form any expectations. At other burn events (and maker events) I have found that it’s better to go in with an open mind and a “yes and” attitude. I intend to prepare myself to take everything in as it comes. To be prepared to feel inspired by the artistry, creativity, and free expression of other people as they bring to life their visions. I feel that Flipside is a place where creative people can come and be inspired by the creativity of their fellow community members while also possibly providing some inspiration for others. I hope to be inspired by others at Flipside but I also hope to inspire others with my contributions.

By Cortney DeAngelo

Welcome home. I have never been to Burning Flipside, but my best friend goes every year. One of the first things he told me is that the common greeting at the gate is, “Welcome home,” indicating ‘home’ is not one’s day-to-day life, but the community built inside. What a truly marvelous and inspired concept. Hugs abound, art is everywhere, and people are open friendly and warm. A complete immersion into a new reality that is created by artists, lived in by free spirits, and dissipates as though it was never there. A true engulfing experience that would mean the fulfillment of a need for which I am truly longing. To be the Phoenix; burned to ashes to emerge again. To build confidence, see myself thru the eyes of others, be beautiful outside as well as in. Come along for a ride with me, and I will explain everything.

Mundane reality has not been good to me in the last few months. If I’m being completely honest, I would have to say that reality hasn’t been good to me for the last few years; though many things have been thrown into harsh focus of late. A long-term abusive relationship, a divorce, and all while dealing with a dead-end job, which lead to unemployment that has continued for nearly a year. Anxiety and depression have come to dominate my world. Now, bear with me here; this is not a bid for sympathy by any means. Simply statements of fact to give you a little insight into me. I am a patient, loving, kind person who looks after others. Who makes herself sick tending to the needs of friends and family. Recent events have shown me that taking care of myself is an important part of living. Those closest to me even created a meditation journal for my personal use in which several pages are marked, “Self care is not a waste of time.” I need to prove that to myself. The best way I can picture to do such a thing is to immerse myself in a world that is not currently my own.

Ritual is so powerful; and the ritual of the effigy greatly intrigues me. I have heard of the processional, the addition of individual art to be destroyed in its grand fire. Fire is divination, see your dreams in the flames; cleansing, purification of oneself; destruction, watch in awe as problems and negativity blow away in the smoke. I take such comfort in ritual. I understand that people add to the effigy in an effort to rid themselves of negativity, to make amends, to free themselves. It is a ritual in which I would participate with a piece of my own to burn and refresh my soul. A rite of replenishment for my darkened spirit. Another step toward rebuilding myself from the ground up.

For the past two years, I have read the Burning Flip Side website from bonnet to boot. I am well-versed in the rules and regulations of participation, understand the need for boundaries, and know that there is, in fact, a quiz at the gate. I am prepared for these things. To use colloquial terms, I am no Sparkle Pony. What I am not prepared for, is the entrance to such a grand affair. I have never participated in an event like this in my life. To be frank, I enjoy the fact that I am not completely aware of what lies ahead. Even with the stories, the friends who attend each year and tell tales of their adventures; I am still unprepared for what awaits me. The anticipation of getting thru the gates and exploring is thrilling and terrifying in the best ways possible. I long for adventure. Crave the release of being outside my normalcy, my mundane existence.

Flipside is chance for me to feel free. To live in a world full of art and achievement, experience beauty in its most loving and open forms, and express myself in ways I don’t yet know. The darkness in my thoughts, the blackness that penetrates my mood, could be significantly lifted by an experience such as this. Help me find the Phoenix I want so desperately to be. Please, welcome me home.


This past year while on my surgery rotation, I regularly held my hands over the patient in front of me and sent him or her some healing, loving universal energy. This is the kind of weirdo hippie shit I do in my highly traditional environment. I’m unfortunately forced to keep my inner desert hippie secretly stashed away. However, when the time is right, I offer the healing modalities I learned to give so freely at Burning Man. It was there that I found people who openly received the strange healings that I had learned from my mother growing up on our commune. At Burning Man I loved the deep satisfaction of doing massage and reiki for hours on person after person – each time feeling more and more healed myself. I left that year knowing how I wanted to spend my life and soon after enrolled in medical school. These past three years I’ve learned the minutia of the human body in great detail, held the hands of cancer patients and seen families come together and show a kind of raw love not often witnessed outside of a traumatic event. It has been an amazing journey and I love it despite this stiff, formal environment.

But now… I’m ready to throw my stethoscope aside, get naked and do some reiki on flipizens.

Inside these hands are burning fireballs of energy waiting to be released on willing recipients. I want to nourish my soul and the souls of others. It is my nature to offer this and by getting a ticket to this year’s Flipside, I’ll be able to more thoroughly live out the crazy lady inside of me that is so full of goodness and loving-kindness towards others. I look forward to feeling that moment that I felt at burning man, when after having spent hours doing body work on many burners, I felt no trace of fatigue, but rather fully healed myself. I realized I had come to a moment where I experienced no difference between giving and receiving. The two felt exactly the same. That is what others have called oneness, I suppose.

In addition to the healing modalities I want to offer, I have four full-body spandex suits that would look great on my four friends who I’ll hopefully be going with. There is a red one, a green one, a yellow one, and a black one. All are waiting to be worn, danced in, sweat in, and made sweet, awkward, full-body-spandex-suited love in.

And last but not least, I also have learned an amazing trick this past year while I was at a student-run free-clinic conference in Atlanta, which involves nipples and fire. I fully intend to utilize this new skill to the best of my capacity. Hopefully, it will be a performance that would make the stripper I learned these skills from beam with pride.

Please consider me as a recipient of a ticket. I look forward to frolicking in the grass and splashing around in the water, casting off good vibes and loving my fellow flipizen neighbor.


I am writing this essay in hopes that the energy of these words will bring the fruit of a ticket to Burning Flipside. This will be my first burn and I am very excited. From my understanding, the question of this essay is what I hope to get out of attending Burning Flipside. Wow… what a multi dimensional and fun question!

To begin with, I am a divorced mother of two beautifully growing daughters. They are 13 and 11. While my path is my own, so much of the state evolution that I find myself now, indirectly has to do with them.

I grew up in a very conventional home where protestant Christianity ruled supreme. While my mother was a free spirit at heart, so much of her behavior was sculpted by her father’s devout Christian influence, which she unconsciously passed onto her children.

Out of her five children, one could say that I was her Achilles heal. I questioned every subjective thing that came out of her mouth. Not because I wanted to be a rebel, but because I was curious. This curiosity has truly been my core guiding energy through life.

It is was what ultimately led me to explore other beliefs and ideas, and what ultimately led me to reject anything other than the truth for a particular person. So I can understand and honor my mother’s truth as her own and maintain detachment from it for myself. But this mind set did not come easily or without pain.

I married young (age 21), had two children by age 27 and was divorced by the age of 33. My ex-husband was a good man. He treated me well. So my choice to leave not only shocked my family, but I struggled with shame for a long time. At the time of my divorce, all those hard ideas of marriage and my upbringing kicked in at high gear. It was a slow process of unfolding unconscious outmoded beliefs that had carefully been wrapped in a blanket of fear. I am now 38, so I’ve had some time to awaken to that fear and integrate the changes that this awakening has brought about. And it’s still a work in progress no doubt!

Fast forward to a few months ago. My unfolding has indeed been slow. There have been times that I have wanted to retreat back into the comfort zone of beliefs that no longer work for me. I feel I am at a place now that the time for hiding has passed though and I am truly beginning to live out what I have always known to be true at a deeper level, which is that fear separates and that love unites.

Where I am at now in this process, is allowing myself to come into contact with experiences and people that resonate on this same level of consciousness. I believe Flipside is a place where this is not only available, but on a more intensive level that I am very ready to experience.

About 9 months ago I went to my first Authentic Relating game where I met some people that are part of the Burner community. So it’s been on my radar for a little while, but not too long. I see going as an opportunity to continue to explore the “me” behind the curtain (which is so fitting given the theme this year), to experience others on a more genuine level, explore my innate curiosity, and to continue on a path of breaking down the walls and barriers of the mind, which brings me back to my daughters.

I strive to be an example of what it means to be open to the world in all its mutli-dimensional glory. I hope that my choices reflect to my little angels the endless possibility inherent in openness to people, connection, places, ideas, and things. To be an example of what it means to have courage and practice acceptance. But it takes me DOING this, not just saying it, to integrate this philosophy on an experiential level where my choices reflect a strong empowered woman… one that my daughters can look to as an example of positive modeling… a mother who is guided by love rather than fear.

I also practice psychotherapy as my profession. I have been doing so for the past 10 years. As such, I see not only opportunity for self-growth through attending Flipside, but also an opportunity to give of my own cultivated gifts, which for me translates to volunteering for Pyropolis Sanctuary. I have already submitted my interest in volunteering, which has been accepted. All I need is a ticket now… ☺

By Audrey Milburn

I was first approached about Flipside by a couple of friends of mine last summer. They have attended for a couple of years now and are actually leading one of the theme camps this year. Initially their description of the event sounded intriguing but I did not put much thought into going at the time. That is, until I heard the theme of this year’s Flipside: Wizards of Odd and I thought “Oh man, this is for me!” I mean, it is essentially the nickname I’ve had since Junior High. I’ve always been a bit on the “odd” side by taking things as they come and moving to the beat of my own drum. Oftentimes I say what I think and do not care how others think of me. I am who I am, damn it! This will be my first Flipside experience and it promises to be a great one!

I’ve only recently been introduced to “hard camping” where we backpack in everything we need, live there for a few days, and then backpack everything out. I was skeptical at first because previous camping experiences were only done in an RV. I fell in love with the experience in an instant and love to take on camping adventures at every opportunity. I positively love the idea of Flipside because it is a “leave no trace” event. I fully believe that your campground should be left as you found it and as nature intended it. It is always frustrating to me when I see a campground left trashed. In fact, I usually go pick up after the previous tenants because it bothers me so much.

The main thing I would like to get out of my Flipside experience is finding new ways of self expression by getting a little bit outside of my comfort zone. As a person, I’m generally pretty reserved and inward. I’m usually the “wallflower” at the party and love my “me time.” An event such as this is exciting to me because it will place me outside of my comfort zone, allow me to meet new people, and experience new ways that others express themselves. In looking outward, maybe I will find a new way to express myself. I have always been a bit “artsy” and love that Flipside will not only allow me to experience other people’s art, but also will allow me to share my passion with others. And, perhaps, I will even make and build new friendships that will last for years to come.

Another thing that has attracted me to Flipside is the open-mindedness of those that volunteer and attend the festival. I love the idea that I can finally be myself and express myself how I would not normally be allowed in “the real world.” I love that everyone will accept me for me and that within this open community people are held accountable for their actions and, as a whole, the group will support me if someone is being inappropriate or making me uncomfortable against my will. This is very comforting for someone who needs to break out of her shell a bit.

All in all, I’m very excited about Flipside and the experience that it promises. I’m very excited about broadening my horizons to new experiences, stepping outside of my comfort zone a little bit, and finding new ways of self expression in a place that is free of judgement. I cannot wait to have the same experience that so many have had before me so that I may spread the word and implore others to take part.

By Naughty Scorpio

A burn was the legend we tried to achieve for ten years! My husband and I first heard of Burning Flipside 11 years ago, when we were active in Amtgard. In this LARP group we went on several campouts and “camped with camps.” We also had just recently experienced our first CMA Beltane event and already thought we had experienced openness and free thinking. This particular Amtgard event we were preached the burn. It was epic! I’m a hippie at heart, and say this with much love. Planning to get to experience this most wonderful, heartbreaking, mind shaking, spiritually festival of truly likeminded folks was the top of list of my priority list!

Unfortunately, life got in the way at first. I had to watch my husband deal with cancer. Last year was our first burn and our biggest wish came true. I learned so many things, both good, bad, and in between. I learned about more than just myself – I learned more about my husband as well. I also learned how to burn, to truly let it go, and the bittersweet relief it can bring. The most in-touch with myself I’ve ever been was seeing fire consume the stuff I put up on the effigy. It was the most cathartic, cleansing experience I’ve felt in more years than I want to remember. The burn broke me down and built me back up a little better than before. My mind was deepened, opened, and ascended. If we have the pleasure of attending this year, we plan to do things a little differently than last year. We haven’t planned anything other than volunteer activities as promised and word given to our camp this year. Perhaps one of the biggest lessons learned last year was not every minute of Flipside will be fun. We don’t second-guess. We don’t consider any questions stupid. We want to ensure the wellbeing of everyone camping with us.

With all the years of mental, emotional, and spiritual buildup I had a lot of glitter in my eyes about the festival. I initially had the misdirected thought that everything would be great because I’m at a burn. My husband and I are opposite in many ways. He’s the introvert and I’m the social butterfly. I was afraid of being judged because of his social quietness… He’s very blunt when he does speak, and I’m the extrovert that wants to hug everyone, gift anyone accepting of a gift, and feed anyone who needs to be fed. We have vastly different personalities, and each handle things in different ways. There was a tug-of-war between us before it came to volunteering as our tickets came by being Guardians on our first burn. We didn’t even know how to really burn yet. I don’t think it was the greatest choice for us to do our first time out. However, we learned by volunteering at different times. This gave us time to walk about and or chill if we so wanted without the worry of the other partner and just getting to BE. Burning with your partner is an experience of its own… I think your relationship can be tested at its most, depending on if one doesn’t adjust as well as the other might. It wasn’t until burn night that Josh finally found his place and finally felt a part of it all.

The things we would look forward to doing this year are to really try to enjoy the burn more and to volunteer as needed in the camp so there is no worry about getting to a post at a certain time. We will stress less on the small shit and not over extend ourselves. We will definitely bring all food already prepared and/or cooked for easy serving and less hassle. We will try to remember just how well the power and smarts of advocating can get you far in what your searching for. No matter what it is, someone will help you find it. There are people who observe that you are gifting. This karmic circle will come back to you in the most unique ways. To try to always keep in mind, do not let something get you too down. Before you know it your going to have something pick you up out of nowhere and the day will be better hour by hour.

In short, we didn’t get to experience our anniversary this year because too much life was going on, so we figured we could postpone it and celebrate it at the best vacation next to our honeymoon in Jamaica. So many things learned from the previous year will help us in our burn this year. We hope to learn even more this year to make future burns even more amazing for us and those who camp with us. As long as we keep in mind we don’t have to be glued at the hip and personal “me” time isn’t wrong to have as long as you have a personal walkie-talkie on you, so your other half can keep up with you if something happens. I think it’s vital to have your own experience in and of itself, even when it coincides with your other half going. Adam Rice, I hope you have enjoyed on some level reading this essay, I have not written on any formal level in many, many years. It was fun to write the words as the memories flooded my mind again. Dealing with writers block for a long time made this actual a joy to be able to complete.Thank you for the opportunity in the hopes of receiving the ability to purchase tickets so late after the initial ticket window.


I miss Burners. I may not be one, by a stringent definition, but I’ve lived in parallel with Burning Man for over 10 years now. From Chicago’s Fire Tribe to Michigan’s post-Burn Decompression to my own beloved coop house, I knew, lived, and made art with Burners. Yet I’ve never made it to any official burn.

3 years ago, I left my home and its delightful Chicago weirdos for medical school in San Antonio. Since the move to a far more conservative city and general life attitude, my work has often kept me away from the beautiful people I’ve met in Texas by chance and happenstance. This May, I hope to once again remind myself why I first entered the terrible orbit of modern medicine, if only for a short time (and hopefully I’ll be reborn as a beautiful peacock, but we’ll see how the costume comes along). I’ve somehow been lucky enough to be adopted into Ecstatic Hearts’ theme camp: a beautiful group of people who have helped remind me what is important in life, what is true for myself, and who I wanted to become through becoming a physician (It turns out, hearing the lamentations of the women is not actually part of what is best in life. It was a shocking revelation, I tell you). Knowing Burners again has reminded me why I dove into medicine in the first place: to be able to care for others unconditionally no matter their background, their biases, or their ability to pay. My goal in this life is to help soften the sharp edges of a cruel world for those least able to smooth them; how successful I may be is anyone’s guess, but I know that I will be far more effective in my life if I first take care of myself. I will be more myself after engaging my humanity through art, play, community, and radical self-expression, and then continuing to live that life throughout the year. Flipside will help me reconnect with those people, those joys that have been subsumed for too long.

I want to come to Flipside this year because I will be applying for my residency this summer. In my next 5-year stage of education, I will be the workhorse of a monolithic medical infrastructure, and I will have to be strong to survive it soul intact. For the opportunity to engage in this exercise, I will spend most of next fall flying back and forth across the country, interviewing to prove myself able to follow rules, able to be coherent after a 30-hour shift, and above-all able to be a good cog in the machine. My dirty little secret is that I will play this game, but I will not hold to it as my purpose. I seek to maintain and strengthen my love of the world despite the demands placed upon it. To make art, to remember to be silly, to be creative. To become myself again, stronger for my time away from myself. To love everyone unconditionally, even if some of them are vegetarians who eat bacon. I mean, seriously? What is up with that? My heart aches for such an illogical place; a time to strip out the self-consciousness of modern life and look inside to find the connections that bind us all together, Burner and non-Burner alike.

Oh, I also have a big ass first aid kit and I know how to jury rig an oral rehydration solution that can be given as an enema for severe dehydration and heat stroke. I do hope that I won’t have to donate that particular skill this year.

By Carly

Let me preface my essay by saying this: I really want to go to Flipside. It’s an amazing experience that I look forward to all year long. I’m not a new burner; this year will be my tenth Flipside. This will be my husband Chopper’s third Flipside.

I am looking forward to attending this year because, as is true of most years, there are amazing possibilities and new experiences ahead of me. Last year my husband and I made a deep connection with another long time burner, Bogart. He lives in Montana now and doesn’t make it down to Texas often. This year we will be combining our camp, Viking Camp, with his: Bogartistan. Combining camps with Bogart will give me yet another new perspective and experience at Flipside. I was one of the founding members of Sparkedelica and now help make Viking Camp go. I have found that each camp brings its own twist to the idea of Flipside and camping with new people in a new theme also changes the reality that is Flipside for me.

Viking Camp itself isn’t new. Last year was its first incarnation. However, in the last year both Chopper and I have begun home-brewing mead and cider. This year will be our first Flipside sharing our own homebrew and we have been working hard all year to help bring this art to our fellow Flipizens. Playing host in our mead hall is one of the greatest pleasures that we have at Flipside. The sad truth is that if Chopper and I don’t get tickets, Viking Camp is not likely to appear at Flipside. We are the center of the camp and also the only ones with vehicles capable of bringing out the camp’s infrastructure. As many of our members are either still new-ish or otherwise brand new, it’s still a bit much to ask them to take on the heavy lifting of being camp lead on site.

I am very thankful for the opportunity to try to get additional tickets from the LLC, because that means that even more people are getting to experience the wonderful thing that is Flipside. Originally Chopper and I thought we had zero chance to get to go to Flipside because we didn’t have enough money to send in a ticket request, but the generosity of friends has ensured that we can now afford to pay for tickets.

Because we are now able to attend, we are also encouraging some newbies to come out with us to Flipside. Last year we were able to introduce a few friends to burner culture and they had an amazing time in Viking Camp and around Pyropolis at large. I love getting to share this home with other people and help them find the spark of creativity and community in themselves that they had either lost or not known was there.

Chopper and I have also participated as volunteers in past years. I have been a ranger multiple times and Chopper has volunteered with the fire team as well as pre and post. I hope that my plea is well received and that I am granted tickets. Know that they will be well used and that we will “bring it” with Viking Camp.


At Flipside 2015 I want to experience transcendence. I had a friend who loved to feel in the moment. As a gifted dancer, she once asked why I — a writer — found it difficult to perform, and why I might revel in observation. Yet, despite some difference she found in our respective methods, I regard our art as essentially the same — transcendence issued from practice. A poet once told me that, “One practices so that, when the moment of inspiration comes, one might be better prepared to act on that inspiration.”

To my understanding, transcendence occurs when one acts in a way that foresees the imminent future. In most circumstances, existence emerges, and, through delayed perception, humans attempt to reconstruct the world from stimuli which have already transpired. As creatures who live the majority of our lives several steps behind, people find magic in their ability guide their own past and prepare themselves for a probable future. With the aid of their delayed thoughts, humans can repeat conscious actions in order that they might react without thinking and lessen the gap between experience and reaction. This concept is central to an extensive array of arts.

However, intuitive states are difficult to achieve without a demarcated sense of time. In order to generate emotional intensity, people often focus their conscious energies onto a specific, pending moment. Through this distinction, artists are able delineate the acts of practice and performance — often, with a heightened sense of importance placed on the latter. Although I find great value in the division between practice and performance, I have come to wonder, if my own work suffers from the quietism of endless preparation.

I was at Flipside, late in May of 2014, when my friend first questioned my concept of the transcendental, and, at the time, I had little to say in response. Really, I had no concept of it. I had never considered it until that moment, and, as such, “transcendence” and the memory of her words stand as a gift. However, in spite of the value I’ve gleaned from studying the word, I think there is more in the gift of “transcendence” than I have yet to realize. I think now, that my friend might actually have meant to ask me, “Why have I never seen you perform?” or “Why do you live inside your own head?” or even “What are you practicing for if not to act?”

Writing is the choreography of the word, but speaking is the dance. I want Flipside 2015 to stand as a milestone in time. I want to choose a purpose, and a point of reference for all of this practice and observation. I want something to prepare for — a moment to transcend. Even ivory towers at some point touch the ground. I want that point to be late in May of 2015. I intend to prepare mentally and physically for the saturated experience, so that I can contribute my presence to the community. I want to participate more fully. I intend to volunteer, and I intend to gift my poetry in a personal zine. I will continue to read at open mic events, so that I can plan a set for the burn and speak my words with confidence in my own voice. Most of all, I would like to bring myself to Flipside, so that I can share in the experience and contribute my transcendental perspective to others.

By Justin Silvestre

I first came across the term “gift economy” a few summers back in a book called The Ascent of Humanity. The book’s author, Charles Eisenstein, had put the full text up online, free to read for anyone willing to open their browser and visit the page. This floored me. I was no stranger to free books on the Internet, but this one was free not due to an expired copyright or the efforts of anonymous pirates, but by the author’s own free will. He describes his rationale behind this move on his website:

“The ownership of ideas, I believe, is just the latest step in a centuries-old enclosure and privatization of the commons. What was once public and free to all, has progressively entered the realm of property. Can anyone really claim to have created a new idea? Ideas build on other ideas, and even the most original idea is the end result of a long social process. I do not believe I have a moral right to make the ideas in this book into my property.”

Immediately, it was that feeling you get when you hear something articulated for the first time that’s been stewing in your head unsaid for as long as you can remember. I read on. I remember my heart beating faster and faster as Eisenstein described a world where people skipped over calculations of cost and revenue to embrace their human instinct to share. It was the same world I was constantly daydreaming about, where the walls and fences cutting us off from our neighbors would be replaced by bonds of trust. Solutions to our day-to-day problems wouldn’t be bought from a stranger–they would emerge naturally from your ties to a sympathetic community. Art wouldn’t be something enclosed within the walls of a gallery, but something permeating your entire existence.

I had to stop periodically to look away from the text and just let the joy and relief wash over me. I wasn’t totally alone, and this thought was empowering, transformative. I raved to all my friends about the book, and they listened, and agreed it sounded cool. But, as I soon realized, I couldn’t make them understand. Just as Eisenstein’s ideas were the work of some force larger than himself, so was the mechanism in my mind that made those ideas resonate so much with me. And I couldn’t tap into that force by explaining some abstract ideas. I would just have to wait vigilantly and hope to come across someone new, who already understands.

Fast-forward to this past fall–I’m freshly graduated with a BA in literature and no job, and thus forced to move back in with my parents. I can’t even start looking for work in Texas without a license, so for a period of months, as I wait for sporadic chances at driving lessons, I find myself spending an inordinate amount of time swiping through profiles on Tinder, looking for some kind of momentary escape from the monotony, maybe a couple nice nights–nothing more than that.

But with Max, the nights were great, and they kept on coming. And more often than not, they ran over into great days, each of which was overlaid with something more than the intoxication of a hormone rush. It was the simple joy of two people coming together with zero expectations, like people should. We had no agenda to carry out on each other but acceptance. This approach to life is the only one that has ever made sense to me–never knowing what the next moment will bring, why hold it up to some ideal standard? With Max, who understands this, even the silent moments aren’t empty–they’re the harbingers of wonder. Waking up next to him, I just feel ready to explore the universe.

His voice was the first I ever heard speak the words “gift economy” out loud. I had heard of burns before but no one had explained them to me like this. He described his last burn as an empowering, transformative experience. But this wasn’t just an idea from a book–this was a real time and a real place for people to act out that spirit of giving and acceptance. And I wanted in.

Over the past few months I got to know him and his camp, the Guild, and I got to see them put those ideas I’d only read about into action. My every encounter with the Guild has been a riotous mix of generosity, creativity, and good music. Now, upon meeting someone and learning they’re a burner, I know I’ve met someone who already understands–no need for explanations. With their help I’ve not only been able to let loose in a new place, but I’ve even brought art back into my life. It’s like I’ve revived a part of my soul. I can only imagine how great it would be to living with them and other burners and immerse myself in that world for five days straight.

Now I’ve got two motivations to go to Flipside: the desire to take part in the experiment, and the desire to be close to the person I love. I want the chance to be there with him and to just coexist for a while in that space of radical acceptance. It’s hard to find a place in Texas where an expression of our affection isn’t potentially an invitation for ridicule, or even violence. Even during my time in New York, people have gotten killed in the Village–the gay capital of the City–for being themselves. So I’m used to having to hold it in by now, but a break does sound nice.

Of course, it’s not just a break I want. I want to be empowered; I want to be transformed. And I’m ready to do my part to empower and transform others who have come together for a singular purpose–to coexist for a while, in a spirit of acceptance, within world of creativity and community.​

By Christy Mercer

I crave an opportunity to be amongst my creative peers in a community that’s open to the minds and spirits of the strange and unique. This is a chance to share my distinct talents and wonderful oddities with friends who will openly do the same. I’ve read through the history of this camp and all that it’s about, and I’m excited at the chance to be apart of it. Burning man has always been an interest of mine, but hasn’t ever been feasible with my work and private schedule. The great thing about Burning Flipside is this is a local gathering, honoring our Texas countryside and mingling local strangers to support a local custom. What could be better than that?

The start of all this for me was with a volunteer who recommended this festival to me, over drinks, and I have to admit I was hooked within seconds. She told me about the camp activities and that this is an event where you can really sink your teeth into not just the experience but in building it. I found that all the camps could use a helping hand and, as a community, we will build our artistic expression and delve into it for an extended weekend. I’d be able to help in this creation, and form bonds with strangers who would soon become friends. More impressive, is the care that is taken for the land rented for this occasion. Everything brought in is to be taken out. That level of respect for the countryside and this private lot is a breath of fresh air. I’m an animal lover and aspiring conservationist, so the idea of leaving something haphazard always made me uneasy, so this is elating.

Delving into a world of almost limitless artistic innovation would be an experience I would take with me for years to come. Nothing is better food for thought than the ideas and originally of another mind. Museums are food for the mind and the soul but this would be in the thick of the inspiration. In my free time I love to craft, paint, sing, and write music but never really get a chance to share it with more than my four walls. I want to revel in my talents and the talents of others. Looking through photos online I’ve seen singers, artists, fire dancers, cooks, and admirers of the lot. This would allow me to break free of the bonds of my daily tedium and open my mind to bigger and greater things. I’d get to, even for a time, kick down the walls of my nine to five and finally breathe again. Probably for the first time in years.

With all this and more I implore you grant me entry to the Burning Flipside. It would be such a fulfilling experience that would honestly be such a bummer to miss out on. In this day and age, a little time away from the chaos of social deprivation through media and technology is most certainly necessary. Thank you and I appreciate you for your time.

By Jackie Treehorn

I have never been to Flipside before and I believe this opportunity has presented itself for a divine reason and is a part of my soul discovery. I am planning on going with an open mind and an open heart, but I do have a sense of what I want to bring to my experience. In the past, I had trouble choosing and taking action in accordance with my intention and true desires. Now, I am practicing being spirit driven, using that intention I have always had to take actions. In this world now I need to take action from my soul’s intention. The two main reasons I want to go to Flipside are I want to be in connection with all, and to celebrate a very special teacher and soul mate in my life.

To be in connection with all begins with connecting to my soul. The freedom and culture of Flipside would inspire and allow me to be freely and most authentically myself. In life beyond the weekend of Flipside, I desire to be in the fullest form of my soul. In being freely and authentically in my soul, I hope to hold space and express life and love, which are the most beautiful concepts that can be infinitely expressed. Holding space and being a part of the expression of life and love through art, experience, connection, friends, music, and more unknown channels at Flipside, is my goal. The weekend of Flipside would support my spiritual journey in this soul living, or as some say “going home.”

In order to connect deeper with all, Flipside would further support my self-understanding. I have been on a spirit quest for the past several years and have reached a beautiful pinnacle, proven by the appearance of the white peacock in my path. The timing is divine for me to have arrived at this self-awareness with a beautiful supportive community and Flipside symbolizing experience to celebrate it all. In my spirit quest, I have realized that I am everything. Simply everything. We are all everything; all parts and particles are a part of a whole. My true spirit and nature of my soul is just like a quartz crystal that takes in everything around and is connected to everything around, refracting, creating, and (most notably) being an infinite rainbow connection through my body, connecting everything. I want to continue to express life and love in the space of connection. Flipside would support this desire — whatever beautiful form of expression that may take!

The second reason I am passionate about getting a ticket for Flipside is I need to celebrate my friend’s birthday. Friend really is an understatement and narrows the extent of our relationship. I started intensely focusing on my spirit quest and inner journey towards love and being my true soul about a year and a half ago without even knowing it at the time. It began, unbeknownst to me, when I met my friend Lindsay, Mi Hermana. I knew from the moment I met her that I wanted to be her friend, and choosing her to be on my work team was only the very beginning of a life altering friendship that I now know is a soul mate connection that exists beyond of time. I want to celebrate all of the things that she has lit up in me, from learning to art, connection, color, freedom, expression, and most profoundly– life and love. Before meeting Mi Hermana Lindsay, I did not have any idea what love really was. Now, I practice feeling love overflowing to and from me. She has helped me expand and open my soul to this life experience. I love her so much and I want to celebrate her birthday with Barbie Day Spa at Flipside. I feel so much joy when I imagine washing hair, painting nails, and taking care of those who need it. It is Lindsay who helped me learn this love of life and connection.

I don’t just want to go to Flipside; my soul needs to go to Flipside. I need to be in connection with all, and celebrate Lindsay’s birthday with love, life, and service. I am dedicated to my spirit journey and am growing in my abilities to take action from the seeds of my intention. My soul is yearning for life, love, and Flipside.

By JD Yoshimi

I have people in my life expecting me to come along and dazzle you with my linguistic ability, assuring myself a ticket to the good life extravaganza, but the truth is I’m tired. I yanked an engine out of a Cadillac by myself today, and all that beautiful, abstract prose has just been beaten out of me. What I’m going to do rather than getting all philosophical and zen about it is let you know a few things. I worked on all but one of the burner ambulance RV conversions in north Texas. The Jambulance. The Burn Unit… I forget the other. It all runs together. I did load out for Burning Man last year. Packed up several tons of gear. A yurt, a cellophane labyrinth, a smorgasbord of equipment. Scored myself an impressive sunburn for my effort. I did load out for Flipside last year. I did load out for Myschevia. I showed up after the burn to collect moop and pack out the ranger station for Freezerburn. That said, I’ve never been to a burn in my life. I’ve been hanging out with burners for five years now and I’ve gotten more and more involved, but I have still never been. I think it’s probably about time.

I lost everything and started over in Austin a couple of months ago, and I believe the transformative power of the experience would be a perfect opportunity to help me wipe the slate clean and move forward with this absurdist reality I call life. The ranger leads who got me on my feet again agree fervently. They snapped me up from a terrible situation and for that I am eternally grateful. Austin is a wonderful town, and I wish I’d moved here sooner. I work a lot, but I’ve been attending burner functions as I’m able. Every time I’m at a decomp party, church night, or what have you, inevitably someone asks me about my experience with burns and I wind up telling them this wordy little story about all the volunteering I’ve done and that I’ve never been to one. They insist I make an appearance at whatever burn is coming up and then something always gets in the way. I’m flat broke or in a bad place… It’s always something. My aim is to start doing all the things I’ve been putting off for so long and live my life in a way that I’ll be satisfied with when it’s all said and done. Hooping with naked hippies in the wilderness with my view askew, dancing to funky drops under the stars, and capping it off with a pyrotechnic masterpiece would be a damn good start.

By Nancy Moyers

It is said that the journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. It’s cliché, it’s overused, and it’s a complete lie. The journey does not begin with the first step. That step comes only after we embrace what we are, what we can become, and what we cannot control. No man can stand still against the tide of the universe. Everything will move, and you cannot for one second remain in the same place any more than you can force the world to wait for you. The only thing you can do is pick the direction in which the movement will take you.

I knew these things as I climbed the steep path that would take me to the summit. The wind that cooled the beads of sweat on my forehead brought with it the shouts of the crowd below me. Their excited cries echoed in my ears. Rocks tumbled loose between my feet, rolling down the black earth as if they were birds suddenly freed of their cage. The higher I climbed the more joyous they became, till I could no longer hear the wind over their songs and laughter. They had climbed this mountain before, and their songs told of the wonders that awaited me when I completed my journey. I could remember when I first heard the stories. Sitting there listening to them reminisce, I had been swept up in their tales. I had decided that I too would make the pilgrimage. I had been so excited… I clung to what remained of that excitement as I climbed for what seemed an eternity. By the time I reached the top, the noise from the crowd was drowned by my own heartbeat. The world behind me seemed a distant memory.

The only constant in this universe is change. Nothing can remain what it is for long. The very nature of matter is to never be still. Cells grow and divide. Stars expand until they collapse beneath their own weight, and are transformed into something new. Even the whole of human intelligence remains in motion. What is theory becomes fact, and what is fact becomes fiction, and so we grow in knowledge. And so man goes through life, broken down and reformed a thousand time over. The essence of life is these little deaths, each time we are so changed by an experience that we are reborn of it. Though I may fear the little deaths I also embrace them, for they are what created me, what creates me still.

So here I stand, a Virgin sacrifice to the burning gods – gods I do not even know- balanced on the edge of the volcano. The furnace below bubbles hungrily. Even from so far above, the heat of it makes my lips crack and my lungs sting. Will it hurt? Will I watch my skin melt as it’s seared away from bone? Will the speed and intensity of the flame destroy my nerves before they can tell my brain of the agony I am in? What will be waiting for me on the other side? Who will I be? Will I feel anything at all? I stare into the fire and I am afraid.

For every moment I stand motionless at this precipice, the very molecules that compose my body cry to be moved. What do I hope to gain in my journey through the fire? I do not know. I know only that I cannot stay here. I cannot prevent the tide of change, and so this is the direction I have chosen it to take me. I stare into the uncertainty of the flame, and I find comfort in the promise it gives to destroy who I have been. I jump.

By Alicia White

I missed the deadline for regular ticket registration. My husband and I have never been to Flipside before but we have been to FreezerBurn, where we met a lot of Flipizens. We were very impressed by the emotion and expression of those we met. There were many connections and friendships made.

We just got married on March 14th and this would be the perfect honeymoon for us. My husband is disabled. He’s fought throat cancer and won, he’s got a metal rod permanently implanted in his back and he was born with a staph infection which caused one leg to be shorter than the other. He will continue to lose 2 inches in the shorter leg a year until permanently in a wheel chair. That being said we don’t know if or when we would be able to make another burn event.

We want to go and meet new burners and experience the life, vitality and positive energy that comes with a new burn event. Also, to contribute our energy and experience to others would be a great gift for us to give.

We are part of the organization that owns the land that FreezerBurn is held on and so we do have a lot to contribute and give to others. I, myself would be quite willing to volunteer and do whatever is needed for the land and the people of Burning Flipside. The feeling of being at home at a burn is something I feel deep inside me that I will get and be able to gift to others at Flipside.

I believe in free art and speech and the opportunity for a variety of artists of all sorts to get together for a common purpose and this is what burns like Flipside do. It’s a place where we can all come together and gift our different types of art to others. Art comes in so many different varieties and forms. Truly anything can be art and the fact that there is a place for those who want to experience art in its various forms is amazing.

Yes there is partying and such at burns and that is quite alright. Nothing wrong with that, but it’s not why we want to go and I believe it’s not the main reason why Flipside was created. We want to go to offer (gift) our brand of art to those around us. Then those people can take our art, and other forms of art that they have seen, to their communities. Of course, we would do the same. Not only would we be going to gift but we would be going to learn about and experience other types of art.

I would appreciate a chance to show Flipizens and others what we have to offer. I come from a group of people who truly serve the land, the Gods and Goddesses, and have a true appreciation for the type of energy produced from a burn event.

By Roya Hagigholam

Anger, destruction, corruption, sadness, and disparity plague our Earth. Society, politics, and biasses place their firm hands behind the backs of thousands of vice-ridden individuals; making peace, happiness, and unity seem boldly unobtainable-or so I thought, that is, until I attended Art Outside and was introduced to a special community of people. I come forth as a young woman who has never attended a Burn Event in her life, but who values Burning Flipside as a potential life changing event.

I am currently at a pivotal moment in my development- faced with the choice of deserting my education, financial stability, family and general comforts of life, for a life of solidarity amongst individuals who’s goals are enlightenment and spreading positivity while serving mother Earth through un-compensated organic farming. While attending Art Seen Alliance’s Art Outside Festival, my boyfriend and I were approached by several loving and self-less people who told us we belonged at a Burn Event. After being gifted with free food and conversation from these Burner Veterans, I felt very influenced by the possibility of abandoning a society that produces hatred. Since that day, I have focused much more of my energy on the person I intend on becoming, rather than the person society wants me to be. I have freed myself from my dependency on animal products, challenged myself to listen rather than speak, abandon my negative attitudes, and accept things I cannot control. Yet, relinquishing the life that I have created thus far propagates fear and uncertainty within me.

Ergo, because doubt has casted itself upon my decision, I turn to Burning Flipside for the confidence I need to see this choice through. I believe that in attending this event, I will not only nourish my passion for art, dance, and music, but be given the tools to connect with like minded persons. I will be allowed to express myself and not be condemned for aspiring to be happy, positive, and unwilling to conforming to societies standards of success, normality, beauty, and worth. More importantly, Flipside will allow me to provide for others- truly a driving aspect in my life. Although attending this year’s gathering depends on the approval of this essay, I have eagerly contemplated how I can serve my fellow brothers and sisters over the Memorial Day weekend. Being a Texas native, I’m aware of the dangers of the summer heat and therefore, intend on providing some much needed relief and hydration by supplying refreshing salted or lime covered cucumbers for attendees. 

While the promise of delightful festival fun is ever present in my desire to attend Flipside, I respect Burning Flipside as my utopia and as the impetus that propels me into a future of peace, self-reliance and ultimately eudaimonia. Despite never having attended before, I longingly wait for the day I enter the gates to Pyropolis and feast my eyes on the notorious effigy. Although Myschievia and Freezer Burn hold their own value, I yearn to run my bare feet through the grassy hills of Apache Pass and return home for the first time. On this account, I thank you for the opportunity to earn tickets and thank you for your consideration.


Currently, I have only participated in one burn in Georgia, and this will be my first time at Flipside. My first burn was about letting go of the negative experiences I had with a long term partner, and I hope that Flipside will be the opportunity for me to refocus my energy. I want to create a gift for my partner, myself, and the community.

I don’t take personal responsibility for my partners’ happiness, but if there is something I can do that could positively impact their life I will. Last year my primary partner moved to Austin, and being fairly introverted has made it challenging to get involved with pre-burn events. He and I met through mutual burner friends in Atlanta, and they have quickly become closer than family to us. I expect there are a lot of Austin burners that are just as amazing, and it is just a matter of meeting them. I love making new friends, and I hope that he will have some familiar faces to look forward to at future events.

Last fall, I brought home some unique schwag, wonderful memories, and a sense of what it is like to live without the restrictions of the default world. I expect Flipside to have its own unique feel, but to also provide a safe space for exploring what I have to contribute to both burn and the default world. I am currently feeling pretty unsettled in my career choice, and I hope to leave burn with a clearer picture of what would bring me fulfillment in my work. My work is in a fairly straight laced industry, and being completely removed from that environment will be help me gain perspective.

I have experienced a great deal of insecurity regarding what I have to bring to burn. I’m not exceptionally creative, but I do enjoy helping people. I know a lot of people dump their time, blood, sweat, tears, money, emotions into creating art, food, and experiences for burns. I may not be bringing tangible gifts, but I have two hands and an endless supply of cuddles to share.

Where do I fit in at Flipside? Burns don’t run without volunteers, and I’m more than happy to help where I can. My new favorite team idea is that of the Shaven Apes. At my first burn, I helped a camp mate set up her tent since she did not have a tent buddy. She was incredibly appreciative and was also surprised that I helped. Each person’s burn experience is different and sometimes it can be a bit stressful. The gift I want to give is to make someone’s burn experience more enjoyable or at least ease their stress.

Regardless of what I say today my experience at Flipside could be completely different, and I’m open to whatever the burn brings. I hope that collectively we can all create and share an amazing burn together. I look forward to making new friends, having new adventures, and helping others enjoy the burn.


Cultural historian Johan Huizinga stated in his book Homo Ludens that the activity of play precedes culture. He explained that the unreality of the play sphere – what he called the “magic circle” – gives to culture its myths, dreams, and aspirations. Law, poetry, and civilization itself emerged from the one-upsmanship of philosophers, the inspiration of writers, the experimentation of craftsmen, and the winning of tribal contests. In each of these endeavors we find a break from normal life and a new, certain freedom within willfully accepted temporary constraints.

Burning Man and its related events are the some of the most important spaces of play in the modern world. These occurrences encourage open self-expression by providing a space with far freer rules than those found in the “real” world. They serve to bring together open-minded people to temporarily exist together in a state of freedom, removing the bonds of money and restrictive cultural norms from human contact. Things that couldn’t exist in the real world – mutant vehicles, a selfless gift economy, manifold forms of nakedness – can briefly come to be within the magic circle that Flipside creates. Those that participate are forever changed, and find themselves among a global community of dreamers, free-thinkers, and world-changers.

We’re Mai Gutierrez and Will Hubbell, a couple that wants to experience the Flipside magic circle for the first time. This would be our first Burner event, both of us having wanted to participate for a while. Now that Will has graduated from college and we both have full-time jobs, we feel secure but restless. The real world is monotonous. Having a job is nice – having to have a job is miserable. We both yearn for a freer existence, and a window into other modes of life. We both believe that Flipside is an event that would nurture our lives and allow us, in turn, to nurture our communities.

Some of our best friends have gone to Burning Man and Flipside, and we know that we would meet even more interesting and friendly people by going ourselves. Flipside is appealing to us because we live in Austin, Texas, and could stand to expand our circle of friends in the area. Mai is a craftswoman, knowing how to work with glass, wood, and metal in multiple mediums, and we know that she would be able to meet other like-minded creators at the event. Will is a game and software developer who takes improv classes, and wants to go to explore new and genuine forms of expression. We want to meet with people to share ideas and inspiration, learning and sharing what we know in the hopes of creating something new together some day.

Beyond what we’ve read and heard, we don’t know what to expect from Flipside. We embrace the principles and rules of the event, but we won’t really know what it’s like until we experience it. To a certain extent we hope for a spiritual experience. Many of the people we know who have participated are very spiritual people, and have graciously shared their spirituality with us. However, what we really hope for by participating is to expand our paradigms of ourselves and others. We hope to interact with people in a naked and genuine way, and to bring back what we’ve experienced to our everyday lives.

Both of us would really appreciate the opportunity to attend this year’s Burning Flipside event. We have open minds and open hearts and wish to share them with the participants of this festival. Having never attended an event like this before, we think attending Flipside would be an absolutely life-changing experience. We want to step out of our world into something new, into a magic circle in which we can be ourselves, free and without reservation. If we don’t go this year we’ll find a way to go next year. Flipside is calling to us.


What I hope to get out of my first Burning Man Flipside Experience

I’ve never been to Burning Man Flipside before but I hear it’s well worth the effort. I didn’t quite understand this during the purchase window and didn’t complete my request in time. Wow, I thought, this seems like a lot of work to party. Is it really worth it? Since then, I’ve been reading up on the principles and watching the Flipside for Newbies videos.

I’m realizing this is a pretty special community. The notion of being well prepared, taking care of yourself, and being accountable is kind of awesome. It means everyone who attends is there intentionally, has a common idea of the experience they want to have, and is not going to be burden to others. They likely have put careful thought into what they require to have a good time — and how they can contribute to the enjoyment of others. Respectful, well-organized people who like to party and create something really special together is the kind of group I’d like to be a part of.

Decommodification, community and volunteering

For any true community event to be successful, it’s very important for everyone to contribute something. This changes their experience from an observer to a participant. Removing money from the event through creation of a gift-economy allows people to give without expecting something in return. This ensures that there is not a quid pro quo situation where the purpose of giving is to receive something in return. Decommodification is similar in that it removes commercial identify from the event, and focuses on the appreciation for the item itself. Radical self-reliance means no one can simply show up on a whim and not be fully committed. Volunteering fosters a sense of belonging and ownership of what goes on at the event. Great experiences are had when you’re 100% in and connecting with others.

Flipside policies

As I’ve been reading more about the event I’ve come to be very impressed by the policies and principals. The media policy resonated with me alot. The notion that people have to give their permission to be photographed and have a right to determine how an image of them is used, is very different from how we treat photography at other events. Usually, there’s either a no photography rule, or only official event photographers. The spirit of the Flipside principle is really one of respect and creation of a safe place. The consent policy is similar in that it’s also based on an opt-in approach. I’ve been thinking a lot about consent and privacy lately. Both policies seem very forward thinking, with Flipside an opportunity model them in real life.

Chance to be part of an ephemeral art and music event

I’m a painter, a woodworker, and a maker in general. Creating a temporary, entirely different reality is really appealing to me. Radical self-expression through fantastic visual and aural stimulation seems like it will be an experience unlike any other. Doing so in a safe place with great people makes it even more special.

I’ve never been to Texas before!

I live in the SF Bay Area and have never been to Texas. Seriously. I’m from northern California and went to undergraduate and graduate school in the area. There’s this thing where it seems like everyone moves west in time. If you’re already living on the Pacific coast, you don’t really have anywhere else to go. So, here I am, in my 30s, and never having been to Texas! A few good friends went to UT Austin and loved it. It seems like there are good people there. My kind of people, and I want to meet more of you guys! You also have summer and sun. Both are rare in the Bay. Sun and water at the same time is a whole different world!

I want to meet other great people!

I’m a stable, chill person who has my act together. I evaluate energy efficiency programs for a living and own my place in Berkeley. I know what I want out of life and what’s important to me. The Flipside Principles seem to be written by others who share the same sense of justice, privacy, desire to party, and sense of wanting to make the world a better place. Getting two degrees in public policy, I’ve thought a lot about how to do this. Contributing to tangible climate change reduction while improving programs is on way and is very satisfying. Still, I think about other areas where the world can be improved and how to go about it. I have a good community of friends and family who know what’s what. Two of them went to Flipside last year and came back raving about the experience.

I’m making it happen!

After learning more about Flipside, I’ve resolved to do everything I can to try to go this year. I’ve signed up on the Facebook group for Sin Camp, created profiles on Ticketfairy, and Notnotbob’s list, and posted several messages looking for tickets. To further motivate myself, I’ve bought a plane ticket and started getting supplies together that I can take on the plane. I’ve been coordinating with friends who went last year and already have tickets. I’m the only one who doesn’t so I’m hoping this will be my way in. Once I get a ticket, I can sign up for a volunteer shift. This is really important to me since it will be my first time, and will be a great way to help out and get to know some people better.

Oh, and did I mention that I give good massages? I also have a stash of el wire, gold hot pants, and the skill to do high quality drag make-up on just about anyone!

By Madeleine O’Quinn

Flipside Has It

Any good academic essay starts, as necessity mandates, with a definition of all terms colloquial or specialized whose employment assists the argument. This is not a literary essay, but for my purposes it will be necessary on my part to define only one very common, very subtle, little piece of vocabulary. The impact of its meaning is the force that propels me toward Flipside in the first place, and so I’m going to be daring and spend the length of this essay unpacking its two letters. It is “It,” innocuous and lofty at once so that it can make up for in obscurity what it lacks in style. “It” is the fleet footed spectre, the roaring and haughty Chevy engine splitting the American countryside in two whose heels I’m nipping after all the way to the San Gabriel.

In On the Road by Jack Kerouac (I can’t quite seem to forgive myself, even now, for being so predictably enraptured by this moody novel in my adolescence), “It” becomes the name of an otherwise indescribable feeling that occurs through the communion of human souls. The novel gives the example of an alto saxophonist, wild and sweating, improvising a solo performance for an equally wild and sweaty crowd. The ecstasy of the scene is palpable, and touching despite the chaos; saxophone rips through the air with wordless messages, crowd responds with the suspended attention of devotees. Saxophone blows notes full of melancholy, irony, triumph — mostly importantly, of truth; crowd understands and feels it too. It’s as if an unspoken contract has been made throughout the audience, not only to receive the musician’s performance, but to experience it all with him, like a priest absolving the sins of a confessor by cracking the words open and dashing them upon the congregation (Is that how it works? I’m Jewish). In that moment, the saxophonist was feeling “It.” Sal Paradise and Dean Moriarty held “It” in their hands. “It” was rife and rampant in the small jazz club in a profundity that no one had the words to speak about.

Next, I’ll give my own example of this phenomenon, a personal experience which led me to identify with the scene in On the Road in the first place. I started playing guitar in an improv bluegrass group in my home town of Plano (read: Plain Ol’), Texas when I was twelve years old, my mother’s commitment to expand my horizons never showing much discrimination as long as I was becoming “cultured.” As a result, I got to take part in one of the most earnest, joyful musical environments I’ve ever come across. The magic was in the generous way each musician offered up the stage to allow each other to perform. No addition to a song was refused or belittled; only accepted as part of a growing narrative that we wrote together every Thursday night at the Anderson Guitar Gallery. The ages in the group spanned from WWII to the War on Terror, backgrounds diverse as you might find in a subway in Manhattan, and although we managed to speak hardly any words to each other in the way of who we were out in the real world, it really didn’t matter. We spoke and listened with (often) seamless transitions when the guitars were chugging and the fiddle spun on through. These early experiences gave me my first intimations of what “It” would look like if I ever found it: a glimmer in the eyes of the beholders, acceptance that the best contribution to art is sometimes to provide an ear for it.

As an aside, I’ll mention a touching memory still sugared o’er by the mawkish sentimentality of a teenage girl: When one of the bluegrass players, one of the best of us in all directions, died unexpectedly the summer I was fifteen, the rest of the band avoided the solemnity of the funeral by gathering in his front yard with beer and acoustic instruments. Still, we never spoke a word about our loss, but passed our sorrow like a tennis ball between guitars and mandolins.

Following these illustrations, I can only conclude by saying simply that I believe Flipside has “It.” Flipside is a lighthouse beckoning those hungry souls to shore who wander because they feel with an intensity that cannot be bound up by words and are dissatisfied with the trappings of the 21st century. It is a home for the tribless, a provider of the invaluable opportunity to shut up and listen; a performance space big enough for anyone who has something to say. We often go through life like actors playing at different iterations of the same character, the same pitfalls of the human condition threatening us all, though we only acknowledge these connections in the rare moments when simultaneously stricken by the same understanding. Art can do this. An art community does this even better. And Flipside has it all.


It’s Thursday afternoon and I’m carrying a beer and walking down a gravel pathway. I’ve made it; all of the the planning is complete. Lists that were painstakingly created several years ago, recycled, and then modified annually since have been checked and rechecked. I’ve retrieved camping supplies from their hibernated space, inspected them for damage, and then replenished the supply with additional provisions. Food has been acquired, enough to sustain myself through the 4 day weekend, but also enough for contributions to our camp’s group meals. And, of course, water: enough for a couple gallons per day, and a little more for those who forgot or end up short. All the preparations are complete. I’m here, home, and unpacked. The camp is mostly erect and it’s time to relax a little. Which brings me here again, walking down the main street in the City that is FlipSide.

It’s 3’oclock in the afternoon and a very exciting time. Because it is the first day, most of the camps are like ours, in a state of construction, nurtured by sweaty, smiling, hugging, Flipizens urging them to maturity before they lose sunlight. Rounding a bend, I see a camper pulling a cart full of metal pipes and springs. She is also dragging what looks to be a tarp. I am curious, so I decide to introduce myself and offer a hand. I find out that ‘Staci’ is in charge of assembling her camp’s trampoline. My offer is accepted with a smile, a hug, and an exchange of both our camps’ names.

What we have to work with is a mass of galvanized pipe, a few different connector pieces, 6-8″ steel springs, and the tarp which forms the jumping surface. As Staci removes the pieces from the cart and sorts them into different piles on the ground, she explains that she has all of the parts for making two different trampolines. Except for the tarp. She only has one tarp and it is for the smaller of the two trampolines.

We began by partially assembling both sets of tubes and assessing which group would end up forming a smaller diameter circle (and thus the one that will fit the only tarp that she has). After we both agree on which group of tubes / connectors was correct, we assembled the oversized metal tinkertoys into what was easily recognizable as the frame for a trampoline. We completed this task relatively quickly as I finished my beer, am offered another, and we shared stories of past burns.

The next task was not so easy. We rolled out the tarp, and then started attaching the springs (connecting the tarp to the metal hoop of the frame). Assembling was fairly easy, one side of the spring must first be linked through the tarp, then the other side hooked into the metal framework. Slow and steady we worked around the circle. Staci assured me that even though it didn’t always look right when you started, as springs were added, everything would take shape. We counted, and there were 96 springs. When we were a little over halfway around the circle, I queried again about the fit of the tarp, Staci agreed that the tarp wasn’t tight enough. Yes, the tarp we had must be for the bigger of the two trampolines she had. Oops. So we reversed all of our steps, completely disassembling a 75% (incorrectly) constructed trampoline.

Staci felt terrible about not having the correct information on which parts we were supposed to be using. Another beer was offered and gratefully accepted. The first set of tubes was set to the side and we quickly made all the connections with the second set of pipes forming the large frame. Staci opened up the second set of springs and handed them to me as I first looped them into the tarp and then hooked them to the frame. This time everything was significantly more snug. The tarp was pulling nice and taut by the time we were one quarter of a way around the circle. After this point, each additional spring took considerable effort to hook into the metal frame. As we stretched the springs they rubbed against our hands, I could tell bruising and some blisters would be the result. After another dozen springs were stretched into position, the amount of effort required for each additional spring increased exponentially. We halted assembly so we could step back and reevaluate. It was clear that the tarp was not fitting correctly. I said it seemed like the tarp fit better in the original frame. Staci agreed, but there was no doubt that it hadn’t been tight enough. Ohhh, BUT, this second set of springs we were now installing were both shorter and tighter. It was painfully obvious, the tarp was for a smaller trampoline, the first frame that we had assembled and disassembled, we had just initially been using the wrong springs! So, again we took everything apart. Fortunately we had installed less than half of the springs. Unfortunately, the first dozen springs we had to remove were just as tight coming out as they were going in. I looked at my fingers and had blisters forming in several places.

The third time was the charm. Before we began, Staci excused herself to her tent and then reappeared with a set of gloves and grabbed another beer to hand to me. Not amazingly, the correct combination of frame pieces, springs, and tarp (not to mention hand protection and considerable experience) was key to straightforward assembly. After 3+ hours, a few beers, and extended cursing and laughing we were finally done.

What am I looking for at FlipSide? I like volunteering my time and meeting new people. Sometimes as a formal volunteer – i.e. Shaven Apes, Greeter, or Safety Patrol – and sometimes in a completely informal ‘lending a hand’ fashion. Staci and I crossed paths several more times that year. Each time with a hug, a kiss, and a laugh.

By Braden O’Guinn

  1. Make Stuff
  2. Build Weird Community
  3. See cool art

I haven’t been to Flipside before. And as someone who has loved other strange gatherings like the Oregon Country Fair, Bolivian Samhain, and Art Outside, I hope to find all kinds of opportunities to connect. I want to make weird things collaboratively, I want to build a better sense of counter-culture community through friends new and old, and I want to be open to new experiences and ideas that I might not otherwise take the time to consider.

Flipside is an excellent opportunity to make weird things. Very few places on Earth actively encourage you to make and collaborate creatively. I want to set up a tent full of paper and art supplies and invite people to make something to keep or tear up. I want to bring lights to attach to bicycles and people and the occasional tree. Many gatherings ask you to bring yourself and your wallet, that purchasing your way into the space guarantees that you belong, and you are guaranteed to be entertained as long as you act solely as the consumer. Burns ask instead that you give back, that your experience is only enriched in so far as you actively work to bring about that special character to the event.

And because Flipside asks that every participant gives back and is an active maker of the experience, not a recipient, it’s in their best interest to plan for the experience. I am most excited about getting together to plan the gifts and art that make flipside so memorable.

It’s way too easy to get caught in the perpetual motion machine of life and find yourself at certainly splendid places, but nonetheless, the same. I’m looking forward to going to Flipside and actively meeting people with different worldviews, different patterns of living that I do not regularly expose myself to. For all the talk of liberalism and tolerance, I can’t tell you the last time I spoke with someone and found their opinion truly shocking, I want to be shocked! I want to meet someone who truly believes and lives in a way that is foreign to me, I want to really listen to them, and engage them with the intention of learning and growing and building respect for them, taking the time to accept their worldview.

I also want to push my own ability to make art for art’s sake. I have this vision of creating some spaces that encourage active physical activity, whether it’s balance boards, a rope walk, a jungle gym, a kiddy pool, something that encourages people to

engage in silly play, like they so gleefully did as children! That is my ultimate goal, to create these spaces and share them with the people around me. I hope to be inspired by the interactive creations of other people so that I can further my own ambitions!

Flipside is for me a chance to stretch the boundaries of my life. I want to meet people I never would, make new friends, become more tolerant, and push myself to create more art and whimsical fun, not just in festivals, but to engender it in my daily life. That’s what I’m excited about.

And here’s the best gif on the internet.

By Reese

I remember telling my friend Kevin about my first burn in 2012. I had no idea what I was getting into except a 36 hour drive from Indiana to spend 7 days with complete strangers. The magnitude of the city didn’t hit until my first night out on the esplanade. The sheer enormity of structures, the sound, the vastness of the playa, and the quality of the people turned the moment into some sort of sacred magic. That first night my heart and brain burst into a million stars and imploded back in through my eyes. I knew then, as I know now, I’d be burning for as long as I’m able.

As I was telling this to my friend, I could see the wanderlust in his eyes. And on my third trip to BRC, I brought him. As suspected, he was a fish to water. We had been to a few midwest regionals to give him a feel for the community and our small camp. Our camp, Skrambles, sets up a cuddle dome, a neighborhood block party and open bar. Some of the most meaningful relationships I have today came from this camp of strangers. I know Kevin would say the same.

Last year Kevin moved to Houston. Skrambles missed him dearly. He struggled making friends in the new city and had a death in the family last autumn. I got a job as a traveling nurse and decided to make Houston my first three-month stop, for the weather and to see my friend. Fortunately, that very same week Kevin met some fellow burners in a bar by happenstance. Of course, they became instant friends who convinced him to go to Flipside within a few minutes. Kevin didn’t want to go by himself. I didn’t know I’d be living in Texas. So we were both missed the boat on ticket sales and we both desperately need a burn.

As this would be my first Flipside, I have to be honest in saying I’m not sure what to expect and I like it that way. One of the most important lessons I’ve learned from the eight burns under my belt is that I can’t go in to the burn with expectations. Having an open mind never fails me in my human experience. That being said, sometimes I can’t hold back on hopes and dreams. I suppose what I’m looking forward to is how new this experience would be for me. New people, new surroundings, new burn, that is the kind of environment I thrive in. Given the opportunity, I hope to participate in as much of the ‘new’ as I can.

The other reason this burn would be so meaningful to me is the fact that I get to burn again with Kevin. Clearly, the other ticket would go to him. There is a strong possibility that neither of us will be able to make it to BRC this year, a fact that is soul crushing to the both of us. Not only may this be the only 2015 burn opportunity, but Flipside is the second to last week of my contract, so I could leave Texas with a bang! I’ve had so much fun here already, but it would be the icing on the cake if I got to spend that time doing what makes me happiest.

By Lisa Torres

I was raised as a Jehovah’s Witness and, as a result, I was terrified of crowds; until last year, anyway.

I had it drilled into my head all throughout my childhood that “worldly people” were awful, were something to be feared. As a result, when I permanently broke free of the Watchtower Organization at the age of 18, my life became extremely difficult. I was distrustful, angry, extremely independent, and constantly afraid. Always afraid.

Things got easier as I got older, but I always had one problem which I couldn’t seem to solve, and that was my paranoia around large crowds. Freezerburn and Myschievia are great, and they helped a little, but they weren’t nearly busy or loud enough. As a result, I felt stagnant. Then I made a split second decision to request a ticket for Flipside 2014 and I promised myself that if I got a ticket and was prepared in time, I would go no matter what.

Oops. I got the ticket. Cue running around like a possessed woman 12 hours before departure so I’d have everything I needed.

When I made it onto the grounds and stood at the gate with a couple friends, I almost ran. My heart was pounding so fast that I thought I would faint… Getting past the greeter station wasn’t much easier. Then a random sweaty stinky dude hugged me until I couldn’t breathe and, without thinking, I hugged him right back and started crying. I knew something big was about to happen to me, and I was absolutely terrified.

Once I had arrived at my campsite at the far edge of The Badlands, I was able to get set up in a matter of minutes. I grabbed my backpack full of supplies, picked a direction, and just started running. My intention had been to keep going until I was exhausted, but that backfired when I arrived at the effigy field and was still brimming with energy.

As I stood there catching my breath in the middle of the field, I realized something. I had passed hundreds of people, and not a single one of them had tried to stop me. No one got in my way. No one had tried to harm me. I became overwhelmed and sat down right there in the grass. All I could really do at this point was stare ahead, until I heard someone asking if I was alright. I looked up and there was a woman gazing down at me with worry in her eyes. I stammered that I was scared to move, and she got right down there with me and gave me the warmest hug I received in years.

I was able to stand after awhile, and once she’d helped me get my balance, she said the three words I’ve carried with me ever since.

“You’ve got this.”

I thought “What the hell. One more pass couldn’t hurt.” So I started sprinting back to my tent and within seconds, I was lost.

I didn’t make it back to home base for almost 36 hours, and it was the best 36 hours of my life. I laughed, I ran, I danced, I drank way too much, I ate far too little, and it was all worth it. I felt two decades of pain and indoctrination lift from my shoulders during that first day and a half, and I couldn’t stop smiling. For the first time in years, I felt completely free.

This is part of the reason I want to get back to Flipside. Something about this burn in particular really got to me, and I want to play an active role in keeping it going. I want to help build things (volunteering as a Shaven Ape this year). I want to be there to reach out to others who look like they are where I used to be. I want to be with folks who understand how difficult it can be to let go, and how wonderful it feels when letting go is achieved.

Oh, and that woman from the field? The next time I saw her, she was nearly nude and was dancing in the middle of the road a couple camps down from Mojo Dojo. She reached out, grabbed my hand, and we spun around in circles until we got dizzy.

I want to come back so I can offer my gratitude. I want to thank the event, the people who make it happen, and hopefully this strange and beautiful woman who helped set me on my current path.


My name is AP and I have not been to a flipside event. I want to go to Flipside to get the experience of feeling free and a better connection with nature. Flipside to me shows a community coming together to show each individual they are accepted no matter whom they are and who they can be. I hear from my friends what a great experience it is to be able to be around a large group of people and yet feel as if you are one of their own. I am not familiar with the different aspects of the CMA events; however I have a great mentor that has shown me some of the basics and is guiding me in the right direction. When it comes to learning about something new I am one that wants to be in the action of the experience and have hands on trail. Going to Flipside would be beneficial to me in being able to show me what CMA events are like as well as showing a different side to what a great community can provide with just one random act of kindness at a time.

As someone who is beginning to get more in touch with their personal beliefs and expressions it is events like this that I would like to attend so that I can express my true self and not feel judged in any way just for being me. After the last few months, I have been down a road that is dark and not knowing where it is going can be a little scary. We have just recently lost a child at birth and have been going through some rough times. While speaking with our friends that have attended Flipside, I got the feeling that even though I would not be able to completely let go of my child but I would be able to come to peace with some of the rough areas that I have been experiencing. The experiences that they have expressed to me about coming to peace with the inner fight that is occurring everyday has gotten my attention in wanting to have these types of experiences and be able to come to peace with these fights. I want to be able to show my expressions and emotions outside of my body and not holding them in. With all the different types of energy that Flipside brings for someone I want to have that experience. I want to be able to look at the effigy and know that a part of me has gone up with the flames and will be put out but not forgotten. I want my eyes and heart to be opened up to a more peaceful way of looking at life and to know that I am not the only one that might be going through a rough time. I want the experience and knowledge of what else is out there in life than just the normal day to day routine. It can be disheartening to be around so much negativity and stress that it takes its toll on someone. Flipside is an experience that I know would help with those times and help me grow as a better person with finding a new way to look at life.


The broad reason I’m interested in going to Burning Flipside this year because I hope that it will be a positive experience and will help fuel my creativity and develop my personality. Additionally I want to ease into the burner scene and perhaps make some friends for when I go to Burning Man.

Last year I went to Art Outside at Apache Pass and absolutely loved it. I had been working at a technology startup and unfortunately startups tend to require an unhealthy lifestyle that had been tiring me and reducing my life satisfaction. But something about that festival brought me out of that funk and I felt more actualized as a person afterwards. The atmosphere was amazing and reminded me of my Rudolf Steiner education which put emphases on my personal development. I felt like I was home and these were my people. I hope that Flipside will attract the same crowd.

Growing up I have had a lot of community around me that I took for granted until I moved to Texas. I lived in community living arrangement that was a little village with no cars. Everyone worked a huge garden and every night a big dinner was cooked for and by the community. The village still exists and is called Eco Village in Ithaca NY. I really appreciate that time in my life due to closeness to all the people around me. Hanging out with friends was as easy as walking next door and seeing if they were done with their homework yet. I enjoy camping festivals for the same proximity to my neighbors and ease of making friends. Additionally at festivals there is an interesting juxtaposition where people are kind and want to help their neighbor but have very little to offer. Self reliance seems to make people more willing to help those in need. I think that being self reliant actualizes something in our brains and makes us more able to have a positive impact in a community.

One of my favorite things to do in Austin is paint at the Hope Outdoor Gallery. I go to express myself. I wear my painting outfit and I set up a space with music. I organize my paint cans and paint the little doodles I draw at work or the pieces I’ve been dreaming of and thinking through. I especially like painting there on the weekends because when I’m in my groove sometimes I feel I am putting a performance on for other people who come and take pictures of the art and me. My most popular piece was one where I noticed that people were taking pictures of themselves in the empty windows of the foundations so I painted a frame on the windows. One of my friends posted a picture the next week in that very window with my piece surrounding them without knowing that I had done it! Since then I have been thinking a lot about ‘experience spaces’ and how I can contribute to the next Art Outside/Burning Man. I think that crafting a space to give a good experience is something that I am interested in exploring and depending upon availability I am interested in doing a space at Flipside with some friends.

I believe I am a good fit for Flipside. I want to explore the spaces, enjoy the community, contribute, express myself artistically, build new ideas, find interesting people and talk to them. Additionally I want some experience with self reliance and learn how to make the most of these temporary communities.

By Ken Meyers

I grew up in a cult–the bad kind, not the fun kind–and one of the effects is that I was primed to look for God and fate everywhere.

As a (weird) kid, would take stock of my irregular passions and competencies and look for the divine reasons. Everything was a portent. If I had been born with twelve fingers I’d have settled the matter in my mind that I was to be a piano player. I was born with only ten.

I did find myself attracted (ATTRACTED!) to Taoism and libertarianism and revolutionary Spain and swingers and Philip K. Dick. I tried to read the stones, but came up short. “Maybe I’m supposed to be a missionary to Spain and reawaken Christian mysticism and . . . Fuck, I don’t know.”

Later on, when objective truth burned down all my castles, I resigned myself to having just been born a meaningless scatter of passions. It was the hardest come-down of my life to think that things didn’t happen for a reason, and there wasn’t some supernatural tapestry that linked my loves for Mozart and potato salad.

Then I found Hakim Bey. It seemed like spooky fate machine was still churning. Well, ok, I don’t believe in destiny, but maybe our unconscious minds are all conspiring in tandem enough to give us a pretty fair approximate.

Hakim Bey was influenced by the Taoists, and saw himself as passing on their torch. Story goes, there’s this thing, this unshackled human experience thing, that exists over and over just to be destroyed again, but people keep picking up the torch, and the memetic slave machine has yet to totally squelch it. (“Here we are, crawling the cracks between church, state, school and factory” / “If I were to kiss you now they’d call it an act of terrorism.”) He called it a “Temporary Autonomous Zone.”

I came to find out that some ass-hat set about to make a T.A.Z. and he called it Burning Man. Whether or not the Orwellian fable has run its course with the Nevada Regional is a matter of debate and each person’s to decide, but certainly the torch has been passed. I went to Myscheivia last year and got my taste. Welcome home.

Civilization is a disease, “man is born free and yet everywhere he is in chains”, and yet there we were. The steel mill sky still alive, brother yet lining up with brother.

I want to go back. This is what I think:

I think that civilization and all its strictures win because what spreads wins. I think it doesn’t make us happy. I think “the deeper rituals of our bones” still call out to us. Freedom, reciprocity, the song, the dance, the time given to thinking things over. I think that some inkling of this is alive in the burns. And when it dies, who knows, maybe some Chinese ex-burner writes a book, and things transform and persist, but never die. Onward. “Yonder!”

I want my lawn chair at this solar eclipse, this Betelgeuse nova. There’s something fantastic happening at the burns, and if my life had a meaning, it would probably have something to do with all of this. I want to get involved. I want to start volunteering at sanctuary. Christ I’d be good at that. And so I’ve written to you.

May my letter find you well, and with luck, may I find you too. I’ll have cigarettes and salmon to share, and my eyes will be open.

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