fes­Ti­vaL fiT

Three fes­ti­vals ev­ery week for a year. Mark Gra­ham joins the Burn­ers in Tul­lam­ore

The Irish Times - Friday - The Ticket - - FUN & GAMES - ayearoffes­ti­valsinire­land.com

Burn­ing Man is one of the most ex­treme and iconic fes­ti­vals in the world. Al­though a holy grail for he­do­nists, at its core it’s more than just a ses­sion. Burn­ers aren’t into the fes­ti­val buzz just to get out of their bins; theirs is a community com­plete with guid­ing prin­ci­ples and be­liefs. Rad­i­cal self-ex­pres­sion takes shape through all those at­tend­ing be­com­ing per­form­ers, col­lab­o­rat­ing and con­tribut­ing to the over­all event. There are no spec­ta­tors.

One of the key el­e­ments of Burn­ing Man is the lack of com­mer­cial spon­sor­ship and ad­ver­tis­ing, barter and com­mu­nal liv­ing is prefer­able to cash chang­ing hands.

For a lit­tle while in Black Rock Desert Ne­vada, a brave new fes­ti­val world is born, in­hab­ited by mon­sters, fire-breathers, stilt walk­ers, cabaret acts, min­strels and mis­fits.

Try to imag­ine Gal­way with Dr. Seuss as town plan­ner and one year of com­pul­sory Mac­nas ser­vice for all cit­i­zens. Now mul­ti­ply that by 10 to the power of Gerry Gar­cia and you’re get­ting close to what this bash is about. A week spent in a hot hippy Hy-Brasil may sound hellish to some, but it stands out as prime Zion for de­vout of party pil­grims.

It’s un­der­stand­able that when the co­hort of cra­zies trek back to the hum­drum “de­fault world” af­ter what might just be the best ses­sion on the planet, they feel a bit bummed out. It’d be like your Aun­tie Mag­gie com­ing back from Lour­des and not hav­ing the prospect of a pray or a lit can­dle ’til the fol­low­ing year. She wouldn’t like it and nei­ther do the Burn­ers.

In coun­tries all over the world, Burn­ers have “de­com­pres­sion” gigs; the poor divils would get The Bends oth­er­wise. The events are much smaller but har­ness the same spirit, bring­ing a lit­tle Black Rock back to their home place; a small shot of Shangri-la to get them through the dark win­ter.

Prize strangers

Charleville Cas­tle in Tul­lam­ore was the venue for the Ir­ish wing of the Burn­ing Man posse to set up shop for their soiree. It was touch and go as to whether I’d be al­lowed at­tend, they don’t seek out pub­lic­ity.

When faced with a fes­ti­val that strives to steer peo­ple away from cap­i­tal­ism and also didn’t re­ally want me as a mem­ber, I ended up with a dou­ble dose of Marx­ist driven en­thu­si­asm; more Grou­cho than Karl. Thank­fully one of the tenets of Burn­ing Man is to wel­come the stranger. There were some prize strangers knock­ing around the cas­tle grounds. Mu­sic, fire, cos- tumes, art, light, and some of the friendli­est freaks you’re likely to meet this side of the Mis­sis­sippi.

Paul Daly cap­tured the mood of the event nicely with his Reuben’s Tube. This is a per­fo­rated pipe that is filled with gas and mu­sic, the gas leav­ing through the per­fo­ra­tions is lit and it be­comes a flame throw­ing graphic equal­izer. Techno, physics and fire make for a sav­age com­bi­na­tion in night-time Novem­ber woods. There was no camp­ing at this event; they weren’t plan­ning on sleep­ing.

As if Burn­ers in Of­faly weren’t enough to make a week­end rock, the spec­ta­cle at Dublin Bur­lesque Fes­ti­val was even hot­ter than the flaming wicker dude in the grounds of Charleville Cas­tle. I have a new­found and deep ap­pre­ci­a­tion of tas­sels. The ladies and gentle­men who at­tached the frilly carun­cles to their cur­va­ceous car­bun­cles had me hyp­no­tised and google-eyed.

The diver­sity and dis­trac­tion af­forded by the qual­ity of fes­ti­val­ing last week­end lead me back to the teachings of Marx – “If you're not hav­ing fun, you’re do­ing some­thing wrong!”. True that, Grou­cho.

Keep­ing that spirit rolling into this week­end, The Na­tional Cir­cus Fes­ti­val of Ire­land tum­bles into Tralee, they’ll be cack­ling in the aisles of O’Keefe’s at Clon­mel Com­edy Fes­ti­val, while in Kilkenny the sil­ver screen takes on a Euro­pean flavour at Sub­ti­tle Film Fes­ti­val.

The mous­ta­chio’d cigar chewer would be in his el­e­ment and I’ve be­come a fer­vent Marx­ist.

Safe trav­els, don’t die.



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