Peter Lyons

Apogaea 2013

June 16, 2013

Last week was the Apogaea Festival, Colorado's regional Burning Man event. I spent a lot of the previous two months working on a theater/circus adaptation of the 12 Dancing Princesses fairy tale with my friend Gala. Since it has a cast of 15, it's kind of a big production. Gala also had 21 minutes worth of recorded music plus several scenes of dialog, which was a lot of material (and much too long, but that's how it went down). The festival opened on Wednesday June 5th. I slept in that morning as there was no real reason to get their early. I was looking forward to the drive and enjoying listening to music, but I realized in my constant battle to avoid filling my crappy phone's small internal storage, I had wiped my rdio data and deleted all my synced music. So my trusty MP3 CDs had to suffice. My tiny car made it through the mountains and up the dirt road to the festival.

I unpacked my gear, parked my car, and took the shuttle back to our site. I was camping with a group called The Fucking Unicorns and we had a great camp at a very central location. After I got back from parking, Jasmine and Cassie arrived shortly thereafter and we got Cassie's gigantic tent up and my hexayurt set up as well.

I wondered around a bit and ran across my friend Matthew who was giving a sound engineering 101 course, which I attended and learned a few good things. The first camp dinner took a while, but it was chicken tikka misala and was very tasty. I headed over to the opening fire ceremony and encountered my friend Dana who I had only really ever interacted with on loud dance floors at a few Fantastic Hosts and Pink Mammoth events. I was hoping she would be here though and delighted to find here right away. She was camping with the Sound Puddle crew.

At night it was foggy/misty and cold in the early part of the night but got drier and warmer as the night wore on. After opening ceremony we danced quite a while at Eruption, relaxed in a hammock under the Unicorn Playhouse, got some drinks at Just the Tip. Here we encountered Sangria and ate some chocolate cup cakes. We strolled to sound puddle and rendezvoused with the rest of the Sound Puddle camp. Back to Eruption for more dancing before separating for the evening.

I rested a bit then mustered a final burst of energy for a little stroll around the neighborhood before turning in for the night. I didn't sleep soundly but I felt really rested and happy Thursday morning nonetheless.

Thursday afternoon I played on the Unicorn Playhouse quite a bit. I went to Camp Wardrobe Malfunction where Jules found me a pair of form-fitting leopard print stretch pants and Jasmine found me a hat that said "Lions" and had a unicorn horn sewn onto it. I think I may have tried to rehearse my lines for 12 Dancing Princesses a bit. I thought about playing some saxophone on top of the Unicorn Playhouse but never got around to it. I worked the dinner shift with Jay, Deana, Liz, and Vincent which took quite a long time but was fun overall. Thursday night I think I danced a bunch at our camp and we drove the art car The Imagination Machine over to Panopolis. I think I may have also gotten on the fabric for just a hot minute Thursday night while there was a crowd dancing.

Friday most of the morning and afternoon we had periods of drizzling rain and periods of real downpours, so I huddle in my yurt until the skies cleared. Jasmine and Cassie led us through a tech/dress rehearsal for their piece Jade the Gypsy Wrangler. Gala and I practiced our swing dance routine and got some tips from Jay and Deana that we incorporated. We put together the music tent and did a hasty sound check and scrambled to get everything working. Then it was basically straight to dinner then into costume for the Circus of Illumination performance. We started things off with a circus parade around the festival to gather the crowd.

We had a good, large crowd at the beginning of the show and the first act was a big hit with Cassie performing a series of increasingly-awesome handstands on taller an taller stacks of boxes and chairs. Too Tall Tim based an awesome 3-person acro-yoga fire dragon that served as the antagonist in the Sleeping Beauty fairy tale. For most of the show I scrambled around like a madman helping Vincent run the sound system, and making sure all the performers had microphones as needed and things were otherwise working. Jasmine had added an extra emcee to the lineup who was giving long introductions to each piece which we hadn't accounted for in the already-way-too-long show. So by the time the 12 Dancing Princesses started, it was already fully dark (which was good since we had a huge set of black lights) but a lot of the audience had had their fill and moved on. Despite pretty much zero full run-through rehearsals, the act mostly came together without a hitch. Gala and I concluded the show with a brief fabric duet transitioning into swing dancing. I swung in ankle locks in the fabric out over the stage and she hopped onto the fabric, and then to come down I went on stage and pulled the fabric sideways so she could climb down onto the stage to start our little swing dance portion.

After the show I spent the next 2 or 3 hours packing up my sound gear and tearing stuff down. I danced a tiny bit at camp but then headed to bed to recharge. One night I made it to Late Night Schlong camp for a hot dog, and it may have been Friday night perhaps.

Saturday morning I worked the first parking shift, which turned out to be super easy. I spent two hours sitting in the shade with my co-volunteer Erica and we guided a total of maybe 7 cars into on-site parking. One of the cars was Piper who normally runs my camp the Fucking Unicorns, but was not expected at the festival this year since he and his wife just had their first baby less than a week prior, but he came up for one day/night and surprised us. The last hour of my shift I worked the gate, which was great mostly because I got to use a walkie talkie. After my shift I had to wait to get my shirt brought up to me since I left it down at the gate and then I went in search of food. I was hoping to get tacos at Mi Casa Hedron but ended up getting grilled cheese later at Club Cabana with some delicious mixed drink.

The Unicorns were operating a milk crate stacking game Saturday afternoon, and a I watched a bunch of that. There were some aerial/acro workshops as well and I helped some folks learn the Russian Climb and some basic fabric techniques. Saturday after dinner it was off to the main effigy burn where I hooked up with the Sound Puddle group for the event I call the "excruciatingly long delay" after dark before any fire performances start, then a way-too-long fire performance before the burn of the effigy itself.

After the burn we cuddle in the giggle dome a while, walked past the unicorn camp, briefly visited decamp, and then spent a while cuddling in a little dome we found nicely decorated with 1920s furniture and lamps.

Sunday all day was packing up. I got started on the stage pretty early and many hands got the stage, music tent, and gear tent packed up and into Jasmine's hand fairly easily, although it took the bulk of the day. I helped with some other unicorn camp stuff a bit before eventually heading to get my car at parking around 4pm, running my hexayurt over to Camp Wardrobe Malfunktion because Jules said she could transport it back to Boulder for me in their truck, packing up my personal stuff, and heading out.

Overall I had a blast and I'm looking forward to next year.