I spent quite a bit of time at Bring a Cup.
Many of the camps had outdoor nightclub-ish setups (including ours, though the extent to which we were outclassed in that regard is part of the reason I didn't serve many drinks). Some featured space for object manipulators and firespinners to perform. One camp had a suspension rig set up between two trees.
A lot of people experienced things for the first time there, both because there was quite a lot to experience and because we were in a safe space surrounded by people who genuinely wanted every single person they encountered to have a good time. Some of those things were chemicals. You would be surprised by the relative lack of people freaking the fuck out because of this. And the extent to which people were ready to care for the few marginal cases.
In addition to group projects, there was quite a bit of individual art that kicked ass. To be quite honest, cataloging any significant portion of it would be beyond the reaches of my memory, but I will share with you my favorite bit of performance art of the week, courtesy of a new friend I made at the Bad Faerie camp.
In the wake of the Republican Speaker of Michigan's lower house denying speaking privileges to State Representative Lisa Brown-- a Democrat who took to the floor and give a speech that ended with "I'm very flattered to see how interested you all are in my vagina, but no means no," in response to the latest local skirmish in the Republican War on Women-- this self-described Sparkle Warhorse (a reclamation of "Sparkle Pony," which refers to someone who shows up under-prepared for survival and over-prepared for general fabulousity) decided that this could not be allowed to stand. So she suited up to proselytize about the beauty and wonder of the vagina.
After explaining to people what she was on abut, she proceeded to knight those supportive to the cause who swore an oath to uphold and defend the rights and awesomeness of vaginae everywhere. She then bestowed upon them a vaginal name. I was the first person to be so dubbed. I am now Sir Spam Purse of Camberville.
There's a reason why I've seen fit to fill three posts about this event. For four days in the woods, I was able to experience what it's like to exist in a space where there are no constraints on expressing oneself except that I not ruin the space or hamper anyone else's self-expression. Does that mean that the person who people met at Firefly, who was often wearing nothing other than underwear, a hat, a pair of black faeire wings, shoes, and stockings is the real me, and way I present myself in public is just a costume? No. Well, not exactly. We take greater advantage of freedoms we don't always have when we have them, which is why at the moment I'm typing this I'm not wearing anything at all.
Also, it's not like the limits placed on my behavior and my self-expression here in Somerville, MA are exactly smothering.
This is uh, how I dress about 80% of the time that there's a party to go to.
When I go out for a walk dressed like that in Cambridge or Somerville, most people I see on the street don't bat an eyelash, and when they do say anything about my attire the positive comments vastly outnumber the negative. Which isn't actually surprising, when you consider that if you divide the population of Somerville by profession, artists make up a plurality. Of course, it's a relatively small bubble. In Boston proper an old man once did a double-take as I walked past and exclaimed, "Holy Toledo! A he-she!"
I can't tell you how much I love the fact that I was there when an actual person actually said that..
I've been extremely happy with the place I live now, and the people around me, but spending time in an autonomous zone beyond the grasp-- if not the reach-- of the law and of societal convention threw the compromises I make every day in order to participate in civilization into sharp relief. Of course, my access to white hetero cisgendered male privilege means that I get off relatively light in this regard, but that doesn't make it appreciably less frustrating. Four days in the woods once a year isn't enough. I want real life to be this beautiful.
The problem with this, of course, is that Firefly is made up of people who consented to spend four days without (many) rules or currency. As the right to smoke a plant that grows in the goddamn ground has only recently become a majoritarian proposition, women still can't take their tops off in places where men rarely keep them on, and the populace has quietly acquiesced to the notion that being photographed with a drink in your hand can disqualify you for a job, I doubt that the glorious revolution of self-dominion is just around the corner. And, I mean, even I don't want all of the conditions of Firefly to exist everywhere, at all times.
Still, I'm not going to give up on the idea of imbuing my new hometown-- if not the rest of the world-- with some measure of what I found out there in the woods with all of those wonderful naked people.
I'll let you know when I figure out how.