Looking Back and Into the Future | KB11 Twisted Reality

Nov 22, 2021 | Kiwiburn

Blog Post by Lumos

In 2011, Twisted Reality was the Kiwiburn theme, and, well, it was certainly a year full of changes. Up to this point, Kiwiburn had been a three-night gathering, finishing at midday on the Monday of Auckland Anniversary. However, this year we had decided to start earlier. A five-night gathering gave some of the crew the chance to actually have time off to play, while only requiring one extra servicing of the port-a-loos.

Photo: “Cows with Guns” Effigy, Pete Lumos

The lead-up to the event was moist. Two weekends in a row, we got a cyclone through the site, everybody and everything was moist and running behind schedule. Then, the sun came out and we were blessed by the gods.

Photo: Everything was moist, Pete Lumos.
Photo: 2011 Kiwiburn Effigy, Pete Lumos

For a second year running, Burning Man had been kind enough to send us one of their designer/builders, Otto Von Danger, to teach us some additional Effigy building techniques. In building his Effigy, “Cows with Guns” (also the name of a great song that some of you younger ones may not have heard of), we learned more about how to build a proper 3D creature. Rather than our usual blockman creations, we started with a skeleton, then added ribs and appendages to flesh it out. Due to the rain, the cow was built in an onsite shed and under tarps. When ready, the community picked up this nine-metre structure and carefully carried it to the Burn site where the crane could take over. This was a wonderful community activity.

Photo: “Cows with Guns” procession, Pete Lumos.

Twisted Reality saw a participant increase of 17% to bring the total population to 530. This was one of our smallest growths ever, probably due to the moist issues in the lead-up to the event, and, yes, I love the word moist.

Photo: A couple of participants carving, Pete Lumos.

A local Burner ran a carving workshop early on and some of the participants picked up a chisel and put some love into the wood to help create a tomokanga (carved gateway) for their camp, which symbolises a spiritual portal from one realm to another, from the dark (the outside world) into the light (the world of the living). 

Photo: Finished carved entrance way, Pete Lumos.

Back then, the Black Sheep Rangers were known as the Back Sheep Wranglers. Black sheep don’t just follow the flock, we are the leaders (and we felt Wranglers were friendlier sounding than Rangers). The previous year, we were run ragged by the local gang boys jumping the fence and causing problems. As a result, I was the only Wrangler who returned. Nobody else wanted the job and ExCom decided that, if we had a second pair of security guards operating inside the event, we could likely survive without Wranglers and so it was (until we moved site several years later). For the Burn perimeter, I simply rounded up a few friends and all three Burns happened safely.

This year, we moved away from the hippy job title of “MUDFOP” (Mug Under Pressure, Finger On Pulse), and we became responsible “Site Managers,” complete with Hi-Viz jackets and a bike to get around on. I remember one Sunday, I was doing a twelve-hour shift (7am to 7pm), my first job was to go over to a massive sound system that was still blasting away (with nobody but the DJ) and push to volume way down. Locals from twenty kilometres away were noticing us, and not in a good way!

Photo: Scaffold camp structure with elevated DJ booth, Pete Lumos.

For the first time, the Temple Burn was held on its own, on Sunday night, and it was truly a memorable burn for many reasons (not least of which was an impromptu Karakia which was from Kaina (Shack Attack). The silence in the air around the Temple Burn was poignant and, to have it broken by an amazing Māori prayer, was truly spiritually uplifting. Splitting the wild party energy of Saturday night and the Naked Hippy Fire run with the quiet release of the Sunday night Temple Burn and all its healing energy was the way forward.

The daytime “lake scene” was really hopping for kids of all sizes, for cooling off purposes, but also because of the reinstatement of the Pirate Ship. After the original one was stolen from its hiding place on the site, we had negotiated a better place to store it and the pirates were once again afloat.

Art occurred in many sizes and many smaller things often appeared without funding and, sometimes, without planning. Many thanks to the participants who went through the scrap wood pile and added some subtle humorous comments before fixing them to fenceposts around the paddocks, Feather and her never-ending Treasure Chest that I came across down by the beach one day, and all the other magic that we filled this Burner home with.  

Photo: Renegade art, Pete Lumos.
Photo: Tiny art projects found, Pete Lumos.

At the end of the event, each Team Leader and member of ExCom wrote up a report of how things went for their area of oversight. This included positive, constructive feedback, and suggested things that could be improved on. The Afterburn Report is a Burning Man requirement to be recognised as an Official Regional Burn, is produced each year, and is a very handy document in many ways. In fact, I have used chunks of it to help remind me of some of what happened in 2011 for this blog post. You can read it for yourself here.

In the year of Twisted Reality, I was Greeter’s Manager, a Site Manager, Wrangler Lead, Pirate Ship Captain, and a Burning Man Regional contact. My efforts were not unique, some worked much harder. As you read the Afterburn Reports, you might notice that no one ever complains about too many Volunteers wanting to help. It is a constant battle to find enough hard-working souls to make Kiwiburn happen year after year. Most of us wear too many hats and, therefore, burnout is all too real. We’ve traveled far since the Twisted Reality that we shared in 2011. How will you participate in the future of the Burn?

Check out these open Kiwiburn Volunteer opportunities.

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