Midburn - the Israeli version of 'Burning Man' in Nevada - returned to the Negev desert on May 28th for its fourth consecutive year. Since I've never attended, and so can only write from hearsay, I've asked a good friend of mine - Dan Stavy - to be interviewed about his personal experience as an attendee. Dan, amongst other things, is a software engineer, world-traveller and creative type par excellence. He can't sit still, loves making arty installations, partakes in 'Biodanzer' workshops and, dreams of visiting Wrest Africa to learn how to drum! Having now attended Midburn (not for the first time, of course), he's be well-positioned to share his insights but, before he does so, let me run through a few key notions on which this festival is based.
1. It's a non-for-profit festival...whilst attendees have to pay for their tickets, once inside no money is exchanged. People must bring everything they anticipating needing for the entire experience (the festival lasts 5 days, but many people stay a week - setting up and packing up). Whether it's food and water, alcohol, tents for shade and cushions for comfort, you are responsible. Any monies made from the festival are ploughed back into the organisation. Throughout the week, people 'gift' services or products to strangers - it's a far cry from their daily, commercialised existences.
2. It's all about self-expression - with giant art installations, trance music that rocks the desert stillness for days on end, or 'hugging areas,' creativity is the name of the game. Enormous emphasis is also placed on teamwork and community spirit - whether you're camping 'freestyle' or part of a an organised camp, you're expected to contribute, voluntarily. Some festival goers have helped create the art for months beforehand, others work as paramedics, in shifts, not to mention those involved in the building of the actual camps. And this is no small operation, since In 2014, about 3,000 people participated in Midburn - this year it was around 10,000.
3. It's a place for adults to play - described by some as a 'giant, artsy playground' you'll see extraordinary things here - costumes, night displays (where everything is lit rip). You can have endless experiences here - being hugged by random attendees (they will, of course, ask your permission first), foam parties, trance raves or, as in 2016, hanging out in a camp filled with giant teddy bears. And since most attendees aren't 'teenagers' or 'slackers,' rather professionals in their 20s and 30s, with plenty of responsibility in their daily lives, this is a chance to let off steam,
There's no easy way to describe Midburn, so I've been told, but I can only imagine it as a hive of creative activity. In any event, here's a nice little video of some of the happenings at this year's festival, shot by Olegus Balzanov, to give you an idea...
Of course, if you want an opinion straight from the horses's mouth, stay turned for Dan's thoughts...coming up shortly.