MIDBURN ‘Israeli Burning Man’

24 Hours at Midburn

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Wake up to the thumping of some never-ending psy-trance set nearby that no pair of earplugs can escape. Dodge unfamiliar bodies that have decided to co-occupy your camp’s air conditioned yurt for the night. One of the advantages of living with Kibbutz kids; they can casually build a yurt(along with the rest of your camp).

Emerge into the day and try and figure out what time it is. Dust coats every inch of your body turning your sweat into little streams of mud running down your back. Try and change into clean clothes but resistance is futile. The dust will always win; better to embrace it and accept that a dust banana is the breakfast you deserve.

Despite the sweltering heat rendering you nearly immobile, you emerge from your tiny campsite at 1:00 on the  Midburn geographic clock.
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Your outfit is function first and fashion heavy. Priority one is always survival and to that end you rely on your face mask, and goggles or glasses. Still, the surrealist couture is fundamental and radical self-expression is the name of the game.

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A man passes wearing a 20 ft set of wings that flutter up and down as he walks. A girl follows in only body paint and a faintly pulsing pair of light-up rabbit ears.

Even though it is day 3, you still have trouble internalizing the effort that the bigger camps have gone through to build their temporary homes and the never-ending supply of accompanying art. A two story building full of hammocks with a slide from the top.

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A full bar and cafe complete with billiards and old arcade games.

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You wander into the first camp that has an untz untz untz vibe that intrigues you. ‘Malla-beats’ (named after popular Israeli dessert Malabi), and are greeted by a cleopatra-esque dancer with a mist fan which brings your first feeling of life for the day. Dance mindlessly to a weirdly funky trance beat that only Israel can make cool in 2018. Stroll to bar and present your cup for a shot of Arak. No money is to be exchanged; instead you give a lollipop in thanks. Later a host offers you a slice of watermelon, lunch for the day, food has no meaning past baseline survival here.

Continue to wander. The only time you know for sure is that it is still pre-sunset. You find yourself in a room full of giant teddy bears and lay down to relax. You are tired and having finally understood the concept of radical inclusion feel no misgivings about sleeping here for the next three hours.

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Wake up to a phone call and agree to meet a friend at Camp Bereshit for a drink and further dancing. This camp is themed after the first book of Genesis and every day is dedicated to a different aspect of creation.

The late afternoon dust storm is picking up. You stagger back to your camp to hydrate and try and escape the attack. The camp is all there lounging about, some just waking up, some heading to sleep. You relax.

As the sun starts to set the people begin to emerge out of the woodwork on the playa (center area of the clock) like post-hibernation animals. As the desert cools off , the dust starts to look and feel beautiful.

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The heaviness of the day starts to fade and you head to the pirate shit for the sunset set. The jubiliation in the air is infectious and even the most stoic Israelis are laughing and grooving as darkness starts to take over. This is the magic that is like nothing you have ever seen before.


Psy-Trance never stopped but takes on a new intensity now as the big stages start to open up.

Your ever-talented campmates have procured and oven and begin cooking pizza after pizza and calling everyone around to come join. A carnival mood sets in as everyone starts to really dress for the night. Survival no longer as pressing, the weird starts to set in. Some mix of rave, steampunk, cyberpunk and just plain weird dominates the look.

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As you look out on the playa a dizzying array of neon lights and art hits you from every direction. You see fellow burners covered in lights moving from installation to installation like little neon ants in the distance.

Your crew fully intoxicates and heads out. First to installations: A room where you can hear the secrets that people are anonymously recording into tiny microphones outside. A piano in a cone of neon tubes that lights up with each key played. An upside bowl on a pole in the air with a flame dancing across it. Some giant flowers that can be entered and sealed from within for couples or just those that want to relax. On and on and on you have never understood sensory overload until this.

A massive wooden rabbit effigy goes up in flames to the cheering of thousands of observers. The rest of the crowd is drawn over like a swarm of  moths. As each section falls the crowd lets out a collective howl. As you wander away you find yourself looking at a group of people watching some ceremony. It’s a wedding.

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You sit in a tree and watch not sure if you are meant to be there or not. Turns out you are.

Eventually the thumps become too hard to ignore and you join the throngs of dancers wandering from stage to stage. The trance music annihilates any sense of time and before you know it is light out again. You follow the migration to the ‘sunrise kingdom’ stage and continue. Eventually your body gives into the complete exhaustion you have brought upon it and you stagger back to camp. The yurt is full so you find your tent and collapse. Despite the continuous thumping, you fall asleep.

Repeat.

(I didn’t make this but am a big fan^)

Bonus: Cool article on trance culture here: http://daily.redbullmusicacademy.com/2016/09/psytrance-israel-feature

+ the only trance set I actually enjoy ever: https://soundcloud.com/gurairoy/dollyfest-4-house-set-mixed

 

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