Nowhere this year was yet another new experience for me. This year I was free camping so that I could spend a lot of time supporting the festival organization through volunteering.
It was a scorching hot year with temperatures hitting 38°C in the shade and in the sun… well thermometers just broke when left in the sun, so all we know is that it got over 60. As people built structures through the day, drank and partied through the night, the inevitable happened as the festival drew on – heat exhaustion. Quite a few were effected, but for most, spending a day in the shade, resting and rehydrating put them back in form again.
I took on Nomad shifts during the build on the morning (0800-1400) and party shifts (2000-0200) during the event. I also took on a so-called “hero” 12-hour shift of Malfare assist lead overnight.
I thoroughly enjoyed the Nomad shifts. Patrolling the festival grounds checking up on people, making sure that everyone was okay and ensuring the area was safe was just my cup of tea.
I must certainly be a lot more talkative than the average Nomad because before my first shift, I was told that a full circuit of the festival takes about one and a half hours. I tended to complete a circuit in about five hours. The conversations were good and some were inspired go to the training and volunteer themselves.
I was asked to volunteer for more shifts, but I refused so that I could party hard over the weekend. However, I actually enjoyed working those shifts even more than partying. It not only fulfilled my own sense of civic responsibility, but also fulfilled the Nowhere principles of Participation, Cooperation and Community.
The hero shift was far more difficult for me. Twelve hours through the night when I hadn’t had much sleep before made it difficult for me to keep my eyes open in the early hours. Still, with two on shift, I was able to catch forty winks and was fit again until after sunrise and breakfast.
I also spent a lot more time in that shift either sitting or loitering at Malfare, which was far less conducive to interacting with people. Since it’s mandatory to have someone present at Malfare, next year I’ll have to try to organize a couple of Nomads who prefer remaining stationary to hold the fort while I do the job on the foot.
In the end, that experience helped me to clear cobwebs of everyday routine out of my head and see my default life in clearer detail. Previously undecided about certain aspects, I knew after that time in the dust which decisions I should make and how I should adjust my personal routines to give me a more fulfilling life.
I really love how a burn gives me time to explore myself through radical self-expression, free from the shackles of default thinking and how I can take those discoveries to improve my default world and make it a little more like a burn.