Bay Area Parkour

Train Hard - Stay Humble

The dust has hardly settled on Burning Man 2008, but it's already time to start thinking about 2009. First off, thank all of you so much for the great comments on my Burning Man Parkour blog post. Anyone who hasn't seen it can look here:

Now that I've been back in the real world for a few weeks, I'm continually thinking about the feasibility of a parkour camp for Burning Man 2009. 2008 was my first time at Burning Man, so I'm not going to pretend that I'm an expert, especially not in organizing a real camp. However, I think that if people are interested and truly willing to commit themselves to the idea, it could work out very well.

First, a few cold, hard facts about Burning Man:
It is hot. It is dusty. It is windy. Tickets are expensive ($225 minimum if you get them very early, $300 if you wait), and depending on how you go, it can cost a lot more in transportation costs to get up there. You have to bring all of your own water. You have to bring all of your own food. Everything you bring with you will be covered in playa dust, which is very difficult to get off. It is noisy at all times of the day and night, and you will never truly escape thumping music and the sounds of other people on the playa, even if it's 4 in the morning and you're trying to sleep. You are subject to everyone else's interpretation of "radical self-expression", which means that people will be acting crazy, be on drugs, and be in various stages of nudity at various times. Here's a link to the Burning Man First-timer's guide for 2008:

If you're still reading at this point, maybe there's some hope. All of those downsides I listed up there weren't even noticeable to me, and I was there for a week. The upsides are that you will see the most amazing art you have ever seen in a mind-blowing setting. Once you are there, everything is free. You will meet some of the most interesting people, and it's perfectly acceptable to simply walk up to someone and ask them what's up. You can dance all night long, you can wander in solitude in the desert, you can ride on cars converted to be rolling art pieces that play music and serve alcohol, you can make friends with basically anyone. You can do a lot of the things you've always wanted to. You can let go completely, and it's totally fine.

Now, on to the parkour part... A parkour camp would be relatively simple. In addition to regular camping stuff (tents, sleeping bags, stoves, foldable chairs, etc.) we would need a couple of sizable shade structures and several movable and/or adjustable obstacles that we could arrange how we saw fit. I'm thinking large sawhorses like they have in gyms for vaults, rails on moveable bases, things reminiscent of picnic tables at least in length and height, and some big wooden things with holes cut out of them for people to jump through. I'm definitely open to suggestions. If anyone knows how to weld, that would definitely be a useful contribution. I have a good friend who welds, and I'm sure she'd be willing to teach me to make a few simple things like rails.

The focus of a camp like this is not only for us to show our art of movement to everyone, but also to bring them in and teach them. I can't think of a community better suited for teaching parkour than this one. We would teach the same principles of the beginner mentality, progression, and not pushing your limits that we do normally. It's just that we'd be dressed a little funny and some of the people we'd be teaching might be stoned (or otherwise). All good, you know?

The key to making a camp like this work is in early planning. It will take a serious commitment of time and effort to work out all of the logistics, so if anyone decides they want to try to do this with me, understand that you are not just along for the ride. We need help and cooperation from everyone involved to make it work. I'm certainly not asking for people to commit to anything right now because there's a whole year ahead, and a lot can change. But consider it. Also, I want to be there for the entire week, personally (Sunday until the following Monday). The longer you're there, the better in my opinion. You can come for a few days if you want, but I think you really miss out.

If enough people are interested, then we could apply to be an official theme camp, which gives us the advantage of a designated camping spot in what would probably be a more hoppin' part of the city. Otherwise, we would go as a ragtag group of traceurs and traceuses, and put down wherever we could find a spot. That's not really as much fun, because we could get stuck somewhere where no one would notice us and it'd be a long walk or ride to the really fun stuff.

I will probably post this on other sites like SFPK and PKCali to try to gauge broader interest.

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I am very, very interested
I forgot to mention in the post up there, that if you want a little taste of Burning Man, come to Decompression, the big post-BM street party in SF. It's on Sunday, October 12, details here:

It goes from noon to midnight, and maybe we could make a post-Sunday session event out of it. ... great write up, Dana!
It's always interesting to notice how much work there is behind something that looked so carefree like your Burning Man (BM) video...

I have a couple of ideas/possible solutions that I'd like to share, even if, as you rightly said "interest" is THE key factor for this endeavor, and I might add "enthusiasm" too...

Before that, though, a couple of questions and the -inevitable- disclaimer:
#1: it's my understanding that the BM is hold somewhere "civil laws" are not that strictly enforced... is it cautious to say, though, that it caters mainly to individuals who have reached the age of majority?... Exclusively?
#2: it appears that besides being there fees (which I wasn't aware of), there are rules... who is in charge of making sure things are running smoothly? What type/amount of enforcement do you think it might be used?

Now the waiver: Bay Area Parkour (BApk) support and endorses a series of parkour related gatherings, which are often facilitated through the activity of this website, nevertheless NEVER assumes any responsibility for any person’s actions while engaging in any activity, whether or not it is endorsed or organized by BApk members, as very clearly described in this section about liability.

In particular, any action described or planned in this thread is going to be only in favor of anybody (BApk member or not) interested in the specific participation to the to the 2009 edition of the "Burning Man", under his/her own responsibility.
Oh yeah, the work involved in getting there is pretty monumental. But once you're there and all set up, it's all easy. :)

In answer to your question, I do think it's fair to say that Burning Man caters largely to adults. Nothing is censored per se, and people are free to do more or less whatever they want that would not be acceptable in the real world. That said, the Burning Man people themselves actually encourage people to bring their kids, believe it or not. I saw plenty of little kids there, all the way down to 4 years old or so. There's a whole section of the city called Kidville where families are encouraged to set up camp. So, mainly caters to the age of majority: yes, but exclusively: no.

On the subject of the law, most things are not all that strictly enforced. However, the playa where BM is held is owned by the Bureau of Land Management, and there is a sizable and very prominent police force there in the form of the Black Rock Rangers. They are BLM rangers with full power to cite and arrest if need be. They keep things in line, although there aren't usually any major incidents. People are mostly self-policing because they're there to have fun, not fight with each other (outside of a Thunderdome setting). There's also a full medical staff as well (which my brother has been a part of the last two years).

And I fully agree with the disclaimer. BAPK isn't responsible for anything that happens on the playa.
...everything's kosher, then.

Now, let me gather some ideas from around the site, that can all find a place here:

Haley-"Orem" and Brian (aka "Mtn-Goat") came up with this idea about a human-sized version of a cat house or tree...

which I find brilliant.

Then there's the whole topic of the portable, demountable obstacles, for which we started a thread, and it's a little stuck, 'cause we are too busy training, with this structure being my favorite for now

More ideas will come, I'm positive, and one should be: is there a way to raise $$$ to finance all this?

My god, human size versions of those cat houses would absolutely rock.

Raising money is an interesting question. I've heard that the Burning Man people give out grants for proposals they really like, but that might only be for art installations and not theme camps. Plus it's not something I think we should bank on. Or we can find a rich matronly widow who's willing to shell out some of her inheritance a la "The Producers". Again, not a likely scenario.

Fact of the matter is that we'd have to buy and build it all ourselves and split the cost. I'm personally willing to put a decent amount of money into making all of this happen, if it looks like it will really come together. And I know that especially these days, people don't have a lot of money to throw around, so I understand if the financial commitment varies from person to person. I would just want it to be fair to everyone. If you can't contribute financially, contribute somehow else. Costumes, food, transportation, etc...
Oh boy, this is bringing back memories of drawing ridiculous halfpipe designs in junior high.

I'll throw my hat in the design/build group. I've got some woodworking skills (theater sets, sk8 obstacles, fine woodworking) and limited metalworking skills (cutting, sanding, threading okay, would like to learn to actually join things).
oh my gosh! if we really build and get to play in a giant cat house Burning Man will have realized one of my lifelong DREAMS. Thanks G for bringing that up!!!!

I am so into making this happen
Holy crap. The giant cat house would be so awesome. Seriously, do it. I'll do what I can to help if I'm available, but I'll be abroad most of the summer.
very interested. I am not sure what my attendance will be like when BM comes time. I may only be able to come for the 3 day weekend part. However any help you need with building, constructing, conceptualizing please just let me know.

I should note that I have a bit of experience with writing and if you know of any grant possibilities I can probably track them down. Love the human cat box ideas and while its been a while I have done quite a bit of theatrical construction so I am well versed in power tools and nail guns :)

just let me know the next step and I will be more then happy to take it. Not sure what my attendance will be like at BAPK events for the next few weeks, but I am really going to try hard to get out there.

i'll be fully committed to making this camp happen because well, i plan on being there and want it to be the greatest it possibly can be. i don't have any construction experience, but i can financially support getting materials and anything for the cause. just get it from me sooner than later ;P this is exciting! :)


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