Pyropolis Rangers

Burning Flipside

Burning Flipside (or Flipside) is an annual alternative arts and performance festival staged in the Texas Hill Country west of Austin. Modeled on and loosely associated with Burning Man, Flipside is one of several Regional Burns around the USA.

Burning Flipside was started in 1998 by Burning Man participants from Texas. Lasting five days during the Memorial Day weekend, it is significantly smaller than Burning Man, with 2007 tickets sold in 2007, compared to about 35,000 participants for Burning Man. Participants build a temporary city called Pyropolis; nearly all of the structures in this city are dismantled and removed at the end of the event. The main structure, the "effigy", is burned the last night, as are many other pieces of art around flipside.

Many of the core values of Burning Flipside are borrowed from Burning Man, and the same short, memorable terms are used for them, namely:

  • No Spectators. Every attendee is expected to participate in some way for the event, with a performance, art piece, other form of creative expression, or volunteering to help.
  • Radical Self-Expression. Art and gatherings at the event have few restrictions; many emphasize taboo subjects and dangerous situations.
  • Self-reliance. All participants are responsible for their own food, shelter, water, and other necessities at the event.
  • No Vending. Flipside is a non-commercial event; sales of any commodity (the one exception being ice) for cash is not allowed and may cause eviction from the event. Instead, a gift economy is used. Giving one gift in exchange for another is considered good form, but any kind of quid-pro-quo is a violation of the gift-economy rules
  • Leave No Trace. An extension of the self-reliance principle applied to outdoor living, requiring all participants to respect their environment and clean up everything they bring in. Since the event takes place on a rented campground, used by other events during the year, participants try to leave the site cleaner than they found it rather than in an identical condition.

Art Installations -- Flipside community members bring art to the event for display, including large freestanding works, fire art, and interactive pieces.

Theme camps -- groups of participants who build a structure or area for public entertainment with an underlying theme. (Example: Casineaux Camp - A camp with a Casino Theme with real gambling style games, but using donated prizes and fake coins.)

Performances -- Flipside has a number of performance spaces that are used by musicians, theatre groups, DJs, pageants, and interactive performances.

Much like the Black Rock Rangers, the Pyropolis Rangers mediate disputes and maintain security at the event; they wear a similar khaki uniform as well. Unlike Burning Man, however, the event is not regularly patrolled by law enforcement, although they arrive quickly in the event of an emergency. The Pyropolis Rangers try to be as nonintrusive to their fellow participants as their Black Rock City cousins.

Flipside has some other differences from Burning Man. Flipside's location is in a private camp area in the wooded, grassy Texas Hill Country, unlike the stark, otherworldly feeling of the flat Black Rock Desert where Burning Man is held. The Texas Hill Country features creeks, swimming holes, and tree-covered groves that make camping a more pleasant experience than the harsh high Nevada desert. Flipside is more strict about the no vending rules: the only thing sold is ice. The smaller size of the event creates a sense that one could meet everyone, as part of a temporary community that encompasses all the event participants. Almost every participant of Flipside, including the event's organizers, pay to get in regardless of how much time they put in volunteering. For the past few years, Austin Artistic Reconstruction, LLC has awarded 3 free tickets: 1 to the designer of the sticker, and 2 to the designer of the ticket.

Additionally, unlike Burning Man where the central effigy of a glowing neon man stays essentially unaltered from year to year (with alteration to its base and other design elements), the Flipside effigy changes radically with each event. For example, participants built and burned a 6-armed, cowboy hat-wearing Hanuman effigy in 2004, a rocket ship at the 2005 event, and a chalice at the 2006 event.

From 1998 through 2005, the event was held at Recreation Plantation, a private campground in Dripping Springs. Having outgrown that space, the event moved to a larger property in 2006, Flat Creek. While this new location allows for potential future growth, the land is also more primitive, lacking in amenities such as flush toilets. Showers were built by participants prior to the 2007 event. Due to the presence of large cliffs, scorpions, mountain lions, and other hazards, some burners believe that the land is more dangerous than even the Black Rock Desert.

Event history

Year Location Theme Effigy Participants Notes
1998 Recreation Plantation Straw Man 25
1999 Recreation Plantation Countdown to Armageddon HA
2000 Recreation Plantation Pyropolis The City 400
2001 Recreation Plantation Home on the Strange The Stranger
2002 Recreation Plantation Down the Rabbit Hole The Joker (House of Cards)
2003 Recreation Plantation Dreams of Chromatic Distraction The Sandman 950
2004 Recreation Plantation Glittermonkey Rodeo Hanuman 1200
2005 Recreation Plantation Innergalatic Circus Rocket 1500
2006 Flat Creek Fall from Grace Chalice 1800 First year at Flat Creek
2007 Flat Creek Symphony of Construction The Conductor 2007 (tickets sold)
2008 Flat Creek Dr Tiki's Combustible Medicine Show The Hula Girl 2345 (tickets sold)

See also

External links


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