Last week, we submitted our theme camp placement application for Burning Man, and if we get approved, we should get a nice location for better traffic and attendance. Our program is quite extensive, so we hope our guests and we ourselves will have a fun and productive experience at the Gymnasium camp. If you are going to Burning Man this year and would like to participate in any way, please e-mail us or leave a comment here! New members are also welcome! Here are some excerpts from our application (with illustrations of our inspirations as well).
The layout of our camp is very simple, as our main focus is organizing interactive events rather than creating mind-boggling constructions. We will have a square shade structure with open space in the middle – our gymnasium’s “palaestra”, where most of activity will happen. The entrance will be adorned with columns, while the internal court of palestra will feature a couple of [artificial] trees typical to Greek landscape such as cypress and olive. The perimeter of the camp will be used a track for our races.
Unfortunately, we’ve ditched our idea with serving food and drinks to our participants so far, as this would require additional applications to state authorities, which might be too much for the first year while not really crucial for our theme.
But we shall certainly have several athletic activities, as we shall revive a few events from the authentic Olympic games with some modifications.
Greek-style wrestling, and as a variation, oil wrestling; we shall provide olive oil to participants; on the one hand, oil will make wrestling more slippery = difficult and fun at the same time, but on the other, we think participants will appreciate its soothing effect on their skin, being in the harsh arid environment.
We had do think how go around prohibition of animals at Burning Man for our “equestrian” events…
The solution is simple, our participants will play the roles of both riders and horses:
piggy-back and barrel-run races (possibly relay races, depending on the number of participants) will be our equivalent of equestrian events. We would like to hold these two during the Burning Man’s edition of the World Naked Bike Ride aka Naked Pub Crawl. We may offer participants to cover themselves in olive oil for these events as well, as a symbolic act for filling a car tank, to remind that the World Naked Bike Ride is a demonstration for oil-independency and for alternative energy sources and body-powered transportation (not to mention that the slippery aspect will make it more fun as well).
A frisbee throw will be our equivalent of discus competition (this is one of the reasons why we would like our camp to be at the esplanade); we could have one frisbee event during day and another during night with LED-lit frisbee discs.
For athletic training, we would like to provide workshops on wrestling, yoga, acro-yoga, street-style dances (hip-hop, house, break etc.) and capoeira. Capoeira is an Afro-Brazilian martial art disguised as a dance and usually accompanied by music. In this aspect, it is similar to the way Ancient Greek athletes often trained, accompanied by live musicians.
As for the artistic aspect of our theme, we plan to hold a poetry slam. In ancient Greece, literary events were an indispensable part of athletic festivals, including the Olympics. Also, champion athletes commissioned great poets to compose their victory odes, so we would like to combine one of our athletic events with a poetry competition and make the losers compose odes to the winners.
Similarly, to make our events even more interactive, we could introduce bets among contestants or their supporters: e.g. “If you win, I’ll give you a foot rub every night for three nights”.
Our camp has two certified and even more amateur masseurs, so we would like to provide massages to the winners and most active participants of our events.
To add another aspect of Ancient Greek culture – mythology and drama – we will reenact some famous duels between mythological figures.
For the philosophical aspect of our theme, we plan to hold discussions on various topics, and at the same time experiment with different forms of discussion: symposia, Socratic dialogues, debates, autobiographical explorations of themes related to the body. Our topics will include:
– body image and body acceptance across cultures and history; their roles in naturism, and what naturism may teach the rest of society about body acceptance;
– body modification (e.g. cosmetic surgery, piercing, tattoos, scarring, the practice of circumcision);
– the place of god(s) and humans in our modern worldview and in Ancient Greece;
– the concept of gymnasium, as training for the body and mind in equal measure; mind/body relationship; mediations of the body and athleticism of the mind.
Let us know what you think, and if you cannot participate directly but have an idea related to our theme, just comment here.