- Posted October 2, 2012 by
California City, California
This iReport is part of an assignment:
Photo essays: Your stories in pictures
Wasteland Weekend: The end of the world... temporarily
California City, CA
Out past the lazily spinning windfarms and what was to be the nation’s first spaceport in the Mojave high desert, Armageddon has come and gone. The survivors gather, for protection, pooling resources and erecting a fortress of rusted metal and derelict tires. Drawn by an unseen call, more survivors emerge from the dust. They arrive in vehicles, hastily modified with battering rams and makeshift weaponry. They are covered in dust, wearing a hodgepodge of items that offer protection from the elements and more hostile factors, often times appearing fearsome yet strikingly beautiful in their own right. Soon a city of tents and rust has grown around the fortress, and music can be heard from within the walls, and the survivors bustle around, actively bartering under the new terms of survival. For these souls haven’t found a bleak end at the sunset of civilization but rather, have found solace, in the Wasteland.
Wasteland Weekend ( http://www.wastelandweekend.com ) is in its 3rd year of its most recent incarnation, and is a post apocalyptic themed annual desert gathering. The event offers music, an open bar, sporting events, fashion shows, and stunning visuals (all with an end of the world feel). Something like going to a rock concert, a renaissance fair, and a Mad Max movie at the same time, it offers a 4 day retreat, where you can get to know your inner anarchist.
Going through the rusted main gates, manned by fearsome, mohawked guardians, one quickly can forget an outside world exists, and you are quickly immersed in stunning costumes. The Atomic Café, made of discarded car parts, serves as the town bar and is a stunning piece of art in its own right. Various bartering posts offer a variety of goods for trade, as currency is generally met with suspicious glare. It’s clear, that many participants are certainly immersed in the bleak storyline of their own creation.
This isn’t Burning Man
One thing heard was frustration that Wasteland Weekend didn’t feel like other desert events, and no wonder. The event makes no attempt to create a model for a utopian social experiment. Rather, it is unabashedly dystopian, and has no issues about being a bit in your face about it. There may be some shock when confronted with the gritty, survival themed participants, moreso if you are reluctant to participate in the theme yourself. Still, there is still a strong community of hard working people willing to help, if you can get past the spikes (offering bacon can be a wonderfully effective means of gaining support from the locals). The bartertown was particularly interesting, where one could trade a bag of trail mix up to a full set of armor if they were clever.
There is a official presence from the local police and fire department, who seemed more bemused at the event than anything. Commenting, that they routinely have trouble with offroaders, they were pleased with how well behaved the participants of Wasteland Weekend were. “Next year” vowed one “I wont be working this, I’ll be a participant!”