Flaming Pollyanna Finds a Home

Hey, Anna-Liza here. “Home” for a lot of Burners has two meanings — wherever we dwell out here in the Default World and wherever we live on the playa. Kidsville turned out to be a really homey home for me. Our kids had lots of other kids to play with; we had other families around who understand the challenges of being at Burning Man with kids and being families who are more or less nontraditional in a world that still has problems with that.

I mean, go on and be a wildly Bohemian, art-generating, creativity-centered freakette, as long as you don’t have kids. Once that happens, both the subset of people called “parents” and the subset of people called “freaks” don’t know what to do with you … except for that very, very tiny subset of freakishly-inclined parents. There aren’t many of us, but we generally have each others’ backs.

And so it was at Kidsville. Not to say that all FIPs (freakishly inclined parents, of course) raise our kids the same ways, or have identical values, or are committed to subverting the dominant paradigm. Oh wait, that last one, yeah, we mostly do. And we’re generally committed to raising kids who think. Not anarchists, not rebels for the sake of rebellion, but people who will examine the rules, written and unwritten, and question whether they are still of value, if different rules would perhaps be more valuable at this point in time, if rules are even really necessary in any particular arena.

Oh yeah, and kids who grow up knowing that, if you’re having fun and you’re not hurting anyone, it’s all good. If you’re making life more fun for other people while you’re at it, even better. So. Kidsville.

First off, there’s a big open area in the middle of the village that’s pretty much all about space for the kids to play. There were three trampolines, a traveling ball pit, and a geodesic-dome style climbing frame which became Mini-Thunderdome at one point during the week … but I digress.

Average Kidsville Afternoon

There is so much giving and service at Burning Man — it’s a really important part of the culture. One of the Kidsville camps had a “wishing well,” where you could write a wish on a rock and put it in the well, and/or you could take a wish from the well and make it happen. Mr. B wished for Silly Bandz (or whatever the damn things are called), and someone came to our camp and gave him a really cool one shaped like a castle.

There are a lot of people who spend a lot of their time giving things away. Like this guy, who had a cooler on his tricycle and gave away popsicles and ice cream sandwiches and other typical Ice Cream Truck treats. Except it was, you know ….

The Ice Cream Trike

Not unique to Kidsville, but another generality of Burning Man is the chance for adults to play, whether it’s Moja flying a kite for the first time in her life,

Moja, Kite, Tepee, Awesome Hat

or dressing up any way we feel like,

Typical Burning Man Daywear

or riding around on a giant birthday cake.

The Birthday Cake Bus

That was the official Kidsville Mutant Vehicle, and we took it out for tours of the playa at night. Very, very cool. We could stand on the top and have a great view of all the art and activities, and if anyone got tired (mostly it was the kids), the inside was all set up with mattresses to curl up and sleep on. At night, the candles were lit, and so was all the artwork.

Lighting the giant birthday candles


Me & Moja on Top of a Giant Birthday Cake

Yes, that’s a lamp on my head. There’s not much light out on the playa at night, except right around brightly lit art pieces and camps. There are street lamps in Black Rock City, but not out in the middle of the playa. 

A really important safety rule out there is to be lit!! And that’s literally, as in having blinkies or other lights and glowy things on, so other people can see you and not run into you, and so you can see where you’re going. Not everyone remembers that. It’s amazing how many people we literally almost ran into who were sitting out there with no lights on themselves or their bikes. 

And then there were the ones who would walk or ride right in front of the bus as we were moving. Yes, we were moving really, really slowly, but the laws of physics still apply and it takes a certain amount of room to stop or turn a moving city bus.

Apparently, a lot of people want to have an epitaph that reads, “Killed by a giant birthday cake.” Our intrepid driver, with the help of some alert lookouts, managed to frustrate any such ambitions this year, but it wasn’t for lack of trying on the part of aspiring victims.

Moja and The Man

 There was plenty to do and see, day or night. Sleep deprivation is normal. In spite of the popular conception of Burning Man being one giant drug-and-alcohol fiesta of excess, I really think it’s sort of a waste to get wasted there. Just experiencing the thing is altered state enough for me. What’s the point of  interfering with my experience chemically, or herbally, for that matter? I want to remember what happened!

Like, for instance …

Darlin' K, Mr B, and a Mutant Vehicle


Mr R getting ready for paragliding

Mr R and another Mutant Vehicle


Icky the Icthyosaur

 If you look carefully at that last photo, you’ll see Darlin’ K (in purple) and Mr. B next to him, about to go riding with Icky.

I don’t have pictures of most of the best stuff . I was too busy having fun to take any. 

There was the giant shopping cart that came and took me and a bunch of the Kidsville kids away to another camp, for face painting and stories and crazy hair colors.

There was the Magic Carpet that tooks kids to the Black Rock Boutique on Tuesday, for a special kids-only event, where they got to pick out any costume stuff they wanted to take back with them.

There was the camp where they gave away free soft-serve ice cream, where kids (and their grownups) could cut to the front of the line.

My favorite art, no pics. Blissdance, Ein Hammer, the thing with the dozens of tiny dioramas in lit boxes with peepholes … you’ll have to find those photos somewhere else.

Hm, this is getting pretty long again. I guess I’ll have to tell you later about Mini-Thunderdome and the day DeathGuild came to Kidsville.

Come out, come out, wherever you are!



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