Elysium: A rumble in the East County hills

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“Something weird is happening in area seven,” said the clerk at the La Jolla Reservation ‘Trading Post’ as he bagged my tall can of Tecate. “And by the looks of you, you’re about to join them.”

Indeed I was, but what exactly was he implying with “weird”?

Was it the people, like me, showing up in hodge-podge homemade outfits that looked like something from the 1860’s yet somehow futuristic with rolled-up jeans and buggy goggles so that the overall effect was Mad Max meets Huck Finn nods to Doctor Emmett Brown a la Back to the Future part III?

Or was the bass-heavy music thumping from high-powered amplifiers until the small hours of the morning, the inexplicable pillars of fire emitted from foreign machinery beyond the tree line, and the occasional savage howl which perked ears throughout the campground that tipped them off?

Judging by all the outward symptoms, it’s no wonder my humble clerk had assumed the fourth Elysium Midsummer Festival to be some sort of preternatural apocalyptic freak out with severe hedonistic undertones. And he was right. The weekend of June 19-21 saw some of San Diego’s most seasoned performers like Zirk Ubu, the Stilt Circus, Hoop Unit, Unifier, Bass Mechanic, and Yona, as well as out of town acts like Solovox, Helios Jive, Wolfie, Danyavaad, and the Elevaters come together in an undeniably Burning Man inspired playground of giant neon mushrooms, open-air breasts, and off-the-wall theme camps.

From the website: “Elysium has been a varied idea of paradise throughout the ages. The Egyptians saw Elysium as a land of plenty where the dead hoped to spend eternity. To the Greeks, Elysium was reserved exclusively for the heroic and virtuous as the Gods saw fit. And some Neo-Pagans view Elysium as an afterlife spent in a constant state of euphoria. To us, the idea of Elysium is something that can exist everyday and in this life. Our community is our Elysium and it is comprised of an endlessly diverse group of people. We encourage you to embrace one another, look a passerby in the eyes and smile, blow a kiss to a stranger, and ultimately get to know one another as we play in the fields of Elysium.”
Weird? Maybe not so much. Elysium, like its forefather Burning Man, is a place where consensual reality is suspended, considered, and redefined by a bright-eyed, down-to-earth, quirky cast of genuinely interested human beings who realize that the future is ours to create. That is, you and me.

Be sure to catch the upcoming Burners Without Borders benefit “Seven Deadly Sins” July 25th. Visit the BWB website for tickets.

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