Wasteland Weekend 2013
Wasteland Weekend is a 4 day festival in the desert of California, about 2 hours drive from Los Angeles. Wasteland was in it's 4th year this yet, and it has proven to be the best so far. Based mainly on the Mad Max trilogy, it also pays homage to many other films, games and stories from the genre.
Article by: Geek Girl Zelda|
If last year's event coverage of Wasteland Weekend wasn't enough to get you there this year, then allow me to do a better job this time around...Because if you weren't at Wasteland Weekend 2013, you really missed out.
(Geek Girl Zelda at Wasteland Weekend 2013)
The setting at Wasteland is exactly what you would imagine from hearing the name. It is located a good distance from any kind of civilization and you have to travel several miles on dirt road to reach the location. When you arrive, you are greeted by people in full post-apocalyptic regalia, and allowed through the giant metal WASTELAND sign into the camping grounds. An entire tent city is set up outside of Bartertown, which has walls built from metal, scraps, vehicles, and every manner of thing. Two turrets are set atop the Wasteland gates, allowing you safe passage into the main area. Inside are many themed tribes, encampments, vendors, and attractions. Everything was built down to the smallest details, and the way things look together creates an amazing overall effect. There is desert and mountains on every side of us; every night we get treated to an incredible panoramic sunset over Bartertown, and a neverending expanse of stars at night. The trade off for being in this natural beauty in such an awesome is having to give up some of your modern comforts. There is no running water or showers, and there will be times your private parts have to hover just inches above piles of drunken stranger's poop in the porta potties (only slightly less barbaric than the actual apocalypse is sure to be) – It's dirty, it's gritty, it's cold at night and hot during the day, and loud music and drunken reveling happens until the late hours of the night - it's the wasteland. If you plan on coming, make sure you can hang.
Bartertown is not just a name, but in fact how most of the event operates. We brought with us several old costume pieces, miscellaneous scrap and crafting supplies, hygiene products and miscellaneous odds and ends. I came away with tons of new clothing pieces and crafting supplies, and people were happy to have my stuff too. Some items could be purchased for bottle caps, which are earned various ways throughout the event. Several things were sold for next to nothing, traded for, or freely given away. The system creates a super close sense of community, and it's a ton of fun to treasure hunt and haggle among the people who attend, as you'll never know what you might come home with.
THE PEOPLE, THE MUSIC, AND THE PERFORMERS
The people who attend Wasteland Weekend are varied and come from far and wide. It's not the same crowd as you'd expect at Burning Man – Wasteland attracts far more from the punk, metal, industrial, fetish, burlesque, survivalist, historical re-enactor, gun-nut, diehard movie fan, military and “alternative” type of geeks. Los Angelinos claim the biggest percentage of people at the event, since it is in our backyard, but people come from all over the country and even internationally for it. I don't think there is another event out there like it, or as perfect a location. It's not so much the free-loving hippie and artist type of community you'd find there, and the drug culture is not as strong (although is still definitely present). Police and medics are present onsite to look after you and make sure people are safe – Although to be honest, the police looked like they were having just as much fun, and had even brought out a post-apocalyptic ride of their own. Despite the amount of weapons, leather, fire, alcohol and nudity here, it's a very friendly and social environment. If you go to Wasteland Weekend and didn't come away with a bunch of new friends, you're not doing it right.
The music is generally what you'd expect from the crowd; punk, metal and rock bands playing live and industrial and EDM DJ sets later in the night. The bands came from all over to perform on the Wasteland stage. The vocalist for one of the bands even married his fiance there (after proposing to her on the Wasteland stage last year). Performances consisted of burlesque, fetish, fire spinning, fire fighting, heavy combat in the Thunderdome (I now realize that nearly all of the Thunderdome fighters were SCA members with slightly modified armor), whip shows, and theatrical acts of all sorts.
Costumes are required at this event, which makes it especially cool to be a part of. Absolutely everyone who attends participates, and even the people with little to no costume experience make some pretty solid efforts to blend in to the environment. Most of the costumes you will see, however, are OUTRAGEOUSLY good. Most of the work are original designs, with a few people rocking recreations from movies, games and comics. The costume contest this year was hosted by the Boulet Brothers, 2 notoriously over the top club promoters from Hollywood. Nudity is not unheard of either here – I witnessed boobs of all types, wet t-shirt/weiner contests, cock socks, and full male nudity in the mosh pit. Did I mention this event is 18 and up?
What would a Mad Max weekend be without badass vehicles? Luckily we didn't have to find out, because Wasteland has them everywhere you look. Cars, trucks, motorcycles, A/Vs, scooters, bicycles, and every combination in between. There are replica Interceptors, guns, blades and cages mounted on everything, and vehicles that have been modified from the remains of everything imaginable. The time and love that people put into their vehicles is even more impressive than the costumes. Some of my favorites were the armored mafia car with rockets on the end, the bike that was modified with a speedboat and harpoon, and the car with the mermaid boat prow on the end. Everything that people brought was amazing though, and I hope I get the chance to be a part of the elite crew of post-apocalyptic car owners, and it's only PARTIALLY so I can make all the damage on my car look like it on purpose. The main reason is because they all look badass! You have to wonder how often they get pulled over in these monsters, though. Some of the cars at the event are clearly not street legal, and I wonder how they got some of them here at all (In pieces, I would imagine). The vehicles come from all across the country.
THE ACTIVITIES AND ATTRACTIONS
Wasteland is the type of place you can do as much or as little as you'd like. At any given time, there are at least 2-3 scheduled events that are cool, plenty of permanent structures that are good to lounge and hang, as well as personal and neighboring camps where you can go to relax or socialize. Inside the walls of Bartertown, there is the main stage; It's mostly used for bands, but other types of events happen here as well too. The costume contest and auctions also go on here, made out of mostly donated goods from the attendees. Each night, several bands play until the late hours, after which, Djs and recorded music take over. Dancing and fire shows, auctions, games, and Jugger matches occur as well.
Jugger is an easy game to follow and a lot of fun to watch (and to play, I imagine). 2 teams try to score points by spiking a skull onto a stick while surviving the onslaught of the opposing teams and their arsenal of bizarre padded weapons. There is more to it than that, but not much. (By the way, the Juggers are starting their own post-apocalyptic event in SoCal – meant to be like Ren Faire in a post-apocalyptic setting, for fans who can't make it out to Wasteland Weekend, called Green Zone 11).
Other permanent attractions within the city walls include The Mushroomcloud Lounge, a hookah bar who's lounging area included pillows, car seats, tires, and broken cushions. The hookahs were strange, beautiful abominations of metal and ropes and twisty bits. Across the way is the Atomic Cafe, the bar which serves bizarre drinks in tin cans or your own glass. There is also the WCC (Wasteland Communication Corps) Post Office, where letters can actually be sent. I even received a joke letter from a fellow Wastelander. There is also the Pit, a firepit where most of the dancing occurs. The Last Chance Casino had poker, roulette and other games happening. Oh, and did I mention that all of these things, including the bar, are absolutely free? You can earn bottle caps at the casino, which initially have to be earned by performing trips or donating, but these caps can then be used at various vendors and activities throughout the event. It's like living an actual video game, at times.
Besides these things, you can join in on games. There were games on the main stage, as well as an ongoing bounty hunting game put on by the Rust Devils tribe that went on throughout the entire event. You could earn bounties by hunting people down – check out the photo for the full list of rules.
This is just the tip of the iceberg. There was no shortage of things to do at any given time, planned or unplanned. I heard late into Saturday night “fire Jenga” was even invented, and it's exactly what it sounds like.
The final day of Wasteland is a relaxing one. We closed ours out by joining a neighboring tribe to slice through beer cans and coconuts with the various bladed weaponry we had brought. Across the way from us, someone flies a kite. A little farther, an excellent sermon about God as the atom bomb goes on. I watch as slowly more and more people file in on foot and on vehicles of all types, and it's a pretty great final goodbye to the experience.
I have no doubt that next year's event will be even bigger and better, so make sure not to miss it!
Article by: Geek Girl Zelda
Photographers: JaW Images Photography
& Christian Kollgaard
Check out all the photos in our Wasteland Weekend facebook album
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October 04 2013