I am back in the “default” world after an amazing weekend at the first (and hopefully annual) PEX Summer Festival.
I’m almost at a loss of words. I’m also at a loss of photos. I brought two cameras, and never touched either. I’m relying on photos others took and enjoying the candids I find of myself!
(Sometimes I find looking through the camera keeps you from experiencing something. There is also creativity in photography, and it’s rewarding in it’s own way… but I sometimes feel struggle to balance being in the moment and taking photos (whether snapshots or artistic) Anyway this is a whole post on it’s own so we’ll talk about that another time.)
What was it like? It was like the best summer camp ever. The location, Ramblewood, used to be a kids’ summer camp. Now it caters more to adult and alternative groups like ours.
It was a weekend of music (oh the music), friends, fire, workshops, swimming, playing, learning, smiling… I think I realized every time I saw anyone in the main PEXie crew (who each put in hours and hours of work to make this happen) – they had a huge grin on their face. I think I did too.
The weekend was just full of joy, laughter, dancing, playing with fire, meditating, and just hanging out with some really amazing people. The only thing missing was some people who I knew wanted to be there and couldn’t, for whatever reason.
The night the effigy of Giant Bear burned (via torches stuck up his butt :P) I just felt the possibilities of where this first festival is taking us, and I knew that we were watching a piece of history. No, this wasn’t quite the same as a burn (as in an official Burning Man recognized event.) But it was almost like the best PARTS of a burn, magnified, with the worst parts missing altogether or passing unnoticed. And on July 4th, it was the perfect way to express and celebrate our freedoms.
Some favorite memories:
– The Gamelatron. An amazing installation of a robotic gamelan orchestra – all we knew at the time was that it was such a peaceful serene moment that sent us into a wonderful meditation. We returned again planning to meditate more, and there was spoken words at times during the piece.
Modeled after traditional Balinese and Javanese gamelan orchestras, the GamelaTron is an amalgamation of traditional instruments with a suite of percussive sound makers. MIDI sequences control 117 robotic striking mechanisms that produce intricately woven and rhythmic sound. Performances follow an arc similar to classic Indonesian gatherings, where stories from great epics, such as the Ramayana, are told and settings given in words that are continued in music.
– Music – need I say more? Of course, with several stages and world famous (or just philly famous) DJ’s, the music was amazing. A DJ was set up right by the pool so you could swim and still feel the beat, and the pavilion went all night long with fire performances and comfy couch/beds to fit all of your late night needs for entertainment and comfort.
– Workshops – made it to a few, including one about Cultivating the Gift of Fire, by LinaLuv. This was based on the chinese elemental creation cycle, and dealt with being in the present moment in our relationships/interactions with others. We also went to a fireplay workshop, which covered contact fire and fire eating. Random took a contact staff class with Lucky and has a new obsession, and I made it to a pleasure palace workshop which was an exercise in asking and receiving pleasure from others (while respecting your own and others boundaries) – it was a very relaxing experience to have 6 people massage you at once!!
– Our mini camp. We had a small group but a comfy shade structure and spent lots of time chatting with old and new friends as we overlooked the field and watched activities around us.
ETA memories as they surface again:
– Performers before the bear burned came out and the crowd was way too silent as they watched. Chad’s yell of “we’re gonna burn some shit!!!!” and prodding the audience to hoot and holler was a wonderful sight!
I happened to be on the PEX facebook group and while the first part has been on PEX webpages before, if you haven’t seen it, it’s a good summary of what they are all about. And below it is a wonderful poem I never saw before.
The Philadelphia Experiment is a Community of diverse beings that are connected through a common desire for creativity. The Experiment is the catalyst that unites us. We are dreamers, dancers, musicians, engineers, designers, artists, yogis, teachers, students, philosophers & just plain ol ordinary folk. Through our network we open doors of collective opportunity and experience. We invite you to join the PEX family. Chat, discuss, connect, create and get down here.
there is an experiment;
an examination of a life…
beyond the false borders
of the homophobic, claustrophobic
closed minded social order
that feeds us disunity.
is an examination of rhythmic sound,
an observation of human creativity,
an exercise in social autonomy,
the rehearsal of a collective economy,
a measurement of participatory allegories,
and that of dreams becoming realities.
There is freedom
an emancipation from the socially toxic “me first” nation.
And there is dancing…
like no one’s watching
dreaming with your feet
getting into that higher trance type of dance.
Formed in the Black Rock City valley
this Philadelphia experiment
is a reflection
of radical self-expression,
of urban in-ergy
acceptance of the beauty in asymmetry.
It is a mindset.
A realized concept…
the silhouette of a calumet
shared in peace.
In Philadelphia… there is an experiment… and it is we.
The Philadelphia Experiment -A Poem Inspired by the Decompression
The Philadelphia Experiment
by Oskar Castro aka Bohiti
(a work in progress)
It’s so hard to explain to people who haven’t been. There’s a sense of heart and community at the base of all that they do, and you know everyone who makes this happen does so with ALL their heart, and just for you.
A huge thank you to anyone who helped make the event happen (and it took so many!) as well as to each person who showed up – because they are just as necessary to make the experiment work. With a happy heart and a smile still on my face, I look forward to celebrating independence and freedom with you for many years to come!