As a burn event, Flipside follows out of some basic principles. Many of these are similar to the general backpackers’ credo. However, the most interesting of these are the radical ones: Radical Inclusion, Radical Self-Reliance, and Radical Self-Expression.
The most self-evident of the three, the idea that anyone can participate does not stop at the door. While joining a camp can have varying degrees of exclusivity, everywhere is home. The inclusion principle more than anything else makes the entire event very low pressure. Become inebriated, or don’t. No worries. If you don’t like what you are experiencing then go somewhere else. There are pretty, shiny things everywhere!
This, as much as anything, probably serves to explain the staggering number of Jews I met. At first glance, this would seem odd for an event that effectively rebuilds a Golden Calf (and burns it).
After Pallas, I understood that I should probably come prepared more for something between backpacking and car camping. WRONG! Flipside is about living more luxuriously than car camping, possibly better than you do in your day-to-day life. Still, this backpacker mentality really sticks with me.
I am very guarded normally, but I don’t think I have ever felt as expressive as at Flipside. Sean of the Dead and I were having a conversation about how your internal monologue can just come right on out. Just by saying what you think almost all the time, what you think becomes so much more positive.
For me this leads to some awesome opportunities. I can drop in and out of conversations with people I have never met. When I start my crazy rambling, strangers come in and tell me something even stranger.
One morning while I was cleaning my breakfast plate, some girl walked by wearing purple bikini bottoms, a fuchsia top, and was using a white sash as a canopy to cover her eyes from the sun. I smiled at her. She said, haltingly, “I have walked by before and seen you. You have a sweet face.” I gave her a hug and she walked off.
There is something wonderfully right with the world that this was allowed to happen. There is something terribly wrong in that it does not happen more often and seems relegated to Flipside.
(TAKE A BREATH)
Other than dressing as a Valkyrie and a Pirate, I did other costuming as well. For the burn on Sunday, I picked up a reasonably tight fitting red dress from Glam Camp. To this I added a string of red fairy lights wrapped around my body. Additionally, I bummed a black mesh kerchief from Jayme which we turned into a choker. Hawt.
The undercutting theme of the event is to try to push and explore your own boundaries while respecting those of everyone around you. Cross dressing to this level is not something I have done in a long time. Yet, I can’t help feeling I sort of cheated since cross dressing is not *truly* pushing any of my boundaries. Still, I got more exposure in feminine garb in this dress than ever before.
The wonderful thing about it, was that the outfit itself did most the work of turning me into a sex-object. (The dress is clearly a sex object on its own, by design.) I got a ton of comments from both genders. They were spread pretty evenly along the forwardness spectrum. Here is a sample, in order of increasing intensity:
Fuck, can I wear this get up every day?! I often rail against the fact that men don’t get truly sexy clothing in our culture. Maybe the solution really just is for men to co-opt women’s clothing. It was so fucking nice to be objectified in this fashion. Certainly it would get old as a 24/7/365 thing (Helloooo, Feminism). But even if this was just for play-play it was super. Unfortunately, pictures are still forthcoming.
All of the sexual aspects of dress play were neatly counter-balanced by Noah, the 12 yro kid in the neighbouring camp. A rather effeminate boy himself, he took to school yard teasing in a fit of cosmic irony. While playing catch with a hacky-sack with him, Noah took to calling me Man-Woman. This somehow developed into a super-hero/villain tag line. “By day, Man-Woman. By Night, Still Man-Woman.” It was cute; I laughed.