The 2nd Moscow Decompression was held in a 215-year young abandoned manufacturing warehouse in the heart of the Russian capital. The lucky thing with Moscow is that there are so many amazing old buildings all across the city that we really have our choice of event spaces. This one left a special mark on all the participants – huge amount of space, hanging rods and dusty corners, ceilings so tall you couldn’t really see them at night, abandoned sewing machines. Not many people have been to this place in recent years, and the energy we all felt walking around it’s empty walls was electric – just imagine what we can do with this space!
Our story is just getting started, Moscow burners where pretty far and few last year. 2013 was our first Decompression and it started something magical within a small group of dedicated artists and performers in Moscow. Over 1,800 people attended than, many have never been outside of Russia and certainly never to the playa. So many came in wearing heels and jeans and left in silly hats, wrapped in boas and with a smile on their face. Many of those newbies ended up coming to Burning Man in 2014 and helped create this year’s Decompression.
The prep for this event took months – actually, I would say we started on the playa in August. The big change for the Moscow Burning Man community this year is that we had a huge camp on the playa with Moscow-based artists and performers, many of them first-timers, creating big art, a camp and a Souk, and wanting to take this experience back home with us. After the playa had settled and we were back in Moscow, the hunt for the space and the production was on! It wasn’t all smooth (we lost our initial space two weeks before the event, creating one of the most exhilarating two weeks in the lives of the event planners and organizers!) but once we announced that we are making another Decompression, the amount of volunteers, performers, artists, musicians made all the work and effort worth it.
There are a few things that make Moscow decompression so big and so epic. Besides the fact that we have some art-needing abandoned warehouse spaces with perfect sound, cheap rent and central access, Moscow it’s a very big city with a struggling nightlife and we all know burners can throw one heck of a party!
Also, we have been lucky to find like-minded people and art and music collectives who want to collaborate with Burning Man Russia. No one gets paid working this event, and it’s a huge stroke of playa luck to work with ARMA17, the guys who found us our final space and the ones who helped us manage the bar, the security, and the set-up. Our production partners in this event were a group of musicians and DJs called TOT:SPOT. They committed to making a separate dance floor and performance space within the warehouse, thus helping to create different rooms with varying sound, lighting and energy. We all know it’s way more fun when you can interact with multiple spaces within one event, and wow -TOT:SPOT really delivered. We would love to see these guys on the playa next year!
It’s hard to pick the highlights – there where so many volunteers who created art, projects, performances that I could fill a few pages with just the names and overviews of each artist. A month prior to the event we would post a summary of the artist and some pictures of their work on our Facebook page (Burning Man Russia) – it got a lot of buzz going about everyone who would perform that night and we had over 100 performers! Using Facebook actively and correctly generated a lot of momentum and we also discussed each of the 10 Principles, thus creating an online community of participants and some nice excitement before the event.
I run Costume Camp Moscow, called Kostumir, and we really rocked it this year – almost 300 costumes and hundreds of hand-made hats were created or donated. Our friends from Cradle of MIR built us a huge podium where everyone could walk, strut and show their fabulousness, plus a few photographers were always around so none of those brilliant costumes are forgotten.
I also loved our amazing greeters who welcomed people in from the Moscow cold into the warmth of our event. Greeters came from as far away as Germany and Switzerland to welcome the Russian community home.
We had one of the most creative chillout spaces I’ve ever seen – uneven soft floor, huge towering mushrooms growing almost to the ceilings, people getting lost crawling around for hours between music sets in a comfortable and safe space.
The night started early with some pretty vivid performances, all with a bit of burning and local flavour: dancing zombie snowflakes, burning woman bondage rope show, lighting dance show, stir punk, clowns, mini plays and even poems. After midnight came the music and the DJs including two lovely residents of the Robot Heart community and our dear friends – Eduardo Castillo and Benjamin Alexander – playing tunes way into the morning. That’s the thing about abandoned buildings – the party doesn’t stop at 6am and it’s really something special to have a small party go way into the day, friends bringing breakfast, ad-hoc performances springing up across the space, cuddle-puddles, rocking tunes, new friends mingling with old ones in a more intimate space. That is my favourite part of the event, if I’m honest. We ended at 4:30 in the afternoon with TOT:SPOT giving us the best sound of the night to close down the party.
For more photos of the Moscow Decompression check out the gallery.