Once again the flames were extinguished.
For the second year in a row, Burning Man – that long-standing surreal art and music gathering in the northern Nevada desert that answers the often-asked question, what would it be like if “Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome” was located inside a Salvador Dali painting featuring a cast of steampunks aiming to create a sort of utopian artistic commune for nine days? – was canceled last summer due to coronavirus concerns.
Yet some 20,000 people showed up for an unofficial “rogue” burn at the end of August anyway.
Count Darren Blatt among them.
“It was so beautiful how everyone presented themselves,” recalls the producer of the event for Lavish Entertainment in Las Vegas. “I was there and so inspired to see everyone come together.”
What to do with this inspiration?
Bring Burning Man to Las Vegas, clearly. Spot the giant, glowing, neon-scalloped pineapples and mobile flame-breathing dragons. And with that, Playa Playground was born.
Taking place this New Years Eve at Area15, the 12-hour marathon of music, interactive art installations, foodtrucks, games, rides and more will feature eight art cars and as many sound camps, all of Burning Man veterans aiming to bring the spirit of this event 400 miles south of his home in the Black Rock Desert of Nevada.
“We’re really trying to give people that off-Burn experience with our event,” says Blatt from a conference room in the offices of Lavish Entertainment, which has a full stage with a massive audio system in his garage. “People who wanted to go to The Burn but can’t quit work or there are too many issues – they can’t do the planning – we really want this event to inspire people to have a feel for it. “
“Whatever you do, you can find it”
Simon the Turtle is ready to party, are you?
The reptile-themed light-up art car is one of the attractions rolling through Playa Playground, alongside The Giving Tree, a pulsating anthropomorphic weeping willow, the fire-breathing torch the dragon, and more.
They will be joined by sound camps like The Fluffy Cloud, a three-story sphere with a 60,000-watt 360-degree sound system and an illuminated 33,000 LED display, a psychedelic hip-hop puppet show the Fungineers – because it’s worth New Years Gathering does not to have a psychedelic hip-hop puppet show? – and the naughty NASA-themed Dancetronauts.
They will do their work at three venues at Area15, including The Grounds, which has four acres of attractions; The portal, which is equipped with a 360-degree projection mapping; and the A Lot, centered on a high-tech stage production.
The music will be provided by dozens of DJ-producers selected by the different sound camps.
“Just like The Burn, they bring their own programming, they organize everything,” says Blatt. “We didn’t know what to expect so we had a bit of everything. Whatever you do, you can find it.
This is Lavish Entertainment’s most ambitious project to date, which kicked off in 2017 with a show at Hard Rock Live and has since hosted 15 events in the electronic dance music genre.
“For the past two months, we’ve been here day and night to try to resolve this issue,” said Michael Giovi, director of operations at Lavish Entertainment.
Playa Playground will also serve as a fundraiser for the various camps to earn money through a portion of ticket sales to be able to return to Burning Man in 2022, assuming there is one.
“It’s a platform to help everyone make sure all of those camps come back to The Burn,” says Steffan Dalsgaard, president of Lavish Entertainment, who says the goal is to make Playa Playground an annual event. . “It’s amazing when you see the final product and see the amount of immersive art and different sound camps. It’s really going to be something completely different.
For Blatt, however, the real draw to Burning Man – and by extension, Playa Playground – isn’t all the musical and art installation pieces – it’s the people behind them.
“You meet amazing friends,” he says. “There are no handshakes, there are only hugs. Nobody talks about work – everyone has a busy life – but when they go out, they’re just the little kid inside of them.
“You feel this energy everywhere you go,” he continues. “The stories that you will have after this event, they are all going to be different because no one is going to have the same experience. Everyone brings their own unique flair.
Contact Jason Bracelin at [email protected] or 702-383-0476. Follow @JasonBracelin on Twitter and @ jbracelin76 on Instagram