Sep 092023

This is kind of a eulogy.

One of my favorite parts of Burning Man has always been a little camp-within-our-camp, created by a manic bunch of guys from southern California. VW Bus Camp doesn’t have much shared infrastructure, but many of us will get early-access permits just so we can help build the Leopard Lounge. This has been going on for about ten years.

So, this trailer shows up on Saturday before the event opens, and in about four hours, a dozen volunteers carpet a big chunk of playa, put up a dozen pop-up shade structures, pound rebar into the ground and strap it all down. Then rolls of bamboo partitions are zip-tied to make walls, plastic palm trees are rolled out, the bar is assembled, lounge chairs and couches spread out, and sound equipment set up. The result is a fabulous pop-up place with live music, tequila shots, foot rubs and rooms for massage and energy work. We all donate tequila, foot massages, bartending, and musical skills to make it happen.

Here is a little snippet from 2019, a chill afternoon on a hot dusty day. Eric drives the live music, usually from keyboards, while Bingo and Sean tend bar and a bunch of folks are getting foot care.

Click to watch the show, and please forgive my crappy video skills!

This year was special, as we had some fabulous musicians drop in on Friday. A fellow from Ecuador named Louder picked up the guitar, and a classical pianist named Pink Tea started singing and playing keyboards and drums. One of our camp mates sang, drummed, and pulled out his box of harmonicas. Another added scatty backup vocals. The place was in full swing when the rain started, and the show ripped on into the evening as the playa got muddy and folks sheltered in place. The guitar had to stop around 6pm when the ground got so wet that players were getting shocked.

Here are links to movies I shot. It was one of my best afternoons ever on the playa. (Right-click to download).

Alas, an era of our camp is ending, as Eric decided that this was the last appearance of the Leopard Lounge. Perhaps it was the double rainbow that appeared at sunset, I heard Eric say that there was one the first year that they brought the Lounge to the playa. Perhaps it was the reality of dealing with so much mud. Regardless, as the lounge was disassembled the next day, the crew gave away carpets and fake plants. Bamboo partitions were torn apart, and soon hundreds of people in our part of Black Rock City were making their way through muddy streets with bamboo walking sticks. We’re starting to talk about what we might do next year, perhaps creating a bar.

So, I’ll miss you Leopard Lounge, and the magic you made. Eric, Art, Mike, Mark, Solo and the others, thank you for bringing this to our camp for so many years. Bingo, Sean, Tater, Sherrie, Dave, Martyna, Busboy Bob, Donna Lee, Dawn & Teco, Shannon, JC and everyone else who helped make this happen…I so appreciate how you all showed up.

I’m really gonna miss the lounge.

  One Response to “the end of the leopard lounge”

  1. […] Rock City, even as traffic picked up on Saturday, with camp construction noises all around. The Leopard Lounge showed up midday, nearly everyone pitched in for set up, and was rolling with live music and […]

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