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Night Howl
By Mary Spicuzza

Burning Man Festival
Dave Shelton

Heat It With a Stick: This image from last year's Burning Man Festival was one of the many photos on display at Curiosa's all-day pyrophilanthropic benefit for The Illumination Project.

Burn, Baby, Burn:
Interactive art and music make for an illuminating night

LAST SATURDAY, THE FOLKS at Curiosa opened their doors to host an all- day/all-night benefit for The Illumination Project. The techno-tinged Pyrophilanthropic Soirée featured more than 24 hours dedicated to art and activities centered around the seventh annual Burning Man Festival, a new-age techno Mecca that takes place in the Nevada desert. Charles Gadeken, director of the project, has been quite a busy man these days. Besides being an active participant in all prior Burning Man Fests, he has put on several techno-trance parties around town.

As his group's enlightening manifesto explains, "The Illumination Project creates monumental and fleeting works of art, revocable interventions on the landscape that appear and disappear like a shadow of a cloud passing before the sun." Now that's a mouthful.

The hootenanny with a cause began at 11am and featured an excellent interactive paint party. Passersby were given a palette and water-washable paints and invited to make their mark on the huge fabric draping the piercing parlor's walls. This year's project should spread 200 feet long and 23 feet high and will be torched at the upcoming Burning Man. Impressive photographs by Peter Mullet and Dave Shelton, mainly images of prior pyrofests and leaping horses, were displayed for sale throughout the day.

Everyone seemed a little nervous when the DJs started spinning to a very sparse crowd. But like all veteran ravers, the children of the night started trickling in fashionably late. The remote end of Pacific Avenue became quite a scene, abounding with glitter, platforms and Hello Kitty paraphernalia. With the music throbbing on until 2am, most seemed to agree as they mingled outside that there was no need to hurry inside.

The $10 cover may have prevented some curious outsiders from wandering inside, but with all proceeds going toward the next big burn, the devout fans knew this soirée was worth it. Throughout the night, DJ Elf Lord spun his ambient/trance music with the help of Little John from Rain Dance. (There is something inspiring about men so confident they actually choose to be associated with miniature, dwarven nicknames.)

Dancers also received sensory stimulation from Carl Seiffert's Burning Man '96 slide show and two new Illumination Project Videos--City Life and Sex on the Beach.

What's the point of the pyromania, you may wonder? "To join realization with destruction to create a new union where planning, creation, transition and remembrance become art," the project explains. For more info--or just deep thoughts--check out the project's Web site.

Ruby Tuesday

Who needs the Lilith Fair when Santa Cruz has such a bevy of local girl power smack dab downtown? The Red Room cocktail lounge now promises to celebrate female talent with Girl Jam, a women's open mic, every Tuesday night starting at 9:30pm, with sign-ups at 9pm. What better way to bring womanist poetry to the people than amidst the smoky charm of the ruby-hued lounge?

FutureThink

Pipa Piñon serenades Actors' Theatre on Thursday at 8pm. ... Becki di Gregorio throws a party at Kuumbwa in honor of her new CD Seven Worthies ... of the Bamboo Grove on August 21. ... Mark your calendars now for the Benefit for the Santa Cruz Dance Gallery on Sept. 6, which will feature some of the best dancers in the area and catering by charming host David of So Say We.

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From the August 14-20, 1997 issue of Metro Santa Cruz.

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