Here’s a pretty simple recipe: Take everything we liked about Mad Max (which is basically everything — except the pain, death, and sex slavery), and mix it with everything we like about Burning Man (which is a lot of things — minus the crowds, snobby rich people, and maybe the over-emphasis on vegan living). And…Violá!
Just like that you have the Wasteland Weekend. It’s gritty like Mad Max, accepting like Burning Man, and dusty as hell like both. It’s also got rusted out muscle cars that have been modified to make noise and haul ass. If that doesn’t sound like fun, then we can’t help you.
But it’s not the set decoration that everyone raves about, it’s the good vibes.
“What you get here is people being real,” says ‘Jim the pool guy’/Lord Humongous. “There’s no pissing match about ‘oh, I make this much money.’ I don’t care. We’re just out here surviving.”
Like Burning Man, attendees of Wasteland Weekend say the same thing over and over, “I feel like I get to be myself” and “Image and status don’t matter here.” Unlike Burning Man, no one says, “It was better ten years ago.” In fact, the festival didn’t even exist 10 years ago — it was born in 2006 as a Mad Max theme party and has grown steadily since, blossoming into a fully immersive post-apocalyptic weekend in the California desert.
“We have such a variety of things going on,” says Jared Butler, event director of Wasteland World Inc., “everything from car cruises to a casino that runs on bottle caps. We’ve built an art gallery now, we have a wasteland movie theater, the Thunderdome is here, a flame-spewing main stage…a bonfire dance area…”
If you can hear Butler rattle all of that off without wanting to join the mayhem, then this festival probably isn’t for you. If that sounds intriguing, you’ll want to watch the video, check out these pictures, and circle your calendar for 2017.