NoWhere (event)

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Nowhere is a European arts-based event inspired by Burning Man. It is held annually in July near Zaragoza in north-eastern Spain. Nowhere embraces the Burning Man principles of radical self-expression, radical self-reliance, no commerce and leave no trace but its cultural and geographical distance produces quite a different event. The extreme conditions and harsh beauty of the Spanish landscape provide a blank and fertile canvas for participants to experiment and create. Participation is a key element of the event and everyone is expected to be involved in some way. Everything from construction and set-up, art projects and entertainment through to catering, sanitary engineering and clean-up are handled by those attending the event.

A strong spirit of giving is encouraged and commerce is not permitted at the event. Participants are expected to organise all their food and water themselves, as well as appropriate shelter for the harsh desert environment. Many participants organise themselves into camps to share organisational resources. Camps are often themed and there is a large communal central shade structure called The Middle of Nowhere (MoN), which hosts a range of workshops and activities throughout the week. Other infrastructure includes the Nowhere Post Office (which sends letters, cards and parcels to participants on site and to others around the world), Costume Camp (where participants can borrow costume items as part of radical self-expression), an Information booth called NoInfo, a medical team, and a daily newspaper, the Nowhere Tribune.

Nowhere
From mountain nowhere 2009 3 small cropped.jpg
Nowhere 2009 festival site.
A Regional Burn Event in Europe
Location: Monegros, Zaragoza, Spain
Type of event: Arts, Music, Costumes, Participation. Inspired by the Burning Man Festival.
Participants: 700 (in 2011)
Most recent event: 5.-10. July 2013
First year: 2004
Website: www.goingnowhere.org

History[edit]

The roots of Nowhere track back 2002, when UK burners started to organize a decompression party in London.[1] Nowhere began in 2004, in Bardenas Reales, and has roughly doubled in size each year, to the current size of around 1300 participants in 2013.[2] It has been held in several different locations in the Navarra and Aragon regions of Spain. The current location is 10 km south of Sariñena, which is about 60 km east from Zaragoza. The 2010 event was attended by participants from countries across Europe and as far away as New Zealand and the United States.

Unlike Burning Man, Nowhere doesn't include fire as a key feature of the event. Due to the dry area, it is strictly forbidden (by the municipality) to have any open fires (including camping grills, etc.). In summer, many areas of Spain, including the Nowhere area, are on wildfire alert. In recent years rural fires have caused a number of fatalities within the fire fighting services and significant property damage.[3] In the last four years there have been one or two nights at Nowhere with fire spinning shows, which are held within a controlled area and with fire marshals on duty.

Timeline of the event[edit]

Year Exact Date Location Participants Number of Theme Camps Ticket price in Euro Notes
2004  ??? Bardenas Reales, Spain (Location 1) 35 - 35 Lots of mosquitos
2005 x - x July Hermita San Blas, Robres, Spain (Location 2) 68 1 50 Very windy site, on top of a mountain plateau
2006 x - x July Hermita San Blas, Robres, Spain (Location 2) 120 3 45/60/80 (no tickets sold at the gate) Very windy site, on top of a mountain plateau
2007 x - x July Near Sariñena/Castejon de Monegros, Spain (Location 3) 226 7 50/70/90 (no tickets sold at the gate) Location in a beautiful canyon
2008 9–13 July Near Sariñena/Castejon de Monegros, Spain (Location 4) 320 8 60/90/120 (no tickets sold at the gate) New location: 3 km north west of previous site
2009 x. -x. July Near Sariñena/Castejon de Monegros, Spain (Location 4) 511 60/95/125 (180 at the gate) New location: 3 km north west of previous site
2010 x. - x. July Near Sariñena/Castejon de Monegros, Spain (Location 4) 585
2011 5–10 July Near Sariñena/Castejon de Monegros, Spain (Location 4) 645 22 (registered, plus more unregistered)
2012 3–8 July Near Sariñena/Castejon de Monegros, Spain (Location 4) 1004 24 official (more unregistered) 95/115/135 150(at gate) 65/95 (low income)

2004[edit]

Nowhere 2004

First Nowhere in Bardenas Reales (French Website, explaining the park:), a nature park north of Zaragoza. Creation of the name Nowhere at the event. It was beautiful site but very mosquito ridden. With 35 participants almost 50% of the population was Spanish, the rest mainly English. "We had 2 hand built toilets, a massage parlor, one sound system, a giant bicycle powered ant, hardboard life size silhouettes of everyone on site, a dispute about video use, a public board to suggest names for the event, the birth of the name Nowhere, a crazy fire show with a burning man, petrol, an almost burning human and a storm which flooded the site and washed away four tents. It was a weekend long. Middle of Nowhere (MoN) was a plastic pipe/parachute dome." - BongoPedro[2]

2005[edit]

Nowhere 2005 site from above

2005 was held near Robres and approximately 75 people attended. The location was a high plateau with spectacular views to the north-east and the Pyrenees. There was one official camp (Road2Nowhere) - a covered kitchen for about 35 people. During the day most activity happened around a large common shade structure, called Middle of Nowhere (MoN) and the Costume Camp dome for storytelling and massage. The first of two large art installations was the clock tower (built by Yulia, it became the icon of the event) and the inflatable UFO (BubbleBoy) - in addition there was a light and sound performance in a steep canyon, and conceptual land-art installation that used a nearby mountain. Birth of the costume camp dome with a sizeable amount of costumes organised by Michelle P. Many participants showed up without costumes, so costume camp played an important role in the look of Nowhere.

Because of the exposed location, the site was very windy and has since been developed of a wind turbine installation. The event began with the entire population meeting at the Hermita (top of the mountain) for sunset. Events included: issuing the first Nowhere passports, a Nowhere flag ceremony, a fire show with flamethrowers and a broadsword fight and a swim in the nearby canal with the police showing up. Hagey (running the Black Rock International Burner Hostel) was brought over for his first trip outside the U.S.

2006[edit]

Nowhere 2006 was about 120 people and had four theme camps: The Burrow (Helen and DougalDutch), the Pirates (Big Ed, Kat and MonkeeMel), Hotel Palas (Enrique and Carlota), and Fight Club (Josh, Sam and Adam). For the first time, Nowhere gave out a few small art grants. Nurse had people wearing badges that indicated which languages they wanted to speak (or learn to speak better) so that people could speak to each other and learn more of another language - it was brilliant and loads of people took advantage.[4] There were four hand-built toilets, and the hole digging was done by hand with pick and shovels. Each toilet was decorated differently. There was an informal postal service (No Post, one postman in uniform) with postcards from people at a holiday themed event in the Black Rock Desert, Nevada. There was also a supervised fireshow version of Singin in the Rain with firespinning and stage pyrotechnics.

2007[edit]

Nowhere 2007
  • New location near Sariñena/Castejon de Monegros
  • Werkhaus: "official" camp - home for the organizer crew and a lot of volunteers
  • Art: Neon-Pyramid, Ufo, Labyrinth, Blinking Donut, Windmill, Guerillas, Pagoda with Zen garden
  • First art car appears: Gladys (converted 50s fire truck, converted into a massive flame thrower)
  • Malfare: organized first aid tent with 24/7 emergency crew
  • Gate: first official appearance with the mad dragon teeth gate designed by India and Adam
  • The first Miss Nowhere pageant took place with hostess SuzQ: Nurse taking the crown after 'drinking' an entire bottle of hand sanitizer [4]
  • Camps from Spain, Switzerland, Belgium, Spain and France
  • The Ninja Nowhere Academy camp appeared with a rigid structure (called the Pagoda) in which Japanese tea ceremonies and origami classes were held.

2008[edit]

  • Another new location - 3 km north-west from the 2007 location
  • New public infrastructure: No Info (information stand), No Post (post office with delivery on site)
  • First Nowhere newspaper: Nowhere Tribune (Julio and Pat)
  • First electrical art car: la leche, a Spanish milk delivery van from the 50s (Polvo)
  • Art: Miracle Tower/Swiss Tulip: a 5 meter tall metal gate (Shanti, Michi, Bam Bam), BubbleSound
  • First time that kids are allowed: 3 kids on site
  • The No Chance Saloon camp appeared with a rigid structure (refurbished Pagoda) in which shotgun weddings and divorces as well as water pistol shootouts were held. A bucking bronco was seen briefly.

2009[edit]

Town map with camps, art and infrastructure
  • 500 participants
  • New town layout: Middle of the Nowhere is actually now in the middle, with the theme camps placed around it in a circle. The free space in between is reserved for art.
  • Lots of workshop activity at Middle of Nowhere (MoN)
  • Art: AIOX, The One, Phormensions, Creator, The Moon Balloon, Seeds of Notree, Climbing Wall, Book
  • Nowhere census
  • Opening and closing ceremony
  • Malfare/first aid tent: large military tent, lots of volunteers helping out
  • 10 toilets
  • third art car: the electric space mobile (Polvo)
  • 4 sound camps
  • 11 theme camps placed in a circle around MoN - more smaller theme camps in the free camping area
  • Camps: The Funhaus camp appeared with a rigid structure (refurbished Saloon), proving a large sound system and a ball fun house. A bucking bronco was seen briefly, again. The Musica es mi vida camp, first appearance for an Italian camp, provided with Funktion-One the biggest P.A. system ever seen at NoWhere. The longest running camp, The Burrow, was in its fourth year and this year had two trampolines.
  • Healing Space is created
  • Greening Nowhere activities: solar power, local water for Werkhaus
  • Nowhere Tribune new era (Pat and Julio).
  • First radio station: Radio Understanding (by Mr Understanding) working as NoRadio, operating from the NoInfo desk.
  • The Nowhere Census publishes information about participants and their experience [5]

2010[edit]

  • Very hot year, temperatures over 40 deg C.
  • Mudpool created at Sssh!
  • Unofficial Nowhere song (was played all the time at Werkhouse): Caro Emerald, "Stuck" (Going to Nowhere) [6]

2011[edit]

Nowhere 2011
  • 700 participants
  • Location: same as 2008,2009,2010 near Sariñena/Castejon de Monegros
  • About 24 camps/barrios - lots of new theme camps
  • Theme: Shapeworld
  • First artcar with a bar and soundsystem (Cathode Ray Mission, Berlin)
  • Nowhere's Telefon system connected a number of camps and toilets (art project "ArtPhone" Ma-No Delage & Sebastian Arndt, Montauban, France )

2012[edit]

  • 1004 tickets sold[7]
  • Theme: Rebirth Earth
  • 3 art cars this year - Cathode Ray Mission's cloud car, Raidiots ghettoblaster car and Suck My Rock's pirate ship.
  • Vivien Voom and Gonzo got married at Middle of Nowhere
  • Babycham handbag trebuchet vs Pillage Village pirate ship battle.
  • No Gladys this year

2013[edit]

2014[edit]

  • For the first time, sold out before the event.

Principles[edit]

Nowhere is built on the following key principles, inspired by Burning Man:

Self-expression

The freedom to be in a creative and liberating space.

Radical self-reliance

You are responsible for yourself.

No commerce

Bring all you need because you can’t buy it there.

Leave no trace

Create something from nothing, and leave nothing behind. (This means you take all your trash back with you, there are no trash bins or recycling.)

Participation

Get involved – this is not an event for spectators.

About the event[edit]

Origin of the name

In 2004, at the first Nowhere event, there was a public board to suggest names for the event. Out of it came the formalization of the name Nowhere. According to Bongo Pedro, the first mention of the name Nowhere occurred in a thread discussing names for the event. Armand wrote that he couldn't wait to meet us all in the "middle of nowhere". Three people liked the idea of Nowhere as a name and none of the other ideas got more than one vote each.

The following story is a lucky coincidence about the origin of the name: it was suggested the name came from a sign showing Welcome to Nowhere outside the only store and gas station in Empire, Nevada,[8][9] the second-to-last town on the way to Burning Man; it consists only of a few houses and is literately in the middle of Nowhere, the Nevada desert.

Landscape

The landscape in the region of Monegros near Zaragoza is very dry and has a desert-like feel. Some canyons around Nowhere resemble the desert in Nevada. There is a lot of agriculture close to the Nowhere location, but it depends heavily on a well-developed irrigation system with water from the Pyrenees. The areas south of Nowhere are not densely populated at all - there are a few farming towns far apart from each other.

Middle of Nowhere (MoN)[10]

Central shade structure which is a public space for relaxing, dancing, workshops and socializing.

Barrios (aka Theme Camps)[edit]

A Barrio is a group of people who camp together, have a common infrastructure (kitchen, shade structure) and typically provide a certain service or attraction to other participants. Theme camps are a vital part of Nowhere.

Those that went before

  • Road2Nowhere 2004-2006: Home to volunteers, organizers and everybody else
  • The Burrow 2005–2009: First three geodesic domes. First theme camp, fully erected kitchen with three sinks.
  • The Pirates 2005. First theme camp: Rival and only neighbour of the Burrow, provided soundsystem for the two camps to share and the 'Singin in the Rain' fireshow.
  • Hotel Palas - aka The Spanish camp 2004-2006: Artists, and co-founders of Nowhere
  • Rockstars/Aröckalypse 2007–present: Loud, great music. Rock church lowered into the ground. Vaguely re-incarnated as 'Never never learn'
  • Lemmings 2007-2008: Home of great trance music
  • Fight Club/Nowhere Ninja Academy/Last Chance Saloon/Funhaus 2006–2009: Stable wooden main structure. Ball pit. Sound system.
  • Pandemonium Circus 2008: Trapeze acts, Lots of clowns
  • The Village 2008: The Belgian camp: A quiet chill out space/shade structure
  • AntArtica-Icecamp 2009: Gifted free ice to everybody
  • Music es mi vida 2009: Italian crew, largest sound system - changed to 'The Garden of joy' in 2010.
  • Cafe Cairo 2009: Dome made out of tree branches, amazing music instruments
  • Momma Messy's Kitchen 2009
  • Yes Please! 2009-2010: Chill tent with infinite amount of soft carpet. Renamed to 'Why Not'.
  • Soleil-le-vent 2009: Belgian
  • Nodrama Piano Bar 2009: Friendly neighborhood hangout with a piano
  • Paint Tipi 2009: French
  • Crossroads 2009: Coffee lounge with plenty of fresh coffee day and night, close to the mountain
  • The pool 2009 : French, video projections
  • Bubble camp 2010 : French, with a giant bubbles workshop
  • Le bois rieur 2011 : French, small chillout space with a fountain
  • Paradisihamac 2011-2012: Chillout hammock camp.

Current Barrio's

  • Werkhaus 2007–present: Official NORG camp, DPW connections. Large kitchen that feeds 80 people
  • Chuchichäschtli/Elite Porn Academy 2006–present: The Swiss camp. Home to several installations.
  • Camp Babycham 2009–present: Double dome construction, beautiful bar and coffee in the morning
  • Cathode Ray Mission 2010–present: Movie's screened every night. Also the cloud art car.
  • Chuchichästli 2011–present: The camp with the unpronounceable name. Shade area and Swiss treats.
  • Costume Camp 2010–present: Provides costumes of all types to everyone. Also cat walk shows.
  • EatYourArtOut 2010–present: Support camp for all artists.
  • Pillage Village 2012–present: The roving pirate ship.
  • Sssh! 2010–present: Healing and meditation camp. Massages and plenty of workshops every day.
  • Top of Nowhere 2011–present: Shade and chillout space at the top of slope.
  • The Garden 2010–present: Biggest sound system on the Playa!
  • Touch and Play 2012–present: Camp for creative exchange of thoughts, feelings and physicality
  • Übertown 2005–present: Party camp who rival The Garden for largest sound system
  • Fluöpolar 2012–present: French camp offering a yearly fluopainting night and hosting several installations.
  • Krampouz 20012-present: French-Begian-Luxembourgish offering crepes everydays

Nowhere related Theme Camps at Burning Man[edit]

Cult of Alice (2004)

One of the first European camps was Cult of Alice. It had about 35 people in it from across Europe in it and was led by SnowStorm.

Interplanetary Dance Commandos (2005)

Returned to the playa in the place of Cult of Alice. They brought dancing to your party and British sweets to your palate.

Quixote's Cabaret Club and Bar[11] (2006–present)

Started by the London couple Emma and Monty in 2005. In 2005, it was a 20 ft x 40 ft enclosed stage made of scaffolding and tarpaulin, with a borrowed sound system and the world’s finest 50-buck homemade lighting rig. In 2008, the camp had over 80 participants and has its own storage facility in Reno, Nevada. The camp featured a cabaret featuring a Burlesque Show in 2005 and 2006 on two nights.

Nowhere Omnibus[12]

Camp/Installation at Burning Man 2009. The Nowhere Omnibus was simultaneously an interactive art experience and an actual service. It combined physical installations around the Esplanade, in the form of idealized bus stops, with a traditional London Routemaster bus, which circumnavigated the playa, to a tight schedule, every day of Burning Man.

Black Rock International Burner Hostel (BRIBH)[13]

Hagey (Reno NV) operated the burner hostel for nine years. In the later years he was assisted by Kiwi and Irish. The burner hostel created an amazing space for travelling burners to go Burning Man - many travellers could stay in days before Burning Man at Hagey's house in Reno, where many burners stopped to take the travellers at the hostel to the playa. The BRIBH was also home a number of European first time burners. In 2008, the burner hostel did not operate due to a combination of a number unfortunate factors.[14]

London Decompression Party[edit]

The London decompression party lasts one long night and everyone dresses up in costumes.

Year Exact Date Location Participants
2001  ??? Room above the Dogstar pub in Brixton 50
2002 Dec 20-22nd Epping Forrest YHA, three-day event 80
2004 4th Dec. 491 Gallery 150
2005 3rd Dec. 491 Gallery 311
2006 2nd Dec. 491 Gallery 400
2007 1st Dec. Synergy Centre, Brixton 550
2008 5th Dec. Arcades/former parking garage under a train bridge, South London 1100

See also[edit]

References[edit]

External links[edit]