Sunday, October 17, 2010

SL's Lamplighters: beginning of the end of an era?

Last year the highlight of my Burning Life experience was dancing with the Lamplighters.  They'd play percussions in their campsite, then lead a run through the main events tent and the legs of the Man, past roadside campsites, away from the lag of the lower, more densely populated regions, all the way to the crystal temple.  There participants could generate their own lag with anyone who wished to participate.

The lamplighters offered percussions and firefans freely to those who asked, as was the spirit of Burning Man and one of its most solemn principles.

They inspired me to join them this time around.  No clashing of schedules this time.  I'd run to the temple each night and dance in flames to bring out the sun.

Things haven't been the same with them this year.

When Snurky and I visited their village before Burn2 opened, it was an interesting educational experience, with different campsites within their village which doubled as an exhibit; you used these items to try out different percussions.  I noticed that there were no boxes of robes or percussions out for people to take.  I figured they just hadn't packed everything out yet.

As it turns out, time and resources did not permit Snurky to make her build.  As soon as I knew this I let them know and someone else got to use the parcel.  No big deal.  There was still the Lamplighters.

Snurky and I had our percussions from last year.  We were sent the Lamplighter robes - those with flame trim, which set them apart from the all-white civilian robes. 

The conditions last night didn't surprise me.  The rules of physics were different witbout SL in charge of the festival and at liberty to commit a frivolous number of sims to the continent - thereby allowing a sim buffer between venues and the rest of it.  Burning Man privately host this year and have been prone to fees, just as any nonprofit org coming to make a presence in Second Life.  Donations, lotteries, and rentals went toward estate fees.  Only 6 regions comprise everything.  Consider the same number of people could attend and be expected to fill into the limited space.  This means everyone situated in regions sharing the main stage (2/3 of the minicontinent) are prone to encounter a full region at any time during the festivities.  This included the Lamplighters' village.

How it was handled by those in charge of the Lamplighters was surprising and a bit of a disappointment when the time came for their procession last night.

With the majority of the sim's populace at the central tent and a small number of group tagged lampers, it was decided unilaterally by one avatar that they would remain sequestered within their home region and drum at the baths.  Because he couldn't bear the thought of them teleporting out of the region, he didn't serve to free up room for the entertainment tent nor use that beautiful crystalline temple - where there was room for Playa residents and wandersby (which I happened to be last year).

Close-minded and separatist, I thought.  Certainly not a service to the community.

This is the event denizens care about and want to be a part of.  The Lamplighter ceremony is what bridges Burn2 with Burning Man.  Sometimes you have to step back and assess the situation objectively:  Does one uphold the integrity of the ceremony by stubbornly refusing to teleport past four full regions,  or does one do so by holding the ceremony where it doesn't compete with a major event?  Let's face it: the temples have always been situated remotely so that discovery and spontaneous participation was welcome if not expected.  It was a true expression of community.  The ceremony generates its own numbers for lag.  Therefore teleporting WAS the only right action in this scenario.  This is Second Life. It has its own physics just as much as the average adult humanoid here is 6-1/2 to 7 feet tall.
When I got to the temple, some were waiting around expecting the Lamplighters.  I put on some robage and took a lantern and walked along the roads of Bordello.  The lights from the myriad of creations were stunning against the dusky sky.  I made my way back to the temple, where I brought out firefans and a conga I had from last year.  A handful gathered around while I drummed. 

A newbie came over and expressed interest in joining in.  I found out then that the conga was not copiable.  If I wanted to give her my conga, I could not play with her.

I did anyway and brb'd to get Snurky to send me something - a set of bongos, a new item she picked up while touring the village.

Back at the temple I was lucky to still have rez access to place the bongo stand down.  How odd that this year the Lampies offered percussions not only uncopiable but requiring group access to use.  For some reason the congas wouldn't work for the newbie.  Maybe they only work for those with group access?  Wouldn't that be odd?  Is that possible?
 The small party hung out until sunrise.  Two wonderful artists I met at BL9 happened in and danced to the rhythm (cool - the conga could play more than one tempo simultaneously).  They said their goodbyes in the morning light and continued exploring the playa.  I derezzed the bongos and called it a night.

If they do the same thing tonight, so will I.

I'll come prepared though, with as many transferable items I feel I'll need to keep a tradition and help anyone inspired to join in.  I tried to find those all-white robes. There were none to be found.

Look for me at 10:15pm eastern time / 7:15 pm SLT in Bordello if so-and-so dictates the same decision.  Certainly no one will ban us for banging the drum where it was meant to occur :)

UPDATE: The mystery of the nonworking conga is solved.  In a way it was about group access.  See, the half of the temple in Rabbit Hole region is noscripts.  Once we all migrated over to the Bordello side, everybody tonight could play together.


  1. i'm glad the lamplighters chose to hang out in my temple. i wish i had known, i would have braved the lag.

  2. Oh Wizzy - they didn't. I did with a few stray playa folk. And let me say that is a BEAUTIFUL piece of architecture. It was as much an insult to you that they didn't hold their official ceremony there last night.

  3. Hey Holo,

    I am one of the creators of the Burning Life Drums for 2009. I left you a IM inworld and a file.


  4. Ty Christa - I got :) thanks tons!