I wondered if taking Makena to a fundraiser was going to be an acceptable way to spend our monthly Daddy-Daughter Date Night last Saturday. If it had been any other fundraiser, it might not have gone over so well. But because this was a fundraiser put on by Burners, it was a night my daughter will never forget.
The purpose of the event was to raise money so that the OC Burners can bring a large-scale art project to this year’s Burning Man for the C.O.R.E. Project — the Circle Of Regional Effigies. Basically, it’s a bunch of really big art pieces that encircle The Man, and they all get burned at the same time on Thursday night.
I am thrilled to get to be part of this, and am simply in awe of the creative muscle that is on display with this group of Burners. The thought, time, and effort that these men and women have put in to this so far is inspiring. They are a wonderful group of people, and Saturday night, they put on one helluva party.
The event said “kids welcome” and so I asked Makena if she wanted to go. My daughter is the adventurous one – she is more open to new things than her brother is, and when she said, “sure”, I wasn’t surprised.
Everyone that we encountered was super-friendly. There were other kids there, who invited Makena to play ball with them. There was food and drink and decorations – much like any other party she might have been to before.
And there were raffle prizes that we entered to win. Makena saw two hand-made knitted caps being raffled off, and put most of our raffle tickets in the cups for those two prizes.
For some reason, Makena instantly fell in love with these hats. She was nearly obsessed with them, and all night long she kept saying, “Oh, I hope we win a hat!”
At one point, a DJ started playing music, and Makena’s journey into Burner culture started in earnest. She was enchanted by the woman spinning the music, a lovely person who went by the name Poptart, who had an adorable little pug dog named Bjork with whom Makena was instantly enamored.
“Dad,” Makena said to me, holding my hand while we danced.
“Yes?” I said, speaking loudly to be heard over the music.
“When I squeeze your hand like this,” she said, and squeezed my hand as hard as she could, “it means it’s a cuteness alert.”
“A cuteness alert?” I said, wondering what she was talking about.
“Uh-huh,” she said. “That dog is so cute, I just can’t take it and I have to squeeze your hand cause it’s so cute,” she said, smiling and giddy. “So you know when I squeeze your hand, it’s cause the dog is so cute!” She spied the dog lying under the DJ equipment, and she squeezed my hand in delight.
It made perfect sense to me. The dog was, indeed, overpoweringly cute.
In addition to the killer music and the adorable dog, our Daddy-Daughter Date Night included some people who were going to spin fire for us. We found some of them practicing outside, and one nice fellow named Paul, who wore the coolest red fez, was practicing with some orange lengths of cloth weighted at the ends to simulate the poi that the fire spinners use in their performances. Makena was curious, but shy — and Paul very kindly invited her to try it out.
The rest of the evening included some amazing, mesmerizing performances.
At one point on the dance floor, Makena exclaimed, “I’m having the time of my life!” It did my heart good to see her enjoying herself so much. She felt at home there, and it occurred to me that that’s who Burners are — people who welcome the stranger, even if the stranger is an 8 year old girl whose Dad brought her to an event where neither of them really knew anyone. It didn’t matter that we didn’t know anyone – we were welcomed just the same.
So this post is dedicated to those people in the Orange County Burner community who put on such a fantastic event Saturday night, and who treated this single dad and his little girl like family. It was a night neither of us will forget.
Oh — and we won BOTH hats!