“Boob soup”!

img_5908.jpgThe other end of the pool was barely visible through the steam rising off the surface of the water. A battered orange tarp was draped over the yard, which was behind a bungalow in suburban Vancouver. On this Saturday night in early February, drops of freezing rain leaked through the holes and spattered the swimmers and water-treaders. The water had been heated, with propane, to hot tub temperatures. Rubber duckies, air mattresses and buoyant Styrofoam “noodles” floated by. Nearly everyone was naked, and lithe, beautiful women were everywhere. I, who grew up with a swimming pool in the backyard but had never been witness to something like this, should’ve been in heaven.

So why was I so anxious?

Well, for one thing, I didn’t really know anyone, except for my date. For another, many of the guests, and definitely the hosts, were veterans of Burning Man, the six-day annual event held in the Nevada desert devoted to freedom of expression, wild behaviour, and (in my wildest dreams) unparalleled sexual debauchery. What if people started asking me what my favourite part of last year’s Burning Man was? What if they discovered I wasn’t One of Them—would they run me out of the pool, chasing me down the suburban street with poi? I also fretted over looking too long in the wrong place(s) and/or giving off the wrong vibe, like the guy who’d approached my date with the line, “You look just like this other really beautiful girl that’s here—you could be sisters.” Sheesh!

Fortunately, I was there with J., who was not only familiar with this crowd but, from the amount of nude, wetly glistening hugs I witnessed, one of the most popular players in the scene. While her re-acquaintancing left me to cool my jets for the first part of the evening, after an hour or so I began to relax and get in the rhythm of meeting new nudes. J. certainly smoothed the way by introducing me to friends like Allison, with a flower tiara in her hair and Meredith, who shared her frozen mango and Jameson’s Irish. More than once I brought my male energy over to where J. was with a couple or trio of girls, only to find them discussing their breasts and nipples—someone by then had even coined the term, relative to the pool, “boob soup.” Meanwhile, with everyone as excited as kids on the eve of the release of a new Harry Potter tome, voices rose and fell, and a cycle of “Shhhhhhh!” continuously spread as a reminder to keep the noise to a minimum to avoid the neighbours’ wrath.

I didn’t spend all my time in the water—there were other areas to explore.  On the living room in the main floor, a massage table was set up; people relaxed on the couch or on the floor. In the kitchen, a Russian girl tended to a pot of pea soup and tray of latkes. In the basement, one room was set up as a dancefloor, complete with a bar, a DJ booth, and a stripper pole. In one corner of the “chill and art” room, a guy in coveralls painted an East Van cityscape that included the orange dock cranes visible from my apartment, a detail I found significant at the time. On the art room’s floor, partygoers lay on futons, some having a sexytime. Those feeling especially frisky could avail themselves of the nearby “play room”, which was a barely curtained off nook. All in all, it was undeniably the wildest party I’d ever been to. I mean, there was that lingerie party back in the ’90s—that was pretty hot. And then last year I was at a “half-off” party, where people were either topless (black duct tape covering naughty bits) or pantless. That had been fun. But this was like being at the Playboy Mansion but with more dreadlocks and fire sculptures.


Finally, by the time we left, I felt completely comfortable. It helped that I’d relaxed enough to make small talk—no one even asked about Burning Man. Having J.’s seal of approval was a huge benefit, and I’d even known more people as the evening wore on, including a former music industry pal now with his own travel show on OLN (check it at www.moderngonzo.com), as well as another popular member of the community and two people I recognized from my gym. The party was still in full-ish swing by the time J. and I left, somewhere before daylight, while the music still played but after the rain had ceased, and the water had cooled off. 

1 Response to ““Boob soup”!”

  1. 1 Warhol
    April 11, 2008 at 12:44 am

    Sorry to hear you took a long time to relax. One of the “Ten Principles” of Burning Man is

    Our community is committed to a radically participatory ethic. We believe that transformative change, whether in the individual or in society, can occur only through the medium of deeply personal participation. We achieve being through doing. Everyone is invited to work. Everyone is invited to play. We make the world real through actions that open the heart.

    It was incorrect for your “date” to expose you to this level of freedom without warning you on what you are getting into…. mind the pun.

    One thing I have learned is you get out what you put in. I fully understand that some activities are “Radical Self-expression” to the extreme. But the fact that you did not mention in your blog any pARTicipation in any activities it seems to me you acted like a tourist. These free minded Burning Man thinkers do not take to onlookers. It is up to you expand your own personal self-imposed boundaries.

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