7 days. That’s all we had. 7 days and 400 miles between us and our destination, the bay area…for an event known as Beyond Wonderland. We didn’t have any materials, and no contacts for sourcing in the bay…but we said we’d pull it off, so it had to get done. It was Friday night, and doors opened the following Saturday afternoon.
With no time to spare, we hurried up the I-5 and got to San Francisco Saturday morning. The first task at hand was getting a place to pre-build the facades. Luckily, our new Psychedelic Bingo friends shed kindly light, welcoming us with open arms into their beautiful warehouse known as One Hat One Hand where we stayed until the project was complete. This place was like a haven for us, everything perfectly placed, all the tools and saws we could ever need, and massive amounts of space. It was the ultimate builders playground.
The next step was to gather material, and by some perfect twist of fate there was a dump yard around the corner from the warehouse. When we walked by, we noticed some pieces of two-by’s that were perfect for framing wood. They were laying off to the side, in a dump pile…just enough pieces for the entire project. We grabbed them and got to work, tearing wood and making brick panels for the next day and a half.
Monday we were off to Shoreline Amphitheater, geared up and ready to start working on-site only to find the project would have to come to a hault on account of Lil Wayne playing a show the following night! This meant we couldn’t start building until Wednesday making our narrow build window even smaller. We used the time wisely gathering materials, and costuming at the local thrift stores, and restores.
Wednesday came and we finally were allowed to work, with only 3 days before doors opened. The theme to the zone was a throwback to the 80s, the birth of hip hop, to compliment the Boombox art car that we were building a scene around. Picture a block party in New York, with stoops that led up to graffitied brick buildings with second floor windows, dilapidated old corner stores, a clothing line, and telephone poles, so real that the local fire marshall mistook them for actual telephone poles! Little by little it looked more like the Brooklyn neighborhood that this Imaginator grew up in. The piece that tied everything together was the 1983 Crown Victoria station wagon that we parked to the side of the building. All weekend long participants got to watch several different artists (including our own Mr. Prescott McCarthy) “bomb” out the car in various graffiti styles. We built non-stop until Friday night, framing the last door and stringing together the last of the “electrical” wire at nightfall.
The festival itself was a blast. We were decked out in our finest hip-hop style 80’s neon outfits…entertaining the crowd with dance battles, limbo lines, handshake competitions, and synchronized dances on top of the art car. Different performers would come up to our second floor windows and run skits and dances for the crowd. On one occasion, there was a scavenger hunt that ended in our zone in which the prize was an old-school cassette tape with a Donald Glaude house mix. We stood on our roof and leaned outside our windows and tossed out the cassettes to the ecstatic members of the crowd. An awesome souvenir, perfect for the theme surrounding it.
The best part was on Sunday when all the performers gathered around a long tea-table for an impromptu tea party. Dozens of performers from clowns to ducks to trees running around offering cups of tea in nonsensical terms. The faces in the crowd lit up and many people got into the fray, becoming part of the hilariously chaotic scene.
Somehow, in 7 days, the magic all came together and we all had an amazing time…thanks in large part to the audience who came there with the right attitude. Can’t wait to see what happens next. Imaginator out.