THE BLOG
09/15/2011 05:54 pm ET | Updated Nov 15, 2011

Mischief in the District

Mischief is an evolving entity dedicated to developing the Washington, D.C. Burning Man community through holding events featuring the arts, music, dance and self-expression. I spoke with two of the four organizers of Mischief, Sequoia and Dustin, about the genesis of Mischief and where they hope to take it in the future.

According to Dustin, Mischief is intended to draw together scattered small artistic groups in D.C., to provide mutual inspiration for future projects, to provide wider exposure for new artists, to foster the spirit of the Burning Man festival in our local community and to motivate future artistic works. In order to provide assistance to the artists in the D.C. community, Mischief always provides financial compensation to the DJs who perform and offers art grants for projects at their events.

While the organizers held an initial fund-raising event in late 2008 to get Mischief off the ground, the first significant event was a pre-party for the local observance of the worldwide phenomena known as Santarchy. Santarchy is a loosely organized mob of frenzied Holiday-a-holics, dedicated to squeezing every last bit of cheer out of Christmas by Any Means Necessary. In order to whip the eggnog drenched masses into a new level of holiday frenzy, the four friends decided to organize a "Naughty Snowball" the night before Santarchy to allow the multiple Kris Kringles, Mrs. Clauses, Hanukah Harrys and the one and only Pierre the Pink French Christmas Monkey a means to burn off excess energy so they weren't all tasered on the National Mall the following day. The first Naughty Snowball was held three years ago this December, and by all recollection, it was a magnificent, messy success. I myself suffered only a chipped tooth as I served as Santa on his throne of glory -- I should have learned long ago not to bite down on hard on a glass candy canes innocently offer by a naughty elf. She will pay. Oh yes, she will pay.

Following this early success, Mischief has moved forward in its mission and has held numerous events in the D.C. area. The most recent of these was an August "Compression Party" held just before the annual Burning Man festival in Nevada. This gathering featured multiple DJs, a back room for amateur pole-dancing and black light painting, and a range of brilliantly costumed attendees. Mischief also represented the D.C. area at a regional Burning Man event this July in North Carolina with a large theme camp. This camp brought together five different D.C.-area groups and built a thriving temporary autonomous zone in the hills near Asheville, North Carolina. I did not attend this event, known as Transformus, due to events beyond my control. OK, I was a lazy ass and didn't procure a ticket in time for the sold-out event. By all reports, the Mischief presence at Transformus was a great success, leading to increased interest in the next big Mischief event.

The Mischief crew revealed their next big event will be the 2011 Naughty Snowball. Details are still being worked out, but they may be teaming up with groups from other cities in the area to host the next festival of Elves Gone Wild. Mischief continues to cooperate with other Washington, D.C. groups, such as the Eighty Eight collective and District Burners, and Sequoia mentioned the Mischief crew is excited about the "Decompression" event being organized by Eighty Eight for late September. Mischief is an evolving project, dealing with changing times, growing pains, and the difficulty of thriving in a city without readily available spaces to hold large artistic events. As Dustin noted, this has generated a hearty breed of alternative artists who have learned to adapt and create a thriving community in a challenging environment.