Circus Reviewed: Fluidity
Here is a retelling of my experience with Zepto Space’s Fluidity, described as “an experimental arts group curating sacred spaces for healing and personal transformation…[which] exist as an organically expanding boundaryless entity” (zepto.com 8/11/2017)The group was hosting it’s second annual retreat known as Fluidity and I was invited to go. I saw that it would feature quite the variety of circus artists and performances and thought fuck yeah! Circus! So I packed up my car for the night (and a planned portion of the next day) and drove from Tacoma to Redmond Washington.
What I experienced really was an array of hits and some misses.
But here’s the deal. I went by myself. And not only did I go by myself but I only knew one person at the event. I wanted to go alone because I want people who aren’t yet immersed in the circus community or for those who are but don’t live in the Seattle area can see what it would be like for them. Which may include you, who is reading this now.
How is it to experience something new with new people?
First things being first, I’d like to start off on a positive note.
When I arrived, I checked in and took my time setting up my tent. I walked around the grounds and felt comfortable in my solitude. It was around 3 in the afternoon, and I felt like I was people watching, but I had a tinge of nervousness. My ego was checking in to remind me that I could “look like a stupid wierdo for coming here alone” and then I had an internal battle between talking to people for the sake of showing that I was “okay” with being alone and leaving people be so that they can have their own experiences (but also because I wanted to seem more aloof than I am… ugh).
While I was walking around in the middle of the day, full of cognitive disonance with beads of sweat dripping through my shirt and dust getting stuck on my toes I decided I needed to shower all this angst off. I needed a swim. I went to the pool house, and I don’t know why I was surprised when I walked through a layer of flowy white curtains to see naked bodies in an indoor pool filled with large inflatables and noodles, but I was. There was a stage area with a DJ playing house/ trans and as I walked around I was told about the outside shower and I decided to get in. Even though I was wearing my bathing suit underneath, I decided to take it of and "be in Rome". The pool smelled of chlorine and the lighting was ambient. People’s eyes wandered in curiosity (I too admit, that it’s hard to not look at floating boobies) but the solo swimmers were respectful of personal space. A game of water volleyball was played and some jumping through a large inflatable unicorn resulted in an open environment. After a couple hours, and pruney fingers and toes (and other bits!) I dried off to walk around.
The sun was still warm as the rest of the day light was spent roasting corn over a crazy large fire, getting some history of the land by a semi snarky (but well meaning) corn man all while the bands played instrumental and soft vocal music underneath a decorated aerial rig. (There was a beautiful cello man, who helped me with said corn but I didn’t get his name.) During dusk, dinner was served with the relaxed vibes of adult bodies “strewn” across the grass melted with red skies and loud crickets.
When it go closer to darkness is is when it got a bit silly.
Check it, I’m sitting on the grass, smelling like chlorine and corn butter staring at a pretty dude and laughing at a cave which resembles a vagina when my friend informed me of the events for the night. She highlighted a voyage and how it required teams, and once voyage finished there would be some cool ass aerial and fire dancing. I maintained sitting by myself until two (well meaning, I’m sure) men flanked me on both sides. One touched my knee and the other went from simple conversation to “I’m so glad you came out here, and by yourself! So brave. It’s nice to see such a pretty smiling face”.. And then he also touched my knee. When I excused myself to go back to my tent, they both got up and hugged me.
I am not a hugger.
Anyways, I left and wrote stuff down in my journal and then went back during the beginning of ceremonies. When I returned, there was a man dressed to the 9’s in celebratory mastery with jumping stilts and a woman at the forefront of the stage, cloaked in regalia as well. I participated in a quest, which I won’t go into detail because I don’t want to minimize my experience (luckily, less knee touching and much more positive) and I came back to some dope aerial. First a trapeze artists and then aerial hammock, which concluded with fire spinning. Again, the quality of the circus was REAL GOOD, ya'll. Real good. The trapeze artists performed for a circus crowd and I whole heartedly appreciated it.
From then on, it started raining so I went back to my tent and put on a rain oat and opened up my bottle of wine. I purchased a cool camping cup and went to the fire to unchill while everyone scurried to make things as waterproof as they could. There was a “workshop” posted for the fire for dancing but no one was doing so yet, just sitting and being casual. I had another experience where I felt uncomfortable with more touching and to "escape" I looked at the event flyer and went to the art tent for another listed workshop.
I sat there for 20 minutes. At a table of 4 other people. I’m not kidding when I say that I wasn’t sure if the workshop was watching them create art or if I were to get involved. I also didn’t want to interrupt but I’m not kidding when I say that literally no one there spoke to me. It was awkward and I have no doubt I contributed to the awkwardness. Finally, a lovely relaxed gentleman came over and began showing all the art kits he had. He created stamps out of soft rocks and had a watercolor kit in his pocket. He also had beautifully bound moleskin notebooks which could fit in your back pocket. While he was showing me how to make a stamp, two friendly faces came over and the original artists invited people to make a group art piece.
I made a new friend, who talked circus, life balance and Seattle Circus and shared some time in the tea tent (one of my favorite environments for sure) and her tequilla (which I most definitely drank too much of BUT I DO WHAT I WANT).
I stayed up until 2 am, standing in an outdoor kitchen and making friends, feeling kinda drunk. It was a highlight for sure. Sure enough the rain started to come down harder and I was yawning more than talking.
I took one last bite from someone’s discarded cake and trudged to my tent.
I awoke the next morning to walk around for a few hours and drank my coffee. The morning air and ground were moist and quiet. I contemplated staying for the rest of the day for the remainder of the workshops, but felt extremely tired. I also realized that two of the "space invaders" were up and I was actively trying to avoid them, which sucks. When I went to my tent to dress, I started packing up and next thing I knew I was completed and had packed my entire camp, tent included. There was to be a morning yoga workshop scheduled around that time, but when I walked to my car to put my stuff away I just felt exhausted. I wanted to go home. And I did.
Here's the thing, I had a great time. I could have had an AMAZING time if I brought friends, or, if I were more a part of the community which organized the event. And that's something to note, because a lot of people will feel "entitled" to be welcomed or comfortable at any setting they go to. Not every environment will make everyone happy all the time. And that's okay. I can garauntee you that a LOT of people in the circus community would absolutely love an event like this. Less physical boundaries, more relaxed scheduled. A "do what feels good in the moment" vibe. I'M JUST NOT ONE OF THOSE PEOPLE. I like deadlines, strict boundaries, yes's and no's and schedules. And if you're someone who is more right brain oriented, I think you would love this event. Hell, I think if I had just brought a friend (perhaps Chelsea or Jenny who are way more laid back than I ever will be and I appreciate them 1,000 times for it) I would have been less defensive and weird.
So go to the festival. Eat some corn and drink too much whiskey. Watch beautiful people perform art and eat discarded cake in the rain. I'll just wear a shirt that says "Not a Hugger" next time and bring a wing-person (Kinda not kidding...).
If you're interested in experiencing a festival like this, the organization which held it, Zepto Space is throwing their End of Summer event called Imagine. You can find tickets below.
I'd like to thank the welcoming group at Zepto Space for not only inviting me, but also working with my weird schedule. I was able to show up on a Saturday afternoon and people were there to help me with my car, get a ticket etc.
And to end on a funny note: