Good news for L.A. "burners": For the first time since 2013, L.A. Decompression, the annual post–Burning Man celebration, will return to L.A. State Historic Park, which reopened earlier this year following a $13 million, three-year renovation project.
"Decom," as it's known to participants, was held at L.A. State Historic Park near Chinatown for five consecutive years. But when the park closed for renovations, the large outdoor event — featuring DJs, fire dancers, art cars and other elements of Burning Man culture — was left without a home. An attempt to move the event to another location was thwarted by city red tape in 2015, though a drastically scaled-down version of Decom did take place in a warehouse space in the L.A. Arts District last year.
When L.A. State Historic Park reopened in April, the stage was set for L.A. Decom's return to its former home. But even then, says Decom producer Esquire Jauchem, the event wasn't confirmed until about a month before Burning Man, which meant that he and his team at the Los Angeles League of Arts, the Burning Man–affiliated nonprofit that puts on Decom, had to scramble to confirm participants.
"It's been a challenge," Jauchem admits, speaking by phone while en route to a meeting with the fire marshal, "but everyone's excited that we're back."
This year's L.A. Decom will feature four stages: the Ignite Fire stage, featuring fire performers and other live acts; the Charlie the Unicorn stage, featuring DJs Diva Danielle, Todd Spero, Jacob Kalski, Fleetwood Smack, Erik Nelson, Somekindaweirdo and Philip Evans; the Subtract Music stage, featuring DJs Anton Tumas, Brad Moontribe, Deltavox, Isaiah Martin, Joe P., Loboman, Massio, Patricio, Synchronometry and Zach Walker; and the Art Car Bus Stop, with performers to be announced. There will also be numerous Burning Man art cars, theme camps (Burning Man gathering spots that typically feature interactive art, music or just a colorful environment in which to chill), and large-scale art installations, either designed specifically for Decom or imported from the "playa," the dry lake bed in Nevada on which the annual Burning Man festival takes place.
In addition to all the art and music, Jauchem, who also runs the popular Bubble Lounge theme camp, says the revamped park itself will be a major attraction this year. "The park is fabulous," he says. "They did a beautiful job. Even the ranger station is like something out of a Japanese garden."
Among the park's new features, he says, is a channel for rainwater runoff that, because it's currently dry, his team plans to fill with thousands of tiny LED lights to create a "light river." There's also a large ramp that winds up to an overlook from which you can see the entire park. "I can't wait to get up there when it's all lit up. That's a view we never had before."
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Because the park is on state land, Decom doesn't have to deal as much with city bureaucrats; state officials, Jauchem says, have been less of a hassle to work with. "They really like our event because it's so different from what they usually deal with," he says. And because of Burning Man's "leave no trace" ethos, "They don't have to pick up a ton of garbage when we leave."
Not everyone from the city dislikes Decom; one L.A. fire marshal, according to Jauchem, makes it a point to attend every one. "He loves our event, because he gets to come and watch semi-naked women juggle fire."
L.A. Decompression returns to L.A. State Historic Park on Saturday, Oct. 14, from 1 to 11 p.m. No advance tickets; admission is $20, cash only (organizers say they will provide an ATM near the entrance). For more event info, visit the L.A. Decom Facebook page or ladecom.com.