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Wasteland Weekend: a post-apocalyptic campout experience

USA | Wednesday, 27 October 2010 | Views [7275] | Comments [6]

Wasteland Weekend 2010

Wasteland Weekend 2010

What: Mad Max-themed camp out weekend

Where: the wastelands compound in the Californian desert

When: October 22-24, 2010


What can I say about this event? It was the first of many; it was my first ‘themed’ campout experience. It was my first time camping in the desert. It was the first time I camped with friends rather than family. It was the first event (sans clubbing) that I have done since coming home from Australia.


As for the event itself – imagine the 1980’s Mad Max movies starring Mel Gibson come to life right before your eyes in a dusty and windy desert – and there are no observers. All are active participants in this charade. There is Bartertown and the Atomic Café, the last of the V8 Interceptor cars (funnily enough there were 2 so maybe not the last, after all), a gyrocopter plane and a bus with “Maggot Wagon” spray painted on the top front, the A-TACO-lypse restaurant for all your quick munchie fixes, and costumes galore in all shades of post-apocalyptic mayhem. Gothic industrial music blaring and DJ sets from late morning until early morning, fire twirlers with all sorts of apparatus (even a hoop skirt set to flame), people with fire guns and other random things, guys called Juggers coming in for some form of bloody football (a game apparently invented expressly for the movie The Salute of the Jugger/The Blood of Heroes), and a quick hello transmission from crew down under working on the Mad Max 4 movie.


My thoughts of the event are quite varied. I went with 4 other friends (3 of whom went to the original Mad Max weekend last year run by different staff) and talking to them I got an idea of what the event was like and it seemed like this year was run less towards actual events happening – or events happening much later than they should have in this years case – and more about meeting, hanging out, and associating with the people that came. And came they did; mostly from California and Nevada but quite a few from the east coast of America, Canada, and even as far away as Australia (my former home for the past year and one that I miss more than I thought I would).


What I liked about this year’s weekend was the fact that numerous folk come over to our campfire to introduce themselves and share some booze or marshmallows. So without having gone last year it seems like last year was smaller number-wise but more packed-full of things to see or do (car races, more gyrocopters, etc.) whereas this year was far more relaxed and about interacting with the people who did decide to come and not necessarily about the events happening. The staff running the show were quite friendly and there was a guy with a microphone popping by campsites to let us know when bigger events were happening which was also nice. Over all it was a pretty relaxed weekend and I had a decent time. With that said – would I go back next year? Maybe. If I had a large enough group of friends to go with then probably but if I had to organize it all by myself then probably not. The more the merrier is always my motto and while people were very friendly you can’t really campsite crash if you come alone.


And before I stop, some advise for those pondering on going next year: while it is a fun event it is also quite windy and cold at night so prepare accordingly. As with all camping trips try to be as organized as possible. Make sure to bring enough warm clothes and coats (for an event like this leather/pleather or faux fur of some sort is probably the best and warmest option). Bring lots of good stakes to hold anything down if you don’t drive up in an RV. Know that there will be dust and dirt blowing around so things will get dirty – keep that in mind when packing kitchen supplies, sanitizers, and clothing. There are no showers, only port-a-potties so make sure to take a shower before heading out. As this is an 18+ event know that no children will be present so you can get away with more risqué costumes, however (unlike Burning Man) you will not tend to see people walking around nude – and really, it was too cold for that most of the time except for mid-day. There will be drunk people and some drug using but mostly at each respective campsite so if you’re not looking for such things you won’t really be bothered by it (unless, like this year, some idiot ODs and has to be airlifted off to a hospital which cancelled some of Friday night’s events. Laaaame). Stompy music will be going on all night long so if you need quiet to sleep make sure to bring ear plugs. Kites can be fun in the wind so if you have one bring it along with any other campsite additions you can cram into your already full vehicle for ambiance. And above all, when you get there just relax and let the weekend take hold of you.


Enjoy the wastelands!

Tags: california, camping, desert, gothic, mad max, post-apocalyptic




I went to last year's event (Road Warrior Weekend) and this one was much more organized and better attended. While there was a dry lake bed last year that we could race around on in cars/buggies and on motorcycles, there was only one gyrocopter fly-by (well, he flew by a few times but only for about a half hour); this year the gyro came by all three days (IIRC, and did lower passes to boot). Also, last year NOTHING happened on Saturday night; this year they not only had entertainment on Saturday night, but it was amazing! Plus the Atomic Cafe was serving free booze, so you can't beat that.

I'm not 100% sure I'd go to the next one (if there is one), but I'm thinking about it already.

  Max Deployment Oct 28, 2010 4:19 PM


I went to last year's event, too, and this one had a huge bonus in my book: really good fire dancers. The crew from Burn Academy gave us incredible shows!

I didn't know that events happened much later than they should have. Did you have a copy of the event schedule? I didn't see one distributed to campers.

Saturday was practically packed with fun stuff -- the photo shoot, the G4 chase video, the virgin mohawk, the jugger match, the George Miller video message, the great music. I wish Friday could've been like that, too.

  Groupie Oct 28, 2010 4:56 PM


I didn't go to last year's event so all my info for that was secondhand but I appreciate the input. It seems like this years' event worked out much better (even if I did miss most of the fire dancing. Boo!).

I heard that events happened later than they should from dropping by and looking at the chalk board that was set up by the stage which had times listed for stuff to happen at (which is why the dude with the microphone was super handy - like when he called out to people about when the Jugger match was happening at).

As for Friday, I heard (again, not sure if this is right) that some Friday night events were canceled due to the OD person and their helicopter flight. Not sure if this is true or not....

And free booze at the Atomic Cafe was awesome though I wonder if it was because they couldn't actually get permits to SELL alcohol so they just gave it away....?

All in all I'm glad I went but for me it was sort of a "check mark" and I'd probably find some other event to go to next year - or hopefully be out of the country again.

  kurenai Oct 28, 2010 5:03 PM


The "attack" and fire battle on Saturday night was originally supposed to be staged Friday night, but the Life Flight medevac meant it was postponed. Not sure what the deal was, but Atomic Cafe asked for donations of cups and booze and ice and they were off to the races!

Also, thanks for the post. it's the first I've seen about the event.

  Max Deployment Oct 28, 2010 5:24 PM


A few clarifications from the event source: The Friday night Life Flight was for an individual who had a combination of exposure, dehydration and an extremely hard reaction to hard alcohol at high desert elevation... It was in fact a culmination of these factors that required he be air lifted out, and the transport did in fact save his life. It was not a drug overdose as rumored.

This did alter some of the planned activities on Friday night as it was considered unwise to have the simulated / staged attacks on the main stage with blank-fire weapons / flamethrowers, smoke etc while multiple emergency crews were on scene attempting a medical evac and staging a landing zone. We were blessed to have ten certified EMT's and Paramedics on our volunteer staff. As for the Atomic Cafe booz... It did come all from donations of staff, volunteers and attendees. If we had sold alcohol at the event, insurance and permits would have been unobtainable due to dramatic increases in cost.

We consider that we were a very activity based event between the contests, multiple performance acts, multiple DJ's, Wasteland mini-Olympics, the Juggers match, and several other planned and spontaneous happenings at the event... but had also planned for downtime for attendees so as not to burn them out. Most attendees drove three-plus hours just to get there, so the idea was that Saturday Night was going to be the blowout... and we think it was.

The very talented Jared Butler slaved and nearly killed himself trying to keep order of the event schedule and over 60 talent performers that contributed...but if it is more you want... just wait :)

We appreciate your blog and opinions, and hope to see you and your friends brave the wind and elements next year. The event is best if you come in a group... RV's are cheaper that way, and are more wind resistant and nuke resistant... but we make it very clear to everyone coming to the event... you will be roughing it... it is not for the faint of heart... It is no place for children... and as our waiver clearly states, "YOU COULD DIE AT THIS EVENT".

Somehow, these factors that hinder most events, lead to the spirit of survival which makes the Wastelanders gather together to survive such a weekend in the middle of nowhere... and actually form a bond in community.

  Wasteland Weekend Co Director Jim Howard Nov 20, 2010 12:26 PM


So is this going to continue happening? Its right around my bday and would be alot of fun. Someone let me know!

  Shane p Feb 12, 2012 6:09 PM

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