Catharsis on the Mall 2019 (Makers’ Camp)
Recap by: Matthieu Leo
Catharsis on the Mall is a weekend-long, Burning Man-style festival right in front of the Washington Monument in the heart of Washington, DC. The event featured 18 theme camps, all from environmentally conscious organizations centering on Catharsis’ central theme: Our Mothership.
Metta Creative is a Washington DC-based events company whose mission is to connect and inspire a purpose-driven community to live more sustainably through creative arts experiences.
I flew back to DC on Thursday from Charleston, South Carolina (where I attend college) to help with the event set up a few days early, as I was beginning bartending school that Monday. Despite heavy rainfall, the camps began sprouting up and taking form for the weekend to come. I arrived back at camp Friday morning at 10 am, and shortly after, several people who were annual Burning Man attendees, or as they are called “burners,” showed up offering to help build. This showed me how devoted this community was to help others in the community.
Mettā Creative’s theme camp included a 25’ dome along with two 10’ domes. The backdome was host to the DJ setup while the front was used as a welcome area. The main dome was host to workshops and space for attendees to dance through the night. A large wooden version of their logo, a heart-shaped earth, was placed at the front with lights around it to welcome all attendees into the camp. Inside the dome featured a variety of decorations including tapestries, sound reactive lights, hammocks, and cushions for seating.
What makes Mettā Creative events so different than your normal concert or party is the genuine focus on community. This coincides perfectly with this year’s theme, of Catharsis on the Mall, Our Mothership. Our Mothership, being our planet, Earth.
Throughout the day, the camp hosted a series of meaningful and insightful workshops focused on healing, knowledge, interaction, and movement. The first workshop I attended was called sound healing. I didn’t know what to expect when I walked into the dome and saw the giant gong and yoga mats, but I knew it was going to be a very relaxing session. The workshop was led by my two friends Mary and Kayla. Kayla studies Reiki which is a Japanese form of alternative medicine called energy healing. The two co-lead the session and as Mary spoke and hit the gong, Kayla walked around and placed crystals on our bodies. I reached an incredibly relaxed state of mind that allowed me to only focus on the present and I began seeing colors that coordinated with the crystals being placed on my body.
On Saturday, I attended the open discussion on dreaming held by Zach Wagner. This workshop was an open conversation for everyone to share their thoughts on dreaming and what we do to help remember our dreams. I have always had a very hard time remembering my dreams, and like many, get irritated when I know I had a great dream but can't piece together the details. The morning after, I began my first dream journal and was able to write a half page in my journal, which I consider a great start. We discussed all sorts of techniques, from writing immediately when you wake up, to using different herbal supplements to enhance your memory.
One of the central attractions of the event was the “Primordial Soap” foam tank. Both males and females were taking their shirts off to get hosed down by the foam cannon which shot water and soap into the large glass tank. Next to it was the disco tank (an “art car” built on top of a minivan to look like an actual military tank), with large speakers in the front and a huge flower coming out of the barrel. The disco tank had music playing all day, and as set up was coming to an end early Friday afternoon, musicians started lining up, ripping the electric guitar. If I wasn’t listening to music at Makers Camp or here, I was at the Meso Creso camp. The Meso camp had a DJ set up in front of an old truck and played awesome dance and hip hop music. They had all sorts of dance toys to choose from, including hula hoops, balls for juggling, and batons.
Later on in the day, I brought some friends from high school with me, and we did Acroyoga at Camp Contact. Acroyoga is a form of yoga that uses two individuals to perform different moves and positions. This was very fun and challenging, and we were quickly able to do things I would not think possible for beginners like ourselves.
There were so many different kinds of art throughout the grounds. Some included a giant community graffiti wall, a waterfall fountain made entirely out of collected seashells, and collaborative murals between artists with different styles.
I met some awesome and hilarious people throughout the weekend. I’ve never been to Burning Man, but I plan on doing so in the next couple of years. I was able to talk to so many burners about their experiences and ask for advice for going. I met a painter named Chawky, who is an art teacher at George Mason University, and even offered to paint me.
At 9pm on Friday and Saturday, everyone attending gathered around the center of the field for the Catharsis burn. While unable to burn the enormous temple offered at burning man, the catharsis burn offered an impressive spectacle. Inside of the wooden structure contained herbs like rosemary and sage that let out a beautiful smelling aroma as the structure was reduced to ash, symbolizing the release of the old, and the embrace of the new.
Subsequently from 10pm - 4am the music came on with local DJ’s playing their original mixes. DJ’s included: Sol Good, Earth Ephect, Kaellum, Dastan, Sebi Tayac, Dj Kitana, and Shrub Squad. Shout out to all the amazing musicians for playing awesome sets
I will definitely see you next year, Catharsis. Until then, always remember to #partywithpurpose www.mettacreative.world