Anew art and music event, Everywhen, is coming to the Black Rock Desert playa June 30-July 5. Organizers held a similar event in the Mojave Desert in October, featuring art that spews fire, a body painting station, and cars shaped like a dragon and a tiki bar. It might sound a lot like Burning Man, but it’s not formally affiliated.
“Director of Propaganda” Michael Parisi, who’s from Santa Cruz, talked by phone about Everywhen’s genesis and what attendees can expect.
How did this event come about? It sounds like it splintered off of Burning Man.
Sure. Interestingly, all of us didn’t meet at Burning Man. We have met through either Juplaya [the unofficial influx of playa campers on Fourth of July week] or the first Renegade [the casual gathering of Burners that occurred when official Burning Man was on hold due to COVID], which was in 2020. … Originally it was an art project. The Everywhen Temple was an art project that kind of evolved into a group of people that brought out art, I think since 2016. It kind of grew and grew and grew, and at some point the BLM was like, “Look, if you’re going to be this size … we’re gonna need to talk about getting you a permit.”
So, we were in contact with BLM pretty much the whole time. … About 150 of us showed up. We had a live music camp and we had a temple that we brought that we built and a big family table that we put right in the middle of everything, so everyone could gather and eat.
What do you have in terms of an organization?
We’re a nonprofit. We have a lawyer. We have a mapmaker. We have a city designer. We have people who have been temple leads at Burning Man for quite a long time. … Matthew Gilbuena is the founder. He was a temple lead for quite some time. He is the visionary of the group, for the most part. And it’s a democracy—meaning that … all of us show up with the best that we have, to create something that we believe in. … We want to fund artists.
We don’t burn art. So that’s a big differentiator [between Everywhen and Burning Man]. We’d also like to be in different desert locations, not just the Black Rock Desert. We had a wonderful event in October in the Mojave.
I read in the Reno Gazette Journal that your BLM application was denied in 2021. What was different this year?
This year we were much more organized. Last year we were … the proverbial deer in the headlight when it came to knowing what we were capable of doing. And I think the BLM recognized that we just weren’t there when it comes to operating a large event.
And you did get the go-ahead from the BLM this year. How many attendees are you permitted for?
Do you have a sense of where the majority of your ticket holders are coming from?
It’s primarily the Western United States.
What can people expect from Everywhen—both the people attending your event and the people going to Juplaya that week who aren’t planning to attend your event? Will it affect access to the playa for everyone?
That’s a great, really important question. Yeah, we’re a Julplaya-born event. We have an incredible amount of respect for the Black Rock area. There will be absolutely no change to anything. People won’t even notice we are there unless they purposefully come and seek us out. We’re going to be between Three- and Eight Mile. [Those are the access points to the playa that are three miles and eight miles from Gerlach.] We did the calculations on our permitted land allotment, and we’re taking up 0.01% of the area.
We purposely chose a place that people typically don’t camp at. … We want people to enjoy the public lands as they always have.
So, you’ll actually be in a gated area.
That’s a BLM requirement. We initially wanted it to be a gateless event … so the people who wanted to support the art would buy tickets and people who just wanted to do a little day trip could come and see us. But that is not possible. … We had to make some hard calls in terms of whether we were going to have the event or not. That was one of the hardest ones.
Will there be tickets available at the gate?
Well, we have a maximum limit of a thousand people total. So, if we have capacity to bring in more people, sure.
And you’ll have in-and-out privileges. So, people at your event will be able to go explore the rest of the desert and come and go into Everywhen at their leisure, correct?
I saw a mention of hot springs in your marketing materials. Are you conducting hot spring tours? Or just letting people know that there are some great spots in the Black Rock Desert that the public can access?
We’re encouraging people to explore the area and go check it out. We’re not offering tours.
Could you talk about a couple of the major art pieces that you’re expecting to bring?
We can’t talk about those as of yet. But there will be some returning pieces from the Mojave event.
Is the Everywhen crew on a particular mission to establish an art movement? Or some kind of aesthetic that’s a deliberate departure from Burning Man art?
One of the things that we really believe in is—if you get artists together and you give them a space to get to know each other and to build relationships with each other, a whole different level of magic starts to unfold—especially in such an incredible place, like the Black Rock Desert.
You know, what happens is people show up for Burning Man, and it’s like, you stay in your lane, you’re just doing everything you can just to keep your thing going. But the way we’ve designed this, at least at this point, because these events are so small, all artists really get a chance to build relationships and trust with each other. And what that translates into is collaborations that are greater than the sum of the parts. We saw some things at the Mojave event that were just mind blowing.
I wouldn’t call it a movement. … It’s really about relationships and trust and the intimacy that these smaller events are capable of containing, whereas the large events, they’re amazing. And we have nothing but respect for Burning Man. But this is a different vibe.
What’s your music scene like?
The first time we did something as a sort of organized group, we had both DJs and live bands. We’d like that to continue. We do fund DJs and performance. We see all of that as artistic expression, and we want to support performers and DJs. It’s our intention to give some amount of money to everybody that applies—even if it’s a small amount of money. We believe that art is not just a big installation or a big performance. It could be something small. It could be you playing a ukulele.
It sounds like you’re open to any music genre?
We’d be interested. But as far as the music scene, most of what we experienced in Mojave was just great house music—like really, really classy, stylish dance music.
How family friendly is the event?
We had a lot of kids at the first event. 10 and under is free. We encourage families to come. … It’s kind of a balance between families and partygoers. We try to keep families at the top of our thoughts, because we want people to feel welcome, and we want kids to have a good time.
Everywhen is slated for June 30-July 5 in the Black Rock Desert near Gerlach and Oct. 12-16 in the Mojave Desert near Edwards, California. Tickets start at $325 for the Black Rock event and $275 for the Mojave event. Tickets and info here.
This interview has been edited for length and clarity.