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Splashdown! Sydney Decompression 2017


SPLASHDOWN! Sydney Decompression was held over the weekend of the 9th & 10th December 2017 in Sydney, NSW Australia.

A little background: a not-for-profit entity, BOSS (Burners of Sydney and Surrounds Inc.) has recently been formed in NSW. Though the idea had been kicking around for years, it was May ’17 when a volunteer interim committee was formed to draft the constitution and register the legal entity, by August 31st 2017 BOSS was official. The primary goal for BOSS annually is NSW Decompression production and we had hoped to have 50 paid members to hold the Inaugural General Meeting and pass the baton to a new executive, but Burning Seed meant the team had to focus on their theme camps and by October, we hadn’t had adequate time to launch a membership drive. As interim executive, we held a general meeting and it was resolved to put an early AGM on hold and give our community what they deserved: a badass Decompression party.

Event format and pricing

The event followed the previous Sydney Decom model, a multi-day and multi-venue event to make it as inclusive as possible for families, and party-goers alike in both indoor and outdoor spaces. While it would have been ideal and more in-line with the Decommodification Principle of Burning Man not to hold our Saturday night after-party at a licensed venue, Sydney is cracking down on warehouse spaces, often handing out hefty fines to proprietors.  The warehouse spaces that were available to us are owned or managed by our community members and we did not want them to be negatively impacted by our evening event. They could not accommodate the numbers we were looking to attract and preferred not to host a night event due to current Council pressure and previous noise complaints. Hence, a licensed venue was selected and booked.

BOSS had legal formalities to complete in order to open a bank account and this delayed the launch of ticket sales. Tickets for Splashdown! went live 9th November 2017 with an all inclusive ticket price of $35. When sales closed on the 9th December, we had sold out at 350 tickets. A portion of our proceeds went to Ashmont Community Resource Centre which helps the local Riverina community where we hold Burning Seed each year.

Program & Venues

Saturday, Dec 9 2017        Day party        all ages         1pm-9pm        Brick City Studios Massive thank you to our friends at Brick City Studios! You let us into your space and helped us create something special for the community, by the community.  Participants were welcomed through an art show, Avenue of Deeper Dreams, featuring local Burner artists with work that could not be shown in Paddock conditions. This opened into a workshop space, gifting bar, lounge, a buffet, & dj/dance area. Visual art ranged from paintings, mixed media collage and large sculptural installation to awesome theme camp decor. Activities included games, creative workshops for young and old (cardboard costumes, jet-pack making, swedish heart and Christmas card making), plushie petting zoo (teaching about consent), and a collaborative group workshop where participants learned how to make fire rope and constructed a text based effigy to be burnt at the finale of the Sunday event. Of course there was an awesome array of tunes from multiple theme camp DJ’s and live performers.

Saturday, Dec 9 2017        After party        18+         8pm-4am        Bald Faced Stag Hotel

 The evening began with rope and fire performers, circus, and burlesque followed by a night of epic dance music and performances.

Sunday, Dec 10 2017        Recovery Picnic        all ages         11am-8pm        Manly Dam

Huge thank you to Dane Murray, Lili Joy, Lyall Moloney, Rowan Kos, and crew for Recovery day at a stunning outdoor water hole. Inflatables, Oasis swimming pool jumping castle, bbq, DJs, gifting food/bars, games, heaven. Because this was a public park with limited parking, a sober transport shuttle was also organised for pick up from the entrance to the reserved spot.


Decompression Planning Committee included the BOSS Interim Committee (see below) and Alicia Boyd (event coordinator, Saturday), Kylie Mac, Ryan Johnson (performance and talent coordinator), and Dane Murray (event coordinator, Sunday) Lili Joy (event co-coordinator, Sunday).

HUGE contributions made by Rowan Kos (Av set up, ice cream
and shuttle service!), Hamish Brown & Charli Dugdale (Art show install), James Clarke, Sam Cooling (Gate/Door lead), Jessica Matthews, Jo Allan, Katrina Cowling, Amelia Loye, Matt Decker, Amanda Perkins, Brian Needham, Majella Turner, Ariane Blanch (Ranger lead), Hugh and Matt (costume workshop), Peter Humble, Phil Relf and Felicity (Fire sculpture workshop), Sonja Haak, Calan Holmes and Jasper Vallance.

Massive thanks to the following theme camps: Spice Cadets, Cosmic Oasis, Dirty Birds, Third Eye Peacocks, The Orphanage, The Space in Between, Alchemy of Sin, The Swamp, Wombat Manor, Splash and Kids’ Camp and everyone who came to help: all your efforts and heavy lifting made this a very successful Sydney Decompression. You are worth more than your weight in glitter laden sparklepony tears.


Special shout out to BOSS Interim committee: Hannah Mitchell, Madeline Fountain, Aidan McCarthy, Natalie Corn, Layla McNeil, Hamish Guinn, Rowan Kos, and Leanna Pugliese.


The YAY!!







Lead time for event production: Around 7 weeks of lead time was available for the production of the event.  This was a really tight time frame to produce any event in, especially a collaborative NSW burner community event of the scale we were aiming for.  This short project time frame caused a very high amount of stress which lead to some “dangerous burn out”, did not allow for much time to engage collaborators and would very much recommend a longer time frame for production in future to minimise the stress of this volunteer job.


The suboptimal handover from the previous decom event leads: We had an inadequate handover package from the previous decom event lead/s, and this was unhelpful to some aspects of a complex, weekend event like Decom.


Production team decision making and communication: Everyone made really great decisions and had a low stress, effective and time efficient production process when we relied primarily on the weekly team meetings, where we could all speak with each other, or even connect in person, discuss things as a group, and come to consensus.  The online decision making processes, including messenger chats, involved some time consuming misunderstandings that could have been avoided. The time crunch exacerbated this because some decisions couldn’t wait for evening weekly meeting and not everybody was available for online conversations.


Ticketing and registration: The chosen online ticketing system had not been used before and there were hang- ups.

Recommend researching ticketing systems and consider issues such as:

  1. easily pull reporting of who had registered when, or lists of people who had registered between a particular time period
  2.  tracking of ticket holders (via app or manual or both)
  3. how to send out attendee emails (use of their SMTP server or your own).
  4. sending out the attendee information emails was a very stressful process


Bump out and leave no trace: This team was very hard to recruit for and this has always been an issue at past decompression events.

Lessons Learned/General Feedback/Next Year DO THIS



Ticketing Breakdown

Splashdown sold 350 adult tickets at a total of $11,070.00 via the Humanitix platform.

The total booking and payments fees collected was $512.47

Humanitix donated 30c per ticket sold with booking fees to Ashmont Community Resource Centre, resulting in a donation of $105.00.



Given the amount of time to plan the NSW decompression event, everyone should be damn well proud. Huge thanks not only to the planning committee but also to our awesome burner family/community for radically stepping in and helping where needed, gifting your amazing talents whether time, music, food, drink, music, art. This is why we work hard, this is why we build, make, create, only to tear it down and do it again next time… for each other and this incredible community.


BOSS will have an Annual General Meeting as soon as feasible, where new Officers and Committee Members will be elected and Decompression 2019 planning will be their #1 agenda item. Likely a subcommittee will be formed and planning will get underway as soon as possible. I would encourage planning and direction as soon as possible as well as moving the date within 8 weeks of Burning Seed. This production group has been organising and preparing an amazing handover to assist the new Committee in their stewardship of our new Burner org.

HUGE thanks from the BOSS interim committee and the Decompression planning group, we consider ourselves very lucky to work & play w such standout community members.

BOSS Membership
Have YOU signed up? Want to plan decom next year? Have ideas on how your NFP can promote burner art and culture all year round?

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