Digital Apex: a Dancetronaut Reaches Higher

[by Whatsblem the Pro]

coliseumDigital Apex is a new Burning Man theme camp for 2013, based in Santa Cruz, California.  They are currently planning to construct a massive replica of the Coliseum in Rome that will rise over forty feet above the playa, featuring DJs, 30-foot high statues, flame effects, lasers, intelligent lighting, 100,000-watt sound system, and more. Led by a founding member of the Dancetronauts with support from core members of Opulent Temple and other camps, this promises to be a significant new addition to Black Rock City.

I caught up with DJ Bigsexxy, the founder of Digital Apex Camp and a founding member of the Dancetronauts, to talk with him about this exciting new project.

WHATSBLEM THE PRO

Let’s start with you. . . can you tell me about your history with Burning Man, and with the Dancetronauts?

DJ BIGSEXXY

dj bigsexxyI was born and raised in Santa Cruz. My best friends from high school and I all went to L.A. to promote clubs, then came back to Santa Cruz and started the Dancetronauts. We met Phil (a former member of the Space Cowboys) and we all decided to take the plunge and go to Burning Man as a group. Even though most of us were freshmen, we all knew we wanted to go big. That was 2009, with the crazy wooden Man that looked like a wave of wood.

We built the Strip Ship out of inspiration from Robot Heart, and created Center of Gravity Camp. We progressed well as a group for those three years, but then I decided to pursue my dreams of having a camp of my own. The challenges that come with operating a mobile sound system are mind numbing.

WHATSBLEM THE PRO

The Dancetronauts want to stay mobile, and you want to do more of a venue, is that right?

DJ BIGSEXXY

Yes. I like seeing people gather in a central place that feels like a sanctuary for good energy. Being mobile kind of leaves you at the mercy of the captain driving the ship.

Through the years we met lots of amazing people from Root Society, Opulent Temple, Nexus, Osiris, Robot Heart, etc. All of their projects honestly took my breath away every time I saw them. With that type of creativity across the board, I wanted to try and become a catalyst for amazing projects. It takes a lot of funding for these projects to get off the ground and I want to help. . . starting with my own!

WHATSBLEM THE PRO

So now you’re working on Digital Apex. What’s your role with that, exactly?

DJ BIGSEXXY

I am the founder and have selected a board of six other directors. We are now a legit 501(c)(3) California non-profit. Our goal is to invest everything back into the art, possibly even offering art grants of our own someday.

WHATSBLEM THE PRO

You swung full 501(c)(3) status? Congratufuckinglations! That’s an impressive feat.

Dancetronauts2DJ BIGSEXXY

Yes! The group that has come to the table are very good at what they do. Our accountants and directors are some of the best I’ve ever met. It makes it really easy for me to stay focused on the task at hand.

In many ways leaving the Dancetronauts for Digital Apex was like going from high school to college. They’re both great. . . just different.

WHATSBLEM THE PRO

So what’s the vision? Why ‘digital,’ and why ‘apex?’

DJ BIGSEXXY

The digital apex comes from most of our group being drawn to everything electronic. We are tech freaks. We want to push our digital toys and abilities to their max, trying to leave everyone speechless with new innovations, new creative materials, new everything using whatever we have access to.

One of my personal goals is to reignite the fire that dimmed so badly in burner artists after the ticket prices went up. It might be just my opinion, but while I don’t mind the ticket price hike itself, personally I feel like a lot of the art has diminished in quality due to financial restrictions. It’s hard for people to go big and still have enough money at the end of the day to survive.

Some people in the burner community will probably hate me for saying this, but my father was the third manager in charge of Red Bull North America, and he brought me to all of their cool events. I saw how this group pampered its athletes so they could perform to the best of their abilities. . . I kind of want to be the same for artists, allowing them to stay focused and reach new heights of their visions they could never have reached before.

WHATSBLEM THE PRO

You want to revive the old arts patronage system?

DJ BIGSEXXY

Yes.

WHATSBLEM THE PRO

How will Digital Apex move closer to its goals in 2013?

DJ BIGSEXXY

adrionah dancetronautsWell, we’re hosting our first fundraiser in Santa Cruz on Thursday, the 13th of December. We’ve talked with the owners of the venue and we think this will probably be a monthly event. Our project costs are right around $60,000, and we hope through donations and attendance to our events that we will far surpass this goal.

We will be hosting parties at this venue each month, hopefully. It’s a brand new building and I’m one of the first promoters that they are allowing to do parties like these, with DJs, visuals, live art, etc.  Our goal is to try and get about $5000 from each event, which we will use for the construction of the Coliseum for Burning Man 2013.  We’ve also got some cross-promoted events with other camps coming up.

If we exceed our fundraising goals, what we don’t use for building materials will all go back into encouraging more people to become a part of our group. Money is vital, but so are willing hands!

WHATSBLEM THE PRO

Why the Coliseum?

DJ BIGSEXXY

The Coliseum represents an iconic sanctuary that people can associate themselves with. It’s big enough to shut out the world outside and provide a self-contained environment. Once inside those walls you can immerse yourself in the fantasy no matter where you are on the planet. I also like the shock-and-awe factor of how tall this thing will actually be.

We also have plans to build the oracle statues from the Neverending Story, with a great set design team from Cabrillo Community College.

WHATSBLEM THE PRO

What will be going on inside the Coliseum?

DJ BIGSEXXY

Naturally, we plan to bring an amazing DJ lineup (probably mostly electro, house, and dance music). We’re also considering some art with musical acts. We’re working with some great VJs who are crafting plans to video map the entire thing. We’re still not a hundred percent sure if we are going that route, but it’s great to see these ideas coming in.

WHATSBLEM THE PRO

Do you see the Coliseum as a long-term fixture, or is Digital Apex going to be switching things up from year to year?

DJ BIGSEXXY

We are purchasing professional grade stage truss (it costs more, but safety is number one to us) so we will be able to use the sections to make other structures if we want to. I think the coliseum will remain as a welcoming structure on the playa for at least a few years to come. I just think it will look so cool when the sun rises on it.

WHATSBLEM THE PRO

Tell me about your camp.

DJ BIGSEXXY

Our camp will probably be around 130 people, if not more. We’re only asking for $250 right now for the full two weeks, with food and drinks included, showers, bathrooms, and entry to our Saturday sunset VIP thank-you party, where we thank all the people that helped and allow everyone to meet our team. That’s also part of our Indiegogo reward for a donation of $500 or more.

I want the people to meet the artists that they helped fund.

WHATSBLEM THE PRO

Are you getting any kind of help or support from the Santa Cruz Regional people?

DJ BIGSEXXY

So far, we are producing all of our fundraising campaign on our own. We haven’t talked formally with any outside groups yet, but we do welcome any assistance with this project to allow us to continue our construction efforts. Our monthly parties will hopefully generate enough money to get our project off the ground. Should anything extra come in, we would probably invest that back into the DJ lineup and special effects budget.

Informally, we have been openly working with a lot of the core Opulent Temple team as well as people from other camps. The word is definitely starting to spread that we are working on something big; people are offering us generators, stage truss, propane effects, sound gear, all kinds of stuff. Of course we welcome it all.

WHATSBLEM THE PRO

Your track record surely helps.

DJ BIGSEXXY

I honestly built the sketchup plans and stayed up every night for three months to build the Dancetronauts’ Strip Ship. I just wanted to step into a different tier of ambition and drive.

WHATSBLEM THE PRO

What’s your background as a Maker, tool user, DIY guy? Any formal engineering under your belt?

DJ BIGSEXXY

Growing up in Santa Cruz, my family was always redecorating the house to sell it. I had tools in my hands from the age of five. I love computers too. I picked up Adobe 5.5 when I was a kid and haven’t put it down since. I love graphic arts.

As far as a me being a specialist in anything, I’d say I’m not.

WHATSBLEM THE PRO

What’s your educational background like?

DJ BIGSEXXY

I went to the public schools in Santa Cruz. I was always involved in the advanced placement art programs, and I won some cool awards for pastel work in county fairs and stuff.  I went to Soquel High school, and attended Cabrillo community College for two years.

After that, I somehow got awarded a 90% football scholarship to play football for Benedictine College in Atchison, Kansas. I never really liked football players. . . I just hit them really really hard and they loved it.  I loved the schooling side of Benedictine. I studied under some really amazing professors that treated me somewhat like an apprentice. One of them was a vice president of AOL, and lots of them were massive business owners, backed with lots of positive ethics and morals.

Even though I’m not a big religious guy, I have an endless amount of respect for what those monks have built.

WHATSBLEM THE PRO

It doesn’t seem like religion is much of a wellspring for ethics and morals, really. Not that religious people can’t have ethics and morality, it’s just that I think they get those from someplace else, even if they tell themselves it comes from the Bible. If they really had Biblical morals and ethics they’d be raping and killing and enslaving people wholesale, all the time.

DJ BIGSEXXY

I was just stoked they paid for my education.

WHATSBLEM THE PRO

Yes, that was nice of them

DJ BIGSEXXY

I was humble and learned all I could, but I came back to California because Kansas was not for me.

DJ BIGSEXXY

It was crazy having monks for study partners.

WHATSBLEM THE PRO

I fell into the hands of Jesuits for a couple of years myself, and came out of the experience a militant atheist.

DJ BIGSEXXY

Ha ha! I love living!

WHATSBLEM THE PRO

They sure do give you a fine education though!

DJ BIGSEXXY

Thats why I try and kick butt while there is butt to be kicked. I studied entrepreneurship with a focus on finance.

WHATSBLEM THE PRO

What does Burning Man signify to you? What does it mean to you to be a burner?

DJ BIGSEXXY

Burning Man is like New Year’s Eve for me. It signifies the completion of the year. . . once its over, it’s back to preparing for the next one. I almost compare it to whitewater rafting with your friends. Intense, amazing, scary, fun, and so on, but in the end you all look at each other and say “WE MADE IT!”

Being a burner to me is a celebration of a culture.

WHATSBLEM THE PRO

I think that might sound sort of trivial to the casual ear, but it’s really not at all. New Year’s Eve is so well-established as THE marker for the end of the old year and the beginning of the new that your having replaced it with Burning Man seems rather significant. . . as does celebrating a culture, rather than just having a party in the desert.

DJ BIGSEXXY

We are a very real subculture in this world! August has way more important dates to me than any other month of the year.

WHATSBLEM THE PRO

I know the feeling. Traditional holidays have never meant much to me. This is much better.

DJ BIGSEXXY

I like to inspire people. When they all look in one direction I like to be the one looking back at them, to see them smile. To see them not fear.

WHATSBLEM THE PRO

What do you want to inspire people to do?

DJ BIGSEXXY

I was a punk rocker though my youth. I hung out with a lot of the guys from NOFX and Strung Out. I say this because being a punk rocker meant you didnt let people push you around and tell you what to do. You lived your life they way you wanted to. I didn’t care what people thought. I just did cool stuff because I had fun doing it. Everyone should get to feel that. People are free when they go to those shows. Even if I got slapped in the mouth I still had a great time.

I think Burning Man lets people see that kind of lifestyle for a moment. Not the violence, but the freedom to do what they want.

WHATSBLEM THE PRO

I very much get the punk rock thing; it’s why Burning Man was no revelation for me. I was like “Tch! Where have you guys been, I was lonesome!”

Compared to punk rock, though, it’s a stronger, more positive, more prosperous tribe.

DJ BIGSEXXY

Agreed!

WHATSBLEM THE PRO

How can people get in touch with you if they want to get involved with Digital Apex?

DJ BIGSEXXY

They can visit our FB page for updates at https://www.facebook.com/pages/Digital-Apex-Camp/286365084728909

The camp application is there too, on the ABOUT page.

People can also e-mail me directly if they wish, at theshadyhill@gmail.com

WHATSBLEM THE PRO

Thanks for talking with me. . . see you on the playa!

DJ BIGSEXXY

My pleasure! See you on the playa!

13 comments on “Digital Apex: a Dancetronaut Reaches Higher

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  7. Dj Big Sexy has never dj’d in his life, he takes credit for the hard work of others that’s why this article is nothing but dancetronauts shots (none including the world famous dj). What a self indulgent joke and a lie this tool is.
    IF you buy in to his bull you are dumber than he is and that takes skill.

    Like

  8. damn… I seriously just wrote the longest most gut punching comment of my life right now..but exercised great restraint and deleted it.. ..

    I’m going to wish you well and I hope you keep on the path your on now.. I like it much better then the previous direction you where headed…looks like your learning its much more gratifying to lead and inspire people rather then rip their heads off! Awesome!

    lol

    Build that shit kurt!

    FORWARD!

    -j

    Like

  9. I believe it was more like I built the Strip Ship with Thor and Ya’ll kinda sat around a lot. In fact i believe most of the time you were working on some speeder project or being a Unicorn or something? Oh yeah, and it was Phil (of the Dancetronauts) you met and came with to Burning Man in 09. Nice Article.

    Like

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