“Mass Bliss”: Brooklyn Gets Inspired by Burning Man

DNAInfo New York has a story about two yoga teachers who are offering a preview of their Burning Man-inspired festival of mindfulness. The Mass Bliss mini-festivals will be set up next weekend, Saturday July 12, in Grand Ferry Park (Williamsburg), Prospect Park (Prospect Heights), and Barretto Point Park (the Bronx).

Andrew Belcher and James Puckett; photo credit: DNA Info/Serena Dai

Andrew Belcher and James Puckett; photo credit: DNA Info/Serena Dai

BROOKLYN — Two former yoga teachers with aspirations to start a Burning Man-inspired festival focused on “mindfulness” are offering a preview of the event next week in local parks.

Bedford-Stuyvesant resident Andrew Belcher and his business partner James Puckett, a former computer programmer and yoga teacher, are offering a one-day-only “MassBliss” mini-festival in parks in Williamsburg, Prospect Heights and the Bronx.

The group will set up three 10-by-10-foot tents — also referred to as “Breathing Booths” — at sites in Grand Ferry Park, Prospect Park and Barretto Point Park on Saturday, July 12.

A host of free programming including yoga, hip-hop, pilates, tango, drawing and more will take place in the tent and on the surrounding lawns throughout the day.

The booths are a preview of the duo’s planned larger, four-day festival where they want people to connect with themselves on “a more authentic level,” Belcher said.

The upcoming festival, with a date and location yet to be determined, is inspired by the Burning Man festival, where thousands of people descend on the Nevada desert for a week-long creative event.

“Our mission is to inspire and nurture the joy of presence,” Belcher said. “We feel that an authentic connection to the present moment allows individuals and communities to make more intentional, deliberate actions and choices.”

MassBliss is already talking to sponsors and scouting locations in New England for the larger festival next year, which will be part Burning Man, part Austin music and tech festival South by Southwest and part Tennessee music fest Bonnaroo, Belcher said.

Activities for next year’s festival could include concerts where artists would engage with the audience, theater performances where actors transition to sudden street art spots and workshops where attendees can learn yoga or pilates.

Workshops and talks will be filmed and uploaded online later, so anybody can experience them, Belcher said.

The variety of activities stems from idea that “mindfulness,” or being in the present moment, can happen in different ways, including movement, interpersonal connection, art-making and live performances, Belcher said.

Next year’s festival will cost money and have sponsors, Belcher said, adding that MassBliss believes that being for-profit and doing good in the world can go hand-in-hand.

lululemon assThat said, the former school teacher said he thinks restrictions on access to yoga and meditation, through expensive classes or pricey gear like Lululemon clothing, have become barriers to entry for many people.

“This mindfulness stuff is so powerful,” he said. “Its presence is available to anyone at any time, if they’re willing to just listen.”

Breathing Booths will pop up in Grand Ferry Park, Prospect Park and Barretto Point Park from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Saturday, July 12. A schedule of programming can be seen here.

It sounds like they have picked up the principle of “Immediacy” from Burning Man. They’ve also got the principle of making public statements about “making profit and doing good in the world” from BMOrg. It’s not clear what other aspects of their events will be familiar to Burners. This is the first time that I’ve heard the theory that Lululemon is a barrier to entry for yoga – you can buy the pants for $39 on eBay, but I’m pretty sure that you can wear other types of clothes while doing yoga if that’s a problem for you.

Andrew Belcher says:

When has anything in your life happened at a time other than right now?

Despite all our wanderings into the past and worries about the future, our lives continuously unfold in the present moment. Right here, right now.

bad-girls-club-yoga-pants_3633d0edMassBliss was created to produce fun, immersive events that explore tools and skills to deepen our experience of the present moment and use that in tangible ways in our personal, professional and playful lives. Where to begin?

Most importantly, breathe. How much time do we spend thinking about our breath? Chances are, not very much—though without our little buddy breath, life isn’t going to happen. Our breath is a vehicle into our bodies, which always exists in the present.

Try it. Really. Pause.

Stop reading for a second, close your eyes and take a slow, deep breath or maybe three.

Anything shift?

Our lives are an infinite series of little moments woven together by our breath. In connecting with ourselves in the present moment we align with what is really happening right now as opposed to some thought about what we think is happening. Aligning with the present moment can inform a more deliberate decision about what move to make next. That’s when we create. Our ability to see the world in its present form, imagine something different, and then create that dream makes us human. None of us really know what we are truly capable of.

Take a deep breath and see what you find.

If any Burners attend any of these festivals, please take some photos and share.


Drug Free Braving – Latest Craze in NY

Take that, Bay Area hipsters! Forget riding your bike to your Google bus, or jogging your way through tourists on the Golden Gate bridge and Embarcadero. The East Coast has something good for us to adopt.

Always leading the way in taste and fashion, New York introduces a new craze: dress like you’re going to a rave, go party your ass off at breakfast time, and that counts as a workout. Braving: breakfast raving, aka dancing sober: the new spin class…


The Drug-Free Breakfast Rave Is New York’s Latest Exercise Trend

Forget SoulCycle—the newest fitness craze is early morning raving, complete with DJs, costumes, and organic smoothies.

By 6:30 a.m., New Yorkers in sparkly spandex gathered at the entrance of Kinfolk 94 in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. They weren’t dreggy spillovers from a hard night of debauchery, but in-the-know attendees of “Morning Gloryville,” powered by a night of sleep and ready to rave their way into the day.

Greeted with hugs and adorned with Hawaiian leis, some attendees (branded “citizens”) opted for massages from “Wake Up Angels.” Others rushed to the bar for coffee, or to the “Juice Witches” counter, which served nutritious potions with orange juice, mango, pineapple, and quinoa. The rest went straight to the dance floor, with its dappled daylight from the skylight, and an exposed brick walls lit with a projector simulating a clouded sunrise.

Tasha Blank played fast and bouncy house beats with heart-shaped balloons tied to the DJ booth. Her friend, rapper and performer AKil, riled up the crowd. “The first morning glory is glorious,” he cried. When calling for a response to, “What’s the best place to be right now?” there was a wholehearted chorus of “Here!” from the hipsters, professionals, yogis, creatives, thespians, and some curious passers-by who bought tickets at the door.

Matthew Gilbertson

While the debate over the legalization of drugs raged on across America, it seemed the stigma of irresponsible raving was taking a hit from Morning Gloryville.

“I had to fake a doctor’s appointment because normally I start work at 8,” said one blonde from the marketing department of a midtown bank, grooving in her Isabel Marant wedge-heeled sneakers. “I just hope I remember to take off my entry wristband!”

A tech start-up brunette dressed in workout gear wasn’t as worried: “My manager went to Flavor Pill the other day at lunch, so it’s totally cool if I’m late,” she laughed. “I just wish my outfit wasn’t so boring, mouth grills are for Halloween, not this!”

“I thought I’d wear my suit, whatever,” said the Australian lawyer bopping toward the back, complete with silk Chanel scarf. Many had wacky and wonderful festival attire, including wigs, perhaps from the Robot Heart party—a gathering of Burning Man attendees—the Saturday gone. “Dress to sweat” had been the official dress code. And one citizen was doing a lot of it. “I hope everyone showers after this,” he smiled, boasting that his bracelet activity monitor showed 440 calories down after an hour. It was hard to distinguish between the motivational dance team and the enthusiastic citizens, liberated by the endorphin high of sharing sober dance moves and small talk with strangers. That dance floor was the lovechild of Burning Man and Soul Cycle.

One girl visiting from London was a fan of the original Morning Gloryville, which began in Shoreditch last May and has grown to monthly gatherings of around 800. She had even brought her mother. “Some people bring their kids to the London ones, with sound-proof headphones,” she said.

Matthew Gilbertson

 The beats from the next DJ, Zev, were soulful. As an organic farmer on the side, he was feeding off the early start and fresh juices. A citizen grabbed the microphone to lead a rendition of “Happy Birthday” to her friend. Then she cried out, “If you’re about to have the best day of your life, make some noise!” and everyone cheered.

Samantha Moyo, a founder of London’s Morning Glory, tells people, “Go to an interview after Morning Gloryville and you will get the job. If not, money back guarantee.” A British stylist in fuchsia tights and a leopard print leotard seemed to have faith. “I’m going to the fucking U.N. after, not dressed like this obviously,” she said. “I’m talking to them about an app I think they’ll be interested in.”

Matthew Gilbertson

The 200 citizens were all beaming as they left, taking their positive energy with them, hangover free. Some would no doubt keep dancing as they waited for the L train, hankering for the next episode of Morning Gloryville. (It’s set for June 18, with a venue big enough for yoga.)

And the Morning Gloryville phenomenon isn’t stopping at New York; the parties are launching in Barcelona, Paris, Amsterdam, Tokyo, Sydney, Perth, and Zagreb this summer, and in more cities across the globe by the end of the year.

Breakfast raving, or “Braving,” as it will no doubt become known, is set to get the whole world confident with dancing sober.

That sounds like a Burner crew alright…still going from the Robot Heart party, a week later. If that’s drug-free, then I want what they’re having!

New York might not be the originator of the concept…this video gives London credit for the idea. I don’t know, Melbourne had people dancing at 8am a LONG time ago…