Imagine a mix between Alice in Wonderland, Mad Max, a gypsy camp, The Flaming Lips concert, Christmas and an acid trip. This is Fusion in a nutshell. An European take on Burning Man. Five days of non-stop festivities set in an ex-Red Army military airfield. An unstoppable express train that passes by at a blazing speed leaving no trail after it is gone, making you think whether what you saw was a collective dream. The legacy of Soviets is seen in huge military hangars now hosting various stages and a slight touch of the communism spirit. The festival is non-profit, has no sponsors, no promotion is made and cyrillic and Soviet era inspired art is used in the festival propaganda. Despite the lack of promotion, the festival reached its maximum capacity of around 60000 visitors in 2009 and a cap on tickets was introduced. Nowadays tickets are usually sold out in the matter of few days.
Fusion is an example of how a festival should be organized. There are no security checks, no silly rules and regulations nor any authority at the festival. There is nobody to check your bags or ID or to waive their authority in your face. The closest to security you have are Fusionmobiles – pimped up cars Mad Max style cruising around and ensuring that people are having fun. Organizers do not treat people like potential criminals who are there to cause troubles, but like responsible adults. I might add that this strategy works. I have not seen any violence, misconduct or any organizational problems. The whole thing just flows smoothly. Fusion is a festival that is made for people. For example, alcohol and food are sold at the festival area, but nonetheless you are allowed to bring your own, as much as you want. Furthermore, there is a free shuttle to a nearby village to refill your supplies.
Fusion is a festival in the proper sense of the word. It is not a music event with a handful of big name artists. It is not your average party from 9 to 5 in a closely guarded environment. Fusion is about non-stop celebration for five days in a row. There are no dead periods in the festival program, there is always something going on. In fact there is so much going that it feels like five days are not enough and it would take a month to explore just the festival area. The abundance of things to see, hear and experience makes you want come year after year. And every year you discover something new. The lack of big names is in fact a blessing.
At least this way you do not have to worry about a rigid schedule and missing out your favorites. Out of the whole festival program I was familiar with at most ten names and had no personal “must-see” artists. I wanted to see Akufen and Ame. Missed both. Saw Beardyman, Awesome Tapes From Africa and Rico Loop instead. No regrets on this part. As a wise man once said, eat when you are hungry, sleep when you are tired and party otherwise. Fusion operates in a free flow mode, just go somewhere and find something interesting and bizarre. For example, I discovered Rock ‘n’ Wrestling show completely by surprise. It was … well.. rock and wrestling. Charles Bronson look-a-like fought villains (including a giant robot) on the stage for the love of a woman. Once the justice prevailed, he kissed the woman and proceeded to play rock, while assistants carried “dead bodies” off the stage. Bizarre. And lovely.
Fusion comprises of more than 20 stages representing all forms of entertainment under the sun. There is a cinema. There is a theater. There is a circus. There is a cabaret (at the end of the world too). There is music to each and every taste. There are all sorts of art installations, shows, workshops and performances. There are many things to blow your mind. One time we walked through a disco ball forest and found a guy there playing on a laser harp. Just like that. It is a massive attack on all sense organs, non-stop for five days and nights. Tons of lights, amazing decorations and fairy tale like constructions. There are a hobbit library, a disco ball forest, abandoned pirate ships and gigantic spider webs.
It is Hobbiton, Rivendale, Pirates Of Caribbean and Neverland. All combined on a Soviet army base. It all is very beautiful and very impermanent. The festival area is deconstructed and built again each each, so every year offers something new. Night-time is very special with all the magical lights. Makes you wish that the night would be a little bit longer to fully appreciate all the magic around you. The highlight of this year for me decoration wise was a gigantic 2D tree, which really looked like it was flat thanks to a crafty video projection.
Fusion does not make any sense. It all is about survival in an absurd environment. Last year it was extremely hot during the day and freezing cold in the night. Everybody partied in the night and attempted to sleep in overheated tents in the daytime. Painful. Dust everywhere too. This year was marked with prolonged rains and mud-baths. It started raining on the Friday evening and pretty much never stopped until the festival end. By Saturday night the whole area turned into one massive mud-bath, which made me regret that I had not rubber boots with me. On the other hand, the rain resulted in a lot of sleeping and eating on my part. Almost like the time at a summer cottage with lots of food, lots of sleep and occasional partying. In fact I ended up sleeping more than I normally do at home. Fusion can be truly weird.
It was beautiful. It was bizarre. It ended too early. Until next year then.