Post-apocalyptic 5-day ‘Wasteland Weekend’ costume party returns after Covid hiatus

After being cancelled in 2020 due to Covid-19, Wasteland Weekend is back!

Thousands of Mad Max fans traveled to Edwards, California, and then onward to the Mojave Desert for a 5-day costume party last Wednesday. The Daily Mail reported that as many as 4,000 people may be in attendance, escaping into a world “pulled out of the Mad Max movies,” according to organizers.

The massive, leather-clad get-together is a “world pulled straight out of the Mad Max movies and other post-apocalyptic films and games, beyond the grip of so-called civilization,” according to its website.

(Photo by Agustin PAULLIER / AFP) (Photo by AGUSTIN PAULLIER/AFP via Getty Images)

The website stresses that this is an experience, and is “full immersion,” where attendees are strongly encouraged to get into the act and dress the part. The costumes do need to fit in, however. As a guideline of what not to do, the guidelines point to some things that egregiously violate the post-apocalyptic wasteland theme, such as anything from Star Wars, Batman (and specifically Harley Quinn), any outfits obviously “Disney” themed, anime, and all robots.

“Can you walk through the background of a movie like Road Warrior or Book of Eli and not distract the audience by looking out of place?” the website’s guidelines ask.

(Photo by Agustin PAULLIER / AFP) (Photo by AGUSTIN PAULLIER/AFP via Getty Images)

The location is part of the immersion too, not just any desert, but in between Hollywood and the now-defunct Nevada (nuclear) Test Site (officially known as the Nevada National Security Site, or NNSS, since August of 2010), where 928 nuclear bombs were tested between 1951 and 1992 (though only the first seven were the dramatic, above-ground kind.)


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Jared Butler, founder of Wasteland Weekend, gave an interview to the Mojave Desert News in 2019, where he spoke about the diverse type of crowd drawn and their diverse reasons for coming:

“We have a broad demographic in terms of ages, backgrounds and interests. People are drawn to the event for many different reasons and we didn’t want to set the barrier to entry so high that they couldn’t attend. If they only want a little bit of immersive, they can stay in the camp area. For the fully immersive experience there is still the city behind the gates.”


In an interview with The Guardian, Eric Davidson, an IT tech from Fontana, spoke about why he goes:

“Going to wasteland is leaving your real life behind, no worries about traffic rush hour, paying your bills … People get to escape reality for a time, and that’s when the best in true human nature emerges.”

(Photo by Agustin PAULLIER / AFP) (Photo by AGUSTIN PAULLIER/AFP via Getty Images)

Some of the events include fire dancers, live music, burlesque acts, and even a private movie theater that hosts its own film festival.

You have to bring your own beer, though, as no alcohol is sold on the premises of the event, which is strictly aged 18-and-up.


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