Choco Boutique is throwing a fashion show, champagne and wine tasting, and dance party this Saturday night from 7 p.m. to 2 a.m. at the Juneau Arts & Culture Center. All proceeds will go towards the second annual Juneau Burning Rain, a free music festival in the spirit of Burning Man, an annual event held in Nevada’s Black Rock Desert.
Wanting to create community and keep Juneau’s cool quotient up among the younger crowd, Choco Boutique owners Manuel and Dana Hernandez pooled their resources with other people last year, scraping together money for rented generators to pump the first Burning Rain, a three-day long music event held at Sunshine Cove. More than 500 people made it to that event, with about 80 camping out for all three days. The group burned 520 pallets in addition to a large wooden sculpture of a man that was burned on the last night, a signature event at the original Burning Man in Nevada.
“It was raining but once people got out there, they couldn’t believe it,” Hernandez said of last year’s event. “Cars were parked along the road for two miles and when people walked into the event and saw the decorated trees and the stage, they were immediately texting their friends and telling them to come out.”
Hernandez said organizers wanted to give Juneau’s young adult crowd something to do.
“Haines has the State Fair, Sitka has Home Skillet and we have the Folk Festival but it isn’t the same,” he said.
This year organizers are taking the festival up a notch and preparing for an even larger crowd. This Saturday’s fundraiser, called Burning Runway, will help pay for the cost of expansions and improvements. The runway show, which begins at 9 p.m., will showcase original, one-of-a-kind designs by Dana Hernandez, as well as designs carried by Choco Boutique, all of which will be modeled by 18 local men and women. Prior to that, beginning at 7 p.m., there will be a wine and champagne tasting, run by the Rendezvous and K&L Distributors, accompanied by music. And after the runway show, beginning at about 9:30 p.m., the chairs will be cleared for a dance party, featuring DJs Manu (Manuel Hernandez), Atropin, B L41N3 and Goldrich.
The music at Saturday’s post-runway-show dance party will give just a taste of what to expect at the Burning Rain event, scheduled for Aug. 17-19. Billed as an electronic music festival, this year’s event will feature 12 DJs, three of whom are coming in from Nevada, as well as live bands. Organizers have been holding weekly planning meetings for the festival since April.
“This year we’re adding a clear Visqueen cover over the dance floor in case it’s raining and so we can add image projections. When people drive up they will see colors filling the sky and a dance club in the middle of the forest,” Hernandez said.
They also supply a large communal grilling area with a grill master and toilets. Participants are encouraged to decorate their campsites without harming the trees with nails or paint. Hernandez said last year many people wrapped lights around the trunks and hung glow sticks from the branches.
“You can add glow sticks, zip tie wings — make them glow without perforating them or painting them,” he said.
He is in charge of creating the stage, which takes more than two days to assemble. This year they’ll start preparing the area on Aug. 15, and volunteers are encouraged to come early.
“We encourage people to bring their tents, carpool and stay there. We have dry areas, a stage and we want to invite people from all over Southeast Alaska and down south to join us,” said Hernandez. “It’s a gathering of people, a weekend of camping and having fun with all your friends. We encourage people to play it safe and if you’re drinking just stay there or have a designated driver.”
After the event, the clean-up can take longer than the whole festival because Hernandez has a “leave no trace” philosophy. Hernandez said they filled eight large buckets with nails from the pallets, dragging industrial magnets through the area. By the time they left there was no sign the festival was there, he said
“There were no nails or cigarette butts or cups, even the Forest Service was unable to find more than half a trash bag of trash from a different area,” Hernandez said.
“We are working with the city, the fire department and JPD, they already know and they are invited like they were last year as well. We are happy to report there were no car accidents or injuries,” he said.
Hernandez puts in all the effort for the free concert because he says it helps the community spirit.
“People were really happy, they were smiling and it was a great vibe. I remember I stopped playing music at 7:30 in the morning and I looked at the beach and there were people just playing on the beach, chasing each other around. It was really nice to see.”
The original Burning Man event in Nevada has been held annually since the mid-1980s, and is also organized around the idea of community. To find out more, visit burningman.com.
Tickets to Saturday’s Burning Runway fundraiser at the JACC are $15 in advance for general admission or $20 for those 21 and over (includes tastings). They can be purchased at the JACC and Hearthside Books, or online at jahc.org. In addition to the tastings, fashion show and dance party, the event will include refreshments and a silent auction.
For more information visit www.facebook.com/events/256460127797222/