CALIFORNIA CITY, Calif. — If life after the apocalypse will be anything like Wasteland Weekend — the Mad Max-inspired event in the California desert — then go ahead and push the red button.
Approximately 700 people outfitted with scrap armor, leather, and homemade machetes gathered in the scrubland to re-create a post-apocalyptic world for three days, beginning last Friday. Wasteland Weekend came complete with mock blood sports, grinding industrial music, plastic-and-cardboard shanties, and two (yes two!) 1973 Australian Ford Falcon XB GT “Interceptors” modeled after the cars in the first two Mad Max films.
The event is the brainchild of Mad Max fan Karol Bartoszynski, who after years of communicating with other fans of the film franchise on the internet organized a tanker-led highway cruise down Highway 101 in 2004 called Roadwar 101. The tricked-out convoy inspired similar events in Texas and Washington, and it eventually moved into the Southern California desert.
“That’s really where a Mad Max event belongs,” Bartoszynski, a former surgical technician and aspiring costume designer, told Wired.com. “People just really want to go out there and live it. You know, eat the dog food and everything.”
And while one vendor did have cans of Dinki-Di (the dog food from the movie) for sale among the handmade knives and other weapons, there were plenty of barbecues and decent liquor to be found.
The various events went pretty smoothly as well — no one got killed in the mini-Thunderdome, or had their fingers cut off at the metal boomerang toss contest. In fact, whether wielding pole arms and fake shotguns, or dressed in rags like the “feral kid,” everyone was as friendly as could be.
“Apocalyptic stuff can be pretty depressing – we’ve chosen to just have the fun apocalypse,” said co-organizer Jared (who prefers to not have his last name given for professional reasons). “We say, ‘It’s The Road Warrior, not The Road.’ No one wants to spend three days in a Cormac McCarthy novel.”
In the end though — despite the machine-gun-equipped dune buggies — it was about community.
“You come out here to a gathering that celebrates the end of civilization as we know it, and yet you come away from it having worked with people that you’d share a trench with; some of the coolest people in the world,” said Adam Chilson, the lead set designer for the event. “It makes you think that maybe there is still some hope for humanity.”
Check out all the desert mayhem in the gallery above.