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What the hell is Amphibian?

So Amphibian 15:1 has been announced, and the buzz is growing. And the same two questions besiege me over and over. They keep coming to me second-hand, via friends-of-friends. So I’ll do my best to explain.

“What tha hell is Amphibian?”

“Why would I bother going all the way out there for this thing, whatever it is?” (incidentally, we’re about 40 minutes by car due south of Buffalo City Hall)

These questions are reasonable, yet a challenge to adequately answer.

The ethos of Amphibian is derived from what many of the so-called “organizers” learned from our exposure to the Burning Man scene. Now I realize that if you haven’t had first-hand exposure to this scene, that description does you no good, so I will try to give you a sense of it assuming no prior exposure to the Burning Man subculture.

Following the herd (LEL)

First, I will tell something that is easy to understand. Prior to the official birth of Amphibian, during our warm-up celebrations, we had very few people from Buffalo attending. Some members of the Pyromancy fire performance troupe came, and maybe one or two other local stragglers, but the majority of revelers were from Toronto, Pittsburgh, and even Philadelphia. Now we’re stepping it up. For Amphibian 15:1, we even have a guy making the trip from North Carolina. So I suppose the better question is: what is it about this thing that attracts people from 600 miles (1000 km) away?

Amphibian: the short version

For most parties or get-togethers, there is an event host that invites a bunch of friends, and the host’s responsibility is to show everyone a good time. Make sure they have enjoyable drinks, introduce them to pleasant people, craft a nice atmosphere, that sort of shit. At Amphibian, we’re more concerned with providing a springboard that allows people to use their own unique talents to create a vibe that others will enjoy. So we’re basically flipping the traditional party on its head. We’re not promising to provide anything. We’re promising to provide an environment that allows everyone a chance to contribute to the vibe that emerges.

We do this in a secluded place, free of restrictions that most people take for granted. Just about the only rule is “don’t destroy property that doesn’t belong to you.”

Sketch of effigy burn

Buffalo artist Nik Boyer’s early sketch of the effigy for Amphibian 15:1. It features a wooden globe that spins, opens and sprays burning embers all up in this bitch.

So, you want to dance with fire? Have at it.

Think it would be fun to play croquet with wickets that burn and a flaming ball? It’s fine; the grass will grow back.

Decorate a golf-cart to make it look like a hedgehog? Sounds good to me!

Stand on the roof and recite a manifesto? Go ahead, but please don’t fall cuz I’m having too much fun and don’t want to drive your ass to the hospital right now.


What to expect

Hopefully, by now, you get the idea that those most at home at Amphibian are doers. In other words, they have some wacky idea and want to share it with others, for better or for worse. To give some examples, here are some activities that are planned:

  • Gambling for Toad Bucks: You buy in for $15 and you get $1 million Toad Bucks in return. Use your Toad Bucks however you want, and whoever has the most Toad Bucks at the end of the event, wins the entire buy-in pot.
  • Pyrotechnics for fun and…more fun: So some of us like to make loud noises with chemistry. We usually know what we’re doing, and when we don’t, we warn you in advance to keep a safe distance away. Remain aware of your surroundings.
  • Flaming croquet: ’nuff said
  • Effigy burning: We’ve got an enthusiastic and prolific artist Nik Boyer who has volunteered to build a kinetic, flaming wooden sculpture. It’s a wooden globe that spins and burns and opens as it’s burning to spew burning embers all around
  • Storytelling: over the course of the 2015 season, we’ll be recreating the Toad Meadow creation myth in three parts to later turn it into highly polished video art. Come to Amhibian 15:2 and 15:3 to see how the story concludes. This video relies on spontaneous participation in our performance art.
  • Totem pole creation: We have a Totem Pole built. Now we need creative bastards to contribute design ideas. It will be burned over and over again at future Amphibian celebrations. If you lack metalworking skill, we will do that part and help make your design a reality that all can enjoy.


So that’s a taste of what’s in store. I want to emphasize again that Amphibian emerges from the people that attend. All the cool shit listed above doesn’t come from us; it comes from people that share the Vision of Amphibian. It comes from people like you. They are people that want to share their contributions for your benefit.

We’re not here to entertain you or show you a good time. If you do come to Amphibian, you should do it to share your unique talents with other people. And if this all seems sort of overwhelming, it’s cool. We understand. Show up anyways and do what you can. Something as simple as a platter of barbecue chicken cooked on the grill at 2am will be a giant hit and have people beaming for days to come.

So that’s Amphibian, I guess. Any questions? Write them in the comments below!

Further reading

The economics of creativity. An essay that dives a bit deeper into the Amphibian ethos.
Why do we burn down beautiful things? – A brief, yet poignant essay on learning to enjoy the moment, in the present, and stuff.

Dawn of the Töad King

Here’s a 1-minute teaser video that briefly shows the origin of Töad Meädow we will reënact this myth at Amphibian 15:1 and incorporate this story into our effigy burn ritual.

2 thoughts on “What the hell is Amphibian?

  1. Walter e kurtz

    Have you ever considered any real freedoms? Freedom from the opinions of others…even the opinions of yourself? Toad Meadow is the first place outside the deep Cambodian jungle I have been able to experience this… freedom; and I implore each and every one of you to witness this perverse form of magic for yourselves. Toad Meadow makes the impossible possible, and dreams a reality.

  2. shardy

    pyrotechnics for fun and more fun is right. enough space and isolation to try new things and get some pyro experience beyond just flame effects. it’s always great when (mostly) responsible people get together and have a place to try things that they wouldn’t ever be allowed to elsewhere.

    burns are no longer the “anything goes” places to experiment – they’re too big, getting too popular. more personal responsibility and less rules lead to more interesting creations.


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