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The Collective Museum's 'full moon' parties push boundaries, inspire wonder

The parties are themed after each month's respective moons and aim to let adults 'reconnect with their imaginations.'

At the Collective Museum's October full moon party,

At the Collective Museum's October full moon party, a bartender and a partygoer talk about artificial intelligence.  Photo Credit: Shaye Weaver

At 8 p.m. Wednesday night, I found myself blindfolded and sitting in a tent in the middle of a dark Lower East Side community garden. A bass clarinetist and a singer with a thunder tube were serenading me with an almost primal song they made just for me.

It was weird but I went with it.

The song was part of a full moon party put on by The Collective Museum, a company that organizes social events and experiences for adults set to the moon's schedule. Each month, The Collective's full moon party is inspired by that month's moon and its Native American given name.

October is the "hunter's moon," the preferred month to hunt deer and fox, according to National Geographic. This particular event promised a 'unique' and introspective experience for each individual by offering them their own song, a customized cocktail and a chance to create their own art.

So when I arrived at the garden in the dark, I saw camouflaged tents and tarps that modern hunters use in the woods as well as lanterns placed about. Immediately, I was asked to create my own Suminagashi or Japanese water marbling on a piece of linen. Dropping paint into the water until "it feels ready," I was able to create a unique design that I got to take home with me. 

After wandering to the back of the garden, I found a firepit with crystals inside of it, where guests could perform a burning ceremony to let go of the past or any negativity. I took a piece of paper and wrote the word "fear" on it and watched the fire consume it. 

I was then blindfolded and lead further back to the tent for my unique song performed by a woman wearing a blue headlight and a man playing the clarinet in the shadows.

The woman uttered phrases like "I won't stop until the deed is done," "Until the gates open up" and "You make me happy."

Walking out almost hypnotized, I made my way to a small bar, where my phone was confiscated and I met my bartender for "one drink and one conversation."

The bartender asked me to pick a card as if he were performing a magic trick — a bed, a rocking chair or a hammer — and went to work after I sleepily picked the bed card.

A rum-based pink drink appeared in front of me and he asked me to pick more cards for our conversation. The cards I selected translated to the number 48. Confused, I watched him flip through a book of questions — mine was "What happens when it's over?"

It felt odd to talk to someone based on a number and a pre-written question, but we ended up talking about changes in my life and how they've transformed me. It was nice to open up to a stranger who I'd never see again. 

That kind of personal interaction, experiencing something new and creating something you've never made before, are in line with what The Collective Museum's goals are, according to its founder, Alyssa Gundred.

"This is an opportunity for reflection, to let go, connect with each other and process your own personal tragedies," she told me. "I want to help adults reconnect with their imaginations. It's about exploring without having specific intentions already and giving them the freedom to be curious and create something meaningful."

The Collective's events, which are meant to be like a "children's museum for adults," have included demos and guidance in arts like forging metal, modeling in stone, perfume making, medicine creation and engineering.  

The next one for the "beaver moon" is set for November 23.

Gundred said the organization, which also sets up installations around the city like an "integrity check," is fundraising to open a pop-up brick-and-mortar museum in the city for three months, with a rotating set of disciplines that visitors can try out.

For more information, visit collectivemuseum.com and its Facebook page.

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