Camp Charlie Unicorns: The Story of a Boogaloo Camp So Fabulous that Starbucks Ripped Them Off

No crew, no car, no squad, no magical being is as deep in the Boogaloo universe as Camp Charlie Unicorns. The massive, vehicular unicorn-themed bacchanal has been through the party trenches with the Boogalosers for years, and the camp is a major part of that unique Boogaloo vibe.

This year, The Unicorn Stage will feature sets from Vanilla Ace, Fritz Carlton, Fleetwood Smack, Ben Annand, Josh Billings b2b Nonfiction, and camp all-star DivaDanielle, and it promises to be a fantastical, fabulous, and ferocious journey through house music in the wonderful unicorn kingdom.

On the eve of Boogaloo’s 2017 edition, we sat down with DivaDanielle and Mindy of Camp Charlie Unicorns to find out more about the group’s formation, philosophies, and what it is that puts the sparkle in their cereal every morning….

So, the basics: What the fuck is Camp Charlie Unicorn?

Danielle: Basically, it’s a 2-story tall unicorn,  mobile DJ booth that also shoots fire. It was actually started originally by this guy Ted—he’s making the 747 for Burning Man now. He started a kickstarter for Charlie and people knew that I liked unicorns, so I was inundated with links to it. I just hit him up!  I didn’t know I was getting suckered in and that it was going to take over my entire life! And then I was like, I guess I’m going to Burning Man now? We kind of just rode from there—we kind of took it over over the years, once Ted moved onto another project and we made “unicorning so hard” into an art form.

What does it mean “to unicorn”?

Danielle: “Unicorning” is what you’re doing when you’re being your own, personal, magical being. But unicorning is not only having a good time; it’s not only dancing hard, partying hard, being totally magical, but also working hard. Anybody that’s part of our unicorn crew has to participate and pull their weight.

Hard work that goes into building the structural/engineering feats [3:40]

Danielle: We have multiple teams, especially for the burn, One thing that we’re trying to instill in our members is that we are all leaders. Nobody needs to look up to us—I mean obviously we kind of steer people, but we want to empower every single person, and they are the leaders too. The only way that Mindy and I actually got into this was because we just stepped up and decided that we wanted to and there was a problem that needed to be done, so we kind of look to all of our unicorns as being the same style—like hard workers, leaders—even on a small project, whatever it is, you can be your own leader and lead other people.

Mindy: A big thing for us is that we want to create a space for people to get to do things. Like if there’s a project you don’t get to do in like your real—like a lot of times people have day jobs—so we’re trying to run a creative, artistic space where people can do things that they actually want to be doing. So we give them a place to create a new project.

What’s all the new bells and whistles to Camp Charlie this year?

Danielle: There’s an LED rainbow. Giant unicorn heads—Those have LEDs too. We’ve got the Unicorn Lair, which is like a projection mapped stage. We have a tower, like a climbing, jungle gym tower. Last year, we had a giant ball pit. This year is gonna be a giant swish pit—which is like a stuffed animal pit that people can climb around in. I know, it sounds kind of dirty!

Mindy: It’s kind of just silly, and everyone’s like pink and rainbow, and it has a very childlike quality, and our thing is, we want to create—we use silliness and fun to create spaces for people to really be themselves, and hope that that adds to not only the happiness in people’s live but their creativity. You’re just in this silly place where nothing is taken seriously, and you can really be yourself.

One of our unicorns is a scientist, and she actually brings all these little potions and scents that you can come and like make your own scent—she’s done that for quite a few years now. One guy likes to bring a bunch of jewelry and do a jewelry making workshop. Sometimes it’s just really silly, that happens a lot

When did you meet the Dirty Beetles?

Mindy: We’ve known the Boogaloo guys for a while. I think I originally met them through Pumpkin, actually, who was a really close friend. He had a birthday party that they threw, and that’s where I met Brian and Ian. There have been all sorts of unicorn-on-beetle tomfoolery since then. People have dated, people have gotten in fights, stuff that’s brought us closer together over the years

What was that moment where you were like—’Okay, these are dudes we can jump in with?

We’re still looking for that moment!

They Dirty Beetles have a reputation as troublemakers…

Mindy:  I think everyone would agree, I mean they themselves even have this as their tagline, they are both the problem and the solution. They’re messy, but they’re also really creative people and they have a lot of ideas—they’ve got like an energy about them that brings people to them. They’re a hot mess, but they’re lovable.

Danielle: We’ve seen them grow so much over the years. They really do bring people together and get people to be artistic and want to help them. So to watch them fully hone all their skills has been nice ot watch. And it’s become easier for us, cause they always say we’re so prissy. We’re just organized!

How would you describe Boogaloo?

Mindy: It has kind of a Burning Man vibe, because of the people and the art cars. It’s very… it feels like a family event. Everyone knows each other, and if you don’t you probably will soon know people—you kind of just mob around with friends jumping from one group to the next. And then Sunday, when they just do everything at Boogaloo. It’s very much like a giant backyard barbecue, with everyone just handing out on towels and stuff. It just feels like you belong, and I’ve heard that from so many other people as well, they just felt like it was refreshing.

Boogaloo Art Car and Music Festival kicks off today! Get your ass down there and join the party!