The Space Cowboys are a San Francisco based collective that began its exploration of the cosmos over a decade ago, as a diverse group of talented individuals who came together in the pursuit of the creation of unique entertainment events, mechanical contraptions, and unique art projects. The group consists of members from all walks of life and vocations – engineers, event planners, designers, programmers, musicians, environmentalists, therapists, architects, nurses, video editors, producers, corporate executives, animators, and financial advisers.
The Space Cowboy family reaches outside of San Francisco to NYC, LA, Canada, and London. The collective serves as an outlet for the members and their friends and family to creatively and socially express themselves beyond their day jobs.
Our story begins with wrangling good times in the wild west of Black Rock City. As one of the first large scale dance camps at Burning Man, the group essentially constructed and ran a nightclub for a week each year on the playa, providing free beats and beverages to all nightly. As one of the oldest, continually existing Burning Man camps, Space Cowboys have constructed a variety of other playa art projects as well.
The collective is responsible for the creation of a mechanical horse & wagon train (the Beast), SCTV versions 0-3 (various forms of video art structures with the largest being a fifty-foot wide video wall comprised of five CRT projectors and 5 acrylic screens measuring eight feet square supported by over 2 tons of steel), and a range of other art cars including a duck, horseshoe, dirty dog, peapod, turtle, rockets and two ponies.
In 2003, one of the Cowboys inherited Martha, a deconstructed Toyota minivan from a sister camp Space Lounge (now defunct). Martha has since been fully rebuilt and dutifully serves as a transport for the troops and a mobile lounge on the playa and off.
Since 2001 the Space Cowboys are perhaps most well known for their UNIMOG All-Terrain Audio Visual Assault Vehicle (ATAVAV). Originally a 1973 Mercedes German Military vehicle, the Space Cowboy’s UNIMOG is one of the largest off-road sound systems in the world, completely self-sufficient with lights, video projectors, 70″ LED flat screens, radio transmitters, on-board generators and wireless network.
The UNIMOG has gone where no other sound system has gone, from the desert of Black Rock, to the snow covered slopes at Squaw Valley and the urban canyons of San Francisco at the various street fairs, love parades, marathons and sound checks.
To fund these activities the Space Cowboys produce a series of fundraisers throughout the year in San Francisco. The parties have become legendary events in their own right. Over the years the Space Cowboys have developed an international reputation for producing the finest underground events, including the annual Breakfast of Champions; a party beginning at 6am on New Years Day. BOC has had a full-length album named after it, and has grown into a weather changing block party from sunup to sundown on January 1st for the past four years.
No one but the greater community profits from the activities of the Space Cowboys. Each Cowboy pays yearly dues and any additional monies from fundraisers are used to create future art events and projects. Space Cowboys are proud to be Breadwinner honor roll with the SF/Marin Food Bank. The cowboys have sponsored Peter Hudson, Flaming Lotus Girls, The Flux Foundation, The Temple of Remembrance and dozens of other crowdsourced campaigns. For us it not about the money, but rather creative expression, community, and something called a good time.
To learn more about the “history of the UNIMOG”, click here.