Bohemian Grove

Bohemian Grove is a 2700 acre (11 km²) campground located in Monte Rio, California belonging to a private San Francisco-based men’s club known as the Bohemian Club, which was founded in 1872. The club’s membership includes many artists, particularly musicians, as well as many high-ranking business leaders and government officials.

The Bohemian Club holds a two-week encampment during July. Dozens of concerts, some scheduled and many impromptu are held at the grove’s amphitheaters. Original plays, musical comedies and historical dramas are presented each year. There is also an ongoing art exhibit, and lectures and talks on a wide range of topics from US foreign policy, Industry dynamics, and Science to musical history are discussed.

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Facilities

The primary activities taking place at the grove are entertainment, produced by the members of the club. Therefore, the majority of common facilities are entertainment venues. There are also sleeping quarters, or “camps” scattered throughout the grove.

  • Grove Stage – it is an amphitheatre with seating for 2,000 used primarily for the Grove Play production, on the last Friday of the midsummer encampment. The stage extends up the hill side, and is also home to the second largest outdoor pipe organ in the world.
  • Field Circle – a bowl-shaped amphitheatre used for the mid-weekend, “Low Jinks” musical comedy, as well as for variety shows.
  • Campfire Circle – has a campfire pit in the middle of the circle, surrounded by carved redwood log benches. Used for smaller shows in a more intimate setting.
  • Museum Stage – A semi-outdoor venue with a covered stage. Lectures and small ensembles shows.
  • The Owl Shrine and the Lake – an artificial lake in the middle of the grove, used for the noon-time concerts and “Lakeside Talks.” It is also the venue of the Cremation of Care, that takes place on the first Saturday of the encampment.

In addition, there is a common dining facility that serves breakfast and dinner to 800 diners simultaneously.

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Symbolism and rituals

Since the founding of the club, the Bohemian Grove’s symbol has been the owl, long held as a representative of wisdom. A forty-foot concrete owl stands at the head of the lake in the Grove and, since 1929, has served as the site of the yearly “Cremation of Care” ceremony (see below). The club’s motto, Weaving Spiders Come Not Here, is taken from the second scene of Act 2 from A Midsummer Night’s Dream; it signifies that the club and the grove are not for conducting business, but exchanging friendship and free sharing of common passion, summarized in the term, “the Bohemian Spirit.”

 

Membership list

  • Gustaf Adolf
  • James A. Baker III
  • Ambrose G. Bierce
  • William F. Buckley Jr
  • George H.W Bush
  • George W. Bush
  • David Brooks
  • William J. Casey
  • Bill Clinton
  • Richard M. Nixon
  • Paul A. Volcker

This list is adapted from the list, collected by Joël van der Reijden

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Quotes

“The Bohemian Grove, that I attend from time to time — the (inaudible) and the others come there — but it is the most faggy goddamn thing that you would ever imagine. The San Francisco crowd, it’s just terrible. I can’t even shake hands with anybody from San Francisco.” -President Richard M. Nixon , Bohemian Club member starting in 1953 (Domhoff, p 15)