ANN ARBOR, Mich. - When it's finished it won't just be a camper -- it will be the Electric Love Lounge.
And it's definitely been a labor of love for photographer Yana Galanin and hairstylist Jackie Caminita.
With the help of Full Auto LLC in Ann Arbor, the longtime friends will soon be completing the transformation of their 1967 Nomad Camper into a multifunctional traveling camper that will be available for events and parties in Michigan and Ohio in the fall.
"We wanted the RV to be able to be multipurpose, so whether it is a photo booth at a wedding, or whether it's a stage for an artist to be able to sing from at a festival or a farmers market, it's sound and color equipped," Galanin told The Ann Arbor News.
Galanin purchased the camper in 2018 from a friend for $2,700, obtaining what would be a very long, expensive and tedious project that they call the Electric Love Lounge.
The purchase was inspired by her travels to the West, especially California. She wanted to bring some of that culture to Michigan.
"I was very inspired by the West Coast... like Burning Man, and all that kind of stuff," Galanin said. "I noticed that even though people have roots in places, they also had a way to stay nomadic. And I thought that was so beautiful to be able to take your business and your fun on the road."
Galanin and Caminita, both inspired by this nomadic lifestyle, began fundraising in 2018 by posting their GoFundMe on their Facebook to pull funds together and get started, raising about $2,000.
"So we made the video, we made fliers, we made all that kind of stuff. We got the word out there," Galanin said.
In 2019, the difficult task of finding the right auto shop to refurbish their camper began.
"It took us forever to find someone who would even take it," Caminita said. "We came home in August 2019, and I remember the next opening was October of the following year for them just take it to start."
They both immediately began to call every auto shop in town, and were eventually led to Full Auto LLC in Ann Arbor, an auto shop that previously turned a Volkswagen van into an ice cream truck.
With the help of Galanin's 11- and 12-year-old daughters, Galanin and Caminita spent the summer gutting the camper before dropping it off at Full Auto LLC in February 2020.
"We spent that whole summer gutting it, taking it apart," Caminita said. "And the neighbor across the street from her was super gracious and let us keep it on his property and burn everything that we had to."
After seeing the extent of the damage, Full Auto LLC was not confident they had the tools to complete the job, but soon accepted the challenge with some research help provided by Galanin.
"The whole thing was rotted, the only thing that was original was the roof," co-owner of Full Auto LLC Mike Durston said. "We made all new walls, new floors, we re-sided it, we put a bigger door in it, put a bunch of LED lights, crown molding, hardwood floors, tin ceiling. It was a chore, it was a lot of work."
The design of the camper is expected to be clean, light, and airy, with a touch of sparkle, Galanin said.
During the pandemic, supplies and shipping costs tripled, Galanin said.
"It was also really hard, obviously making it all even happen during the pandemic, because now ... we're in the middle of dumping money into this beauty, there was like a little bit of anxiety," Galanin said. "But it definitely pushed us through when we knew like, hey, there's an end to this, and we know how much people miss the party. So once the party starts, we're there."
The project is estimated to be completed sometime later this summer, and when all is said and done, the project will have cost them around $50,000, Galanin said.
The Electric Love Lounge is expected to be available in the fall for residents in Michigan and Ohio, and will be driven out to designated locations upon request, Galanin said. Photo and sound equipment will also be available to rent, she said.