Well, I’m back from Burning Man.
First, a primer for those of you who haven’t been:
Burning Man is an experience in communal living. For two weeks every year, a complete city arises in the desert, and then completely disappears, leaving no trace.
It’s a modern-day post-cyberpunk Mad Max quasi-hippy Love Parade experience. For about a week or two, people gather in the desert – a dried alkali lake in Black Rock, Nevada, and celebrate an independent life-style. It’s been held in earnest since about 1990, and in the last few years it consistently draws about 40,000 people in the course of the event. Everyone who comes must be entirely self-sufficient. You need to bring your food, water, shelter, clothes, and anything else you might want or need. No money is allowed, everything must be traded or gifted. People come in elaborate tents, motor homes, and other temporary structures.
And you need a bike, because the place is huge. It’s several square miles!
Now, keep in mind this is the desert. It is a 100 degrees in the day, and at night it drops down to 50, and sand storms whip up regularly, but without notice. It is harsh! It’s also far away from anything – about three hours from Reno. And it’s pretty expensive – $300 to get in, plus at least $100 or more per day in supplies – and most spend a LOT more. All of this means that the crowd is pretty grown up. The typical age bracket is 30 – 35 years old, but it goes way up in age. Also, the cost means there’s few voyeurs – if you’re going to spend a day getting there, you’re not just there to gawk at the naked people… you’re gonna be there a while, and you’re gonna have to get into the spirit of things.
Burning Man is a temporary city – actually, the second largest town in Nevada during Labor Day weekend. It’s perfectly circular, and in the middle is a vast expanse known as the playa – and in the middle of this playa is a 60-foot high wooden sculpture of a “man”… and on the last Saturday night, it gets burned to the ground.
The vibe is a tribal-peaceful-happy-“don’t fuck with me”-dayglo-leftist-anarchy mixture, liberally sprinkled with hash and hallucinogens. And a lot of loud trance music.
But that really tells you nothing. You have to see it to believe it.
…and I have to admit, I thought it was wonderful.
I would tell you about all unbelievable mobile art – giant pieces that drive around in the desert, larger than two buses. I would tell you about all the weird performances, and all the fire. I would describe to you the music, the dancers, and everyone’s costumes. And then I would tell you that everything gets an order of magnitude weirder after dark.
…but my story wouldn’t really begin to do it justice. And as much as I consider myself a good photographer, I came away with very few good pictures. I was too busy experiencing everything to take any decent ones.
So in the spirit of sharing at Burning Man, I will take other’s images and videos, and link to them here.
And when you’re done watching these, go to YouTube and search for Burning Man. Or do the same thing on Google Images. Have fun.
See you there soon, I hope.