Burning Man is an art festival' with elements of spirituality, communal living, rugged camping, nudity, ceremonial celebration, bacchanal-like partying, free sexuality, creative innovation, music, performance, and a gift economy.
On BLM land in the middle of the northern Nevada desert (about 125 miles northeast of Reno, NV). The site itself is a gargantuan desert landscape, a sandbox and playground all in one, miles and miles across. Locals call this The Playa.
The week and weekend before Labor Day, every year.
If you go, you'll figure this one out.
38,000 (in 2004) folk who willingly and joyfully spend a week without bathing, wear goggles to go out in sandstorms (on purpose), bring extras of everything to give away to their neighbors, and care enough about the act of creating art that they gleefully burn it.
Sight. A bright bowl of sand surrounded by indigo mountains. Blasted, beautiful land. Obedient neon. Fire and flames, wild and tamed, leaping, surging, swinging, bouncing, twirling, tonguing the air day and night. Shining skin, naked skin, dusty skin, baking skin, dancing skin. Every important person in the world out riding bikes. Clothing: bright, tiny, furry, painted, glowing, flowing, flapping. People: youngoldperfectfattannedscrawnyboobscocksfeetfaceslimbstalltinyblackwhitebrown yellowbaregracefulgawkygorgeouscrazydrunkdancinglaughingsmilingnormal.
Sound: Mouths move in laughter and delight. Always a communal murmur. Ubiquitous, pounding techno. The pop of our tarp in the wind and storm. Hiss of sand and hiss of fire. Barbaric yawping every damn day. Shouts of glee, joy, wonder, love, thanks. The eternal Wowlookatthat.
Touch: Alkaline sand between toes. Gritty, sand-powdered hair. Hurt-cold water in the hot hot sun. The dry breath of the desert against burn-stung skin. The firm, intimate hugs of absolute strangers. Skin pressed against skin, sliding, gliding. Skip's soft fingers against my nipples, inside me during Tantric massage.
Taste: Almost-sweet, chalky Belgian chocolate (modified with mushrooms). Cold, crunchy ice. Automatic luke-warm water. Dusky, heavy, coffee-chocolate porter. Warm and milky chai. Creamy and sweet Irish Cream. Spicy sausage, warm eggs, tuna and crackers. Sweet-smoky marijuana.
Smell: Barbeque. Chai. Homebrew. The fake-fruity smell of my daily body-glitter. The sweet earth-sweat under my arms. Lemony false-clean of our antibacterial wipes. Jack Daniels and cool-aid. Chemical-green of the port-a-potties. The clean cakey smell of the sweet, baked Playa.
Kym's Favorite Things:
Skip's Favorite Things:
Living in the desert
What Kym Didn't Like:
Black Rock City has a LOT of bureaucracy. I realize that there's got to be organization and registration and rules, but part of me wanted more chaos
it seemed like we were all so happy to be there that we were brainwashed into lack of rebellion
we were following the rules blindly because we could trust the rule-makers.
What Skip Didn't like:
I missed my dogs
I still found people who were hung up on the rules and regulations Living in the desert
NO DOGS at BM. You don't want them there. Conditions are way too extreme, cleaning up after them would be practically impossible (unless you want to gather and pack out a week's worth of dogshit), and you're going to be way too...occupied...to take good care of them anyway.
What We Learned:
Radical individualism is the cake, but community is the icing that makes it taste SO FUCKING GOOD.
What We'll Incorporate into Our Place:
barter, gift economy, classes and workshops
What we said while we were there: