How was Burning Man?
It’s a question we have been asked many times since returning from our project in the Nevada desert and we are still not sure how to answer it.
At first it seemed like a big electronic dance party. If one stopped to listen then the overwhelming noise was the deep beat of the bass. The party was never ending. It didn’t matter what time of day or night there was always the beat.
The next thing one noticed was the people. Eccentricity blended with the unusual. The more offbeat and unique the more common one felt. Sometime into the 4th day we saw a guy with a sign that read ‘am I the only normal one!’ It seemed fitting. Dressing up into this fanciful world allows everyone to leave the ‘default world’ and enter into their own realm of self-expression. It made for a visual wonderland and coupled together with the desert surroundings, contemporary art installations and the moving art cars it created an atmosphere like no other place on earth.
Then the night came. If the day wasn’t already surreal enough then the night would take one into a different orbit. Riding around the 7 square mile playa in the warm evening darkness surrounded by thousands of moving neon lights, fireballs exploding into the sky, giant octopuses, enormous swimming fish along with a multitude of other weird and bizarre creations will surely be one of life’s flashbacks.
But the most intriguing and pleasant reward of Burning Man was not visual. It was the ambiance created from friendliness. Wherever one went someone was always smiling at you. You couldn’t ride more than 50m without someone offering you a cocktail, a piece of pizza, breakfast or even freshly made creme brulee. If you stopped to talk then usually a small gift was presented so one could remember the coming together.
The camping areas were made up of many many different ‘theme camps’ that varied from useful to just bizarre. Were you having bacon withdrawals, Bacon Oasis could fix this or in need of some experimental sex, head to Orgy Dome, need to make your own spandex costume, there’s a place for that too. You can even get nailed to a cross if ya into that. Mostly the camps are just plain fun and about having a good time and a bit of a laugh. It certainly livened up ones bike ride.
Giving, alongside acceptance is a big part of the philosophy behind Burning Man. It’s something the real world, in its rush to turn time into money sometimes lacks and what draws the ‘Burners’ to return year after year.
This big party had a lot to teach.
To be continued …