★ Photography : PlanetVisible
★ Words : Matt Belair
Collectively it is the people that make the burn. The amount of time, money and effort that goes into a camp, an art project, or simply showing up is remarkable. Most people spend all year planning and organizing, some people volunteer as rangers and help keep the city safe. Radical self expression is expressed through some of the most spectacular costumes you will ever see, from what you’d think are actual aliens, shamans, angels, demons, the expression through costume and makeup is nothing short of spectacular.
Gifting is one of the trademarks of what makes the burn so special. In small ways people are always ready to give you a big, long juicy, hug full of love (there are no handshakes), bracelets, stickers, or homemade jewelry. That’s just the beginning as there are never ending parties with free alcohol, hot dog vendors in obscure places just when you need it most, incredible rides, live events, massages, healings, healers, workshops, and infinitely more.
The love, support, kindness and generosity are what make the entire experience what it is. It is a logistical nightmare and when we need support within the camp or on the playa it’s always there. The people cultivate a culture of love and support. The art and music are out of this world but the people are the real magic of Burning Man.
“THE CITY IS ALIVE AT ALL TIMES AND YOU MARVEL AT THE ASTOUNDING ART CARS THAT SERENADE YOU WITH MUSIC. YOU MAY WITNESS A FLYING CARPET, THE DISCO HAT WEARING SKULL, OR HUNDREDS OF OTHER CREATIVE ENDEAVORS.”
The great equalizer and ego crusher Burning Man gives you what you need. We build ourselves up in the world to create layers of separation, to compare better or worse, less and more, good and bad. In an unforgiving environment like the black rock desert the size of your house and how cool you were in high school won’t trump the fact you need some water badly because you jumped on an art car and 5 hours later you’re kinda fucked. So then we rely on the good nature of others for support to provide us with our most basic human need. This is our natural programming as human beings, to support and care for one another. This is an opportunity to realize deeply, caring for each other and the planet must trump the bottom line. As a culture we’ve put more value on things than we have on our character, action and integrity. Allow yourself to be vulnerable and be authentically you, remove each layer of your self created bull shit and be open, honest and real in your daily interactions. You don’t need to be, do or know anything more than you already do to be perfect, worthy and whole as a human being. Your courage to be present, open and honest will have ripples with more power and influence than you could imagine. Now let’s dance!
“ONE THING IS FOR SURE, ONCE YOU SET FOOT ON THE PLAYA IT’S NON-STOP, 24 HOURS A DAY, SENSORY OVERLOAD IN THE MOST BEAUTIFUL AND THRILLING WAY.”
The words, “Welcome Home” are shared often and with love. 70,000 people co-create a temporary Utopia and a one of a kind experience. Burning Man is unlike any other festival on the planet.
Burning Man truly has something for everyone. There is mind blowing art, extraordinary art cars, music day and night, workshops with some of the brightest minds on the planet, state of the art technology, random events and experiences that you would have to see to believe. The people work together to create an inspiring event, although temporary, we set an example. We show each other how much love there is in the world and what is possible when we work together. Welcome Home!
The environment in the unforgiving desert where Burning Man is hosted is affectionately known as “The Playa.” It is a wonderland to explore and changes dramatically each year with the exception of the Temple and the Man. The Temple is a spiritual and energetic staple that supports people in letting go of loved ones or traumatic experiences, the man is your beacon and light house when trying to figure out where the heck you are. The playa is littered with mind bending, interactive art installations. This year included the catacombs, which were two remarkable temples and the lighthouses. Both magnificent pieces were burnt to the ground giving everyone present a direct and powerful Zen lesson in impermanence.
The city is alive at all times and you marvel at the astounding art cars that serenade you with music. You may witness a flying carpet, the disco hat wearing skull, or hundreds of other creative endeavors. You also have the option to jump on 100 + foot dragons, boats, ducks, scorpions, trains, that slowly cruise the playa providing entertainment and transportation in the most righteous way.
You can venture deep into the city and get lost for days, meet lifelong friends and create unforgettable experiences or you can set out to the deep playa to experience the sun rise, hidden gems and take a moment for yourself before turning around and immersing yourself back into the magic. One thing is for sure, once you set foot on the playa it’s non-stop, 24 hours a day, sensory overload in the most beautiful and thrilling way.
Another common term at the burn is “playa magic.” This refers to the law of attraction or serendipitous events. You’ll be starving and all of a sudden someone hands you a sandwich, you’ll need a ride and an art car will come around the corner or you’ll be thinking of a friend and by some miracle they show up five minutes later. Playa magic is accepted as fact even by the most skeptical of participants. Furthermore, within the large healing community that attends the burn, deep, powerful and spontaneous healings occur regularly. The burn can allow you to experience the highest of highs and lowest of lows. One minute you’ll have the most profound realization of your life and the next you’ll be in survival mode as a dust storm rolls in and you have to take shelter. The burn will humanize you quickly, there is no escaping the unforgiving environment and it will test your self reliance and grit. First timers learn quickly to pack up like they’re never coming back to camp every time they leave because sun turns to dust, day turns to night, and bliss turns to fear quickly in the unpredictable and hostile environment. The most common form of transportation is bike, although you see people cruising on Segway’s dressed like unicorns, electronic skateboards with LED’s and mobile flying carpets, however the bike is the standard. Its your trusty steed for the week and you typically don’t leave home without it.
As you gaze onto the playa at night you cannot believe what you’re seeing. It’s an active, living sea of people, moving art, energy, bikes, costumes and flickering lights. It’s hard not to get hypnotized and succumb to fear of missing out and start chasing the lights because you want to see it all! You could be awake 24 hours a day and you’d still miss 98% percent of it, so you have to trust your gut to lead you to the experiences you need. Epic illumination is a necessity at night, although you look righteous being fully lit, it’s also a safety precaution as it’s uncontrolled chaos that somehow seems to works itself out. You must be seen to be safe and you don’t want to be called a “Darkwad” as there’s just no good comeback for that.
Music is everywhere and the worlds best DJ’s can’t wait to play and share their gift without pay. Many people dance through the night and into the morning. Veterans all have different sleep strategies as there are no dull moments, not even close. The sunrise music sets are sacred. The desert sunrise is truly spectacular and you connect with environment and the people. You are grateful for where you are and everything you’ve experienced. You have another day on the playa, and there is nowhere on the earth you’d rather be!