What exactly is the Burning Man Festival?
Festivals abound all year round all over the country, but nothing compares to the Burning Man. Many people have heard of it, but most people have no idea what it is or have some wacky idea about it that is all wrong. Many think it is some sort of pagan festival full of hippies and drugsters but no, it isn’t anything like that. In fact, if you like to think of yourself as a free spirit, it may suit you very well. Radical self-expression is the rule of the day. No one can really tell you what it’s like because it is more of a living, changing organism, but try we must.
Burning Man is the opportunity to rid yourself of the confines of everyday life, have new experiences, express your creativity, connect with others and make new friends as you expose yourself to the rigors of survival in the desert under 110 degree heat. It is a gift society where your money is worthless.
The best way to describe it? Probably as a city in the desert reminiscent of Mad Max without the weapons, power hungry and crazies. Every year, it is sold out. People come from all walks of life and from all age groups, from families with children, to white and blue collar workers, young and old, artistic types, survivalists and from every political party, to enjoy one week freeing themselves from the confines of society (up to a point). They work together and play together like a large family. It’s like a giant theme park without venders made up of theme or art camps, and when it is over, all of it disappears without a trace until the next time.
The basic rules are easy. You still have to obey local, state and federal laws, of course. Drugs, guns, fireworks, etc. are not permitted. You must bring enough water, food and whatever else you will need to survive for the week. Sales and advertising are not permitted. Pets are not permitted because of the crowds and noise.
The theme of this year’s Burning Man is Caravansary. The Burning Man website has a list of rules, things you are required to bring to get in, such as food and water, shelter of some sort and fire extinguishers if you plan to burn your art. You can also bring along other fun things like costumes, props, musical instruments, etc.
Amazing art and original strangeness is plentiful at Burning Man. Take for example the Eidolon Panspermia Ostentatia Duodenum, better known as epod. It is a 24-foot tall steel (followed by many words the only one recognizable is “matrix” and that’s from the movie) You can only say it is large, interesting and has pretty lights. “Embrace” is going to be highly noticable since it is a 7-story tall structure of two people embracing and made of wood. It serves as a spiritual center dedicated to the moment and to our loved ones. “Fledgling” is a giant mechanical bird, person-powered, and one at a time may enter and try it out, powering the wings with pedal-power. A wind-driven kinetic sculpture called “Getting Your Bearings” provides a place to enjoy the windy respite from the heat and chat with friends. The “Lost Nomads of Vulcania” is a steampunk gypsy camp, which features a Vardo Class Steam Walker ala Captain Nemo. “Musical Swings” is exactly the way it sounds. When you sit down and swing, it plays music. When they are all going at the same time, it sounds like a Carillon.
These are just a few of the artistic pieces and “shared fun” of the Burning Man. Art cars like El Pulpo Mechanico, an amazing mix of costumed and sometimes naked and painted people, Joe Regular Guy, and then on Saturday night – the Burn, when what seems like the largest bonfire in the world lights up the sky.
The Black Rock desert is anything but hospitable but the experience is off the wall. It is pure adventure and amazing people. The Nevada festival is held on Route 34 east of Gerlach, Aug. 25-Sep. 1 at the imaginary Black Rock City. There are still a few tickets around for this years event but they run around $1000, and there isn’t much time to get things together to camp out, but you don’t want to miss it the next time it comes around. As a Burner would say, “See you in the dust!”
I started to write because I developed laryngitis and needed to communicate or burst. It’s true. However, once I discovered the written word, I fell in love. I edited and wrote for my college newspaper and wrote articles for various journals after that. I am still working on the great American novel but I have yet to find the one among many starts I want to finish. Above all, I am fascinated with the world and the people in it. I have a dog who sincerely believes he should write instead of me but I steadfastly refuse to show him how to use the keyboard partly because of writer neurosis and partly because I hate his style.