Tales from Burning Man

Browsing through a recent thread on a certain internet forum, I came across a post where people were relating their experiences from a certain dusty hippie desert-punk festival known as Burning Man. You know the one, the arts and music gathering held every year in the middle of the Nevada desert? Where an impromptu functioning metropolis, Black Rock City, springs up thanks to the hard work of tens of thousands of radically inclusive participants who are encouraged to give gifts and dance to their heart’s content? The one where a handful of massive wooden installations are is set on fire at the conclusion of the event? Yeah, that one.

When asked what Burning Man is many people find the festival pretty hard to put into words. As you can see, the event is a bit more than just “a music festival” or “a yoga retreat” or “camping”. Even the festival itself is hard to imagine, how does a city spontaneously form out of the harsh inhospitable conditions of an alkali flat in the middle of nowhere? Don’t people find the whole thing a bit uncomfortable? What’s with all the fire?

For these reasons and more, Burning Man is probably best experienced by actually attending. But in lieu of spending thousands of dollars on equipment, plane tickets, event tickets, hotels, and more, reading about other people’s experiences is a close second. This is just a sample of some of the genuine moments, encounters, and stories participants come back with after spending seven strange days out on the playa. If reading these accounts doesn’t make your mind wander into the possibility of going out to Black Rock City at least once in your life then I don’t know how you came across this blog post and you should probably stick to not camping in the desert.

Enjoy them anyway:

Funny because the first thing that a greeter said to me when I drove into burning man was

Greeter: Are you bringing any drugs or alcohol into the camp ground?

Me: Uh

Greeter: Why the fuck not? Go and have a good time!

Me: OK!

what a great way to start the week.

On the last morning we were there, my friend and I went out for a ride just to see what we could find, no real destination in mind. We rode past a big ole white tent where there were people drinking and as we passed someone inside called out and asked if we wanted to take the Whiskey Taste Test. Hell yes we did.

Turns out it was a big camp full of Texans with weird shit written on the walls such as Time for pie God damn this is some big hippy nonsense and my personal favorite Go drink water is the new Fuck Off! Anyway the whiskey taste test was pretty simple. The bartender had about ten bottles from different kinds of alcohol (so like gin bottles, vodkas bottles, whiskey bottles etc), but they were all filled with whiskey and he told you they were all filled with whiskey. You picked a bottle and hed pour you a shot. You’d down it.. and then the test Did that taste like whiskey? Uh.. yes.. of course..? YOU WIN!!!! What do I win? Another shot!!!

We stayed there most of the day. Helped move a broken truck on to a flatbed tow truck. Watched a guy fall asleep in a chair with his shoes on, get drawn on, then taken away by medical once it was determined he was really out of it. Then we ate a while bunch of their leftover food, played in their giant pit full of stuffed animals, and watched some people in the next camp over set a car on fire.

Wandering around during the day and finding a place to stop for a drink was always the best.

Everyone has a Burning Man Moment. My favorite last year was going for a 2am bike ride out into the desert. There couldn’t have been a soul within a miles radius of me. I noticed a small winking light off in the distance and headed towards it. In the middle of nowhere, it was a parking meter. My friends moment was when he was caught alone out in the desert in a sandstorm. He was wandering aimlessly for a while, safe but disoriented, when out of the dust a bus slowly rolled up to him. The driver leaned out and offered him a hot dog.

In 01 my campmates and I were hanging around our geodesic dome at about 10 in the morning, eating corned beef hash and gradually emerging from our collective stupor, when we heard a very loud voice with a thick Russian accent hailing us from the doorway. HELLO MY FRIENDS!

This page was last updated on August 19, 2010.