Saturday night sunset, workers prepping for the big burn.
Volunteer lamplighters ceremoniously illuminated the playa every night.
Moving and grooving, this person (woman?) in a full body disco suit was entertaining passers-by as excitement grew for the weekend's penultimate burn.
Art cars and mutant vehicles invaded the playa and the area around the man, positioning themselves for the burn and the massive party that would undoubtedly ensue.
This had to have been one of the best seats in the house to watch the man burn! #jealous #comfy
Distrikt: hands down one of the best places for day parties and day dancing to amazing music, surrounded by beautiful people from all walks of life.
Art cars at night! Finally some pictures that attempt to show the awesomeness of art cars lit up at night - mobile parties, cruising around the playa. Saturday night they all came out and formed a huge circle around the man, creating a huge party. Each art car was like it's own little club so you could bounce around from car to car, dancing to different music and feeling a different vibe. It was amazing and I still can't stop thinking about how much fun it was.
next and last post = the man burns.
Our camp including a space man shade structure complete with expert constrictor knots, tied by yours truly; a costume changing tent; rugs, pillows and cushions galore; a complete kitchen; evaporation station; fire pit and more. Not too shabby.
We heard from my friend Nicolas that there were windsurfers out on the playa behind the last row of camps. On Saturday when we were tearing our camp down we took a break and went out and found the wind surfers. It appeared as if one guy brought the equipment and was giving people lessons. Very cool! If there hadn't been so many people I would have taken one for a spin.
I would have loved to drive this mutant vehicle around!
This camp, built out of a big wooden structure, that came as a big blank slate free to be painted by any and all visitors was one of my favorite things at Burning Man. We stopped by on Day 2 or 3 and made our own artistic additions and then visited again at the end of the week to see how it had evolved. There were some pretty amazing paint jobs.
On Saturday the time had finally come, after days of anticipation, to take our trip to the Temple!
Glen and his mom-made-magical Burning Man cape.
By Saturday the Temple, which burned on Sunday night, was covered in personal messages of all sorts including a lot of messages to loved ones that have departed the world.
Looking out on to the playa toward the man from atop one of the towers in the Temple.
Mantis vs. Scorpion
The final sunset of my Burning Man, hours before the man burned. One more series of photos to come from our final night.
LOVE = something the playa is filled with. People had all sorts of fun climbing all over these giant letters, including Glen and me. and apparently Jesus too as you can see above.. cross and all.
The Trojan Horse was one of the art projects I followed online from conception to creation and it was one of the first things I saw when we arrived on Monday night. You could wait in line at night to go up inside and the rumor was that there was an absinthe bar in the belly. We watched the Trojan Horse burn in a fiery explosion on Friday night.
Explorer in action.
This sort-of-piece-of-impromptu-art was created as part of the Black Rock City border fence out in the deep playa. We made our way all the way out to the fence on several occasions. One of the times we were out there we watched two volunteers on bad ass dirt bikes go flying by on the other side of the fence doing border control.
Glen with the Temple in the far distance during one of our exploration expeditions.
It took us a few days of searching in the deep playa to finally find this movie house that actually screened old movies at midnight, 2 am and 4 am every night.
More cool art. Umbrellas and chains. What does it mean?
There is nothing more surreal than watching a boat go cruising by you in the middle of the desert. Especially a boat that moonlighting as a dance club.
Creativity at Burning Man is expressed not only in the big art installations but all around including with art cars, shade structures and especially bikes - the primary way people get around. We outfitted our bikes with lots of neon light-up el wire but next time I go I'll definitely jazz my bike up even more.
I'll wrap this post up with another one of my favorite pieces of art. It was called Another Door Project and it was made up of several dozen doors and frames. The structure created different passageways to explore; each time you opened one door, another would close around you.
The Steampunk Octopus was, in my opinion, an iconic image of Burning Man 2011. I saw the Steampunk on many occassions all over Black Rock City. During the day, parked on the side of a street, at night, with fire streaming from its tentacles.
See the Steampunk in action at night:
Me and the Man, what more is there to say? The center of Black Rock City, I visited the Man on many occasions over the course of the week. One of my most cherished memories from the week was late one night, early in the week, with a very special person, talking, pondering and enjoying life, sitting on a bench directly underneath the neon-lit Man.
The Man, the myth, the legend. ❤
Seeing Stephanie was an unexpected surprise. You see, Stephanie was the only person, out of at least a dozen or so people I knew at Burning Man, that I knew from a past life. And when I say past life I mean pre-San Francisco. Stephanie and I went to and worked together at Michigan State. She lives in LA now and while we've stayed in touch over the years, there was something special about seeing someone out there from my Michigan past.
Derek on the playa. With the Temple in the distance, still not ready for my visit. We'll get there eventually, I promise. 🙂
When I say Burning Man is a place full of magic, this is what I'm talking about.... Real life Up.
The art and the structures built as art featured some of the most amazing detail I've ever seen. Take a closer look at this structure (which was accompanied by two others in varying sizes) and take note of the insane craftsmanship.
Subtle, but another one of my favorite pieces of art on the playa.
One of my favorite aspects of Burning Man is the use of color and the contrast with the desert. Vivid colors stood out on the playa and I took full advantage, particularly during the day with as interesting of colors as I could find to wear. No surprise that I was clearly drawn to this piece of art.
Hands down my favorite art installation was the collection of these childhood colored letter building blocks, scattered across a huge area of the playa. The blocks varied in sizes ranging from maybe 12 inch by 12 inch, raised up on polls (as you can see with the Y or yellow E), to 12 foot by 12 foot, squatting out in the middle of the desert (the green E in the picture above was enormous). The blocks were scattered all around, accompanied by 4 single seat chairs, in 4 strategically placed positions. When you sat down in a chair, the different sized blocks (staged at varied locations) would perfectly align to reveal a message...
We are (still) just getting started. Many more stories and photos to come…
It’s taken over a week of being back from Burning Man and lots of racking my brain about how best to blog about my experience, to realize that trying to blog about Burning Man would diminish the experience. This weekend, I wrote a post that started to analyze my time in the desert. I’m not going to delete it, but I’m not going to post it. For me, like many (if not most) others, Burning Man was a personal experience that can’t really be put into words.
I’m just going to continue digesting the experience. And as a consolation, I am going to share some stories via photos. This is part one of a currently unknown numbered series of photo posts from Burning Man.
Ok I promise to not go through every step of the trip but of course I have to start with our RV. Our home away from home for the week. Representing my first time residency in an RV. Honestly we didn't use it that much except for sleeping. No power, generator, water or toilet use. Just home base.
We made it! Well, we made it through the first entrance anyway and in line for the main gate. This picture was taken shortly after we got into the main line to get into the camp area and it was perfectly daylight. By the time we made it in and I partook in my welcome virgin duties, it was dark as a door nail.
The playa is incredibly photogenic and is a fun place to take photos. Even before we made it through the gate I was snapping photos.
Jumping right into exploration on day 2 after camp set up. We found a camp with giant board games. Glen and I engaged in a strategically played round of Connect Four.
One of my first looks out into the art, Man, and Temple-adorned playa. Way in the distance, not yet ready for my visit, is the Temple of Transition.
My first of many, many run-ins with an art car. Art cars became my fascination. You could be sitting at camp or out in the deep playa at 3am taking it all in, and out of nowhere, might come a crazy giant whacky art car, blasting good house music, packed full of good looking fun party goers. I loved the sight every time it happened.
Yes, Black Rock City had its own roller disco. Fully stocked with skates and constantly churning out the best disco dance tunes. To me, the roller disco represented part of the fun, what-will-they-think-of-next aspect of Burning Man.
A small understated art car I later saw cruising one evening fully lit up carrying a posse of happy passengers.
B-ART car? The BRAT was certainly filled to capacity with crazy fun people late into the evening, broadcasting electronic music to all around.
And day 2 concludes with some adventuring out into the playa. As the last photo of this post, I share a preview of many more photos to come... of awesome art pieces scattered across the playa. This billiards set is larger than usual, with bowling balls painted to look like and be used as pool balls.
More to come!
Posted in Storytelling, Travel, Uncategorized
Tagged artcar, black rock city, Burning man, connect four, playa, quarter-life crisis, recreation vehicles, temple, the man
It was ten years ago this month that I first heard about Burning Man. I was in high school and I was driving to Lansing after work on a Saturday afternoon. It was part of my typical weekend routine: get off work at 3pm, hit the road to go on a date or to meet friends, listening to Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me on NPR. After the show ended I usually changed the station because I didn’t want to listen to Car Talk. But on this particular day there was no Car Talk and instead a segment came on the air about Burning Man, which was about to kick off. The piece portrayed Burning Man as this mysterious gathering in middle of the desert of Nevada, a place where tens of thousands of people gathered to express themselves, free their spirits, and form a temporary but almost utopian community.
Over the last six years I’ve met dozens of people that make the yearly pilgrimage to the Black Rock Desert during the week leading up to Labor Day. Everyone from coworkers and friends of friends, to ski cabin mates and strangers at the bar. The more people I met the more I learned and the more intrigued I became. Eventually the intrigue turned to an interest in going.
Lots of reasons.
The art, the creativity, the challenge of braving the elements. The music, the dancing, the opportunity to be someone else for a week… or maybe to be your true self.. And of course the sexuality.
Tomorrow I hit the road for my first Burning Man.
For the last month my life has been consumed with preparation. Getting ready for this adventure in the desert has required a lot of time, planning, organization, patience, determination and not to mention money. I don’t think I’ve worked so hard to get somewhere in my life. I’m not taking about in just the last month and I’m not talking about just the physical destination. It’s taken me years to get where I am today and where I’ll be tomorrow.
I feel blessed to be going and to be under the watchful eye of some very loving people. For that I am grateful.
I depart with an open mind, limited expectations and the intention of fully embracing the experience.
See you on the other side.