Burning Man was absolutely fricken incredible! It was insane! It was crazy! It was beautiful! There are no words! Nothing can prepare you for the profound and complex expression of human creativity, the overwhelming delectable feast for the senses, or the intense rush of emotions. What is Burning Man? When four of my friends and I were at Burning Man we came up with what we thought was the perfect description. Burning Man is a post apocalyptic hedonistic utopian universe. If you have been to Burning Man, you know what I mean. If you haven’t, you’re probably still scratching your head. I was asked what Burning Man is by many people when I returned home. Every time I gave my supposed “genius” description, they looked at me even more confused. Guess it wasn’t such a good description after all. While Burning Man is quite possibly the most difficult thing to explain, I’ll do my best.
We arrived with our rented Chrysler Town and Country fully stocked and not completely knowing what to expect. Our vehicle along with our rental company had no idea what the hell the car would be put through over the next seven days. We wandered in, claimed some space and set up camp. We brought in everything we would need to survive in the harsh desert for the week. Radical self reliance they call it. What happens when 50,000 people camp in the desert in the middle of nowhere for one week? The answer is anything. Literally.
The landscape, feel, and vibe of the place changes every 30 feet. Heck, if you stay in the same spot, things constantly change. There is never a typical day. There is never a typical moment. The first morning I woke up and started making breakfast. As the hash browns cooked in the skillet, I saw a motorized life size Chinese takeout box (giant red chopsticks poking out of it and everything), moving across the desert with a man dressed like a pile of noodles inside. A truck that dumps water on the roads to keep the dust down is being followed by ten or so naked people washing themselves off as a pirate ship drives by with drunken revelers. This is morning. This is a snapshot. And yes, it’s constantly like this.
Pigeon holing Burning Man into the typical descriptions for festivals all fall short. It’s not an art fair; though the art is the most impressive I’ve ever seen in my entire life. You can’t call it a music festival, though music is a constant from headline acts, drum circles, guitar soloists, interactive musical art projects, spontaneous choirs and marching bands, to clubs elaborately built that pour out electronic and techno.
Once you pay for a ticket, there is no exchange of money once you are inside the event. There are no overpriced concessions, or long lines for disgusting Porto potties like at other events. The Porto potties are the cleanest I’ve ever seen and always stocked with toilet paper. You’re supposed to bring your own food, water, and booze, and be self sustainable, but most come overstocked and over prepared. Burning Man is founded upon the principle of community, contribution, and participation. There are different camps devoted to different ways of contributing. There’s spirituality, massage, yoga, hair washing, clothing optional Salsa Rueda lessons, oxygen bars, water bars, bars, BBSM, fire dancers (largest gathering in the world), coffee shops, to comfortable lounges. From the elaborate to Spartan everything is free. Everyone is smiling. People are there to have a good time. They are expressing themselves in the most creative of ways, and nobody is judged or deemed weird for their clothing, (or lack thereof). When you see how much time people put into contributing, you can’t help but want to contribute yourself. It’s human civilization at its finest.
In this crazy world as the concept of time to loses its meaning, but light doesn’t. As night time falls, and the temperatures drop, a new energy radiates across “the playa”. Elaborately decorated “art cars” roam the desert as people hop on and off. These can be as small as a motorized couch on wheels, to a decorated multimillion dollar yacht with equally decorated people yelling “ahoy matey” and lowering the ladder to come on. Cars that look like caterpillars, jellyfish, pirate ships, Buddha, wildebeests, dragons, mushrooms, or plain out of star wars temporarily light up the sky as a blast of propane shoots out and belches fire. There’s lasers, blinking lights, loud music, glow sticks, and no shortage of explosions.
Brandon and I turned our heads as a full marching band complete with a Tuba that belched fire with the notes, and multiple fire dancers. When we look back, Alvin, Jeremy, and Pat had hopped on an art car with a mobile bar that looked like a giant bug to talk to some ladies. So goes the constant stimulation of the senses. Constant distraction. We’d go out together and would invariably walk off and group back together. We were in a constant state of exploration. Sometimes this was alone, in pairs or as a group. Nothing ever happened as planned. You’d hear about event A, and on the way end up doing B, C, D, and E. I’d get separated from Jeremy and do F, and G on the way back to my campsite where I would inevitably find Pat “Ocho Nappo” passed out in a foldable chair as a dust storm swirled around him. Alvin disappeared for an entire 24 hours. Or maybe it seemed like that. It could have been longer or shorter, I do not know. Time didn’t exist there. Yet, we weren’t worried. If you were thirsty and far from camp someone gave you water. If you were tired, there was always a comfortable couch to crash on. People were nice. They were always helpful. We all looked out for each other. In all the mayhem, it felt safe.
This was an epic and mind blowing experience for all 5 of us! It was great incredible that Brandon was actually able to take a break from his continental bike trip and join us. The memories and experiences will be with us forever. I would definitely like to return. There is no place like Burning Man on Earth. It truly is the most spectacular event that humanity has to offer. Hertz, The Chrysler Town and Country was great. I appreciate everything though I understand if your company no longer will rent a car to me ever again.