I like festivals.
But Burning Man made these festivals look wimpy.
Burning Man, as the website proclaims, is “an annual art event and temporary community based on radical self expression and self-reliance in the Black Rock Desert of Nevada.”
While most people go for the full seven days, I only did three, so my experience may have been different from others. But the beauty of Burning Man is that everyone can have whatever kind of experience they want.
For me, I loved biking around during the hot desert days looking at all of the beautiful art installations constructed in the middle of nowhere and taking advantage of strangers’ generosity by way of wine tastings, zip lines and fried chicken.
For others, the festival comes alive at night. As the sun goes down, the lights of Black Rock City come up and the pulse of the music keeps people awake until well into the following day.
Since most people who haven’t been to Burning Man seem to be confused by what it actually is, here are some photos that sum up my trip.
It all started with this: a cheap, leopard suitcase I purchased on the streets of NYC. Everything you bring to Burning Man you risk getting seriously dirty or losing. I felt ok sacrificing this.
I packed it full with costumes, sunscreen, sunglasses, flashlights, food, and other items on the official checklist. Everything is in plastic bags to keep it clean from the impending desert dust.
Upon arrival in Reno, the closest airport, I hit a Walmart to grab last-minute necessities such as jugs of water. Walmart was clearly prepared for all of the 'Burners' driving from Reno.
A two hour drive later, I approached 'The Playa' -- what people call the land where Burning Man is held.
I was greeted by veteran burners. Being a 'burn virgin' myself, I had to get out of the car and roll around in the dust as is customary for all first-timers.
Finally! I arrived at my camp, which was titled 'Bright Young Things' and was filled with entrepreneurs and finance folks dressed in hippie garb.
There was a communal tent filled with pillows, blow up couches, and chairs where everyone could hang out together.
'Bright Young Things' was part of a larger camp called 'Sacred Spaces' that offered two large meals a day in exchange for kitchen duties like cooking and cleaning.
It was pretty gross. Everything you bring into the desert, you have to take back out -- including dirty dish water.
But the Kind bars I packed ended up being a saving grace for those times I didn't make it back to camp in time to catch a meal.
The first place I checked out was Distrikt, a Vegas-like outdoor club pumping music between the mountains. The bar was open, but you had to provide your own glass.
Money is no good here, but stupid human tricks are. I don't have any so I had to do a cartwheel in exchange for sending a postcard from the working post office.
Including this fire-breathing octopus art car, where the bride and groom's rings were made of duct tape.
Art cars are a huge thing at the festival and people spend all year putting them together, like this pinata-themed vehicle.
This guy inside the car shot people below with a hose to cool them down. It was nearly 100-degrees every day. Nights were cooler.
On the outside of the car there was an open bar, where people filled their Camelbaks intended for water with alcohol instead.
The cars take you out to 'deep playa,' miles away from the main camps, where random things like this open bar are set up.
People hang out in booths just like in real bars -- except you're literally in the middle of nowhere.
Around this area, I spotted a movie theatre. It was fully functioning with a generator, playing films like 'The Wizard of Oz,' and offering snacks at a concession stand.
I spotted this cart which had two sinks and was handing out free toothbrushes. Notice the glowing tooth on the top!
But overall, it was a great experience that I would highly recommend to anyone up for the adventure. High-fives all around!
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