Burn baby burn, disco Inferno- (The Trammps)
Trip Start Aug 17, 2010
26Trip End Feb 06, 2011
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Where I stayed
In a tent
What is burning man
For a week in the height of summer 57K people from around the globe travel to the middle of the Nevada desert to build a city and to live together for one blissfully boundary-free week. Burning man is about extreme expression as well as survival. Here are a few things which make burning man unique:
* Before Burning man the desert is completely desolate. When the festival starts every participant brings enough material to construct infrastructure, create art pieces and of course carries enough food, water and shelter to survive
* The only vehicles allowed to drive around the city are art cars or mutant vehicles (vehicles built to be a work of art in their own right). There are literally hundreds of these cars ranging from mechanical flame throwing spiders, moving cup cakes, furry cats, pirate ships and beyond.
* There are hundreds of theme camps and events which encourage participation. These range from the normal (spiritual healing, hula hooping, jazz) to the surreal (roller disco, flattery camp, pimp your bike) to the darn right weird (naked karaoke, coffee and spanking, fighting on bungees with giant sabers.)
* There's no currency in Burning man, instead people gift experiences, food and services. You dont spend a cent but eat yummy food, drink booze, have free massages, face paints, clothes and much more.
*The conditions in a desert are extreme (to say the least) during the day it is fecking roasting, during the night it goes very cold. A fine powder of alkaline dust coats the desert and gets absolutely everywhere. Out of nowhere great gusts of winds brew up sandstorms which cause white-outs and bring everything to a standstill until the bright blue sky returns as quickly as it disappeared. Everyone carries dust masks and goggles ready to whip out when the wind starts blowing.
* Everyone who lives in Blackrock city during burning man dresses in whatever way they see fit, one things for sure your normal attire is world's apart from this communities'
* The playa is awash with art installations including high sculptures, forests of trees which look soft to the touch but are actually made from industrial metal, fire you can pick up in your bare hands. There is so much of it most don't get a chance to see it all. Creativity doesn't stop with these pieces, the community is full of some of the worlds most talented poets, musicans, dancers and photographers all freely sharing their art with others.
* The main focal point of the city is a humongous wooden man on top of a 3-story structure, the man represents and is called 'the man' (maaan!) On the penultimate day he is ritualistically burnt before the cheering crowd.
Our time in the burning man was tough, wonderfully, amazingly beautifully tough. We began our adventure on the Green tortoise bus which although started off as a fairly bog-standard hippy mobile transfered into a hostel on wheels allowing us a full nights kip in the bottom bunk. We woke up 8 hours later in the middle of the desert, and as burning man virgins were ordered off the bus to 'dong a chime' and were made to line up and roll around in the dust, an initiation to start living, breathing, smelling, tasting the fine dusty powder below our feet. Cries of welcome home and plenty of broad smiles and hugs were around us, we knew we were in for something really special
We secured our Walmart tent into the ground with industrial 10' rebar next to our friends Ben and Hollie. To our absolute amazement our little home remained intact during our entire stay, although the insides were coated with thick dust which almost dripped off every surface. Our camp was next to the Hare Krishna stage where there were performances all through the night; singing, dancing, chanting and even bizarrely incredibly loud 'n' banging drum and bass. I am sure you are wondering if we caught even a glimmer of sleep in our dust lagged disco tent, but after a day and night of the sensory explosion that is burning man we slept like babies.
Our days were spent going out on our BMX, with me riding 'backies' on the stunt pegs as Ian peddled. To be honest one day blurs into the next but for the most part it felt like we were trapped in a never ending Dali painting. Some of the plentiful highlights that spring to mind include;
* Skating in an outdoor roller disco in the middle of the desert to funky 70s beats. I nearly fell on arse on many occasions.
* Going to a mass monkey chanting meditation, where everyone sits around in a circle being instructed to sway, chatter and chant like monkeys
*Watching people being lifted 50ft into the sky by a bunch of helium balloons. We were too chicken-shit to do it ourselves ( remember those sand storms I told you about!)
*Trampolining in the playa with Ian, who I am sure wont mind me describing as not only clumsy but also heavy footed. As Ian bounced around uncontrollably I was screaming, laughing and crying to get down.
A lot of the day was spent chilling under shade and getting out of the harsh sun, a few people had to get medical attention for dehidration but all four of us drank an inordinate amount of water and were constantly running off to the porta-loos ( Those who have been to Glastonbury should be feeling very sympathetic for our predicament).
The days were crazy but the nights were arguably more strange, installations and camps were lit up every colour of the rainbow and every shade in between. Art cars were illuminated and drove by with music cranked up full of people dancing
The actual burning of the man topped everything, we sat next to someone called 'Dirtbag' and supped Jameson whisky out of a bottle. The ceremony started with some of the most incredible five dancers doing a routine to the beat of drums that probably would keep every health and safety officer up at night. This was followed by a massive firework display and the catching fire of the structure the 'Man' presided on. As the flames licked the building the crowd went nuts yelling 'burn the man'. The fire was impressive and eventually the structure toppled over. The crowd roared with delight.
There is so much more I could mention, we have literaly gorged on the absurd and beautiful to the point of fatigue. At least every half hour I saw things that took my breath away. Again and sorry to real off random moments but this seems to be what life is about in Burning man.
* Two men cycled by on a bike, one completely on fire (in a burning suit)
* Three dimensional remote-control neon sharks with movable fins and snapping jaws, who in the dark swam towards us floating through the air nipping at our heals
* A man trying to collect ten thousand hugs in 24 hrs (I was number one thousand and something)
* Critical Pricks & tits march of naked people, each march with their respective parts showing
* Ben wearing the tiniest outfit complete with silver hotpants, cape and silver gaffer tape for the nipples! All of us were a wee bit concerned that removing the tape could cause serious injury in the morning.
Of course Burning Man is not for everyone some people struggled with the limitless, relentless atmosphere and crazy conditions but for me it really felt magical. Back out of the rabbit hole now to the so called 'real world' with a couple of days in San Fransisco followed by a road-trip to Yosemite valley.
Love you all loads
Princess Funk (The name given to me on the playa)
& Ian (no playa name, but hay, there's always next year)