Friday, September 16, 2011

Burning Man 2011

Burning Man.  There’s so much to say about it that it’s hard to even know where to begin…  I had heard about Burning Man from many friends over the years and I was only slightly more than “lukewarm” about it going in to it.  My friend Genevieve, who I’ve known from way back during my time at Bozeman MT when I was working towards my BS in Microbiology, had mentioned that she knew someone who had a ticket for sale…

Hmmm…  I could do Burning Man.  My job search had been proving largely unsuccessful so it was reasonable to assume that I would at the very least have an extended weekend free, and I’d heard so many stories about it… Why not!?  So I bought my ticket.

The next month or so was overwrought with planning… food, supplies and costumes to get together, technical difficulties to sort out… how was I going to suspend my hammock!?  If you really know me you know how much I LOVE my ENO hammock!  Of COURSE I HAD to have it on the playa!

Well, suffice it to say that I DID in fact figure out how to suspend my hammock in the mid­dle of Nowhere, NV.  The Black Rock Desert, in fact, but if you’ve  been there or even looked online you will know that it is completely barren and devoid of any THING that can support even 5 lbs, let alone my 130 lb body!  But, with the help of several anchors  (6, in fact) I did actually succeed in my endeavor.  If you’ve never laid in a hammock in 90⁰ F you don’t know how wonderful a thing it is but take my word for it- it’s amazing.  The air flows underneath you as well as all around you and it feels a good 10-15⁰ cooler.  Hammocks are the BEST!

Considering that we were a group of five girls who pretty much had never been to BM (Burning Man) before, we did pretty well for ourselves.  We had a kick-ass camp- comprised of two tents with Ag-netting strung between, a hammock and a 15 foot-tall PACE (peace, in Italian) flag… Oh, and I can’t forget to mention the LED lights, graciously provided by our neighbor­­ whose actual name I can’t remember… Wilks?  Anyway, he introduced himself as “charming English bloke”, and so he remained in my mind.  :D  Those LED lights were probably the best gift we received during our time at BM.

During the daytime we mostly hung our in our camp, figuring out what we would wear that day/night and doing the occasional henna tattoo, which was one of our "gifts" to the community.  We usually left the camp once or twice during the day to go explore- it's amazing how much there is to see and there's no way you can even come close to seeing half of it!  There are so many pictures on the internet of things I never saw, but the things we did see were amazing. 

We dressed up every night and went out to explore or dance or just ride our bikes around "the playa" and see all the art cars.  Since the art cars are mobile the playa looks different every time you see it so it was sometimes difficult to orient yourself!  It was amazing to see so many lights everywhere and the music was fantastic.  It was easy to dance for hours.  Even just riding your bikes around was a blast, as there were thousands and thousands of other people riding around as well and avoiding eachother, especially at intersections, was a bit challenging!
Getting ready to head out for a night on the playa- from left to right, Sarah, Melissa, Molli, me and Genevieve.

Another night on the playa- from left to right- Melissa, Sarah, me, Molly and Genevieve.

We were part of a larger camp called The Wanderer's Camp, which provided "Toxic Tonics" and hotdogs for the community every night we were there.  Everyone was expected to work a shift, which our small group did with enthusiasm on Saturday night.  It was a lot of fun to provide delicious gin and tonics and hotdogs to the thirsty, hungry masses.   
When you come in the gates at BM they say “Welcome Home”.  When I first heard those words I thought “yeah, ok- welcome home- woohoo… it all sounded very “hippie” to me.  But after having experienced BM I truly understand.  It’s a community you can’t really understand unless you’ve actually been there.  It’s the world as it should be- everyone accepting, exploring, understanding, giving, sharing, contributing…

In the “normal” world I think it’s the default reaction to expect the worst from people.  At BM you expect the best from people- and you’re not disappointed!  99% of the people who come there are genuinely devoted to the vision that IS BM.  If you care to learn more here is a link to the “10 principles”…

…but it is probably enough to stress that art, self-expression, acceptance and sharing are basically the core concepts of BM.  Yeah, there are drugs and people walking about naked but that’s a very small part of what BM is about- really, it’s about 50,000+ people getting together and creating their idea of how the world SHOULD be.  It’s about helping out in whatever way you can, contributing to the global community, sharing what wealth you have with your neighbors, appreciating all the diversity around you… I could go on and on…

Will I go back?  ABSOLUTELY!  Every year I am able to, until I die.  Black Rock City is HOME. 

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