It’s always hard to put my week in Black Rock City into words, so I’m letting my photos help me out. 🙂
The picture above and below were taken from the same place, Vünderbar (ze bar in ze sky!) at Sextant Camp. The city blocks fill out with RVs, tents, yurts, and domes as the week progresses. Below is a view of the Playa from the Esplanade, or inner-most street. In the distance, between the two Tesla coils, you’ll see the Man himself. Even smaller, just on the horizon and left of both the Tesla coils, is the Temple of Promise. Not pictured, but very near to the right of this point, is Center Camp.
Center Camp is a hub of the city layout — the streets sort of spread out beyond it on both sides. It’s a handy navigation point because of its colorful flags, and it’s also a great spot to go and relax, since there’s always something going on there (music, spoken word, etc.). And while most everything is free at Burning Man, you can purchase coffee, lemonade, and other beverages here when you’d like — seriously, cold lemonade is heaven during one of those hot desert days.
As you head in a straight line away from Center Camp onto the Playa, you’ll run into the Man and (eventually) the Temple. This year, the Man was built upon a platform and you actually traveled through a maze to get to the base, which was pretty darn cool. I only got lost twice.
The Temple this year — called the Temple of Promise — was a beauty. A lot of people think Burning Man is all party party, and yes, it is a good time, but The Temple is a stark contrast to all of that. It is a place where many people come to mourn, leave things behind (both tangible and emotional), and to try and start fresh and get help moving on.
I had a pretty sweet ride for the week. Walking around Burning Man is a totally viable option — I always pick one or two days where I venture off by foot — but having a (well-lit) bike certainly makes it easier to access the entirety of the city.
One of the big reasons I go to Burning Man is for the art, and this year was pretty spectacular. A lot of the pieces on the Playa were just massive. Off in the distance they would look like a speck on the horizon, but as you got closer they would just loom over you.
I also love running into some of the interactive pieces out there — stuff you can climb on, touch, and play with. Not only does this create a really special experience for you, but it’s a fun way to connect with other people.
Although Burning Man isn’t a festival, there are large stages designed for live performances. Sound camps, like the one below, are situated near the far ends of the city to keep the uber-loud music somewhat concentrated. (that speaker system, tho.)
And with all the wacky, fantastical stuff out there, it’s also nice to be reminded that Black Rock City is still a city. There’s a and even a movie theater and an observatory!
I’d like to introduce you to El Pulpo Mecanico, pretty much my favorite art car. He’s recognizable and has received a lot of Burning Man fame, so I merely count myself lucky to run into him from time to time out there. This year, I found where the El Pulpo crew was camping and they were kind enough to let me ride with them…more on that later. 🙂
Oh, and did I mention it gets dusty there?
Like, really dusty.
Sometimes the dust is just a nuisance and you’re still able to go about things as you’d like. Other times it’s completely unmanageable, you can’t see any navigational points, and so the only thing you can do is sit and wait it out. The little critters below shielded me from a dust storm on one of the super windy days.
Every year, I come back from Burning Man with tons and tons of photos…and like three of me. This year was pretty much no different, but thanks to the random dude who offered to take this photo for me!
Do you have a favorite photo in this collection? Have you ever attended Burning Man? If so, do you have a favorite memory? If not, do you have any desire to go to one day?