one of the too few neo-pagan rituals I have been a part of.
I'd heard before, but for them, it was true impulse.We rode in their crazy brown dodge van, with a futon and potapotty in back.
Through Navada into the deep dust desert that seeped into everything, especially my nose.
There was gathered near hundred cars, vans, decorated buses, sharkmobiles, communes-on-wheels.
The theme was fire, undoubtedly, in the center of these cars in the middle of the baked Nevada desert was a four story stick and neon light figure, to be torched after three days preparatory ritual.
So three days of wandering the sun baked, sun burnt in only a toga, or less, taking whatever was handed to you, celebrating randominity;
the sun really sapped most reason from you, everything was come and go as you please, and please laugh weakly at most things.always guns, fireworks, fire toys.finally it happened, three days wandering buildup to true demonic self loss pagan tribal head tossing rump shakin' drug downing fire celebration.
somebody near us was body painting, Jason from Oakland done some diggable designs.
spontaneous drum circles and car stereos; impromptu dance parties.
nearby truly hot springs, covering self with blue mud and soon sun dried.
carving in the alkalai flats with rocks.
trying to get HotWired's Quicktake 100 digital camera to empty it's contents onto my powerbook.
appropriately enough, some stranger gave me a beavis and butthead tab.
the madness started with naked fire dancers, including Indra from Wired's accounting department, smearing fire on her pubic hair.
the man himself burnt for hours, ever collapsing into a blazing bonfire. leaping over the flames in my toga and sandles was fulfilling, as was watching straights strip their clothes and dance maniacly until burnt
Ian, clad in a bedsheet, drank a lot of Jack Daniels and repeated repeatedly, "I'm your new entertainment paradigm."
when the flames were low, and the glazed eyes and sleepy wandering set in, I walked out into the desert. I saw some lights on the horizon, they looked close enough to walk to. after half an hour, I looked back, and saw the campsite looked the same distance away as the other lights, which hadn't changed one bit with my trudging.
it was cold, and the ol' desert was playin' its tricks on me.
2005After 1994 I went back to Burning Man in 2005. I was part of a vaguely middle-eastern clothed camp pitched out on the periphery in "walk-in." We called ourselves the al-quaholics.
Al-Hannah Online Islamic Clothier. Turns out long flowing robes, loose cotton clothes and headscarves are cool in the hot day, warm in the cold night, protective against dust and sun. Fantastic!
2006In 2006 I returned to Burning Man!!!
2011In 2011 I went to Burning Man by myself - camped by myself (in walk-in), cooked for myself, slept by myself, roamed by myself - it was awesome. Of course I spent a ton of time with awesome friends who fed me and hosted me and napped with me and made art with me and played go with me. Hurrah!
I had been to the Playa enough and done research to spend months shopping and condensing a decent amount for myself. The desert weather that year was pleasant; no terrible windstorms, no rain, so I was more than comfortable.
1994-era Burning Man Links:Burning Man web page, with movies and pictures for you!
Someone said the festival has moved to http://www.istorm.com/burningman/.