“Burning Man.” What’s that all about? Well, it all depends on who you talk to. Some say it’s a bunch of hippies communing together in a utopian society void of money, advertising and media. Others will tell you it’s a drug heavy festival of music, raves and madness with no laws (i.e., people do what they want, clothing optional, etc.). Wanna know what I think? Having been invited since 1994, I went in 2005 and here is my answer.
Burning Man is a gathering of human beings committed to full self-expression, art, sharing and celebrating the best that humankind has to offer itself. That was my experience at the burn two years ago.
When I heard late last year that 2007’s theme is The Green Man I was like, “We have to go! We are G Living. We are Men. We are Green!” I am not going to get naked, break laws or go crazy. I can do that in my living room where there is no dust, wind or desert temperatures. I am going for one reason and one reason only: you. Specifically, for those of you who are not going or who have never been and are also interested in what makes The Green Man green, man.
The Playa is a dried lake bed that was once a great sea salt lake. Located outside of Reno, Nevada, the Black Rock Desert is home once a year for a week to Black Rock City. The city has its own roads, street signs, department of public works and even Black Rock Rangers to keep order. When you get 35,000+ people together, you still need someone to keep the peace. It also means you might need earplugs if you want a good night’s sleep. Tickets start at $150 and go up as they sell out. 17 hours after they went on sale, we bought ours for $250 a piece.
The eight-story wooden ‘man’ — originally the symbol of one man’s commitment to completing his past and starting a new life when his marriage ended at 40 — burns on Saturday night. If you want more on that story, check out the Burning Man site. Be prepared, there’s a ton of info and photos. Whether or not it’s your cup of tea, you’ll be entertained at the least.
Next up: an Interview with an Environmental Engineering Graduate Student at the University of Reno. We’ll talk about her experience on the Playa, the impact of Burningman on the land and the future of the festival at its current location.