Lovely Burners

They’re here…

And just like that,

it happened.

It was overnight, literally.

Friday night was just another silent night in the desert, the wind rocking me to sleep… but by Saturday night the hills were echoing with the sounds of techno music and screaming people.

The burners have arrived in force to claim their city. They’re beautiful and terrible.


Scorched Earth

You walk across the scorched earth, the metallic dust burning in your nose and eyes like the dry wind that surrounds you. You stop, ponder, and readjust the gear that hangs off your body. Tapestries of survival. It is after all, your comfort, your peace, in a world that can change from euphoric to ecstatic in a moment.

In front of you a pixie, pedophile-perfect pigtails and fishnet legs. Behind you the muscular form of a downtrodden warrior from another sadder world. In the distance looms the man; a man without definable meaning, yet captivating and ever powerful in his presence.

The flames jet in flower garden colours from an iron sculpture the size of a clock tower, and your senses tingle at the sound of rushing fire. Pounding music, and unearthly sounds blow on the wind, phasing in and out of perception, no longer having any sense of direction … just pure unbridled excitement for what may lay in the distance you cannot see.

The horizon is dotted with coloured lights. Lasers cut the sky in half above your head, and all point to the zenith, a camp where lost and found souls take their time to rest, to laugh, to meditate, to soul search, to sleep, or just to crawl away to cower from the radiant heat.

On a leather couch you slide down into the womb, dancing forms grinding in the flamelight of the oildrum, painting pictures on the night. Why move? Why do another thing today?

This world is yours. It is transient, nonsensical yet everything you want it to be. This is the place where you find you. This is the place where the depths of your soul come to roost. Strip it all down or pile it on, it is your choice because there is no one here to claim your stake.

The fire dancers swirl around in forbidden glory. You feel the lump in your throat grow, as the beauty and intensity of what you are witnessing becomes too much to bear, and you have no emotion left but the blood pumping through your veins. The man begins to fall. The crowd rises to their feet, and the crushing wave of fire is set free. Burn the fucking man. Burn the fucking man, Fucking Burn. … and it is at this very moment when the year’s angst goes up in a whirlwind of fire. It is at this very moment that you realize why you are here. As the man falls to the ground and the firedevils leap up into the sky there is a moment when rising into the air with the flames is your only intent, and you are surrounded by fire.

You find yourself standing in the dark, turning slowly around yourself, taking in the sights, the sounds, the smells, and the vibrations in the air, and you want everyone you know to be there with you. You want your loved ones to feel this. Is there anything better than this? I don’t think so.

In the morning you wake, and like a dream you gather up your belongings in silence and prepare to drive back into the other world. You know the feeling is gone, and it will not be back for another year, but it doesn’t matter, because something this precious should be that way.

You want to tell the world about this. You want to tell all your friends about it, but no matter how hard you try, no matter how descriptive you try to be, nothing can capture the experience. It is pointless. So you pick up your pen and you write the poetry that flows from you as a result of the time you had and you hope that someone is intrigued enough to find out for themselves. You have only one thing to say … don’t think, don’t ask questions, just go. And burn baby burn.

by David Norman

The Hun: Spoilers!

A preview of some of the major art installations on the playa

Yep, the event opens on MONDAY and the art is just about all here. I spent my lunch hour yesterday riding around the playa, visiting some of the biggest art installations. Most of these artists (or art collectives) have been out here for at least a week assembling their pieces; and of course, each of them represents a year-round commitment by the artists and their assistants and volunteers.

All of these pieces are mostly assembled, but none of them is finished. Without any further ado, then, I give you:



Powering the Playa

Working with Lanceland to lay power cables through the City Center

lanceland provides electricity to black rock city

There’s a lot of juice running around this playa. From Center Cafe with all its whirring coffee machines and constantly-blaring sound system; to the Ranger HQ; to Lamplighters Village; everyone needs power to do their job.

Last year, I walked past Lanceland and sort of chuckled to myself. “Powering the Playa,” I figured, was some kind of joke. I just assumed everyone had their own generator; it would just be too difficult to wire the whole city for power.


The Arrival

The Hun finally makes it to Gerlach to join the DPW ranks

It’s a beautiful drive, coming out to Gerlach. As the sun set, I made my way along the 447, surrounded by sharp mountains and rock pyramids with dusty shadows stretching across the valley floor.

I arrived in town just after dinner, and found everyone rubbing elbows at the Black Rock Social Club. It had been a big day for the DPW: volunteers had been rolling in since morning, and the Club was full of grinning faces, bad jokes, and enthusiastic greetings between old friends and brand new arrivals…


Zombie Party

DPW is the only group of people I know who are uglier with makeup on.

Just so you know, it’s not all backbreaking work in DPW. Sometimes we have fun, too. I probably shouldn’t tell you about all the hijinks these kids get up to, but here’s a good one:

On Thursday, we had two birthday boys in DPW – Fitz (In Your Mouth) and Kevin. So, at the morning meeting, Mayfield suggested that everyone dress up for dinner.

Now, I had worked all day, and sort of forgot about the dressing-up thing. Imagine my surprise when I walked into the Commissary to see all of DPW in white facepaint. It was a sight to behold, let me tell you what. I don’t know where the idea (or the facepaint) came from, but they wore it just a little too well.

Scruffy and Headhunter's custom-made barrel was burning hot

As it turns out, Mayfield (who was dressed in his Chupacabra uniform) had wrangled a couple of kegs just for the occasion. The idea was to go to the Man site and celebrate, but that place was just too dangerous (what with the maze and the unfinished construction). So, we all headed back home to the Rodeo.

It was cute, cute, cute.


Trapped in the Man Maze

Constructing the Funhouse that will surround the Man.

Dirty Mick, Eric, Splashdown, Steeltoe, Jacob, Steve, and Todd

This is the Man Base Crew. Well, some of them. In fact, a lot of people have spent a lot of time constructing this behemoth of a Funhouse, and it’s really an impressive structure. It started in early August, when the decks were prefabricated at the work ranch. They were brought down to the playa at 3am on Day Zero (the day the fence went up), and the crew has been working long hours in the sun ever since. If you run into one of these guys during the event, make sure you shake their hand.


There’s nothing like a good pounding

continuing adventures in making a city out of the dust

Well, first of all, greetings from a high speed wifi Internet cloud in the heart of Black Rock City. The fact that I am writing to you from the back tables of our staff commissary means that a lot of things have been locked down since my last post. Buildings placed, generators distributed and fueled, towers erected, and a few dozen miracles with a sprinkling of playa magic. Everyone has been rocking and rolling, but I have to give special props to the playa geek squad for giving the city a strong technical infrastructure with increasing demands and complexity. It seems like a crazy thing to have technology in the middle of a dust bowl, but having a little thing like occasional email access and a printer on site can help to save hours of wasted time that would otherwise be spent trekking back and forth to Gerlach or tying up communication channels. I remember when I would come out to the desert for a month to unplug.. but this is good too and as a bonus, it has given a few of us a chance to blog for folks like you. We are working hard and eager to see you all.

intersection signs before installation
intersection signs before installation

Geeky things aside, the city is really starting to take shape. To me it really seems like a city once the street signs are up, and we have addresses and roads and a bearing on where we are in the middle of nowhere. Until then, we’re mostly just swimming in a sea of survey flags.

More friends are arriving daily and breakfast each morning is like a family reunion. In addition to the DPW, the community services and art groups are starting to arrive, settling their own camps and preparing for the influx of citizens.