Tales From The Playa are dreams and memories of events that took place at Burning Man, as told by its participants.
by David Norman
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.