It’s gorgeous again; bright, sunny and cool, even at almost 10 am on Tuesday. “Could we get this to last all day?” my campmate Scout asked. “I’d pay money,” I said, but there’s no commerce on the playa.
Well, almost none. Coffee and ice. That’s it. Everything else you have to score (although that’s probably not the best way of putting it). But you can buy lemonade and electrolyte fluid in Center Camp now, in addition to the coffee and latte and chai.
Yesterday seems like a long time ago. There aren’t a lot of happy ways of dealing with dust. Ed had to choose between getting hammered in the tent, or suffocating in the car. He chose the car, with an occasional blast of AC.
I’d been laboring under the impression that the worst of it was localized in the center of the city. So Kid Hack and I took off for outlying regions, hoping for a break. We found it out at the airport. Plenty of wind, but no dust storm. We could look back over toward the entrance road and see the mess everyone was in. But we were blissfully clean and clear. I felt like I was being dusted by a can of air, like the kind you use to keep your computer clean. But this air was cleaning my whole body. Heaven.
The airport is in a far corner of the city, and on the way back we took a trip through the “suburbs” of the city. It was still very roomy out there, lots of spaces between the camps, but that’ll change as the week goes on. But right now, it’s Walnut Creek; plenty of room, and houses on big plots of land. And the vibe is extremely friendly. As we cruised by, one of the camps was setting up for dinner, three or four utility tables set up end to end, covered with food and drink. One guy saw me looking longingly, and he shouted, “Join us!” But we had missions to accomplish and had to carry on.
(But don’t think for a second that I am suffering any kind of deprivation. Remember the other day when I said you didn’t have to bring all that food, because people were going to feed you unexpectedly? It happened to me in the morning; Maid Marion had a brunch bash, and there were beignets, and chocolate-drizzled bacon (You heard right. Try it. It rivals cookie dough ice cream for genius combinations), and fresh fruit and coffee and … well, you get the idea. And you really don’t have to be a fancy-pants First Camper for this kind of thing to happen.) (But today? Half a cheese sandwich I bought in Empire. It comes and goes.)
The early part of the week is still my favorite time. Things aren’t quite pumping at full strength yet, and because so many people need help setting things up, you can be of use to others. It’s all very communal.
Even the night time is at a good pitch. There are lots of impromptu dance parties, and not necessarily at the big clubs out towards the end of the Esplanade. Last night everyone thought Glitter Camp was nailing it just right; the magic just seems to happen at some places some times.
Down the road, there was a huge crowd at the Opulent Temple, although huge on Monday night is a lot different than huge on Thursday or Friday night. Last night you could still maneuver around pretty easily, and the mood didn’t have that end-of-the-night desperation that sometimes sets in as Burn night gets closer.
At any rate, the kids were grooving, and you were reminded that that yeah, this whole thing is one big dance party, too. Fur and glow and and thongs and chests and boots and heels and dancing. At one point, the DJ ditched the music to welcome everyone and say how hard Opulent worked to get everything ready to go on the first night. “And two other things,” he yelled. “Don’t effing litter. … And tell Burning Man what you think about having dance clubs on their playa!” Roars from the crowd, a blast of fire, and the music was back on.
Not too far away, but past some dunes that were worthy of the Sahara (it’s a bitch getting around this year. There’s no way to sugarcoat it. You’re peddling along and then wham! you hit a patch of playa that’s four or five inches deep.There were a bunch of times I just couldn’t power through it, and I’m usually pretty good at it), work was proceeding on the Temple.
There was still caution tape up, and even at midnight there were a whole bunch of people working. The site was lit up like a ballpark for a night game, so bright and shiny that it was almost unreal. It was getting pretty chilly out there; the cold front that was promised had arrived. Small knots of people were gathered behind the police tape, briefly checking out the scene, then wandering off.
We made out way back to Center Camp, which has really turned into something beautiful. The Decor crew has been laboring mightily, it’s clear. Marsha and Danger Ass are huddled constantly, details details details. But the space is really pretty, and different. Funny little scarecrow-like figures with glowing globe heads stand like sentries as you enter. Multicolored string lights have been attached to the center cables, and last night, they contrasted nicely with the glowing rings that the hoopers were working with.
There was a guy playing an electric violin, and there was plenty of room on the couches, and the vibe was extremely chill. Rest and recovery and respite at the end of a howling day.