August 31st, 2009  |  Filed under Tales From The Playa

And so it begins

August 31st, 2009  |  Filed under Tales From The Playa
Tales From The Playa are dreams and memories of events that took place at Burning Man, as told by its participants.

opening-night-5-5So crazy Flash was behind the bar on the night the Gates opened, making up something he called Rocket Fuel, which involved pouring various liquids and liquors back and forth from one glass to another, adding ingredients and tasting along the way.

The result was a lethally smooth concoction, capable of knocking you off your feet even while you thought you were drinking nothing stronger than a spritzer.

Flash the mixologist

Flash the mixologist

It was Opening Night, and there was also a birthday to celebrate, and Flash behind the bar pretty much guarantees things will get raucous, so the elements came together smartly for the official  start of Burning Man 2009.

Around 11 pm,  people started lining up rides to get out to the gates to watch the people who’d come blasting in at midnight. It’s a funny tradition. On the night the gates open to the public, a  lot of the people who are already inside the city go out to greet the people who have been waiting for HOURS and HOURS to get inside.

opening-night-31Now when I say “greet,” that covers a lot of ground. Yes there  were some cheers and shouts of welcome,  but mostly there was lots of abuse. Funny stuff. People with megaphones informing the arrivals that this is a dust-free event. Telling them to slow down.  Oh, and they were told that they should be giving lots of beer to the people who’ve been building the city for them, too.

None of it mattered. The people streaming in were laughing and dancing and just happy to be here. One guy got out of his car, naked, and rolled around face down in the dust. The call went up in the stands for him to be body-cavity searched.

opening-night-5-4One of the greeters had plugged in a vacuum and reversed the flow, and he was dousing all the arriving cars and trucks and buses and RVs with an early taste of the playa.

We had ridden out to the gates in a big, white Space Shuttle that was flashing green and blue. It had a big sound system, of course,  and Leslie had a diverse programming menu which included everything from off-the-wall comedy bits to Frank Sinatra. (The Sinatra got us all in a distinctly New York state of mind.)

We also had a guy on board whose state of mind you had to wonder about. That was Larry Harvey. I radioed that I was in the car with him, only to be told in reply that there is no such thing as Larry Harvey. I was imagining things. Oh. Ok.

Looking at what he hath wrought.

Looking at what he hath wrought.

But what must have been going through Harvey’s mind as he rode shotgun? I mean here we were in the middle of the night and everyone was coming to his party. Well, not exactly his party, but the one he started a long time ago.

But he’s not taken to making ponderous statements in situations like that. He can expound endlessly in the right setting and maybe with the right questioner, but tonight he was content to bang some kind of bone he was carrying on the roof of the car, the better to get the primal energy flowing.

opening-night-2About three quarters of the way out to the gates, a guy and girl hopped in the back of our art car, as people  are wont to do. It was Vice, of the DPW crew, and he’d been out here for a month  working. I told him it was good to have some DPW in the house. I don’t think he really knew what the hell I was talking about, but I just let the moment slide. But it was fitting to have him there, to bring things full circle. I mean, here we were, sitting with some of the swells and luminaries of the proceedings, art critics and regional directors and all manner of leading lights, and yet here we also were with a stake-pounder and a trench-digger. It worked for me.

opening-night-5-14The whole night felt like a reunion. The people coming in were being welcomed “home,” and the people already here, the ones who’ve been here for weeks working, were having their own get-together. There were Miss Stress and Makeout Queen in the stands, heckling. There was D.A. with a clipboard, no doubt counting down the days until cleanup begins. There was Wild Child, the head of Gate and Perimeter, on probably his biggest night, looking … well, looking pretty cool, considering.  When it’s your job to make sure that all 45,000 or so people coming through the gates actually come through the right way, it makes for a challenge.  There was Rugburn and Easy Going, Fondue and Elo, Eric the Orange Guy, Montreal and Playground and Porn Star and Photo Mike … and on and on and on.

The revelry lasted for hours. Eventually, we all made our way back to camp. It was 2 in the morning, but most people were headed back out to the playa. The music was pounding, the lights were blinking, and there was more rocket fuel to burn.

Welcome home.


One guy with a vacuum gave the arrivals an early dusting

One guy with a vacuum gave the arrivals an early dusting






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68 Responses to “And so it begins”

  1. Toxic07 Says:


    STOP TEASING !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    GREAT POST! thanks for getting spirit up !!!

    I’m coming there in 2 days WOOOOOOOOOHOOOOOOOOOO

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  2. Bunny Says:

    We love you all!!!! Thanks for the post and sending out the dust via email. Big thanks to you all for the time and effort to get our home ready for those going to land.

    Have a an amazing time!
    Much Burning Love

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  3. antibot Says:

    … “kqued equals volvo” ?

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  4. jessica stallings Says:

    my beloved husband should be there by now. return him to me in one piece!! ;p

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  5. Barbarella Says:

    LOOKS amazing everyone!
    I am sitting in my office in far away New Zealand getting goosebumps all over just reading and looking at this… I am not sure whether to be exited or just so sad!
    On the bright side we will be welcomed home again in 2010!
    Is it fair to rush a year away!
    Have the best time girls and boys.. it almost impossible not too!
    Barbarella xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
    PS I am even missing the playa dust!

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  6. neXXtro Says:

    hittin’the road in a matter of hours…
    jez… tuesday arrival.. hope there’s some rocket fuel left…

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  7. iceys rule Says:

    Read this on commissary comp. Nice.

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  8. hand Says:

    o you wild creature fashion goddess art piece in the black and white striped hose and red shoes have stolen my imagination and you can keep it ’till burn 2010 when i’d like to get it back for a gumby or perhaps some fanciful and exciting thing of your choice for a prodigal pounding heart .


    santa fe

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  9. Rebecca Says:

    HAHA everyone look so CLEAN in these pictures. Give it time…

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  10. Raphael Says:

    Wuhuuuuu sooo nice to read!! we’ll be there by tomorrow noon!! :D 180 Miles to goo :) see you all tomorrow

    )°( )°(

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  11. Diva Says:


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  12. fabian fazzi Says:

    looking amazing , and putting a smile on my face, regardless of the fact that I cant make it this year, good read! Cant say enough how much I wish I could be there , but so happy for all my friends that are enjoying it as I type this… see you all next year!

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  13. Shane Suffriti Says:

    WOW! hahahahahahahahahahaha MUCH >LOVE


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  14. Willin' Says:

    AAhhhhhhhhhhh!! Can’t wait to get back to camp Fiasco. I was there Saturday till Sunday helping set up our camp. Had to come back home to Sparks inorder to pick up two more fellow burners arriving at RNO on Tuesday. Then we head back to BRC. Come by Thursday 12:00-3:00pm for SPA Fiasco.


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  15. karen Says:

    Living vicariously through you… your description is so easy to follow, I’m right there again, even though it’s been 9 years. Thank you…

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  16. chicadelfuego Says:

    oh. how glorious and auspicious. thank you for sharing the wonder with those who can not come home this year.

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  17. Marci T House Says:

    HAVE AN AWESOME BURN!!!!!!!! Can’t wait to come home again….

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  18. dani Says:

    thank you for sharing. for those of us unable to make it this year it is so nice (though also quite difficult) to be connected. we miss you. I’m wearing my BRCAC dog tags and Kostume Kult Ankh this week to wish you safe travels and a beautiful journey. <3

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  19. Spiritdancer Says:

    My heart aches. Wish I were there.

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  20. Madhava Says:

    Sadly I’m missing this year. I simply couldn’t miss my 2nd week of grad school. But I’ll be back home soon. Have a good burn everyone!

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  21. PurpleKoosh Says:

    Reality Camp was the right decision for me this year, on a lot of levels, but damn I’m homesick now.

    Go raise hell at the B(o)(o)by Bar for me, will ya? (3:15 & A – you seriously can’t miss ‘em.)

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  22. Susan Says:

    I can feel the burn all the way from Colorado. Have an exotic time!

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  23. xhoosier Says:

    man oh man, I am ready. This will be my first brun and I won’t be there until Wednesday but the excitement is brewing. Keep the place going while I am traveling to BM.

    Have fun everyone

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  24. paulette Says:

    i’m speachless!!!!!!!! i can’t believe i will be there tomarrow..i am just in awww right now.

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  25. Maria Says:

    I am coming next year for the first time. Can’t wait!

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  26. Kozmo Ray Says:

    Wherever you go
    There you are.

    Where do the boundaries of the playa exist?

    Not any orange fence
    that’s for damn sure.

    This year,
    Delocalized BRC
    Is the one for me

    Quite a view from here.
    That’s the Man’s reflection in the moon!

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  27. IH. Shawndy Says:

    Somewhere in between center through the middle left through the door’…even through the doors…. ‘what of offers pouring over thus outward through the meanings of essence of time’s immerable door as with meaning once again in time will thus be again of some wshere the art of destiny
    WHAt of some time blessed thus be with omen of “OM” and oceans’ of Karisma …..waters of worth……’what of the meanings thus ‘ART of Treasures of the Living’
    Thus of the meanings one’s place And home thus not absurb alive to be one’s own ………
    Though with many forms of meanings………Wishing all a Happy 2009 Burn out there in Black Rock City…….
    Wish I could be there….Peace , Love & Happiness………
    Drink lots of water…be safe…..get real dusty and enjoy the open vastness of space……………………………………………………..

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  28. GORBOT Says:

    Indeed ….. thank you thank you thank you…. see you in a couple days… flame flame fire torch

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  29. Poki Says:


    I am sad to be missing the Event this year, but glad to be able to follow along vicariously through the burning blog. :)

    Y’all live it up for me, y’hear!


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  30. BeCuz Says:

    WOW, you can feel the excietment flowing through the photos, and you can almost hear the sounds and smell the playa. Alas…………here I am back in a small berg outside Cleveland Ohio… waiting….. while working.

    Hoping that Current TV starts to send the Man out to us as well as the radio feeds….will soon start…

    Thank you so very much for sharing

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  32. Nai`a Newlight Says:

    T[E] = ART

    energy factored by time equals art

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  33. Harry Stewart Says:

    I feel it all the way down here in the deep south Mississippi Gulf Coast , please let us know of any short wave radio broadcasters that are there and the times and frequencies that they are on the air.

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  34. Jilly Says:

    I’m hoping I see my husband in one of these pictures coming up–sorta like ‘Girls Gone Wild’ style. His first time and I’m sure he is DYING and loving it at the moment. Enjoy!!

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  35. Magha Kouri Says:

    Brings tears to my eyes!

    Ah the beautiful, clean, dust-free look of that first night..!!!

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  36. Reginia Says:

    Wow super fun!!! Look for my bro in law w/ Dr. Suess’ flying couch!!!!

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  37. mistress sybs Says:


    I cannot wait to be a part of this!

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  38. Magic Says:

    Thanks for this! I’m missing the burn this year, and it’s so good to see everyone enjoying it. I’ll be with you all in spirit.
    Have some playa dust for me :)

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  39. GerryS Says:

    next year, I plan on being there—————-

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  40. Sean Fitzroy Says:

    Love the reverse vacuum.

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  41. Karina Padgett Says:

    Hope you guys gave Rubble the Virgin some H-E-double hockey sticks! Looks like you all started the games off with a bang and I wish I was there! Happy Burn, everyone, I am there in spirit.
    Keeping the home fires burning…


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  42. John Says:

    Check this out!

    Jeannie Schulz, widow of Charles Schulz is a Burner!

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  43. Robin Says:

    Ahh, it brings tears to my eyes. So sad not to be there this year.

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  44. terry Says:

    Thanks for the Great start…Love Your sense of humor and your Marvelous pictures…….

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  45. herby Says:

    ugly people doing ugly things. seriously.

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  46. )'( Bittersweet Says:

    See u in the morning!! Leaving Livermore at 2am!! Comin’ home!!

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  47. william bird Says:

    Thank you so much for taking me there! I can’t come this year so this is the next best thing. love

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  48. Minxie Says:

    Thanks for helping me get my fix of HOME, since sadly, I wont be able to make it this year….. my heart aches for the smell of the playa, with all the sights and sounds….. as the week progresses, I will keep coming to the site to see any new blogs…. PLEASE keep them coming for us family who can not make it HOME this year!
    Much love and light

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  49. Baz Says:

    I want to be there…
    there’s no place like home
    there’s no place like home
    there’s no place like home

    Damn it… still half way across the world!

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  50. sahid rguez Says:

    omg im so jaelous) i n a good way). i couldnt come this year .burn baby burn..

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  51. Sabu Says:

    Thank you so much for the vicarious travel to Black Rock City! I am staying away this year to look after my 8-month old baby girl, but pining for the adventure of spirit that each pilgrimage to the Playa affords. I’ll be tuning in each day this week for the commentary and pictures — keep ‘em coming, please! One more thing: be sure to check out Whack-Canuck at 5:15 on Biology…

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  52. Colleen Says:

    Yes! Thank you SO much for working to bring us this! I will be on the playa in ’10. Really, really cannot wait.

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  53. Ocotpus Says:

    Ah, so wish I was there. Was at my first opening night gate party last year at my 10th year (straight I might add). It was a glorious event. I particularly loved hanging with the DPW swine rockin to Justin Timberlake, classic. Love to DA, Panther and all my ARTery peeps, I am missin you all. Bring sum 09 dust back for me.

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  54. Mark Says:

    Oh god… how i hate it to be stuck in Europe right now.
    I must come next year ( or 2011 ) …

    Happy burning y’all!

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  55. Weekend Says:

    Long to be back home. Time doesnt allow this year but thank you for the allowing me to see and feel the things I miss most. Family!

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  56. marc lucero Says:

    I hope everyone embraces and enjoys the desert this year with pleanty of joy, silliness, fun and love. I will miss it again this year. it makes me sad but please Remember to be relaxed and happy let the stresses go and be involved in your own evolution as wonderful human in this amazingly wonderful place. Please be safe and return all our love one and friend home to us so we may go with them next year. My count down has already begun!

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  57. Johnny Says:

    Nothing like booze and drugs to get people to THINK they are being spiritual. What a sham.

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  58. Ayjay Says:

    Dying to get back to the dust and grim and neon and hazy painful loveliness of it all!!!! Miss you Burning Man! See ya’ next year!!!!!!

    Thanks for the report and pics, well done! aj

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  59. Ayjay Says:

    Dying to get back to the dust and grime and neon and hazy painful loveliness of it all!!!! Miss you Burning Man! See ya’ next year!!!!!!

    Thanks for the report and pics, well done! aj

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  60. ed Says:

    dang nab it!

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  61. ed Says:

    find yerself a spot near the farthest away shitters for yer first dump of the day…..

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  62. ed Says:

    take drugs because yer havin’ fun not because ya wanna have fun,,, and drink water

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  63. Robert Dobbs Says:

    Yawn. Tell me when it gets interesting. If ever.

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  64. François Lafleur Says:

    Je cherche du monde de Québec qui veut participer à l’édition 2010. Ça serait l’fun d’être une gang avec un projet.

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  65. chaos Says:

    I worked that shift; totally brutal and awesome. Some people were excited coming in, and some cantankerous. The shop vac was hilarious. Remember: The Party Starts in D Lot and GATE ARE NOT GREETERS. No, we will not hug you. Thanks.

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  66. JV Says:

    The party starts in D Lot? Tell that to the guy from Minnesota who I hung out with there who drove for 33 hours and arrived 10 minutes early only to get stuck in the aforementioned D Lot for 7 hours, while listening to Gate people hissing “We’re gonna make you pay!”

    Welcome home?

    That said, despite the somewhat puzzling beginning, it was “the best burn ever” for me.

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  67. studebaker_hoch Says:

    I’ve been to Burning Man six times, and learned through experience that D-lot is no way to start the party.

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  68. Jason Dude Says:

    Ah man this looks awesome. Have you guys ever heard of Afrika Burns? It’s the South African version of it. Probably a bit smaller (around 5,000 people) but the spirit of creativity, gifting, radical inclusion and immediacy is alive and well. Happening 22-27 of April this year (soon!). Check it out:

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