It is Monday night and Black Rock City’s come alive. The City has become a living, bustling, fire breathing animal that’s suddenly shaken off the last few days playa dust and turned on the ambient music and surreal sounds, with flashing fire cannoned Art Cars passing slowly in the night, creating discordant Mash Ups of each other as they pass. Freshly arrived Citizens roam the Esplanade on bikes, strange reticulated vehicles or on foot, glowing and blinking like phosphorescent microorganisms evolving in the large scale petri dish of Burning Man. The City is speaking in a new, heightened voice that is a mixture of music, the whoosh of fire cannons, laughter, cheers and conversation, with an occasional random chimpanzee screech thrown in for good measure.
Evolution appears to be the year of the Monkey.
Yes, our little village is rapidly filling out and becoming an impressive metropolis. It looks like Monday is the new Wednesday. CampArctica along with the 3 o’clock plaza ice called Ice Cubed, and the 9 o’clock plaza named Ice 9, are open for business. The big red double-decker Nowhere Omnibus installed their bus stop signs and is serving as a grand mass transit system. BMIR is broadcasting, all the Org Camps like Burners Without Borders and Black Rock Solar are up and running. The Man Museum is open and Center Camp Café is serving coffee and hosting music. Theme Camps are going up with a constant drone of tens of thousands of people who’ve hit the ground running and want to start enjoying the good life as soon as humanly possible.
Our first wave of new immigrants are working on little sleep, delirious with anticipation as they set up their shade structures to beat the sun so they’ll have a place to build out the rest of their playa reality for the next week or so. They pass along the City roads searching for their spot in their trucks and cars packed to the gills with all the essentials for this weird camping trip; tents and sculptures, tarps, lighting and decorations, kitchens, showers, and things to make fire or to make them glow, fabulous costumes and other things most odd and unnatural to share and to add to the intensity of being here.
The large expanses of real estate from the Esplanade to the outer streets are now filling in and the Art is coming to full fruition. The Temple was built out with beautiful side tear drop shaped forms today. New pieces have popped up over night and during the day the ARTery is packed with artists seeking placement. Tonight, the Flaming Lotus Girls’ installation, Soma, has become a meeting place for Art Cars and Shiva Vista is going full tilt with music, dancers and huge fire bursts that shake windows along the Esplanade.
Our City’s infrastructure is magnificent and the stage is set for all Participants to create their own Utopia.
Drive carefully, but please do get here already.
Your vehicles are packed down. You’ve got your tickets. You’ve got all your fabulous costumes and sunscreen and freaky shit and books and gifts and liquor and party supplies and all the stuff you need to make your camp really, really cool and inviting. You’ve got your Christmas lights and inverters and deep cell batteries and the generator and your couches and Art Cars and RVs and trailers packed with mannequins and twisted metal, and propane tanks and all the backup parts you need for your art and you’ve got your tools and your publications. You somehow got an email from your campmates stuck out here begging you to bring cigarettes or bacon or mixers so you’ll remember those, and you’ve got your body paint and paper mache’ and the things that make you sexy and hours of preparation for this year and well, let’s go! We’ll pick up food and water on the road!
Then you’re driving here, over I-80 at Donner Pass or down OR-58 to US-97 or driving days across 80 through the Midwest down into the continental divide, passing through Salt Lake spread out there at the Rockies and up into the West all the time jabbering about this year and what you want to see or do or hook up with. That journey to The Man, getting there is a great American adventure.
There are so many tales of tickets and breakdowns and past Burns and driving balls to the wall out of where ever you’re driving from, to stop in Reno or Sparks to get food and to get enough water dammit!
Then you take the turn off at Wadsworth and the gas station there that’s always packed with Burners gassing up or buying last minute supplies like beer and smokes. The modern carnival wagons at the post, checking each other out, feeling that first friendly vibe where you talk to strangers and you share with strangers who become friends. It is that most natural vibe that you know lives out here on the playa and is the norm not the exception and you’re all focused on making it out here, another couple hours out to that playa. And you’re driving into the desert on two lane roads, passing the Open Range Cattle signs off 447, Open Range indeed, through Nixon where the speed limits decrease 10 mph every ten feet, and you are part of the Burner parade up past Pyramid Lake all driving to the Temporary Freak Nation, then over those small hills where you can cruise and someone is always driving way too fast and will inevitably pass a line of ten cars and everyone is thinking, oh man, don’t let this guy blow it for everyone.
And the highway patrol or the reservation cops pass going the other way, slicing through the scene like sharks and everyone’s slowing down, knowing they’ve come too far to blow it now, just one last drive, just one long last stretch to The Man.
You pass the huge open places, the irregular rocks, the first set of power lines that look like The Man or a line of Men, holding up the electric lines, and then you see the second crop of power lines set closer to Empire that look even more like The Man. You pass the rusted car out there on the right, the one that drove off the road in the 50s and is still there, a lonesome sculpture of another time. You’re spotting Rangers at Snoopy Rock and driving slowly on the Paiute Indian Reservation land, not knowing where it starts or where it ends because you miss the signs. And you cross over the cattle grates thinking, god those cattle are stupid. And you reach Empire Store, then the curve into Gerlach where you all look over and say, can you see it? Can you see it? Can you see BLACK ROCK CITY? And depending on when you get there, sometimes you can.
Past Bruno’s Gas Station and Bruno’s restaurant and Bruno’s casino and the Burning Man Gerlach office and you’re thinking What’s a Gerlach You Doing in a Place Like This, then you leave town into that last big curve, down at the base of the mountains, on the final stretch…”’
Then once you find the entrance, go through the Gate and read the Burma Shave signs and approach the Greeter’s stations, well, everyone’s stories diverge into the maw of Black Rock City from that point on.
Once you’re in that Temporary City, anything can happen, can’t it? But the getting there, well, that’s a story that’s been repeated and reported so many times and hopefully, it’ll continue to be reported forever.
We build stuff and bring it out here, don’t we. And if you’d asked us why, we’d just shrug our shoulders and say, “Well, it’s Burning Man.”
Can’t wait to see you. Safe journeys all.