One day in the summer of 2004, I decided I needed to go to this thing called Burning Man. Somewhere in the desert, and there was probably music. I was at a job, where I had to wear a suit all day, and I longed dance and get out in the open air. I gathered two, then three, friends. We made some costumes (mud people, faeries, polar bears), and got a lot of water, and for some reason, so many zip-lock bags that I still have some now. We packed our dreams and our water and our tutus, and headed for the desert.
I couldn’t believe it when we arrived. It was like waking up and discovering that this other, magical, world was real. A collection of the most amazing people on earth greeted us, welcomed us home, gave us a place to park, showed us how to tape the inside of our goggles with gaffer’s tape so the dust wouldn’t get in our eyes, fixed our car, and fed us huge meals of fresh shrimp from a grill set up in the middle of the desert. I listened to a piano concert out on the playa, conversed with a filthy-mouthed robot, flew kites, volunteered to sell coffee and ice. The dust was everywhere, but it was nice, clean, dirt, like you’ve been in a zip-lock back filled with powdered sugar and shaken for a week.
At E and 4th, one morning after someone had shampooed my hair, I was feeling alive and free, and momentarily clean. I saw a man carrying a banjo, and so I flew up to him and said, “Hey Banjo Man! Play me a song?” He played Dead Flowers, others joined in, and before I knew it, we were jumping on a trampoline at G-spot, climbing the Temple, and walking the playa with our hearts blown open. The magic dust glittered in the air around us.
Eleven months later, he was holding me as I gave birth to our daughter, Brigid. The goddess of fire. She entered the world like she was shot from a flamethrower, and has lived with the heat turned up ever since.
This year, I am undergoing another rite of passage, transforming myself out of being a suit wearer, to my joy job as a photographer. My photos of Burning Man over the years are some of my favorites. Long live the magic.
by Kiki de los Feliz