It really won’t be long now. The months and months of prep are finished, you’re on your way or about to leave, and everyone already here is getting ready for you.
The city really is different in this run-up week to the event. The number of people and the readiness of the theme camps, especially, remind us of what it was like during the first day or two of the event five or six years ago. Back then, it seemed, the gates would open and there’d be a mad dash to get everything set up. These days, there are more people on the playa early, and there’s a lot in place and ready to go right from the start of the week.
The weather has been hot, but there’s a cooling trend forecast for the coming week. The nights have been really warm, but it seems like you’ll want to remember to bring something warm to wear at night as the weather cools.
The lines to get into the city are getting longer, even though it’s only those people with early arrival passes being admitted now. Yesterday afternoon, it was an hour or more wait to get through the gates. The greeter’s station was busy, with plenty of hugs and rolling in the dust and bells gonging to announce the arrival of first-timers.
The official opening is tonight at midnight, and there will be a huge group of people down at the gates to usher in the newcomers. Then, finally and officially, Burning Man 2011 will be underway.
John Curley has been Burning since the relatively late date of 2004, and in 2008 he spent the better part of a month on the playa, documenting the building and burning of Black Rock City in words and pictures. John is a longtime newspaper person and spent many years at the San Francisco Chronicle, where he was a deputy managing editor in charge of Page One and the news sections of the paper. Since leaving the Chronicle in 2007, he was a contributing editor on Blue Planet Run, a book about the world's water crisis, and for the past two years has been a lecturer at UC Berkeley's Graduate School of Journalism. He has also started an event and editorial photography business, and is also working on a book about the "Ten Dollar Doc" from Arco, Idaho, which will make a lovely film someday.