As if by wizardry, Black Rock has sprung to life, the party’s started, and everything everywhere is going off at once.
The city is ringed in light, the art cars and blinky bikes are out in number, and everywhere you look, everyone seems to have hit the ground running. The Center Cafe is good and crowded, the speakers and performers are going round the clock, and the yoga dancers and poi spinners are holding court in the center of the space.
Monday was a funny day, in that there seemed to be a higher-than-normal number of people wandering around the playa who looked fresh and clean. Their outfits were shiny and new, and their skin had yet to acquire a base coat of playa dust.
By today, though, everyone was coated homogeneously, and you weren’t able to tell who’s been here for a day, a week, or a month. The temperatures were in the mid-80s (nice!), but the wind kicked up and was blowing at a steady 30 mph most of the day.
The population of the city doubled overnight, to more than 30,000, and of course there were plenty more people on their way in. By tomorrow, we’re guessing, we’ll hit an average peak population somewhere north of 50,000.
And the folks of Black Rock City went around and about, determined to make the most of these precious days. Here are a few snappies from the first full day of Burning Man 2011:
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.