Off and Running

The view from the top of the Otic Oasis in the walk-in camping section of the city.

The sense of anticipation reached a high point last night around midnight out at the Man base. The gates had been open forĀ  six hours, and blinky crowds and art cars were gathering around the beautifully lit Man base. and everyone was ogling the Man and panting for the chance to get inside and clamber around.

There were a few final touches that needed to be finished first, though. Mr. Blue and his lighting team were making sure the big hanging flower chandelier at the main entrance was secure. The wind had been blowing hard all day, and the crew wanted to make sure everything was stable.

Every now and then an overanxious participant would wander past the safety cones, and one of the guardians would tell them the time hadn’t come yet. So we watched and lingered, waiting for the big moment.

When it came, it was joyous. People couldn’t get inside the Man base fast enough, and within a minute the base was mobbed, and the Pistil had people climbing all over it. A couple of guys scrambled to the very top, whooping and hollering and waving to their friends. Cheers all around.

Although it’s only the first day of Burning Man, the streets around the center of the city have filled in quite nicely. Folks are setting up their camps and dusting off their bikes and generally getting in the swing of things. The Esplanade isn’t crowded with people yet, but there’s lots to see and many places to go.

Lou and Brian, two of the carpenters who worked on the Man base.

The skies have cleared of smoke, but the dust was on the heavy side all day Sunday. But there were no hours-long whiteouts, and the wind stayed moderate. After the sun went down, it was time to put on some layers, because the night air was chilly.

There was a staff party at the Center Cafe, and it was scheduled to open for business today. Good thing: The line of cars waiting to get into the city stretched all the way to Gerlach last night.

The cafe was still closed last night, but they were testing the lights at the entrance.

 

Mr. Blue, whose team did the lighting at the Man base this year.

 

The moon, the Man and the crowds.
Big Wig Mig and his wife, Alison, outside the Man base last night.
The Twisted Lightouse, one of the CORE art projects that ring the Man.

 

Art projects were glowing in the night all over the playa.

About the author: John Curley

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.

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