A Family Affair

burningman2005_ch_059.jpgFrom the very beginning, I had friends who went to Burning Man. They always said “Sarah, you and Max have got to go! These are Your People!” But what with kids in school and vacations that had to be scheduled a year in advance, it wasn’t until 2000 that we managed it. It turned out to be every bit as much Home for us as our friends had thought it would be. That first year we biked around in awe at the abundant smorgasbord of creativity served up by people unafraid to explore and be themselves — we knew we’d be back every year to share in the adventure!

The next year, our youngest, 13 at the time, wanted to go too. An old soul, I wasn’t worried about what he might see or experience — he was always wise beyond his years — but I wasn’t up for being “Mom” at Burning Man. So I got a ticket for his tutor and she was his chaperone for the week. Running into the boy in camp I might say, “If your mother were here, she’d remind you to put on more sunscreen and make sure your water bottle is full before you head out.” He’s been a Burner ever since. The year after that, the boy’s best friend wanted to go, but his parents didn’t want him to go without them, so we all camped together along with their friends Boyscout and his wife. The year after that, our older son, my sister and her husband, and Boyscout’s parents from Kentucky joined us, too.

So I guess I wasn’t that surprised when in 2004, during our pit-stop in Reno on our way to the Playa, I got a call from my parents saying, “Can you buy us tickets at the gate and we’ll meet you there?!” (more…)

A Tale of Three Names

Atlas' Globe (my name for this structure) - photo by Duncan Rawlinson
Atlas’ Globe (my name for this structure) – photo by Duncan Rawlinson

A shaman named Rafiki gave me my playa name. He dropped it into my lap, a casual jewel, and then ducked away. It was a tiny and huge moment all at once. It happened, and then it was over. I swung in its wake, letting the shape of the name settle around me like a cloak.

Going into the experience of Burning Man, I had been curious about playa names, wanting to hear their origin stories. I was delighted when folks I met introduced themselves as “Laser Wolf” “Huggles” and “Gummi Bear”. How did one get a playa name? I asked. Could you name yourself or did it come from some sort of elder? Could your friends make it up or did it have to descend in some kind of epic moment of glory? (more…)

I Wore My Trousers Rolled

Writing on the walls of the Temple send final messages to those that are remembered.

Writing on the walls of the Temple send final messages to those that are remembered.

One afternoon I took a picture of us to the temple. It was the picture from that party we had, back in Mount Martha. The picture is blurry. We are blurry. I think I’m holding a drink, but it’s hard to tell. You are standing, your arms pinned back, looking like you have something to say. I’m not really sure.

I stuck it to the temple and wrote on it that line from J. Alfred Prufrock that you love. I changed the words a bit. I hope you don’t mind. The words I chose were a bit more fitting.

I wore my trousers rolled.

People had written to Robin Williams. ‘Genie, you are free’ one said. That one resonated. Of course, I didn’t really know the guy, but I guess it just reminded me of you.

The playa dust kicked up, so I wrapped my headscarf around my face and put on my goggles, which steamed up from each breath. I wandered around the temple, peering close to the pieces of people’s lives, to the intimacy that they had shared, to what had been lost, until the dust and emotion made it too difficult, so I left.

I walked over the wooden planks, and hunted for my bike in the reverent haze. Through the search I couldn’t shake the feeling that what I had done here had wronged you, that I had committed some error of judgement, exposed something that you wanted hidden. If I did, then I apologise, but this loss is mine to grieve, not yours.

In the end, I think, I really just wanted you there, wanted you here, with me, with both of us, for our first burn. And as I rode back to camp, the gears on my bike choked up, and I couldn’t cycle anymore.

by Marty

Beyond Thunderdome

That’s right, bitches, I did it. I went to Thunderdome last night battled, and won.

Well, sort of, the guy that I fought threw the fight.

I have been at Burning Man for a few years now and have always thought that I wanted to fight it out in Thunderdome.

Man, was I wrong. That shit is some hard fucking work. Not because it’s about fighting, at least it wasn’t for me, but because it’s about showmanship.

The crowd might get excited to see people whack the hell out of each other, but the point is to entertain, this is what my opponent explained to me as we got ready to go into the dome. (more…)


There was a lone structure burning on the desert.

Morning burn of Embrace by The Pier Group.

Morning burn of Embrace by The Pier Group.

The sexless giants stood erect over the world; they gazed into each other’s eyes, saying goodbye to the world that was, and embracing what was bound to come; their shadows formed dark tentacles that were nailed to the desert floor, mocking the light from the blazing fire.

The antique land was full of wanderers who had created a new Canterbury; the ashes from the lovers would be their new covenant, the relics of eternal love, their hope to carve shapes out of the chaos.

Two, among thousands, sat watching the colossal structure. (more…)

Just Being Honest

On Wednesday around noon, I decided it was time to walk out to the Temple and just stay there for a while. I wanted to walk instead of riding my bike so that I could use the slow, deliberate journey as a way to settle into a calm, quiet mindset. On my way, I started to let the thoughts that I wanted to acknowledge at the Temple that day drift through my head. I enjoyed the sun on my body and the gentle, dusty wind in my skirt and in my hair.

When I arrived, I slowly made my way around the building and between the others who were there too. I walked until a spot to sit and write called out to me. I had a few things that I wanted to say, but I knew what had to be first – my last relationship, and the disappointment and the hanging on that I still hadn’t yet been able to shake. I hoped that I had come to the Temple to write something self-empowering; something that, once I had written it, would let me leave with a light heart, a heart that had finally let it all go. Or that I would write an announcement of some sort about moving on, starting right now – a declaration of my independence from the past. I sat down in the dust, breathed in, and thought for a moment. I put my sharpie to the wood and the whole thing appeared haltingly, in between long pauses where I just sat and cried, letting flow all of the tears that I have not cried for a long while. This is what came out: (more…)

5555 Miles Away

EVEILEB - by Andre Gehrz

I step onto the playa, my bare feet digging into the Black Rock Desert, close my eyes, open my ears and take a deep deep breath. The dust enters my nose and a potpourri of images, feelings, expectations, desires and memories hijack my mind. My brain does a rollercoaster ride like never before and a million impressions are breaking in. I am here, where I planned to be for nearly seven years now. For someone coming from Europe and working in a job where holidays are hard to plan, it’s not easy to organize a trip to Black Rock City. But I succeeded at last and I am desperately curious if all the images I have from reading, watching, assimilating, preparing and organizing will come true. The dust enters my lungs, proceeds through the maze of bronchial tubes and finally settles on the surface of my alveoli. Black Rock Desert is now a part of me where it wasn’t before. Or am I part of the Black Rock Desert now? Whichever it is…I am home! (more…)

I Was Simply Blown Away

I had wanted to attend BM for MANY years — 15+ — but had to play my cards carefully to NOT annoy or offend my wife. I live in Truckee and have friends and acquaintances who have attended since the early 90’s. Every year I think “it’s too late.” “It’s changed”… I know it has. But in 2012, I went with a good friend, and I was floored. I HOPE I will never be the same. (more…)