Greetings, you moop maniacs and line sweepers extraordinaire! I’m writing this from the still-dripping eaves of the Burning Man office in downtown Gerlach, NV. We had a doozy of a storm that blew the crew off the playa Wednesday morning, then turned into a day-long rain. The playa turned to mud, and the entire Restoration operation was grounded Thursday and Friday.
After three days on the sidelines, we are all raring to go. Your Playa Restoration hotshots really love their job, folks, and can’t wait to get back out there and finish the job before Burning Man’s site inspection with the BLM. As a matter of fact, we’re planning to work through the weekend and right up until the moment our BLM representatives arrive.
If you ever felt like cheering on the Resto crew, now is the moment! Let them know you’re rooting for them. Send a prayer on the wind. Whatever good mojo you’ve got, send it toward the playa – we’ll take it!
So About the Red Thing
So listen, I want to answer a question that’s been popping up in the comments ever since Day One:
What’s that red spot right in the middle of the Moop Map?
Would you believe it’s Burning Man’s clown nose? (more…)
To start, it sometimes takes as little as receiving call from abroad with your friend’s voice on the other side and waterfall of words you hope you understand right. “I found great place, it is in nature, has enough space, they do festivals there and we can grow up to 2000 people. It is on the Austrian-Czech border. Let’s start the Central European Burn.” And your answer? Why of course “OK, let’s do it”.
This happened last Autumn and I can’t swear he said it like this word for word, but it is pretty close. It took 8 months and around 150 people from 12 countries gathered in Austrian countryside surrounded by fields and forest with a cold stream running in the middle.
Three days event with two days of preparations on site (and the eight months before over emails, Skype and calls, hours and hours of work) brought a bunch of creative people who share their love of Burning Man Principles and culture, and on a smaller scale recreated the thing we called Home. Because the reason we put ourselves through months of work and planning and sleepless nights is: we want to have Home closer to our homes.
When I arrived there was already Gate running and after some greetings, hugging and spanking, I jumped through the gate yelling Spaaark as loud as I could. And the world of magic opened in front of me. There was huge pirate ship with a swing and silk hanging down for acrobats. There was a treehouse on little island in the middle of the river and mud bath right behind our tents.
There was full timetable of workshops and performances from Japanese dance, shibari, human car-ass wash, screen writing to pimp your own cup. There was a cow with crazy projections. There was an installation of a camera which took pictures and shuffled them on three screens. The camera was supposed to take the picture every 30 seconds or so and after 20 minutes in front of we just didn’t figure out what the camera is really doing. I think the art project was actually to watch the people waiting for the pictures appearing on the screens. Funny.
And there was this white dome with mini(do)me inside and I had to wait until the darkness to come to really see this interactive masterpiece of lights. I was actually rushing to bathroom when I saw it in all its blinkiness and said to myself, let’s stop for a minute. Yeah, I know, what was I thinking. I spent over 30 minutes (until my bladder was screaming out loud already) playing as a kid with the mini-dome, because by touching it you could change not only the light pattern and speed, but also the colors. It was like DJing the lights on the cutest mini(do)me ever and when you looked up, the big dome was shadowing the mini(do)me.
We talked about Burning Man a lot and how to bring it home and how to repeat and improve this event for next year and involve more people and have more art and our brains were working all the time. It took a spark on the phone and Spark happened with everything that one could expect from such an event.
And then, at the end, during packing, pirates attacked the ship, but they didn’t see this coming (none of us did). A troop of mud people surfaced out of nowhere and fought them off and it was epic.
Hi all, we’re subbing today for the very capable Hun and her Resto blog cohort Summer Burkes to bring you news from the playa.
And in a word, there is no news.
No moop map update, no reports from the lines, no nothing.
The crews have been idled in town since midday Wednesday, when a dust storm chased everyone back to town. Then the rain moved in on Thursday, and it rained and rained and rained.
By the late afternoon, there was standing water where Black Rock City used to be, and when there is water, you simply can’t walk or drive on the playa, which really hurts Resto efforts. The sun popped out toward the end of the day, reminding everyone how ridiculously gorgeous it is here, but it was too late to begin drying things out.
This morning dawned beautifully, and the work crews duly gathered for their customary 7:30 morning meeting, but work was called off for at least the first half of the day.
A little after noon, people began to gather with their moop sticks outside the Saloon, hoping that things would have dried out enough to be able to get out there. But no go. Booya and Bubblegique and Phoenix had made an exploratory trip to the Shoreline, but the news was not so good. In fact, Bubblegique got stuck, and if the desert whisperer himself got stuck, you can imagine what would have happened to a busload of pent-up moopers. It would not have been pretty.
So we’ll try again tomorrow.
There’s at least one more street to go over, and the pressure is on, because the BLM inspection is scheduled for Monday.
Hello you moop maniacs and line sweepers extraordinaire! I’ve got more map, including the rest of the Esplanade, for you today!
How did your camp score? How did your favorite party spot fare? How did your mooping efforts pay off this year? Tell me about it in the comments please!
This year, I sat down to interview a few of the many fascinating people that make up our Playa Restoration crew. If you haven’t read Major Buzzkill’s story, you should – it’s powerful. And today I’d like to share a new side of the guy who started it all: D.A., manager and mastermind of Resto.
DA is somebody I’ve grown close to over time. We’ve done good work together over the past decade. But I always wondered: how did he get here? What path led him to this role? What inspires him to keep coming back, year after year, to lead an ever-growing crew in erasing the traces of an ever-larger city? (more…)
This one time at Burning Man, I saw a ridiculously beautiful cloudy sky, tasted delicious honey beer and met elves. Wait … well no, it didn’t happen on playa, but still, it did happen at Burning Man.
In late June, I visited Latvia for the second annual Burn Degošie Jani (DeJa), a Regional Event hosted by the Latvian Burner community and attended by people from neighboring countries. This gathering brought together around 170 people from Austria, Germany, Czech Republic, Switzerland, USA, Ireland, Poland, Australia, Russia, Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia, Finland, Thailand and UK, all to participate, contribute and volunteer for magic to happen. I also made a quick stop in Estonia for Bling, an event organized by a group of like-minded people trying to create a participatory experience.
When I arrived in Riga, the capital of Latvia, it felt right. For some unknown reason I felt at home and even the strange language kind of made sense to me. The airport was tiny. The public transportation bus stop was just few steps outside the main entrance. As I waited, I noticed that everyone looked stylish and I quickly learned that internet lied to me because Latvians no longer use their own currency LAT, but switched to EUROs (damn internet liar). After my fight with the bus ticket machine, I looked up to the sky and felt in love. For the rest of my stay in Latvia, I actually had to try hard not to look at the sky ALL THE TIME. Seriously, I do have a stupid amount of photos of their cloudy skies. Tourists!
In the city, I met my dear local friend Aya, had traditional Latvian meatballs, tasted honey beer (and I wouldn’t believe, coming from the land of the beer, that I would appreciate this one so much) and after a while Steffen from Germany joined, then Sascha from Switzerland landed, and soon enough we were group of Burners, each from a different country, all excited to share the same adventure in Latvian countryside.
DeJa takes place on a hemp farm about 2 hours from Riga and the whole ride is lined by green fields and trees. There was a Newbie in our car and because one of the Principles of DeJa is “each one teach one”, we decided to put her to the test. She blew our minds by not only knowing the Principles, but also by the way in which she explained them to us. I can’t tell you what she said, but the way she did it left us with our mouths open. We were ready for DeJa! The ride was swift and we kept ourselves entertained by sharing stories. One time, we were storytelling so intensely that we missed the exit from the roundabout. It was an enormous roundabout, so our concentration on the exit faded away with another story and we missed it again. The third time was our time and we finally made it out of the circle with a lot of laughter and, after few minutes, we got to the last part of our journey to Deja. We had to follow exact instructions to get on the right dirt road, follow the right fence and end up in the right middle of nowhere in a giant green field.
DeJa is inspired by both the Latvian and Lithuanian Midsummer tradition and Burning Man. It is fascinating fusion and evolution of these two elements, incorporating the ethos of the Burner culture with the holiday that is integral to culture of Latvia to create a regional event. Old songs and stories, wreaths in the hair from flowers for women and from young branches for men, fires everywhere and of course jumping over the fire and dancing around it. It was beautiful to observe how natural all the traditions still are for people, not something “old” we do just because it is expected, but something we want to do because it defines us.
For entertainment, there was a mixture of old Latvian traditions, LED lights, drum circles, “new noise music” (i.e. everything from 60’s until today, even classical music as I remember), art, a Russian camp with a bamboo tower, Lithuanians with burn barrels, projections, and fog slowly sneaking in on us, the sky of such a bright colours with clouds so close you wanted to touch them. And, of course fire.
To attend Deja, you had to apply for a Visa. Once you were approved, you were gifted access to the event and were welcome to pitch your tent under 200 year-old apple trees, or next to the pond, or on the field further away from music. There was an outdoor common kitchen, a barn for electronic music, and even a barn for more relaxed music and gatherings. During the event, people built a sauna which, along with some art, actually stayed on the property after Deja.
“Leave a better place.”
The evenings were full of storytelling around the fire. We heard interesting stories about survival, about funny drunkeness, and even about scary experiences with voodoo. The days were full of conversation about the future and about plans for a bigger Baltic Burn, which would include Latvian, Estonian and Lithuanian Burners. These groups are already preparing projects together. This year in Black Rock City, the group is presenting a Midway project together as a part of the Man Pavilion. Baltic Altar was interactive installation which allows you to compose music along with other participants.
As I’m sure many of you can relate, once you’re at a Burn, it can be really hard to leave … even after it’s over. A few of us at Deja were intrigued by hearing about Bling in Estonia happening in Vango Wonderland with around 200 participants and we promised the organizers that we’d stop by. So we did! We all just jumped into the car in the morning and hit the road again. It was the funniest ride ever. I do not sing, usually for safety reasons. This time we all sung and danced on our seats and every now and then made “aww” sounds looking at the beautiful nature of the countryside and cloudy sky.
Once we made it to Estonia, we met elves. Estonians are elves and fairies. That’s it. I have no other explanation. Like elves and fairies, they are loving, joyful, laughing and open. This was also true of the Bling event itself.
Though Bling is not an official Burning Man event, it’s very much created in a similar spirit. In fact, it was one of the most beautiful events I have ever been to. My usual snark and sarcasm vanished away once we arrived and I enjoyed the fairytale site of wooden houses and soft grass while surrounded by beautiful human beings and lot of good tunes, workshops and talks. The sun never really set because of the Summer Solstice and how North we were and time just seemed to exist on a different level.
People were touched that we made the effort to come only for one day and they were blown away by the crew of the second car from DeJa, which came just for the evening to support their friends and be together.
The very bright night sky and great music kept us awake, dancing, talking, laughing. In the morning, when we were all gathered together and kids were climbing on the dome (and let me tell you, there are few cuter things than a five year-old girl in a dress learning how to climb), I heard someone make a speech to the crowd. Then, about seven guys stood up and went away. In few minutes, they were back with a huge pot of oatmeal and marmalades, fruits, nuts, coffee and tea and the whole meadow turned into the breakfast picnic. (The only thing which kept me from wondering if this all was really happening were the excessive amount of mosquitoes, serving as an ever-present reality check.) Then, the day rolled on into more workshops, talks, music, and even a sauna!
Before we left the event, it took us ages to say goodbye to all of this beauty. The burn of the effigy at DeJa was waiting and was absolutely worthy of coming back for. Girls had made elaborate wreaths from flowers, guys from branches with green leaves. We all made big circle around the effigy, some people started singing, some dancing and we all were present to the Midsummer night. The sky got surprisingly dark and the fire was consuming the wood and hemp while thousands of sparks flew through the air.
Ezra Li Eismont, or DJ Darkat, helps run the trash-collection circuit for the DPW in Black Rock City, with a stellar team of dumpster freaks who help reduce our waste by literal tons. Ezra also runs Chickenfish FM, a most eclectic radio station just about everyone on the DPW listens to during their workdays on playa. Ezra also DJs parties throughout the year, where even the non-dancers in the DPW find themselves dancing and having a good time. Ezra’s sets keep the woo flowing.
Last year in 2014, the Thursday before Last Supper, the event had ended and the DPW Ghetto threw a smooth-rock party to celebrate. Of course Ezra was to headline the DJs, so he ramped us up for the occasion by playing soft-rock hits from the 70s all day on Chickenfish radio.
For this writer, that era represents a small childhood surrounded by musician family and friends who paid a whole hell of a lot of attention to those songs. And that day, when the event had ended and the Chickenfish-listening DPW needed sonic support for strike, everyone on the desert had no choice but to pay full attention to the smooth rock hits.
Literally growing up learning to sing by singing these songs means feeling trapped in the past when the soft rock comes at you from every direction on an ancient lakebed which last week was filled with a cornucopia-cophony of music. The soft rock took over, knocking every other thought out. Childhood memories attacked — good and bad, one right after the other.
We tried to go to the smooth-rock party that night, but were already feeling queasy from having been forced to reminisce seemingly every aspect of our early years for a solid 24 hours.
We went to bed early, too exhausted to be irritained, but the party raged. Then, the smooth-rock hits continued on Chickenfish into the next morning and afternoon.
So, this writer left the playa, one full day early, to get away from it.
Not sure that classifies as a meltdown music event, but it was real. Still love that Chickenfish radio tho, every day. We just cringe at Lionel Ritchie now.
It all started with Metric’s now-defunct radio station, KDPW. Early days out here during cleanup, Metric curated the pre-Chickenfish airwave of choice for the workers. One day, when we were all already about to snap from the heat and exhaustion and starvation and dehydration and broken hearts, he played every version of “Moon River” he could find to download.
“Moon River” all day. All day. So many versions, so many genres. We had no idea.
Who needs drugs when you’re walking on an ancient lakebed in the searing heat and sun, picking up tiny bits of trash and listening to “Moon River” in almost all the ways humanity has ever interpreted rhythm and the holy twelve notes? (more…)
Hello out there, you moop maniacs and line sweepers extraordinaire! I’m back with the information you’ve all been waiting for: the results of Day 3’s mad march through the streets of BRC, and the first glimpse of this year’s ESPLANADE scores.
But first! A flying piano!
If you were lucky enough to be in just the right place at just the right time this year, you saw a very rare spectacle: the DPW’s infamous trebuchet, being cocked, loaded, lit and LOOSED with a flaming piano flying through the air and smashing into smithereens onto the playa.
“WHAT!!??” I can hear all of you screaming in unison. “BUT WHAT ABOUT THE MOOP??” (more…)
The BRC Census Lab conducts research on participants in Black Rock City and online after the event. We ask lots of questions about demographics and people’s experiences, because we want to accurately describe the community and the culture of Black Rock City.
Below are the preliminary results from the Random Sample, the short paper form filled out by randomly selected participants entering Black Rock City. This is just the beginning of the 2015 data that will be released by the Census Lab. But for us to produce more findings, we need you — YES, YOU — to participate in the Black Rock City Census online survey, which is live now at census.burningman.org. If you attended Burning Man 2015 and have not already completed this survey, please take the time to do so now! The survey will close October 15. The more people who complete it, the more accurate our data will be. If everyone participates then it will be a true Census of Black Rock City!
The preliminary results are based on 2,270 forms collected by Census volunteers from randomly selected vehicles along Gate Road and Burner Express buses entering Black Rock City between Sunday, August 24 and Tuesday, September 1. This is the first year we’ve been able to begin random sampling five days before the event officially started, which means this year’s data will include a larger number of early arrivers to Black Rock City. This may explain some of the differences observed in this year’s results. The final results of the Random Sample may differ slightly from these preliminary ones. (more…)