[Jennifer Raiser is an avid long-time Burner, Burning Man Project board member, theme camp leader, and Black Rock Ranger. Her writing has appeared in the Huffington Post, San Francisco Chronicle, Nob Hill Gazette and most often for her publication, SFWire.]
“How was Burning Man?” they inquire as I ascend the shallow red-carpeted stairs leading up to the Opera House. It is five days after Exodus, and I am reluctantly back in San Francisco, Center Camp of the default domain. I am here to mark the festive highlight of another tribe, the ninetieth annual Opening Night at the Opera. To some, this happy occasion commands the same kind of importance that we associate with Burn night. Tonight’s task is to write about the grand gesture of opera and the people who are its patrons. I am charged with distilling and interpreting the evening into an article to be read by those who attend, and those who do not. The dual role as enthusiast and observer is familiar. On playa, I am a passionate participant, a Ranger, a theme camp leader, a volunteer and an author; here, I am a friendly alien who comes from that arid planet near Gerlach and happens to pen a social column.
Acquaintances here are polite and prodding about the desert. They indulgently inquire about Burning Man in the same way you might bring up a shared alma mater, or a mutual love of licorice, knowing it is a certain conversation starter. Some truly want to know, some want me to know that they know, or think they know, about my annual retreat to my happiest (and saddest, and most demanding) place on earth. I try to disarm their suspicion with the comparisons between tonight and the burning of the Man. In both places, I remind them, like-minded spirits gather to share a communal dinner, enthusiastic dancing, and well-stocked bars openly coursing with goodwill. We are corseted and costumed in ensembles carefully curated for the occasion. We mark this artistic triumph with the biggest party of the year. Read more »
[John Mosbaugh is a regular contributor to the Burning Blog, a former writer for Piss Clear, and author of the pamphlet "How to Get Laid at Burning Man". A master of thoughtful stream-of-consciousness, and devoted connoisseur of Burning Man culture, some consider him the Jack Kerouac of Black Rock City. This post is part of the Metropol Blog Series.]
One year I was directed by a dear person for whom I have a great affinity to visit the Lunches in LUSH around 3 o’clock & Esplanade and bring tidings of the location of their nuptials-to-be. We were in Center Camp and a dust storm was fast approaching from the direction of the Man so I was offered the use of a scooter to hopefully beat the storm on my way.
Dust Storm 1998 - moze
With my goggles and respirator secured, I jumped on the scooter and zipped across the Esplanade towards the Man just as a playa wide wall of dust swallowed him whole and I soon found myself in that under dust world where visibility is reduced to no more than a few feet in any direction and I was like small fish in a fishbowl, swimming and making graceful curves “S” shaped on my way. We’ve all been inside that sea of fine particulate, where all you can see is the light powder moving in shifting columns about you. Where talc grit is sliding gently as an abrasive all pervasive never ending river flowing over your skin. It is like being underwater, but with oxygen and everything is swirling dust, a mask is a must and not to have one is preposterous. All was quiet and soft, sluicing over and past, pervading everything. It was beautiful, like swimming through a cloud. I knew I was near the Man, but I couldn’t see him. There is a dreamlike feeling one experiences as you move through a total white out, one that can easily turn on you if you don’t keep your wits about you, because there is absolutely no way to tell where you are. It was just then, as I was wondering exactly where I would end up, that a huge phantom shape materialized before me, slowly manifesting from the dust. Read more »