The Carribean 1 – Burning Man

Burning Man (1)

Where?

Black Rock City, Nevada, USA

When?

The week before Labor Day (first Monday in September)

How long?

8 days

Picture a nudist miniature golf course, an advanced pole-dancing workshop, a motorized magic-carpet vehicle and a bunch of neon- painted bodies glowing in the night, and you may be getting close to imagining what the legendary Burning Man is all about. Every year during the last week of August, several thousand digerati geeks, pyrotechnic maniacs, death-guild Goths, crusty hippies and too-hip yuppies descend on a prehistoric dry lakebed in the Nevada desert known to insiders as Black Rock City. It’s not the ideal place to consume a heady cocktail of alcohol and drugs – temperatures can exceed 100°F by day and the sun isn’t happy until it has bleached your bones white – but the thousands of anarchists, deviants, mad scientists, techno-heads, trace- dancers and freakish performance artists that arrive here from all over the world every year give it their best shot.

History

In 1986, a San Francisco artist named Larry Harvey inadvertently sparked the first match in what would become a legacy when, as a result of a broken heart, he burned a small wooden stick figure amidst the ceremonial cheers of a handful of friends. For the next four years, he continued with this ritual back home until the cops interceded. Harvey and about one hundred friends then started to tug the now forty-foot “Man” across state lines to Nevada’s Black Rock country, nearly 4000 feet above sea level and 120 miles northeast of Reno, just beyond the tiny town of Gerlach. Black Rock country is home to an alkaline salt stretch known as the playa, and is so expansive it’s said you can actually see the curvature of the earth. The barren, cracked-mud surroundings are the perfect tableau for the even more surreal bacchanal that is Burning Man: 36,000 people now descend on the five-square- mile encampment, making it, for just over one week a year, the fourth largest “city” in Nevada. The highlight of the week is the burning of a fifty-foot-tall effigy of a man, constructed from wood and neon and stuffed with fireworks – an event that’s frankly an anticlimax after the laser-filled skies, electroluminescent wired bodysuits, fire-breathing mechanical dragons, oversized, fuel-oozing metal faces and techno tribal tunes that illuminate each and every evening. Basically, this is the most artistic, survivalist, futuristic and utterly surreal show on earth, where the strangest part of your alter ego reigns supreme. Some of Burning Man’s participants see the event as a social experiment and total free-for-all, where they can shed their uptight work veneers and technological props almost as easily as many people do their clothing. But the main goals are universal. First, you’re there to participate, not observe. Burning Man enables all the black sheep of the world to graze together, so the more experiential art you share, gifts you give, bizarre costume you wear, or free services you provide, the better. Second, you’re there to build a temporary autonomous “city” – one that rivals some of Nevada’s largest in size and leaves no trace when it disbands. Third, you’re there to share and barter, as no commercial vending is permitted, with the exception of the Center Camp Cafe that spoons out $3 lattes just in case Your mud-caked glittered ass needs warming up. In short, Burning Man survives – and thrives – on the gift economy.

Must bring…

  • Two gallons of water per person per day for drinking, cooking and washing
  • Shelter and warm bedding
  • Enough food and beverages for your entire stay
  • Sandals
  • Vinegar for treating “Playa Foot” (cracked feet)
  • Rubbish bags
  • Warm and cool clothing
  • Goggles and disposable facemasks
  • Chap sticks, baby wipes, Purell (anti-bacteria solution)
  • Sunscreen, skin lotion
  • Flashlights, headlamps
  • Wide-brimmed hat
  • First Aid kit
  • Common sense, an open mind and a positive attitude

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