Our globe trotting reporter Mini Da Minx give us the lowdown on what was her first ever Burning Man!
First of all I have to say it’s nothing like any other festival I’ve ever been to. The distance and all the resources you need to get there and to stay alive there make it a real commitment. You’re in a desert for over a week, and, it’s not a widely known fact, that the site is at high altitude, which means you are pushing your body in even more extreme conditions. Hence the experience is even more acutely intense. The site is so big that they say you can’t get by without a bike – I’m not big on cycling, and I wasn’t intending to do so, but after a trek across the entire site to a gig at Thumper camp and back – I concur! Luckily the Playa provided – Burning Man worked it’s magic and a newly acquired friend just happened to bring a kiddy bike, for no apparent reason, the perfect size for me! Oh how it saved me, my trusted pink steed. It’s fun zipping around with your mates, apart from deep sand banks that make your leg muscles work very hard. Just to be clear, it’s not a Sahara type dessert, but a vast dried salt lake surrounded by mountains.
(Photo © Andrzej Liguz/moreimages.net)
I was invited along as part of The Lost Tea Party crew, helping this amazing art installation by Wreckage International from Mutoid Waste company – you would have seen The Tea Pot caravan. I’m very proud that we are listed on all photo reports as one of top ten best things at this year’s BM, as there is so much art! One of the 10 BM principles, radical participation, encourages people to make things, share things. There are so many art cars! Those are vehicles of various shapes and features, often spitting fire and have many LEDs all around them for the night outings. And they zip around the playa (that’s what they call the circular centre of the site). At one stage or another one of these will go past you: a rhino, a Palm tree island, a house with a front porch, giant tea pot caravan, a ghost from Pacman, a giant stereo, what ever you can or can’t imagine. People can jump on and party if there is enough space, as their sizes vary. A major difference from our more controlled festival environment in the UK is a lack of Health & Safety! It’s very unusual to see so much freedom to do whatever you feel like at that moment. With the purchase of your ticket you are signing a disclaimer that the organisers won’t be held responsible for your death. Saying that, there are Feds lurking around, it’s not the relaxed California, but Nevada State.
(Photo © Andrzej Liguz/moreimages.net)
Here are some amazing facts about Burning Man: Another core principle of the Burn is Gifting. What it means is that everyone has to bring something to the party, whether it is building an art car, running a free bar, having a sound system or having something arty or fun in your camp. And, wait for it…there is no money exchanged at the Burn, apart from buying ice and coffee! What an amazing notion. When I was told that I have to bring something in exchange for drinks and food, I imagined a trade system. But this trading is more on a karmic level. For your gift you receive something in other way. But to get a drink at one of the bars run by the attendees, you have to have your own cup, there are no glasses or cups provided. Brilliant system ensuring minimum waste! I’ve failed miserably. Managed to get a cup with a lid before hand, but it didn’t have a handle I could clip on my belt. But once again BM provided and I got by with help of friends. Radical self-reliance (another principle) is more like radical friends reliance So everything is free at Burning Man. Freq Nasty told me that he played 10 free sets that week. The lack of regulations also mean is that on the edge of the playa there is a soundsystem next to soundsystem, so there’s plenty of sound clash when you pass by.
I don’t think people – who have never “Burned” – really understand the level of commitment required. Doing everything for yourself means everyone has to clean up their own rubbish, wash up, do chores around the camp. There are toilets provided, but you have to bring all of your water for drinking and washing, power and collect all of your grey water, which then is taken away by the organisers once every few days or you dry it out in your camp. Of course, some people think that they can just turn up and everything will be provided for them, but as part of a camp you have to contribute. You are all in it together. And it’s hot, there are choking dust storms, you have to watch out for dehydration and heat stroke, through all that you feel closer to death. The Burning of the Man, the Temple – and this year’s 72 ft high wooden couple titled “Embrace” – has powerful symbolism: of death, life, rebirth, purging. There’s a strong communal sense that we’re all in it together, so everybody better party like there’s no tomorrow! The people there seemed to love my music, so I’ll be back But never again in a tent without a shade, an RV is a must!