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Burning Man Festival
Untitled Document


What Is Burning Man?

Burning Man is an eight-day event held every year in Black Rock City, located in northwestern Nevada. “The Burn” lasts from the Monday before Labor Day until Labor Day, and in 2010 the art festival’s dates are August 30 to September 6.

Around 40,000 to 50,000 people drive to the “Playa” each year, which is a dry lakebed with very alkalized soil. For the rest of the year, Black Rock City does not exist, except in the hearts of Burners around the world. It is constructed every year from tents, teepees, shelters, domes, RVs, massive art installations, pyrotechnics and various other structures in a semi-circle shape. It takes hours and hours to walk across, and usually more.

What To Expect at Burning Man

The Burning Man environment is extremely inhospitable. During the day, the desert sun broils at over 100 degrees, and at night the temperature drops to a chilly, wool-socked affair. Brutal dust storms last for hours during the day, for which you need goggles and face masks to survive. The only water, food and shade you have are what you bring in or what you can borrow. Preparation is essential. Burning Man is also a pack-in, pack-out affair, meaning that everything you bring in must be hauled out. Not a single cigarette butt is to be left on the Playa. Humans treat this barren piece of planet with more respect than they do at almost any other location on the planet.

The Burning Man Experience

The Burn is an experience in radical self-reliance, creative expression, tribal communities and a desert culture unlike any you have ever experienced. You cannot buy anything at Burning Man, except for ice. There is no official lineup of musicians, Coke machines or flushing toilets. If you go out there alone, you could die.

But you won’t. The tribes of Burning Man are as kind and giving as they are numberless, operating on a gifting culture. Many participants dress up in fantastical and skin-baring costumes, although many do not. If you have a problem with nudity, drug use or avant-garde art, Burning Man is not for you. Camps outdo each other to see what wonderful, creative experience they can provide to those who pass by their territory.

It is impossible to describe what Burning Man is like. There are large-scale art installations everywhere, as well as huge pyrotechnic plumes that blast off all night long. Art cars zoom around; you may see a three-story castle car with a DJ on top or a plane that is really a fish that is really a scooter. Bikes are everywhere, and everything is covered in the fine Playa dust. There is an intricately carved wooden temple that burns to the ground on Sunday night, and there is of course the Man, who burns to the ground on Saturday.

Are You Prepared for Burning Man?

The extreme location, brutal climate and intense preparations needed for Burning Man weeds out most divas, whiners, anti-social jerks and other prissy types. It takes a huge effort to get to the Playa, to survive and have fun, and therefore everyone out there truly wants to be.  If you want to go to Burning Man, it is essential that you do all the required reading on the Burning Man website and even better, go with a crew that has been before. You may hate it, and you may love it- but one thing is certain – it will be one of the most incredible experiences of your life.

For more information: http://www.burningman.com/

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Shilo Urban is a freelance writer who has relocated to Los Angeles after her previous homes of Seattle, New Zealand, Paris, Maine, and Austin. She is an active member of the West Coast electronic music community and lives to promote the art that she loves and the people who create it.

Burning Man Image by: Aaron Logan

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