Ahhh, the raw life and sheer hell that is Burning Man. I mean that in a good way. Where else can you put all six of your senses to the test while simultaneously being expected to contribute in an artistic or creative fashion? Burning Man is no cushy spring break party. It's a test of all the spiritual and orgiastic energies of humanity.
But first, Burning Man was a simple little zygote of an idea shared between two men, Larry Harvey and Jerry James. More of a dream really, involving the effigy of a man, a ritual, and a liberal dose of combustion. Luckily, the dream had believers. What began in 1986 as a shared idea found its way, with a bigger following, down to Baker Beach, San Francisco. What followed was the reinvention of an ancient pagan ritual of burning, sacrifice, gift, and renewal. But every good story has its pitfalls and setbacks, and in 1990 the annual ritual at Baker Beach was brought to a grinding halt. Some say it was the motorcycle cop who enforced the edict against the largescale man-burning, others say it was the mass of spectators who had no interest in the participatory aspects of the burn. On that day, when the screams of "Burn the motherfucker!" died down, Harvey, James and their supporters in the Cacophany, a group of urban pranksters, knew that Burning Man's time at Baker Beach had come to an end...
...but also to a rebirth, with a new location and date. From the Beach to the Desert the Man traveled, through time even, to find his home on a dry and dusty lake bed. Not just any lake bed, no, but the Playa: the second largest and flattest spot in the entire United States. It had sat undisturbed for 30,000 years. An empty basin of purity surrounded by mountains, waiting only for the Burn to breathe new life into it. Black Rock, Nevada; Labor Day weekend; parameters that define Burning Man in space and time, and probably the only definition that has any meaning when put into words.
The great city on the playa is ephemeral, for a time existing as the largest city in the county, only to be completely removed from the desert terrain. You bring with you what you need to survive, and it better well leave with you on the way out. Leave no trace. There is no trash service and you can't buy yourself a Double Coronary Pounder with Cheese. This is Darwinian revelry, and not for everyone. Plan to give much more than you take. The currency of Burning Man has no material measure. It is measured in smiles and wonder. Plan to trade with great abandon.
What could be better than Burning Man, you ask? How about a hundred mini Burning Mans, each with their own vitality and uniqueness. Every walk of life is represented; each Camp is a community unto itself and completely open to the stranger at the same time.
What would it be like if art itself came to life and walked amongst us, exhaling showers of beauty and pandemonium over everything? Find out the answer to that question on the outskirts of the Playa. Artists toil year round just to create these overwhelming interactive art environments. Why? Just to see the look on your face. (::smiles::) That's the one.
Check out www.burningman.com to get the full skinny