Burning Man, The Indescribable Event

I know what you’re thinking, “Oh he went to Burning Man and tripped balls on who know’s what, that’s why he has writer’s block.”  Well if you know anything about me, you’ll know that I don’t do drugs, never have.  However, Burning Man has caused one of the worst cases of writer’s block I’ve ever experienced for other reasons that a BM virgin will never understand.

I encourage all to go to Burning Man at least once; It’s an experience you’ll never forget and one you may seek every year thereafter.  With that said, here is my BM story, recounted as truthfully as I can be, and with as much detail as I can remember.

If this were a movie, the opening shot would be a moving image of the front tires of a car as the pavement speeds by underneath.  The shot would slowly pan down the car while zooming out slowly to show a vehicle full of stereotypical hippies.  The car would be clad with outrageous bicycles of different colors and shapes and there would be a Burning Man symbol drawn onto the window.  This wouldn’t be my car though, no not at all.

Burning Man Symbol

If the same scene were enacted on my vehicle as it careened into the desert of Nevada it would go like this: Tires moving quickly over the pavement except these are oversized off-road tires.  As the shot pans down the vehicle, chrome running boards would come into view, and the zoom would come way out revealing an obnoxiously large, red 4 door Ford F-150 with chrome accents and a dual exhaust prepared to blow any nearby eardrums.  The occupants lack long hair, beards, tie dye and any other cliche hippie characteristics.  Instead, they’re all clean cut with short hair, no beards and the smell of B.O. is absent in the vehicle.  The only similarity?  The bikes, perched on the vehicle as if they had just robbed a yard sale in 1965.  Regardless, we were on our way to the same place, with high expectations of just what this week of Burning Man was going to turn into.

Ever seen Ace Ventura When Nature Calls? If not, you haven’t lived a full life. If so, do you remember the scene where Carrey is driving and throwing his head around as if he were on a  bumpy road, but as the camera zooms out you see he’s on a smooth paved road?  Well, picture that with four guys, except the road was really that bumpy.  A dust swirled around outside so thick we couldn’t see the giant motor home that was putzing down the road not 20 feet ahead of us.  The fabled Burning Man dust was not a fable at all, but an unexaggerated reality.  It was so thin we began to taste it as it found it’s way through every seam in the truck and trickled out of the vents in the dashboard.

Dust visibility of BM

After a long wait in the entrance line we were finally through and driving towards a long line of what looked like burning man tollbooths.  Only instead of an overweight man with a mustache and unkempt hair, the lanes were full of near naked people beckoning for us to pick their lane over the other lanes.  The truck consensus was to go through the lane with the girl wearing shells covering half of what a bikini does.

Once our scandalous greeters realized our vehicle was full of BM virgins, we were coaxed out of the car and hugged by everyone before made to roll in the dust, make angels, and take a metal rod to a metal bell all while yelling “I’M NOT A VIRGIN ANYMORE!” With that we were ushered through the gates into a city of 60,000 people (the third largest city in NV for a week) all with the same mission.  Pure, unmeasurable, unrelenting, unfiltered, uncensored, unadulterated enjoyment.  Some may say it’s the only city in the world that runs solely off of euphoria for one whole week. A party, a 60,000 people, 24 hours a day, seven days a week…party.

We turned the corner into the outskirts of the city for our first exposure to the stories we’d only been able to hear.  Amazing cars drove by of all shapes, sizes, and colors.  People wandered the streets as naked as the day they entered the world.  Hoards of ridiculously decorated people on ridiculously decorated bicycles swarmed around the truck as the echoes of dubstep music reached our ears inducing smiles and an overwhelming anxiousness to get out of the car.

Black Rock City.

The city has the most unique organization in comparison to any in the world.  It’s arranged like the numbers on a clock, from 10-2.  The inside, where the hands would usually be, is a giant open expanse of dry sea bed known as the “Playa.” The playa is a mile across on the inside and the city itself expands over a mile and a half in diameter.  The cross streets are numbered like the times on a clock, and the circumnavigating streets are lettered A-I.  Our address, 3:15 and G.  Our camp name, Armageddon.

Aerial of Black Rock City and it’s organization

As we pulled to a stop in front of our camp, a bus made to be like a giant city bus called the BRAT (Black Rock Area Transit) was parked across the street blasting dubstep out of its giant speakers.  The roof level was packed with people dancing and the ground all around the bus teemed with indescribably dressed Black Rockians gyrating uncontrollably.  We threw our tents up, put on our crazy attire for the night and attached lights all over our bodies.  Finally, we mixed drinks and joined our fellow campmates on the BRAT for a night of touring the playa with a DJ spinning music for us as we jammed into the night.

We made our way out onto the Playa.  A scene unfolded that I wish I could put into words.  LED lights filled every line of sight as incredible vehicles drove all over the giant flat expanse.  People moved around below us, all covered in lights whether they were walking or biking.  Every “Art Car” had their own DJ and blared dubstep into the chilly night air.  I danced with vigor right along with everyone else.  We made our way off the bus and to a stage where the dancing continued for hours.  This is every night at Burning Man.

Lights on the playa

I want to go into details of every night, for every night, and every day is unique.  There’s a lot of open nudity, a lot of things that would totally weird someone out.  It’s definitely not a place for the faint of heart.   But for those looking for culture, for a different experience, this is it.  Don’t be afraid to try it.  The best thing about Burning Man is that you can tailor it to your desire.  If you don’t want to go to a scheduled orgy, then don’t.  If you don’t want to walk around and get free booze all day and stay drunk the entire time, then don’t.  If you don’t want to strip down and let your undercarriage get some fresh air, keep it covered.  As far as the beautiful art cars, the beautiful structures, and more importantly the amazing people you’ll meet; that’s Burning Man.

Everything is shared, everything is free, everyone is kind.  It goes on 24/7 the entire week, and no matter what time of day it is, if you want to party there are plenty to be found.  It’s the perfect escape from the real world, because it is definitely otherworldly.  As far as this writer’s block.  It’s induced because there is no way I could every portray a single scene of Burning Man to you properly.  You’ll never understand until you roll in the dust, ring the bell, and stroll onto the Playa.

Watch this video:


On the highest building in BRC, with the Playa in the background

the city expanse, follow it all the way around to the left, this is only from like 7:00