Wow! Where do I even begin!? Burning Man has always been an experience of a lifetime that I’d like to participate in. I’ve been hearing all the amazing stories from family and friends, telling me it’s LIFE CHANGING. I’m thinking to myself, they must be talking crazy!
Who in their right mind want to be stuck in a remote place breathing dust while meeting strangers and dancing to sunrise with some of the best house music in the world for nine days? Burners will say “just go and you’ll know what I mean.” I could not understand their experience and was curious to find it. I had to see this once a year, desert madness for myself.
When Peter and I had the chance to attend this year, we were both overwhelmed. I was excited, nervous and anxious for this “life changing” cultural experience. How do we even prepare? What are we going to eat? How are we going to survive in the desert? With questionable doubts, we did our best to be ready.
Day 1 on the Playa:
I arrived at the Burner Express Airport and was immediately greeted “Welcome Home!”, along with genuine hugs by many veteran burners. There are many ways to get to the “playa” (a Spanish word for beach), but this was the most efficient way, since I was there for only 4 nights.
Then I hitched a ride in a taxi art car (see photo) with another burner from Miami. They kindly took me to the doorstep of my camp, Funky Town. My first receiving of kindness from a burner.
Peter and I finally reunited and I can’t believe how much we’ve missed each other. He was there six days before me, and had a good taste of the playa. Though he admitted he was lonely in my absence, because he had no one to share it, even with thousands of burners present. This was exactly why I had wanted to attend Burning Man together, so we can connect and explore it ourselves.
As I settled in and changed into my costume for the evening events, I am still in awe that I’m here at Burning Man. I repeatedly said to myself “I can’t believe I’m here.” Although I was still not a fan of the “magic dust”, I had to put on my big girl panties and adjust quickly, because it was a losing battle.
During the evening, we attended a wedding officiated by my brother-in-law and was treated to a ballet performance by the Rite of Spring. I wore a mesh leotard with red sparkle heart pasties (my first time wearing pasties) and a red thong. I accessorized the outfit with a red marching band hat, I redecorated with gold passemmentrie, gems and buttons. Not the most appropriate outfit for a wedding, but who cares! No one else does.
To wrap up the evening, I got to stay up for my first and not the last sunrise. It’s one of the best rewards you can reap from Burning Man. The desert landscape was incredibly breathtaking. Basically, my first day on my first burn was EPIC!
Day 2 on the Playa:
One of the hotter days, but it didn’t stop me from exploring the desert. I wore my most convenient and comfortable outfits, a Topshop bandana print two piece bikini. It was easy to take on and off, especially when I had to use the porta potties. I don’t know how these gorgeous girls with the most exquisite costumes stay so beautiful and flawless. They even have a name for them, Sparkle Pony. I tried being a Sparkle Pony, but I was just too hot, sweaty and dusty to want to be one. My body rejected it!
We rode around the city and visited a few camps. Burners are so welcoming and inviting. They’ll ask you to come hangout at their camp offering drinks, food, good vibes and electric shock to the butt (ask me about this story in person/private message).
After a few camp visits we stopped by the playa to admire art installations. The radical self-expression of these artists are incredibly humbling. These creatives spent a year to build it and transport them for all of us to enjoy. At the end, they may choose to burn it or take it back home with them. Nothing gets left on the playa, a principle of “leave no trace” that Burning Man practices. ALL burners are super serious about this! Consequences maybe some scolding by a burner or worse a ticket from the “po po” (aka cops).
Day 3 on the Playa:
We finally found our friends Judy and Joe from San Franciso. We missed each other once and the lack of cellular phone signals didn’t make it easy. In hindsight, it’s a good way to “be present” and away from the crazy world we live in. A place taking you out of the news, politics and to only focus on the things around you. Embracing the radicalness the playa has to offer.
Our friends fed us lunch and dinner! Burning Man is a sharing community and your money is no good. If you’re hungry, someone will feed you as a gift. Everyone is there to lend a helping hand and make a new friend at the same time. To participate in self-expression, art and effort with the community, is through the values of the Ten Principles the event lives by.
This evening was my last sunrise. I wanted to make sure I got enough rest before I head home to see Kinsley. There were tons of late nights, but this night was one of the best! I got to dance to Lee Burridge, a musical genius, that always plays the right tunes to keep the party going.
Day 4 on the Playa:
We took it easy and explore a few more camps we’ve missed. There are just too many different kinds to have seen them all. Anything from “Make your own t-shirt” to a “Foot massage” camp existed. The city is too big to to see over hundreds of themed camps. Therefore a bicycle is the most easiest transportation to get around. You might be sore from all the riding for the week, but the exercises certainly pays off.
In the evening, we watched the burn of “the Man” (hence the name of the event), an annual tradition with performances from fire dancers and burning of the effigy. It represents a rebirth of life or starting a new chapter. Leaving it all behind: the past, the problems and to look forward to a new beginning.
Day 5 on the Playa:
My last day here! Bitter sweet that I had to leave this sandbox of fun rides, art, community and dope music. Although I don’t mind a hot shower and sweet hugs from Kinsley, I felt a part of my soul got left behind. I’ve been trying to process the experience and writing this post helped me do just that.
At Burning Man, I felt like I was transported into another planet. A place where you can be whoever you want to be and be accepted without judgments. To live how everyone should live: giving, helping each other out, living free, sharing and personal discovery. I love the communal support and the welcoming human connections with strangers you’ve never met. A place where you can dig deep into your soul or just have a great time to free your mind. I’ve learned no matter how you prepare, life will always take you into different directions. There will be curveballs and how you handle it is key.
Most importantly I learnt to embrace new experiences and to say “Yes” in trying new things. If I asked Peter and myself, would we ever go again……., the answer is probably going to be a strong “HELL YES!”