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My last few days in Boulder were spent gathering supplies for the biggest venture of the trip; the Blackrock desert and the city that buds within!
Burning Man 2015 was on the horizon. The desert happening has brought so much change, so many people, so many events and learning into my life just through its influence, yet I never experienced it myself, I’ve never journey out there. Until now.
The drive from Boulder was significant, (considering we had just driven from New Jersey to Denver it wasn’t THAT long) but still something to contend with. 18 hours of more cornfields and emptiness, although come Utah, the landscape finally started to change.
Finally we arrived, and by arrived I mean we made the last turn out of civilization. No more stores/gas/stops outside of a tiny little town a ways away. We got maybe five minutes down the road before we hit the back of the line. I’ve heard stories about the gates taking upwards of six hours, so I pretty much knew we would be greeted with brake lights.
The combination of a car accident, gate pulsing, and 70,000 people trying to get into the same place at once left us on the road for most the day. We made the best of it, all part of the overall experience, right? The crowded cars soon expelled their humans and the roadside pre-parties started popping up. Every time the caravan started moving the crowd would scurry away toward their cars, only to reemerge a few minutes up the road.
TWELVE hours later….
Exhausted, disgruntled, and hungry, we dropped out things in the sand and dust, and set up camp in the darkness. As much as we wanted to explore, the bed was much more inviting. After my years of local burns I’ve learned that pacing is absolutely key. Don’t burn yourself out on day 1, because you’ve got way more to do! And so, we face planted into our mattresses and passed out.
Now, before I get into this, let me preface by saying this:
One of the greatest challenges I faced after returning from Peru was trying to find the words to fully encompass everything I had experienced, especially to my eager friends/family who wanted to hear every detail. My ayahuasca ceremonies just felt lacking when I tried to attached words to them, so empty for such a powerful and life changing experience. I tried to put things down on this blog, I really tried, but I still did them no justice. Here I find myself again trying to find the words to describe Burning Man.
So instead of forcing my numerous experiences into hollow casings, I’ve decided to just let my pictures tell the tale. I’ll review some highlights, but I’ll leave this entry mostly to the pictures.
Unfortunately, my camera took a serious dive and the focus/lens never recovered (and my phone ended up breaking on the drive in! Lesson in being present much?!? ) Please excuse my blurry photos, but I hope you enjoy them all the same.
The Temple of Promise
The temple is always one of my favorite places at the local burns, but finally seeing the grand scale of The Temple of Promise was like a tragic dream come true. The Temple warps in shape every year, and means a lot of different things to a lot of different people, but the respect for the structure seems to be universal. Nestled away from the high energy radiating through the rest of the desert, the Temple is where one goes to let go, to mourn, to grieve, to pray, to reflect, to forgive, to express whatever it is they need to express (before it all goes up in flames on the final night).
The walls may be made out of wood, but the structure itself is infused with so much raw emotion that it’s a challenge to step inside and remain untouched. I made it a few steps passed the threshold before my eyes started to well up with tears. The stillness is the first thing I noticed. In a work of art filled to the brim with people, only silence and the occasional whimper, cry, or whisper filled the air. Along the walls, writing utensils hung freely for those who had something to add to the walls. Messages were written, pictures of loved ones hung, whatever it was you wanted to express, the Temple is the place to do it.
With tears streaming down her face, I watched from afar as an older woman wrote a message to her mother who had passed away recently, finally saying the things she never got to say in life. Behind me was a scathing message written by a woman to the man who had brutally raped her in the past. On the bench next to me, a man sat in quiet meditation, holding a picture of a young child. Stories of love, hate, encouragement, loss, sadness…I could go on. Everywhere. Every story, every makeshift shrine was different, but each one was laced with powerful emotion.
I wrote my own message, a personal something to myself, and I silently cried my damn eyes out…
-Write in the Temple of Promise
Wednesday some dear friends arrived at camp. For any long time readers, you may recognize them from one of my very first entries. We unloaded their car, helped em setup and made our way back to the playa.
The DeathGuild’s Thunderdome was my kinda place. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed the house music, the burners and all the oneness with the universe and what not, but the Thunderdome stole my heart. Hard rock/industrial, people fighting, girls in revealing black leather and the guys suited up in some badass wasteland armor! When I arrived they were blasting some of my favorite songs by Manson, Rammstein, and Mindless Self Indulgence. MSI on the Playa!?!? I loveeeee my MSI!!!
The goth kid in me came out in full force! I found myself at the top of the Dome, shouting for the combatants to tear each other apart many, many times throughout my week.
Warning – The video has strong language and sexy people in black leather NSFW
I love you Thunderdome!!
Finally see the Thunderdome in person
The Serpent Mother
Created by the Flaming Lotus Girls, this monstrosity of fire and metal has earned its place high on my list of all time favorites. I’ve seen a lot of fire performances and fire art, but this was…this was something else. The serpent writhed back and forth in the sand, lifting her head and opening a mouth lined with flaming daggers. The metal body of the serpent gleamed in the night, illuminated by the the plumes of fire hissing from each one of her segments. Within her coil, the Mother protectively wrapped her flaming tail around a massive copper egg.
I stood within the Serpent’s grasp, surrounded on all sides by the roar and heat of the fire until the crowd was ushered a safe distance away. A safe distance from what? I wasn’t sure, but I was about to find out.
With all the flammable humans at a safe distance away, the egg she so carefully guarded over, bloomed like a lotus. The hatching egg remained quiet, until a hiss louder than anything its Mother had produced up until then, came screaming out of the top of the egg. What burst forth was a plume of fire unlike I’ve ever seen before. One, then two, then three at once. These spires, these spears, these swords of fire tore through the sky, spouting flames of nearly 50 feet. The bright red flames bled into a blinding orange, then to a burning emerald green.
This was something to behold, truly. Words do little justice…
Radical self reliance is high on the list of Burning Man principles. You must bring everything you need to survive, and you must be capable of surviving in the first place. This is definitely not just some music festival (much to the disappointment of some girls I found sobbing in a dust storm, complaining about how terrible everything was and it was nothing like they thought). As fun as it all is, if you’re not prepared, you’re in for a world of trouble. Of course people won’t let you die, but you should do you best to not be a burden for anyone else. Whether it’s food, water, or weather, be prepared. And we had quite a bit of weather…
The white outs are a common occurrence out on the playa. Huge dust storms that blow in and drop visibility to zero in a matter of seconds. I prayed I’d get to experience one, and I think I prayed a little too hard! As my friends said, the intensity and frequency of the white outs was the worst it had been in a handful of years. Structures fell, tents were destroyed, I watched people smash their bikes into one another when their sight had disappeared.
For the first day or two I really tried to keep the dust out of my tent, but by the third day I realized how futile the battle was. Falling asleep and waking up in INCHES of playa dust took some getting used to but, hey, I enjoyed it. How comfortable does one need to be anyway?!
The art, the structures, the builds were all so beautiful to experience. But like all things, nothing is permanent. Everything must burn…
In Conclusion, Burning Man was as incredible as I thought it would be. I got to spend it with some of my favorite people, got to see some of the art I’ve only seen in pictures, and now I’ve got a ton of stories to tell! Like I said, words do little justice, and as much as I did the entire week, I still missed so much more! This is but a glimpse!
But it wasn’t all fun and positivity, unfortunately I’m coming away with a few regrets. Regrets due to a symptom of a larger internal issue. Under the microscope of a the big burn, it’s easy to see such things. Now, to fix it. Things to work on.
Always evolving right?
Regrets aside, this was truly one of the favorite experiences of my life.
Dance on an Art Car -View the best fireworks display I’ve ever seen in my life when the man burned Live in the desert for a week -Finally see El Pulpo Mecanico -Spend time with my Philly friends at BM2015 -Sit in for many BM workshops -See Android Jones’ work in person -Finally make it to Burning man!!!! Burning Man 2015: Carnival Of Mirrors!!
Cheers to the possibility of Burning Man 2016!!