Burning Man months away, but cheap tickets sold out

Burning Man celebration doesn't set up until Aug. 25 and tickets have been on sale for several weeks now. Prices edge up as the date nears and there have been some changes in the system. Currently, the lowest price is $295 and you can buy on line at burningman.com or at The Melting Pot, 1049 S. Virginia St. in Reno. Hours are Monday through Friday 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., Saturday 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., Sunday noon to 5 p.m.

There will be no ticket sales at the gate this year. There are some low-income special tickets still for sale; check the Web site. June 30 is the last date for mail back of tickets; after that pick them up at will call (never a pleasant experience).

In case you just got back from spending five years in Iraq and don't know much about Burning Man, it's a celebration of alternate lifestyles held on the Black Rock Desert by Gerlach. Last year more than 47,000 took part, living in the temporary Black Rock City.

Dress is wacky, to say the least (see "Burning Man, a Unique Fashion Experience" at the Nevada State Museum next Tuesday at 7:30 p.m.) ranging from nudity to spaceman suits with flashing lights. The city spreads out in a vast semi circle with the towering Burning Man standing at the end of a lane about a half mile long. Art exhibits are spread out on the playa for miles.

There are events all week long, including the March of the Virgins, in which hundreds of mostly topless women bike to a girls-only pow wow. All kinds of entertainment take place, many in the central Cafe, only place where you can buy coffee or tea or lattes. No food sales allowed. You can buy ice at the Ice Palace.

Most snuggle up in tents, although RVs big and small are welcome. We've tented twice and last year shared a folding camper, and believe me, that was better. I've camped all around the West, but the playa is pure grit and it gets into everything.

Clothing is what suits you in the Nevada desert, but ski goggles are a must as are surgical-type face masks. Sand whiteouts are just as disorienting as their snow cousins, so try and keep a mental picture of where you are at all times. We got lost in a whiteout last year and stumbled around for a couple of hours before the winds died.

Press cameras have to be registered at Media Mecca, but there's no way organizers can control use of small digital cameras. Best advice: If you don't want to be photographed in your costume or lack thereof, be guarded. And if you're taking a camera, be sure to include a seal-type baggie to put the camera in when it blows.

We'll go up on opening day to inspect things and file a report. Appeal columnist Guy W. Farmer has agreed to go with us for the one day so that he can get a first-hand look at the event, something he has refused to do in the past as it might change his negative opinion of it all.

Personally, we find the whole thing mostly silly fun. People are friendly, give you small gifts. Drug use? Yep, mostly pot. Fights? None to my knowledge. Inherent contradictions? Yep, just like capitalism, but to put up a city for 47,000 for a week requires some organization.

We plan to share a big RV with some rich Bay area friends this year. We'll try to fly a Nevada Appeal flag. Say hello.

• Contact Sam Bauman at 881-1236 or Sbauman@nevadaappeal.com.


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