Burning Man celebration returns for 21st year, with more than 35,000 expected to show
As if it were not hot enough, it’s time for the annual Burning Man event Aug. 28-Sept. 4. Burning Man is a celebration of alternate lifestyles, and takes place on the playa of the Black Rock Desert near Gerlach.
The party comes to a climax at the end of the week, when the 35,000-plus guests gather to watch the towering man erected atop of a wooden building go up in flames – the Burning Man. Onlookers make a gigantic circle around the man, many grabbing front-row seats as early as mid-Saturday afternoon. All agree it’s a marvelous climax to a week of outrageous living.
The whole affair takes place on the barren, flat playa about seven miles from Gerlach. It’s not an inexpensive affair; tickets cost $280 until this Sunday. After that, the price goes up – how high has not been announced as yet. Tickets at the gate are sold through Aug. 31 – after that you’re out of luck. It’s all there on the Internet a http://www.burningman.com.
Events are spread out for miles around Black Rock City, the vast semicircle that is home to 35,000 for a week. Artworks are scattered about, radiating out from the Burning Man.
In Black Rock City participants camp casually or in select areas, such as those set aside for families with playgrounds for kids. In the city you can buy ice and water and coffee and tea – but no food. Bring your own or starve for a week.
What to do? Just wander and make friends. Do it on a bicycle – the city is big and the artworks distant. Don’t bring your super mountain bike; the playa is not kind to bikes. Make sure the bike has a light, and be prepared to lock it up whenever you leave it.
What to bring? Food, a gallon of water a day per person., ski goggles – the winds can be pretty fierce, and the sand clay invades everything. A painter’s face mask helps keep the sand out of the mouth and nose. Light sticks are handy; wrap them around your body or your bike.
If you’re going to sleep in a vehicle, do so. Campers will need sturdy stakes to hold the tent down when the winds howl. No fire rings and no dogs. If you’ve got a spare airplane sitting around, use that to fly in. There’s a temporary airstrip with a FAA tower.
Some critics have attacked Burning Man as an excuse for doing illegal drugs. The Bureau of Land Management, which temporarily leases the playa to Burning Man, handles law enforcement and states that it will make sure all appropriate laws are followed. Be warned.
Here’s what the organizers say about Burning Man 2006. “It will be ‘Hope and Fear: The Future,’ wherein we explore how we create futurity, manifested as an expression of the promise of our hopes, and the contractions of our fears. Our intention is to generate society that connects each individual to his or her creative powers, to participation in community, to the larger realm of civic life, and to the even greater world of nature that exists beyond society.”
Even if you have attended Burning Man previously, you should always be sure to get the event’s survival guide (on the Internet) to make sure you are informed about changes and new information each year. There you will find new information about hand wipes and port-a-potties and proper lighting for your nighttime wanderings.
The Nevada Appeal will be covering Burning Man. If you spot our tent or bikes, stop us and tell us about your experiences.