Burning Man Festival – Dancing in the Nevada Desert!
It’s been described with such superlatives as “Mad Max meets Disneyland”. Many have tried, and failed, to liken Burning Man festival to other festivals around the world; parallels have been drawn to Woodstock, the legendary rock festival that famously got out of hand when thousands crashed the gate and the heavens opened to douse the whole event with heavy rain.
England’s much celebrated three day festival of music and arts – Glastonbury, has also been compared to Burning Man festival, and though it is probably the closest contender that exists, the concept is very different to that of Burning Man festival. The truth of the matter is that Burning Man festival is a completely unique event, the likes of which the world has never seen before.
What is the purpose of Burning Man?
Just exactly what the festival is, is difficult to explain. Basically, thousands of people gather in the desert every year to have an experience. Live together, camp together, create their own world for those 8 days. Art, community, self expression, self reliance, these are all elements that are emphasized at the festival.
Why is it called Burning Man?
Each year at the end of the festival, an effigy of a man, usually made out of wood is burned. The image of the tall man burning is the source of the name.
Who started it?
Burning Man was started by two friends named Larry Harvey and Jerry James along with other friends. They gathered on a San Francisco beach called Baker Beach and burned a wooden man effigy. This early gathering of friends first took place in 1986 but was inspired by an earlier party held by a sculpturist, who symbolically burned a sculpture of a man at the end of her parties.
Where is held?
Every year, for five days, some 50,000 people make their way to the flat, parched playa of the Black Rock Desert, 120 miles north of Reno in Nevada. They come to form a temporary community, named “Black Rock City” that is dedicated to self expression and radical self reliance. Unlike other festivals – Burning Man festival is a commerce-free event; there are no burger vans, no bars, and no shops, in fact there are only two things for sale in Black Rock City: coffee, and ice, both of which are found in the Centre Camp. Everything else (food, water, and shelter) has to be brought in, or traded for.
Black Rock Desert can be an unforgiving place and is subject to extremes; by day temperatures can exceed 37C, yet by night they can drop down to around freezing. Thunderstorms and dust storms can arise with little notice, transforming the playa into one massive mud puddle in a few minutes. With no trees or natural shelter, winds average 25mph under normal conditions and can rise to 70mph during a storm.
Unlike other festivals where the entertainment is laid on by the organiser – at Burning Man it’s the festivals’ own punters that are the entertainment. There is no main stage, no comedy tent, no dance arena. Visitors are encouraged to participate in the creative culture of Burning Man festival by providing entertainment for others, whether it is in the form of amplified music, theatre, performance art, sculpture – at Burning Man festival- pretty much anything goes.
Tips For Preparing For The Burning Man Festival
Before heading to Burning Man, here are some things you should know:
If you are going to create a camp, register your camp at the main Burning Man web site beforehand. When you get there, you can then put your camp on the map.
The festival or tent city pops up in the middle of a flat desert area, where winds can be very strong, so it is important to build a strong shelter. As self-reliance is an extremely important aspect to Burning Man, it’s crucial to take care of all of your own trash. There are no trash cans or trash collection services, so for all of your trash you must bring trash bags or other trash receptacles so that you can take the trash with you when you leave. Also, it’s important that for any items you bring, whether food, costumes, art or other supplies, that you take care of these items and try not to bring any extraneous decoration or other items that could blow off easily in the wind. You are even responsible for what you burn, and must take care of the ashes and remnants that go along with that. So bring plenty of supplies for cleaning up this type of mess. In addition, consider the type of food and drink that you bring. Bring food that cleans up more easily and does not result in an inordinate amount of trash and waste.
Your camp will be your home for the duration of the festival. It’s important to make sure it is safe and stable. Also, take care of all your supplies, chairs, food and trash. Keep all your stuff secured and well contained.
Bring plenty of water as the only items available to buy on the playa are ice and coffee. First, you should know that campfires are not allowed at Burning Man festival. To cook your food, you will need to bring your own camp stove. Understand that there are no grocery stores at Burning Man festival either. You need to bring your own food and water. Two things that are sold at Burning Man are ice and coffee. Also, bring any kitchen utensils, accessories, spices, plates and drinking cups.
Camping Gear. You’ll need a tent and standard camping gear. Depending on how comfortable you want to live during Burning Man festival, consider bringing along your own porta-potti, a solar shower, air mattress or cushion for your bed, a camp sink and cooler with plenty of dry ice.
Sun Protection. Since it can get pretty hot during the day at Burning Man festival, don’t forget to protect yourself with good quality sunscreen, applied liberally throughout the day, a sun hat, lip balm with sunscreen, and of course, a good pair of sunglasses to protect your eyes from the UV rays. As an adjunct to sunglasses, consider bringing along a pair of goggles. Goggles will not only protect your eyes from the sun’s harmful rays, but will also keep dust and dirt out of your eyes should a wind storm arise on the playa. A good pair of goggles will keep your eyes healthy and help you see better.
Personal basics to consider taking to the festival include: Lip balm, sunscreen, eyewash or eye drops, saline nasal wash, ear plugs, q-tips, toothpaste, toothbrush, floss, towels, wash cloths, toilet paper, tweezers, nail clippers, nail file, soap and lotion for dry skin.
Clothing you should consider taking to the festival include shorts, pants, socks, underwear, sunglasses, sweats, raincoat or poncho, boots, sandals, jacket, t-shirts, basically a good range of warm and cool weather clothing. It gets hot in the day and cold at night on the playa.
Google for burning man festival. Art and free expression are king at the Burning Man Festival. The whole community of artists arrive every year out in the desert to celebrate and commune. But a week in the desert can ruin your eyesight if you don’t bring any eye protection. There is a lot of dust and debris that can kick up over the course of the week, and sandstorms come frequently, and without warning. So it’s important to find eye wear that is comfortable and cool, and still protects your eyes. Because even if you’re wearing nothing at all, you’ll still find yourself always wearing your goggles.
Since there’s so much to see at the Burning Man festival, a pair of goggles with large lenses may be a better choice than other aviator goggles. The big goggles are designed to give you full range of vision, such as snowboarding goggles, so you won’t be limited in what you can see. Snowboard and ski goggles work great because they wrap around your face as well, and block out all the dust and sun, but are designed to breathe well, keeping your face cool.
You’ll also need goggles for things that go on at night. Since the wind and dust sometimes don’t stop, it may be hard to see at night with a pair of tinted goggles. Choose a pair with a slight tint or no tint so you can still enjoy burning at night. Some companies even offer goggles with interchangeable lenses. With these, you’ll be able to change the lenses easily and you won’t have to carry around a second pair of goggles with you.
More items that might be helpful include flashlights, first aid kit, rope, bicycle, duct tape, disposable camera, bandana or face masks to protect you from dust.
Shelter and camp related items that you should consider include a tent, air mattress, sleeping bag, lantern, rugs, eating and cooking utensils and plastic cups.
Items you should not take to the festival include glass and glass containers, dogs, cats, pets, wastefully packaged items or gifts for trading.
Finally, the most important things to bring with you are an open mind and enthusiasm for the experience.
El Wire Tips – It’s All About Shining At Burning Man Festival!
Anyone who has been to Burning Man festivals knows you have to glow. For those of you who haven’t been to the see the man burn yet, here are a couple of tips. During the day, less is more. At night, make it glow. Anyone who already has their ticket to the show, make sure you plan ahead early this year, as a mad rush of people never plan ahead for their costumes and are left out in the dust without anything to lighten themselves up. First step is figuring out the theme of Burning Man and see how you can tie yourself into that theme. Without getting too technical, here is a checklist of what you need to do in order to prepare yourself to glow on the playa.
1. Plan your theme early. Whether you are going more organic or decked out this year, make sure you have your general concept in mind early. Nothing is worse than getting to the playa and realizing you don’t have any idea what you are doing with the 200 feet of EL Wire you just bought.
2. Make sure you know how much EL Wire each battery pack will hold. A carefully thought out EL design is actually less important than making sure you have enough juice to power your wire. Most battery packs will power between 1 and 30 feet of wire. That being said, if you have a costume with 200 feet or more of wire, make sure you have enough places to store all your battery packs. Many AA-9v battery packs come with belt clips so it is much easier to store them in pockets or belt.
3. Recharge – Recharge. Burning Man festival is the largest pack-in pack-out community on the planet. Keep in mind that each battery you waste will end up in a landfill eventually. Rechargeable batteries are becoming very cheap and are a great alternative to wasting 50+ batteries on the playa. Solar panels are also cheap enough to justify bringing your own portable wire charging station nowadays. Charge your batteries with the power of the sun.
4. Order more wire than you think you will need, before it is too late. Almost every costume has more wire on it than originally anticipated. When planning out the design make sure you have more than enough wire to accomplish your goal. Nothing is more frustrating than having to cut your project short because you didn’t order enough. Also, it is much easier to have one long strand of wire, than many short strands that are linked together with solder. Each time you try to connect the wire, it becomes more and more fragile. Don’t have a partially glowing project because you used too many connections. A helpful hint to hide wire is with electrical tape, or dark heat shrink tubing. This will enable you to jump a gap easily without having to break the connection. Another thing to think about is making sure you don’t use the wire on places that bend frequently like elbows or knees.
Whether this is your first Burn or 10th, proper planning, like with anything is the key to having the best time possible. As you are thinking about your costume design for this year, use the above hints to help make this the brightest burn you can imagine.
In conclusion, travellers from all over the States, and the rest of the world, descend on Nevada every year to be part of this bizarre festival. En route – many spend a night in hotels in Carson City, Reno or other nearby settlements, grabbing their chance for a night in normal civilisation before heading deep into the desert the following day.
What the future holds for Burning Man festival is unsure, but the steady growth of this unique event is likely to continue to attract tens of thousands each year, as long as the motto of the festival remains true:
“We will always burn the man”.
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