I have been hanging out with “Burners” for at least 8 years that I can count back to. Regularly. And whenever I mention “Burning Man” to those who don’t hang out with the same crowd or have never been always have the strangest reactions. Mostly Burning Man seems to have the reputation of being a hedonistic drug fest full of ill constraint and the trashiest of people. I really didn’t know what I was gonna think of Burning Man. I am really not one for huge super size festival parties and I really dont want to see certain people naked.
The truth is after actually going to Burning Man, after over 8 years on the fence I actually went and experienced something really special. Not just at Burning Man but in myself. I realized that there was really nothing to sit on the fence about. Burning Man is not everything the rumors make it out to be. it’s better than that. It has all those things you heard about but this has been one more experience in my life that tells me to stop listening to all the nay sayers. Stop worrying about the things that you don’t like and instead go out there and see what is there. You will be amazed.
Burning Man isn’t just one thing. It is over 70,000 people (unofficially) and everyone of them is different. 683 different theme camps with young to old and over 300 art peices makes burning man so much more than an overglorified booze fest.
My trip to Burning Man started with my planning. I started learning to camp in Boy Scouts and later moved on to my Adult camping experiences. There is a lot to know before you go out to Burning Man. The event takes place in a virtual wasteland. Nicknamed the “Playa” Black Rock City, NV is located East of Reno in the middle of a bed of dry dust so thin it will seep through your pores. Don’t walk barefoot on the Playa unless you know how to take care of your feet and if you get cut. Be sure to treat is properly and keep it cleaned. This is not a begginers camping experience. Which is an “important point.” Burning Man has developed over it’s existence a set of Commandments or “10 Principles.” One of these “Principles” is Radical Self-Realiance. Come to Burning Man prepared. This is perhaps on of the reasons I hadn’t gone. The conditions can be radical. In fact the entire event was warned of an oncoming storm at the end of the event and though I never saw more than a sprinkle the majority of the event took the warning seriously and either left or made themselves prepared for the storm of the century.
I myself had been planning to go to Burning Man for a long time and because of that I have a truck full of everything I would need to weather our such a storm. I have everything I need to survive in my truck and at Black Rock City there is everything there needed to survive. I actually go the impression that if nuclear war were to ensue and take out all the major hubs of communication and supply, those at Black Rock City would be best prepared to survive, even with all of the terrible farm land.
Unfortunatley I ended up being pretty well unprepared. After apply for a low income ticket and being approved and planning all year to go, refining my truck and getting rid of what I didn’t need so I had the most room possible to live and possibly share my truck two weeks before The Burn I had problems with smogging my truck and my rider decided he couldn’t afford to go. So I ended up having to at the last minute find a new way to ride.
Another one of Burning Man’s Ten Principles is called Radical Inclusion. Not only can anyone go to Burning Man but Burner’s often make a point to make sure that everyone who wants to go is able to. It is not uncommon for Burner’s to buy expensive tickets for friends or even strangers. I found a ride on Wednesday from a friend who was leaving late because of work. So I pciked about 4 bags of my supplies out, left my truck at my fathers house and jumped into a VW Bug on the way to my first Burn!
This element of Burning Man, including everyone is very important. Although some camps like to keep their camp itself private from the public event they are still invited and so are the people they don’t invite into their camp. Really the feeling I have gotten from most burners is that they 1. Are usually definate people with definable opinions. That also 2. Seem to be for the most part accepting that everyone belongs, at least at Burning Man.
So I after leaving the treasures in my truck and heading to Corona we were on the road. Me and A___ had spoken earlier in the day about the posts on FaceBook which claimed that everyone was getting harrassed left and right. This seemed to be typical of the cultural opinions about Burning Man which have manifested in the exponentiated viewpoints of Law Enforcement. Burning Man is definately profiled. I got pulled over twice, mostly I believe because of the big pink fluffy bike that was awkwardly attached to the back of the VW Bug we were driving.
One our way to Reno to pick up a friend who was afraid to drive after hearing the same rumors as us, before the Nevada border we were pulled over by a California HighWay Patrol Officer. I was driving and only had my ID Card, not my license.