I did not post much about the experience in the desert because it is something that is very hard to explain in words. I decided to pass over it on the blog, and just talk about it to people I know. However, many people have been asking me about it, and I wrote this to a friend at Farr Associates, and have decided to post it as well.
In a word, it was life changing. Black Rock City (the name of the week long city that is created in the desert) is a one of a kind place. It is what society would be if everyone decided that it was in their best interest to serve others. A utopia of sorts, but one that can only exist for such a short time because of its very nature.
We had to bring all of our own supplies out to the desert, enough to last for a full week – at least 1.5 gallons of water per person per day, food, shelter, gifts to society… everything. There is no trade or commerce on the playa (the desert), everything is gifted. So I made leather masks for anyone who stopped by our camp, or saw me out with mine on and wanted on. I brought a half –hide of leather out with me, and drew masks, cut them, and boiled them from 1-3 every day. That was my gift.
At night, the party aspect of the city kicked in, and people dressed up in costumes (people were dressed up during the day, but it is too hot for some of the more interesting full body costumes) and head out to the playa to see the art and party that is happening. There is an incredible amount of fire at night, and many fire dancers, people on stilts, art cars, which are cars that no longer resemble cars – some looked like pirate ships, others dragons, others things indescribable… Check out the video section of the site to see what I mean. There were also hundreds of free bars at night and during the day, Coffee Cafes, pancake houses, and other places serving drinks and food or offering places to dance to any type of music.
Since it is removed from the United States government (to an extent) the legal system does not function to limit non-violent and arbitrary laws. Nudity is in fact encouraged, as is complete freedom of expression – by way of art, dance, random acts of kindness, and sometimes random sex acts… This experience is definitely not for everyone, but those who can open their minds to the idea that anything is possible, and reserve judgment only for themselves will have a life changing moment at least once during the week.
Look at www.burningman.com for more information, and to buy tickets if you want to join me next year.