Burning Man (Part 3: What Do You Do All Day…and Night?)

September 30, 2010

in California, Creative Living

Early one morning, I was roaming with a friend, and we came upon a piano. Remember, we’re in the desert…and there’s a piano on the corner. Surreal. We hopped off our bikes and tapped a few keys, finally managing to produce Heart and Soul. We’re hacks, at best. A guy had ridden up and was watching us. He asked, “Do you mind if I play? I was having this dream, and I wanted to try to catch it.” We stepped aside, and he proceeded to generate a captivatingly complex piece of sound, spinning out the story from beneath his fingertips. I was pleasantly awash in the beauty of the music, the depth of his talent, the heating desert morning, and the magical, unpredictable, serendipity of the moment. When he finished, my friend said, “I wish I had that dream.” We hugged him (because people hug all the time in this desert wonderland) and parted ways. That was just the beginning of another extraordinary day.

Days and nights, you can do whatever you want: cruise around on your bike, hop on an art car, see what’s happening, talk to people, dance, play, climb, relax. If you like parties, there are parties day and night. If you like structure, you can take a class: yoga, massage, psychic healing, rope bondage, juggling–just check the event program. I must admit, I rarely get to classes. More likely that I’ve stayed up long enough to watch sunrise on the mountains, slept briefly, and gone off to Bacon and Bloody Mary camp for a mid-morning snack before riding my bike around to explore some art. Late afternoon heat is a good time for siesta.

Everyone relishes the coming of night. At dusk, the playa becomes energized, and people emerge in greater numbers as the heat subsides. By dark, a crazy array of lights are twinkling–more colored neon and EL wire and LED’s than your retina can process. Looking around at the buzzing visuals, you have to remember: this isn’t a coordinated spectacle like a Disney parade; this is a random conglomeration of everyone doing their own thing–it’s dizzying in scope and variety and scale!

Burning Man 2010 - Metropolis: Spire of Fire and Syzgryd

Put on a costume, take a coat and a bunch of water, and venture out into the night. For me, nights are mostly about music. While music at Burning Man can range from a ukelele chorus to a woman singing opera to a rock band to a drum circle, it’s especially known for electronic music. Massive sound and light systems showcase local and international DJ’s. Check out this video of a DJ spinning music, standing in the middle of projection screens at a major sound camp underwritten by the founder of Monster.com.

Root Society Video

Burning Man is a time of year when I can dance as much as I want. (A friend once referred to me a dance-a-saurus when she found me dancing hard at dawn while others were curled up on couches exhausted.) I dance every night–and sometimes during the day–for hours, under the open sky, with space to move, and clouds of dust wafting up from hundreds of feet spinning and twisting the earth. I travel from one camp to the next, looking for beats I like, and embodying them when I find them. In between, I gaze hypnotically at light shows, ride a giant spinning teeter-totter, stand mesmerized by fire and flames, scale a 50-foot double-helix of 2×4’s, or bike through the sea of human entertainment.

Daytime dance party

Daytime Dance Party

Take a Break From Dancing and Watch The Pyrosphere

The Helix Spire by Erich Remash at Burning Man 2010

Climb this? Okay!

**Note: None of the Burning Man photos are mine. Many thanks to friends who supplied photos and for those that were borrowed from the web!

Previous post:

Next post: