“I’m going home.”
Those words echoed across my Facebook feed during the weeks leading up to Burning Man. But Burning Man never felt like home to me – I don’t really need a magical city in the desert to be who I really am. It is, however, a grand adventure.
I went once with a group of ravers in 2005. The party didn’t stop for an entire week, and I’d never seen so many sculptures, fire performers, and creativity in a single location. Dave, my boyfriend, had never attended, and when he wanted to go this year, I jumped at the chance to share this world.
We camped with the Lonesome Gator Gumbo Cookery in the illustrious French Quarter, a village known for quality and artistic values. The French Quarter is home to the Golden Cafe, which was celebrating it’s 10th year. We decided to build a Monkey Hut as our home, which is basically a shade structure made of bent PVP piping. We covered it in Aluminet, a material designed to reflect sun yet let a breeze through. Since we never really camp, we had to go buy a tent. I used a combination of folder binder clips and small clamps to seal up all the openings to keep it dustproof. Tacitus helped us find a carpet, so we didn’t track much dust into the tent. I am still astonished that all of these things worked. Dave also made a swamp cooler in a bucket, but never had a chance to try it out.
If you tried to find us at Burning Man, I’m not surprised if you had problems doing so. Our camp had 360 people in it. Luckily, people did randomly find us. p0pe and Adri spotted us at Cafe de Mundo (coffee imported from a famous New Orleans coffeeshop). Dan found us cooking gumbo. Martin found us chilling at a radio station. Mike found us chasing unicorns (no, really.) Matt found us eating crawfish, and we took him out to the blacklit alleys of Asiatown, which had my favorite artwork.
We drove out straight from LA, from 4p to 4a, on roads that took us past Mono Lake. At a gas station in Fenley, we spotted Tom Rothrock’s fantastic carousel bike and we got to chat a bit. Willcall took 2 hours, and in total, we spent 6hrs getting into Burning Man from the pavement. We then spent all afternoon building our Monkey Hut, which looked easier on the internet than in person. (still probably the easiest structure to build there.)
After the build, I put on a penguin costume, and one of the monks came by with a whole fish from the Supper Club that had been flown in that morning. It was crazy good. We went to wander around French Quarter after that.
I really liked the coffeeshop at our camp, because it served the function that a coffeeshop is designed to serve: be a central point of community interaction. You could chill out and have a conversation with just about anyone, and there is nothing weird about it. Although, it wouldn’t feel like home unless there were several screenwriters hanging out on laptops writing their next epic story. p0pe and Adri pulled us away, and showed us their kickass yurt. Then we went on an adventure wandering the playa looking at art. After they retired for the night, Dave spotted a white blur about a zillion miles away. It was slightly sand castle shaped. We decided to chase it down, and our instincts were correct; it was divide and jacqueline’s incredible sand castle art car. We climbed aboard and they gave us an epic tour of the playa, taking us by intricate pieces of art, Wall Street, the Temple, and we watched the sunrise from the Trash Fence and the Pier.
We awoke Tuesday and helped prep some veggies for Gumbo. That night, I put on a crawfish costume and danced around as tons of crawfish were dumped over a table. Martin taught everyone the proper way to eat them: twist the tail and suck the head. The best part were the jazz bands that came in and jammed with each other, even though they probably hadn’t played together before. One of them had a tuba that shot flames. The moveable feast came by, and so did Adam Lathers and his friends. At the end of the night, Matt Pinner found me and gave me a scarf he’d made with a dust mask built in, and penguin stitching.
Wednesday we had showers at the Broken Angel Bathhouse (that place was AWESOME), and then made cardboard robot costumes at the Robot Factory (in air conditioning!). Then we went out to the Unicorn Stampede. We got there late and didn’t find Charlie or anyone I knew, but some people had taken a black horse artcar and stuck a horn on its head. A loud British girl led us through the Esplenade, encouraging hugs for Thunderdome and DPW Heavy Machinery folk. Then, Dave and I biked pretty far out to a Canada party with fake soap snow. The roads were getting sandy and unbikeable. We got lost trying to find Steampunk Saloon, but found a Popcorn camp instead. We eventually made it back. We went back out on bikes with Sue and Jade and wandered the playa.
Thursday we made Jambalaya most of the day. We used the biggest pot ever and stirred it with something that looked like a canoe paddle. Dave brought me a sandwich from Grilled Cheese camp. Then, we went to the Tuxedo Tyrants meetup at Phage. I hung out on a dust-free couch in a fancy circus tent. Dave had a drink at the Stilt bar. We were both feeling sick, so we went back to the camp, stopping to visit Jack on the way.
Friday was my favorite day. Jade fed us mac and cheese. We put on our robot costumes and found Matt and danced at Robot Factory, then danced at the Steampunk Saloon to Jokton and Pumpkin. We got really, really cold and Matt lent us some hoodies; Dave wore a really adorable handmade Gir hoodie. Then we hung out at the Disorient dome for a bit and Matt made us some fancy tea. Then we went to a Mashup party in another dome. After that, we went to Root Society and saw Crystal Method in a dust storm. The night ended in a psytrance dome, as the sun was coming up. Then we set our robots on fire.
Saturday the Brewery gave us yummy cheesy eggs for breakfast. I modeled at Art Model Camp, and then went to an Antarctica meetup, and then we packed everything up. Packing was harder than unpacking. We biked out to the Man (to the edge of the crowd). The best part of the burn was watching all of the fireworks go up at once; it felt like pyros were setting everything off just because they could. It was beautiful and indescribable. We biked to our car, which we parked at the end of the street on 7, and were some of the first people to leave the playa. No line, which is what we were going for. Our trek back included a stop at Jawbone Station, where we hung out with a 100yr old tortoise.
It was a good Burn, and I look forward to going out there again.