Black Rock City, where you co-create utopia, you can find enlightenment and party your ass off, at the same time. I thought I was all festivalled out after the Oregon Eclipse week long feast for the senses. Until all of a sudden, a ticket to Burning Man fell out of the sky (my friend Michael's pocket). How could I resist? I am here! A once in a lifetime opportunity!
Not knowing what to expect, I soaked up all the tips and tricks friends could give. Bring lots and lots of water! Dust mask! Goggles! Wash your feet with vinegar! Go to the playa and laugh! Go to the temple and cry! I took notes and brought 70 liters of water (ten per day, how much does one drink in a desert? A lot? A lot!), 60 granola bars and peanut butter, nutella, jam. To mix it up, you know.
I arrived as a virgin burner, so I had to make snow angels in the dust and ring the bell as my baptism. The Center Camp Post Office adopted me as a post lady and I was all smiles and excitement. I opened my car and by the time I set up my tent, the dust was everywhere. Every little corner, wrinkle, nook and cranny. Dustful. Welcome to the desert! I thought I was well prepared, but realised very soon I had forgotten quite a few things. Like: a bicycle. As the only pedestrian, I got gifted an umbrella, a fan and lights at night. All the things to keep a walking person cool and safe in the desert heat.
Curious as a first-time burner can be, I explored as much as I could. Which was probably about one thirty-sixth of what was actually happening. It's a big city out there, with a colourful variety of people and activities. From chakra realignments to orgy dome fun times, jazz cafes to the ultimate playa date named molly and chill. Anything and everything. Wedding chapels aplenty! They screamed my name! So I asked my dear friend Jannika to be my lovely wife and hooray, she said yes! We celebrated in our wedding dresses, with bloody marys and cosmopolitans and all the cocktails in the world.
There is no money in Black Rock City, unless you want to buy coffee or ice.The economy is one of gifting. No exchange expected, just gifting for the love of gifting. Which is beautiful. People get crafty and give out hand made jewelry, some give food and everyone gives alcoholic beverages. You walk around with an empty cup and fellow burners make sure it will never be empty again. Ever! From fancy twelve ingredient cocktails to the good old pickleback (whiskey and pickle juice), the playa provides!
This is a popular saying that people love to yell out when they find exactly what they have been looking for: THE PLAYA PROVIDES! Whether it's a fifty person shower party in the heat of the day, late night miso or playa dates with a sexy Brazilian man. Just ask the playa and you shall receive! Because there are so many things all happening at the same time, it is very comforting to know that you are always exactly where you need to be. I can imagine your Burning Man experience can be very different every year. That's why some people have been going for twenty years in a row! This one was a playful Burn for me, I was in tears of laughter most of my time there. Seriously, my face still hurts from laughing 24 hours a day. Everything and everyone was just so freaking hilarious!
Some of my favourite camps were Scarbutts Coffee, where you get your free morning coffee, but you have to get a spanking first! Many bruised butts by the end of the week! Then, Camp Betty. A tiny diner where three Betties (one beardier than the other) talk in southern accents offering you coffee, cherry or berry pie and and life advice. The best! And last but not least: Dr Bronners Transfoamation Camp: shower party in the middle of the desert! Foam! Water guns! Dancing in the nude! All my favourite things coming together. Art cars drive you around the place, as long as you keep dancing and are okay with getting dropped off in the middle of nowhere. But then you just find an awesome party on your way back! That's what it's all about: forget the plans you made and just get distracted by every camp you walk past. You want to make it on time for a hip hop yoga class but before you know it, you're butterfly kissing someone's nipple for a snow cone while waiting in line for a steam bath. Such is life!
Or you find yourself manning the kissing booth and someone orders a grandmotherly kiss with a side of bite. Things get weird around here! But then again, everything is so absurd that it is all normal. You simply can't stand out at Burning Man, because everyone stands out. You can wear nothing but a golden sock, or a crazy billion dollar costume, a classy suit or a garbage bag and still, you blend in with the crowd.
Like a real city, there is a main square and the darker alleyways. On the first night I was walking home through a dark street, when I bumped into a camp named Cirque Gitane. I entered the circus tent and arrived in my wildest dreams. A Great Gatsby style party, everyone dressed up, champagne flowing, burlesque dancers crawling around the room. I had to pinch myself: is this real? I came back the next night and again and again. Even though there is so much to discover, I found my ultimate dream camp. After our wedding, Jannika and I waltzed to the circus tent. I noticed the dining room was open so we went to have a look. A table as long as the eye can see, filled with candles, wine, salmon, caviar, an entire octopus, pig heads with diamonds and tiaras as decorations. The owner saw our faces and smiled: enjoy! Victoria's Secret models were dancing on the table, feeding us grapes while we poured champagne and climbed the mountains of caviar. Total extravaganza! Burning Man! Anything and everything is possible!
What a wacky, weird, wonderful place! Home sweet home :)