“who are all these dirty, dirty children? and why aren’t they wearing any lights?”
what a week that was. i had what my friend loriana called ‘a reparative experience’.
the last burn was so incredibly difficult (the very first night, i get stopped by 6 BLM cops in pressed khaki outfits and questioned directly before my camp-mate has a lil’ nervous breakdown and had to be transported back to reno) that i had forgotten how great burning man could be. i forgot that you could ameliorate the situation: you’re in the middle of a dustbomb with no running water with a bunch of drunk (etc) yahoos.
lesson learned: pick your camp mates very, very carefully. they make or break your experience there.
my fabulous camp mates were: sara, with whom i’d been to BRC twice before, loriana, who had always wanted to camp with us and who had been to the burn 5 times previous to this year, and michael, who had been once before (but with a fellow who never left camp and who did coke the whole time. snore). sara, michael, and loriana were enthusiastic, sweet, patient, giving, and FUN. we had so, so much fun. when loriana and i arrived at camp (they came two days before we did) they had set up a cool shade structure and were there to greet up with blinking lights, lit up paper lanterns, frosty beverages, and sliced watermelon.
an experience like this puts people in two categories: fabulous campers and not-so-fabulous campers. michael and sara and loriana are fabulous campers.
day one: arrive in camp. night. greeted with beverages and two screaming queens in drag. watermelon. set up a quick tent and have some toffee. strap on camelbak, get some goggles, affix lights to clothing (there is no moon out this year), and walk out towards the dance camp at 2 o’clock. the city at night is overwhelming: you’re dodging bikes who are dodging art cars and people dressed like giant lobsters and kitties and gladiators.
behold duane flatmo’s INCREDIBLE dragon art car that was human powered, made of recycled bits of tin, and spit fire out of its very well articulated head. a stunner. another highlight: Kate’s Raudenbush’s “Altered States.”
day two: perfect weather. no dust storms. we set up the carport (a 10′ x 20′ shade strcuture that served us very very well) and an additional pop-up for our tents as well as the couch and wardrobe that sara and mike had made for the camp. man, we were *set*. sara was feeling kind of poorly, so L and M and i set out on our own. we danced a bit: found the gay club (weird, repetitive techno, not necessarily all that interesting. maybe more interesting on drugs). continued down the esplanade to find the HUGE dance club at 10 pm where the music was loud, fast, and fun. in the middle of this huge geo-dome rose up a ring of scaffolding from which circus performers were dangling and performing rope tricks. neeto. first drag queen sighting (they’re like the yeti out there): pretty. wearing a stunning evening gown constructed with layers and layers of fabric and a blow torch.
we get on an art car, and the three of us take a tour of the playa: there’s this year’s flaming lotus girls offering, there’s a fire dancers camp, there’s a first-timer from new mexico who expected to find hedonism only but was surprised to feel tears running down his face. we all sing along to bohemian rhapsody.
day three: perfect weather again. michael and i ride out to the man in the morning and meet up with some fellows who, as michael put it, “haven’t had a wink of sleep.” hm. they *are* looking a bit haggard behind those dark sunglasses. i like to sleep out there, myself. i don’t get a lot of sleep, but i do sleep. an inflatable mattress helps.
the rest of the day was spent tooling around the camp: cleaning up, laying low, trying to stay cool. it’s over 100 degrees. the thermometer was sitting next to the truck and read 120 degrees in the sun. that can’t be right, can it? phhoo, honey, whatever the number is, it’s fricking hot. we have some snacky lunch and plan the evening.
getting outfits together can take a long time. loriana estimated that we spent around three hours getting ready one night. now, this may be an exaggeration, but just a bit. it’s a pain out there: everything is in ten different places, and you have to remember where everything lives in camp in order to dress effectively, and you have to carry thirty things with you since getting back to camp is no easy feat once you’re far out. water, wipes, goggles, something to cover your face in case of dust storm, shade hat (for the day), warm clothes (for the night), gifts, something to light yourself with so you don’t get hit by a drunk frat boy on a bike: all these things need to be thought out and coordinated with an outfit. michael solved this problem by carrying a clean plastic purse with light-up objects in it. see why it took us so long to dress?
sara made an amazing outfit with the spoke lights from her bicycle: she sewed the lights into her dress and her lower half looked like a jellyfish. behold:
the lights are bright & moving, so we really need to take video of this outfit. cool.
we walk out, and get cold. we walked towards the temple and looked at babylon but decided it wasn’t worth the climb. it’s a giant box. so what? i don’t need skyscrapers there, i have them at home. saw the plane/disco/art car. huge! reminds me of the whale.
we sit for a while on this ziggurat that was populated by silent staring folks. i was crispy, and decided to call it a night. good night.
day four: still crispy. the heat really takes it out of me. here is me in the middle of the day in the middle of the ‘closet’ area of the carport. i’ve got a wet bandanna on my face and i’m drinking gallons of water. notice the feet though! cleen! no dust! loriana had given me a foot rub. ahhhh.
the reason my feet hurt was that the playa this year was *impossible* to ride a bike on. much of it has turned to dunes of soft dust whereas previously there were huge areas of completely dry flat playa with bits of soft. now it’s mostly soft. we need rain and we need freeze for the hard playa to return. trying to ride your bike through through soft playa dust is like trying to ride through peanut butter. so we walked instead of rode. and walked. and walked. and walked.
friday afternoon was our day on the ladder (see above). we had our magic moment on the playa. danced to “hey ya” and gave out towlettes and had the most glorious sunset. magic, magic, magic. it’s so beautiful out there.
michael and i went out on friday night, and had a HOOT and a HOLLER. i was well rested (see above), and so was up for a night of revelry. and caffeine. i had lots of caffeine out there. it’s my drug of choice. i dressed as a bunny and ran along the esplanade trying not to get hit (get it? kamikaze bunny? we almost hit one on our way in to camp at night). i handed out carrots. i danced my tail off. i connected with other bunnies.
we L’d OAO at the Zsu Zsu installation starring Zsu Zsu, the French Diva stuck in the desert with her pet ferret Feelth (played, with brilliance, by a sock puppet).
upsetting: all the small children at burning man. now, i can see taking your six-to-ten year old out there. they might enjoy (and even remember the experience later in life). but an *infant* in a *diaper*? this, to me, is the height of selfishness on the part of the parents. leave your fucking baby at home.
talked to a lot of people. you meet gorgeous, wonderful, creative, interesting folks out there. you meet some complete fuckwits as well (especially friday and saturday), but mostly the interactions out there are beautiful.
also: you can love people and make fun of them at the same time. this is ok. but you have to make sure to love them too.
saturday: our original plan was to pack everything up, get some drag together, go to the burn, and then leave first thing sunday morning. but as we were packing up, the camp decided that we had had a wonderful time and that it was time to go home. so we did. this was my fourth burn, so i didn’t feel like i missed anything. i do admit to missing the feel the burn gives you, but i sure as heck was glad to not deal with the 6 hour whiteout storm on saturday.
saturday morning, loriana and i “rode” (pushed) our bikes to the temple. there we placed, in honor of our 40th birthdays, a list: 20 things to release, 20 things to embrace. i sat and cried a little and worked on my list. the temple is an emotionally charged space: everyone goes there to leave tributes to family members and friends who have died. i have friends who won’t go to the temple. it’s hard to take. i look up, and sitting in front of me who is a beautiful woman who looks deep into my eyes, touches my arm and says “i bow to the divine in you. your scarf is beautiful.”
i think we did this thing perfectly.
more pictures to follow.