Photos by Trey Ratcliff.
Since it was my second time on the playa this last week, I actually managed to make sense of all the wild characters, the inspiring moments, the magical wonder of Burning Man. The event means different things to different people, and to me it’s kind of a re-interpretation of the so-called American Dream. No, not the kind of “Hurray USA” attitude that you find at sports games, but rather that the good old American ingenuity that stems from the nation’s founding. America’s history is full of genius inventors, rugged individualism, and creative spirit, and this lives on and thrives in Black Rock City, Nevada.
Instead of a white picket fence, a fancy car, and a hefty 401k, many people from around the world find fulfillment in their lives after making an annual journey to a incredible place nestled in an inhospitable environment. Rather than being fabulously wealthy in what’s referred to as the default world, many burners consider themselves spiritually rich by the relationships they’ve formed, the art projects they’ve built, and the way they all contribute to other people’s positive experiences in the desert. Even some popular Hollywood celebrities like Stacy Keibler and P Diddy attended this year and shared their feelings on Instagram (click on names to view).
There’s really no one feature of Burning Man that dominates all the rest. While it does feature stages like a music festival, it’s more of an enormous outdoor art museum that includes a wide assortment of fun and challenging activities guaranteed to make everyone’s experience different. The main event–the burn of the man that takes place on Saturday–impacts people in various ways; we all draw something special from it. So whether you’re experiencing a beautiful sunrise at Robot Heart or stripping down nude and dancing at the UFOM human car wash, you can be assured that your time here will be truly unique. Personally, in regards to music, I thoroughly enjoyed DJ sets by an-ten-nae, Lee Burridge, and Indecent Noise, whose full set you can download here.
With well over 60,000 attendees this year, Burning Man has grown immensely from its humble beginnings. Many have to make sacrifices just to make it out there, but rest assured it is totally worth it. If you’re interested in attending next year, it would be wise to start saving money and begin your preparation by creating a profile on the Burning Man website. If you’re outside of the country, it’s no longer just in the United States; the remarkable event has also expanded internationally with burns around the world centered around its esteemed ten principles.
For a dive into Burning Man’s history and a behind the scenes chat with the founders, watch the new documentary Spark: A Burning Man Story, out now in select theaters as well as iTunes, Amazon, and Google Play. It’s powerfully moving and exceptionally well produced.