Burning up

Black Rock City, NV

I now can’t move and have a death cough, accompanied by hot and cold fevers. My body aches all over. Despite being sick, I figure I’ll go to a camp where they wash hair and boost my mood. Too bad my bike has been stolen over night. There goes that idea. Back to the RV I go.

My fellow burners are coming and going from camp, plying themselves for the Playa and the night ahead. I roll out of my little bunk to find a random bunch of girls in our RV with a tattoo gun. Smiley is on the floor getting “balls deep in tha playa” tattoo’d on his thigh. Others got “deep playa” tattoo’d elsewhere on their bodies. It was interesting… I hope no one has contracted HEP C. Smiley really has found the love of his life… her name is Ketamine. Pretty sure he’d trade it all for her. It’s day 3 of his burning man bender. No idea how he’s doing it.

Tonight, the man burns, and I personally, cannot wait to see that ****er go up in flames. In comparison to previous years, this years “man”, is the smallest that’s ever been constructed for the burn. The man is scheduled to burn at 9pm, a day before the festival finishes. Like moths to a flame, art cars and mutant vehicles gather, people ride their bikes or travel via foot to surround the structure, watching and waiting for the flames to swallow the wooden man… Other structures are burnt throughout the course of the week.

It’s a strange concept to pour so much time and creative energy into building something, only to watch it be destroyed. There’s joy in seeing something grow and watch it take shape and also a faint beauty in seeing how it goes. These structures don’t fall in the same orderly way they take shape… Perhaps these structures birth and destruction share more similarities with that of the human than I cared to previously think of.

The art cars and mutant vehicles here are incredible, taking the shape of a magic flying carpet, a genie shoe, an illuminated skull, numerous boats on wheels, an island with neon palm trees, a Cheshire Cat, air balloon, shark, fish, rockets, monsters and the list goes on… A lengthy procession of fire twirling begins (hundreds of fire performers… Like Woodford Fold Festival on roids) leading into fireworks and finally, the main event. If you take away anything from watching the man and other structures burn, it’s an understanding of how people become pyromaniacs. There’s something really satisfying and mesmerising in watching something be consumed and swallowed by the glowing hot light.

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