Monday, September 6, 2010

Not all those wandering in the desert are lost...

If you think driving out to a windy, dusty desert for large scale art expression may seem extreme, your mind can only imagine so much... then there's 50,000 people and their imaginations all combined...

Black Rock City is a dusty desert that is so harsh, ordinary desert life ceases to thrive. There are no animals, cactus, or insects out here. As the heat increases, the vitality is sucked out of you, bringing you to a level of waning consciousness. (You don't even need to take the drugs you brought.)

I awaken early, covered in dust that blew into my screen-top tent. My skin is coated in ashy sandy grey suit, and on the verge of cracking from the alkalinity in the ground dirt. The water truck drives by and sprays the roads with ice cold lake water, people announce it as it scoots by, and i chase after with several others, hoping to get my morning shower. In a place like this, social city norms cannot be held the same.

As you bike to the headquarter port-a-potties for your morning bike ride to take your whiz, you spot the some random sights. A man and woman couple naked, drying from an early morning water bottle shower. Theme camps line the streets all with different art installations and shows to catch. The theme camp with a bar on your right is serving bloody marys from 9-10 but you'll need a vessel to hold the savory beverage, if you plan to get in line. At this altitude and sun exposure, anything on ice, even in the morning, tastes like heaven. The neighbors have offered you glow sticks and ear plugs to survive the crazy "electric" nights on the playa, as well as an invitation to dinner the following night. In return for hospitality, the older australian/ NY hippy couple, become your burning man parents. You carry odd little baubles, gifts, and necessities that you give away to the kindred spirits you meet, and might trade for other things you will need. A fresh apple for a glow ring, a watercolor painting of black rock city for body paint, an inner peace card for a handmade bracelet, dancing to Hare Krishna's song at Nectar Village all afternoon to be rewarded with intense euphoria and the honor of dancing better that the Krishnas themselves. Acupunture, massage, and Reiki healers are mending minds and bodies around you at nectar village, and down the street, someone is giving away a homemade concoction such as beer, kombucha, or frozen yogurt. You have let go of all feelings of being selfish, pampered, and non-communicative like you are in a regular city. Conversations become lengthened and you begin to feel close and connected with the everyone at the event, as time is not valued as highly.

We expected to be at burning man for 3 days, well... once we were there, we couldn't just... leave! There was so much going on we HAD to stay! The problem was- we ran out of food for dinner. So for the next few days, we bummed food. Fortunately enough, our neighbors had more than enough to share, which we were so thankful for. But for the rest of the days, we were invited to weddings, parties, and ate like royalty. One night, we didnt know how we were going to eat so we looked in the burning man events booklet. Polyparadise camp was having a potluck, so we packed our chips and salsa and headed over. When we got there, it was a quite unusual crowd. imagine: 100 or so (some naked, some in bondage, costumes, and underwear) men and women in their 40-50's lounging around talking... we were weirded out but hey, this was burning man, you cant expect things to be a certain way, its just a crazy place. So we stood in line, to gather our meal of salmon fillet, pasta, salad, and chips. While we waited an older man approached us to talk to us about younger couples that need counseling for threesomes and group sex. George and I looked at eachother strangely and politely just let the man talk about his beliefs, but couldn't help but wonder, why was he telling us this? then we looked at the camp banner: PolyParadise. Ohhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh! We had managed to find ourselves at an older orgy oriented camp. We scarfed our meals so fast and bolted outta there we had hardly any time to say goodbye -SEE YA! that was one of our favorite stories. we laughed so hard the whole way back, how had we gotten into that? HAHH

The next day we heard there was an all white wedding at the temple, so we showed up dressed head to toe in white flowy linen to witness this beautiful event. No bride. No groom. no signs. Others were wandering around looking for them too, but it seemed like we had some miscommunication. 10 minutes later, we see a group of 8 men wearing costumes outside of the temple getting ready for an event. "Are you here for the wedding?" they asked. "yes, yes we are, is this it?" We had found a wedding, but it wasnt "Mike and Tinas"* wedding... it was a gay israeli couple's wedding. George and I introduced ourselves but the guys couldn't help but call us Jesus and Mary, then they asked us to be IN the wedding. what an honor, of course I would be in it! They had the most beautiful vows I've ever heard a couple say to eachother. So gentle, delicate, loving, and beautiful. It was the best wedding I have ever seen, and gay couples should never be denied the right of marriage, they sure loved eachother. Even though it wasn't legal, it felt like they had vowed to be together forever, and paper wouldn't make the difference. I bet they are still happy. After they were married and we drank Dom P champagne, the wedding we were supposed to see had shown up. Not nearly as cool as this one. Not even. But love was in the air and I could feel it.

Embark upon a woman celebration of breasts as you take those tops off and ride topless with thousands of other women. I experienced this phenomenon and I gained full appreciation for all shapes, sizes, and body types. Their works of art are extraordinary additions to the event, and there is was an awareness for respect and appropriateness. If you've ever wondered what its like to ride topless on your bicycle, it's the best feeling in the whole world. no... really.

The last day I had worked at Boutique- a clothing collective that buys high quality vintage thrift clothes all year to give away to burners during burning man. 6 item minimum! (and dont forget your free tiara to go with the free pink princess gown we dressed you in!) I dressed an asian man in a ninja outfit, a beautiful volumptous woman in a one piece cowgirl suit, found people groovy jackets, and more!

People feel obliged to meet you warmly, and your cover is never judged in a place like this. At an event like Burning Man, you realize you were definately not the weirdest kid in the classroom.
It was event for giving, sharing, and expression. Love was everywhere, and its one of the only places on earth you could feel comfortable in your own true skin. Burning man was the most spiritual event I have ever taken part in, and if you are mature enough to handle the self expression, blunt sexuality, and extreme weather conditions, it is the most exhilarating journey you will ever experience.

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