This year I experienced Burning Man for the first time. Words and photos couldn’t even begin to explain this adventure, but for a blog post’s sake I will try.
Burning Man is NOT a festival. Burning man is a community, a temporary city that only exists once a year. A cultural movement based on 10 practical principles.
Sure, you might run into what looks like a festival while inside the community of Burning Man, but they don’t actually book acts or performances. What happens in Burning Man is up to the attendees. You can be whoever you want, dress however you want, you are an active citizen of Burning Man during this week. A community that values you for WHO YOU ARE, not what you have. Money doesn’t exist, neither do egos or judgement. Everyone is expected to be involved and volunteer, collaborate, and be creative. One of my favorite fundamental values is cleaning up after yourself, leaving with what you brought in and taking all your trash. No one is hired to clean up afterwards. It was so amazing to me that 70,000 humans live here for a week and when they leave, there is NO TRACE. In Burning Man, they believe in leaving a place in better condition than the one you found it in. Beautiful.
I spent 4 days in Burning Man and probably only saw 15% of it. There are so many things happening all at once. Of course, there are fascinating parties all around, but there is also SO MUCH MORE. Aside from the parties, Burning Man is about Love, Relationships, and Reflection. There is a temple in the middle of the playa, one of the only places to experience true tranquility and calmness. The temple is a symbol of love and remembrance. I noticed it was also filled with so much sadness, but a truly beautiful kind of sadness. So many people come here to honor loved ones they have lost, and leave a little piece of that person, or pet, to show their devotion. The first time I passed by I was intimidated to go in. Within my first step towards the entrance chills ran through my body and I saw a photo of a man taped on one of the walls, I knew someone lost that person. I immediate got teared up and turned away. On my last day at Burning Man I had the strength to walk inside and fill myself with the energy. It was the most beautiful yet overwhelmingly sad places I had walked into. Everyone was mourning something, but they were mourning together. You realize that you are not the only person going through difficult times, everyone shares their sadness and offers their love to everyone around them. Hugging, holding hands in a circle and meditating, and crying on strangers shoulders… it was an incredible sight.
Moving on from the emotional aspect… you can find workshops, meditation groups, virtual reality domes, bike obstacle courses (I know because drunk Cindy went on it thinking she’s a pro and is still suffering from a sprained ankle), Sunrise parties, human car washes, ART ART ART ART ART ART and more astonishing ART, insane art cars that roam around with dozens of people on them, and so much Love!
Visually, I thought day time at Burning Man looked like a Mad Max dessert type of vibe. Suddenly, at night, I felt like it turned into a video game. Darkness takes over with the exception of neon lights that fill up the space in the sky and art cars lit up to look like actual dragons, sharks, pac-man, etc, moving around seamlessly in the darkness.
I think everyone should experience Burning Man at least once in their lifetime. If you’re still not convinced, check out my photos below: