Archive for June 26th, 2009


The Burning Man

June 26, 2009

Extreme Self reliance, Extreme Creative self expression – That summarizes the spirit of The Burning Man.

Burning man is sort of a cultural extravaganza held for a week every year at the Black Rock city at the Black Rock desert somewhere in the state of Nevada, United States. The Black Rock city is a temporary inhabitants created in the middle of a desert where a large gathering of people come, stay for a week, live on very minimum resources, indulge their creative senses and go away after a week. There is no trace of inhabitants either before the event or after the event.

Extreme Self-reliance:

It is a desert. A group of people are going to live there for a week without shops, cell phones, concrete shelters etc. The only thing you can find selling there is ice and tea. They don’t encourage any kind of commerce there. There is not even a barter system. You are expected to take enough food, water, gas stoves, portable showers, tents, mattresses, cycles, medicines and every thing else that is required to sustain you for a week. But portable public toilets are provided, though. Mind you, this  is not an excursion spot – It is a desert with extreme temperatures – very hot (Up to 107 degree F) in the mornings and freezing temperatures in the evenings and nights. Combine that with occasional wind storms and heavy rainfall. If you forget to take something vital, you can only rely on your neighbours – and they need to gift it to you – no payment or exchanges are allowed! Even if you need to send a message to a friend who is somewhere in the city, you could write in a piece of paper, give it at the central camp and hope that he would collect that paper from there – how about that for Short Messaging Service 🙂 ? The most advanced electronic gadget allowed there is a AM/FM radio (as that might catch some signals) – you cannot even take a camera! They encourage you to bring cycles so that you can move around (no cars allowed for moving around), interact with other people (This other people count for last year was 40,000+!!). So, you basically occupy a camp site, set up a camp, live there for a week and take everything back (including the waste) so that there would not be any trace of human occupancy of that area for the rest of the year! You can burn your camp materials at the end of the event, but still need to take back the ashes.

Extreme Creative self expression:

Why exert yourselves to live in such daunting conditions away from the comforts of a posh city or a comfortable village, you may ask. There is a reason – the organizers and participants believe that your creative senses are kindled and you become more open minded and participative in such situations where you closely connect with nature in its raw form.

Art is expected to flourish with theme camps all around the place. You are expected to participate in some form and that should include the community as well. You can host an art camp, where you can paint and display your paintings and let others stroke a brush or two. You can create sand sculptures and teach others to create their own! Some one even made a 30 foot high wind mill all out of wood! You can create music (Speakers are allowed, but restricted to certain decibel levels) and let others dance and enjoy it. You can give a lecture on chaos theory and invite others to speak on the topic. You can even create a small golf course and play with others. Basically, it is about creative expression and collaboration. There are plays staged in the centre camp, where people could write, and act. There is absolutely no limitation to what you can create – If you cant create art, become one by dressing up like a tribal, or decorate your car to make it look like a forest. Or you could walk around, cycle around and even sleep around – if you love sleep :-).

Yes, at the end of the week, they do burn a giant structure of a man and people form circles around it to celebrate and realize the fact that they were no longer what they were. It is more of a self discovery, discovering your loved ones and connecting closely to nature, that attract thousands of people every year to this place. You can find more information about The Burning Man and the experience people had in their official website.

Nice concept, isn’t it?

Destination Infinity

You could visit the People, places and culture section of this blog for reading similar articles.