The first stop on my tour across the US is Burning Man festival.
It is not a typical music festival, actually it is not about music at all. Some people call it an experiment; some like to think of it as a seven day party for sixty thousand people; others like to describe it as an art and alternative lifestyle event. It is even harder to write about it from a perspective of a first timer.
Instead of speculating what Burning Man is or isn’t let me just give you some facts about it.
The event takes place in late August, on Nevada desert, in a temporary town called Black Rock City. Some call it “The Playa” (as the event originated from beach in San Francisco). Every year, on Saturday which is 6th day of the event, a large wooden iconic statue is being burnt.
This seven day festival is commerce free; during the event nothing can be sold so everything is gifted or bartered. Burning Man is being said to be a non profit event, there are many people helping voluntaliry, although there are many other things that needs to be prepared and tickets are not so cheap. People dress themselves in ways that some of us cannot imagine or understand, but it is OK because everybody’s unique way of expression is welcome. One of the festivals rules is “leave no trace”, which means that every participant is obliged to take back everything what he or she brought.
On typical festival, every participator is just a participator, no more. Here participators are also actors. As a Black Rock City citizen you are allowed to bring your band and make a rock concert, throw a massive rave party, bring your art or just play and create with others. So Burning Man is not about spectating at all.
Being unable to buy anything during the event brings another rule, which is “self reliance”. It means that you need to bring all the supplies you will use, including the water (over 40 litres is recommended) and food or camping equipment.
I am almost sure you don’t get it, right? Kind of hippie/wacko festival with lots drugs involved you may think. When I first heard of it I was the same. But I read and learned little bit more and then in 2012 I watched a live video transmission. I remember waking up around 4 AM to take part in the culmination. During a sculpture burn I felt something and this is why I am going.
Today, one week before my flight to Las Vegas and little bit more before the event starts (26th of August) I am in a rush of preparations for the festival. I am also trying to get ready for my trip, the air here is full of excitement. In short, I am spending hours in second hands, drapers shops and on eBay. Contacting with various people in the US (specifically Las Vegas) to guarantee transport and other resources I will use for the festival. Even preparations for Burning Man are exciting, and at the moment I am positive that I will do everything on time.
Expectations are set really high. But I am not afraid to be disappointed because somehow I can tell it is going to be amazing.