I didn’t intend for my first burn to be like this. No one does. You don’t do the burn. The burn does you. I intended for my Burning Man moments to include making magic with my camera, walking around naked, meditating in the morning, etc. Instead, a lot of other things happened. I forgot some of them until my brain began putting the puzzle pieces of a fragmented week of unimaginable proportions back together. And it’s not like putting together a new puzzle and seeing a clear picture. It’s like buying a puzzle at a garage sale, putting it in your pocket and running it through the washer, then putting together what you can and trying to make sense of what you see. This will make way more sense if you’ve been to Burning Man. If this doesn’t make sense, you should go to Burning Man. And so…
10 of my most epic Burning Man moments are:
- Arriving at the gate and making a ‘playa angel’ in the dust – a rite of passage for virgin burners. I had to do it big so I ran around the bell three times and banged it with a running start. I’ll let the photo speak for itself.
- Trying to be of value to my camp by volunteering to swing the sledgehammer, pounding the three-foot steel stakes of the circus tent into the hard, dry playa floor. I may have been getting aggression out because my job in the real world involves swinging a sledgehammer hundreds of times per day. Maybe in some sad way, I was trying to justify what I do for a living. “See, look, I can use this skill for more than a paycheck!” I had to laugh my ass off when one of our group said: “Someone’s gettin’ laid tonight!” Didn’t get laid. Haven’t for months.
- Attending a sunset wedding in front of twelve-foot metal letters spelling out “MAGIC”. And then it happened. I cried my fucking eyes out in front of everyone. I couldn’t help it. Very random. I’m somewhat sensitive when it comes to certain things, like suffering people/animals and overcoming adversity stories. At every wedding I can remember, I’ve never felt anything but the need to party like a Viking at the reception as soon as the magical but slow part is over. But this. This was one of the most amazing ceremonies I have ever witnessed (and I’m a wedding officiant). I could feel the love into my core. Why I couldn’t control myself I’ll never know, but it happened for some reason.
- Logan, a dude from our group had a rad throwback De la Soul t-shirt on. Our group was enjoying an evening at camp and being hilarious. I commented on how much I admired the shirt. Without hesitation, he stood from the blow-up couch with authority, took the shirt off his back and offered it to me. I stood with equal enthusiasm, ripped off the mediocre shirt I was wearing and switched it with De la Soul. “That just fucking happened!” I exclaimed. It would never give it up, never desert it. See the video here!
- Waking up wearing De la Soul t-shirt after sleeping a few hours (after about 36 hours of partying). Admired the shirt again. I crawled out of my tent sweating the next morning to find DJ Vito Fun doling out shots of Fireball right out of the bag-with-a-valve. Immediately after, Vito, Logan and I (with my new De la Soul shirt on) wandered to Bubbles and Bass (a ‘dance club’ on the esplanade) where Vito was DJing a bad ass set. Behind the stage, we drank bottle after bottle of champagne that an attractive and futuristic looking Asian girl kept handing us. We danced our asses off while Vito worked his magic and the crowd. Lost memory after that.
- Waking half naked (without De la Soul t-shirt + new orange bandana around my neck) at an Arabic coffee shop with no idea how I got there or what day it was. Had Arabic coffee instantly. The peaceful Middle Eastern coffee guy said many wise things while serving me high-powered espresso, none of which I remember. I walked away dumbfounded and unsure where to go (didn’t yet realize I’d somehow lost De la Soul t-shirt).
- Laughing so hard I couldn’t even tell the two dudes cracking me up to stop talking for a minute so I could breathe. There was actually a moment I feared suffocation, but death by laughter at Burning Man would have been okay.
- Telling the members of our group to burn me and spread my ashes at Burning Man if I die. I’m pretty sure they agreed.
- On the last day, I finally looked at the list of ‘camps to visit’ that I’d made prior to leaving my residence in Wisconsin. I ended up drawn to the camp that had supplies to make a temple offering (a message that would go into the temple before they burned it down.) Then, with a paintbrush, sharpies, and crayon, I artistically wrote on paper the shitty things I wanted to be exorcised from my soul. Five minutes later they took to the temple hundreds of offerings – tons the psychological weight burners had expelled under that tent all week. I’d barely made it in time, but it happened that way for whatever reason or no reason at all. That’s the beauty of it.
- Dancing and talking with a Saudi Arabian girl (that had actually come from cut-your-hands-off Saudi Arabia) and a glowing-ball-juggling Australian dude at Distrikt at sunset. All the sudden a mean looking sandstorm was blowing in from the deep playa. With the sandstorm came thousands of dragonflies. No bullshit. It was like something out of an apocalypse movie. Blowing sand and dragonflies dancing to the beat. The crowd went wild. It was as if an invisible being in the sky that may or may not exist knew what was coming and sent a blessing (or curse) of some twisted kind from the aether.
After that, I got out of my lederhosen and found myself alone next to a Pac-Man ghost watching the Vitruvian man burn and wondering how it all happened.
Because it did.
And it was good.
There were plenty more than 10 epic Burning Man moments I probably don’t remember and plenty I do. But these were definitive Burning Man moments I’ll never forget and am willing to share.
Do you have any epic Burning Man moments? I’d love to hear them. Leave a comment or shoot me a message.