Gathering together again the first thing Burners heard on the Black Rock playa was the laughter of old friends reuniting after three years. It was a love fest for those of us who go for the art and music, but most of all for the friendships. My Burner buddies are my extended family and it was reunion time in a world we all helped to create, then we vanished it a week later leaving no trace as much as possible.
Burning Man reborn offered its usual array of mindless amusements. I could have learned to melt playa dust into black glass beads, perfected my knot-tying skills with an Eagle Scout, or gone and found the Happy Hookers camp where they teach crocheting, and don’t forget the lock picking workshop. At Burning Sky camp I could talk to sky divers, who don’t like their playa nickname of “Flying Meatballs.” There are enough art cars shaped like furniture I could have observed the Furniture Car Rally and Cruise.
Food, and the discovery of it at odd times and places, is always a challenge. One camp had a one-time offer of 1,000 slices of lobster pizza. Any alcoholic drink in any form was offered, along with a camp having a Potato Party. Eat mashed potatoes and drink potato vodka. One camp offered a beer swap, bring in your warm can or bottle of beer and they would offer you an ice cold one. I didn’t stop to see what food stuff Vomiting Sparrow camp was offering however.
How about a “Hills Are Alive” sing-along event to the “Sound of Music” movie tunes? ALL music got recognition, from drum circles to jazz, slasa, bluegrass, hip-hop, swing, Celtic, you-name-it. You could hear one of two symphony/pops orchestras, then watch a Battle of the Marching Bands. Music throbs in the background day and night, the heartbeat of the playa.
I watched an ax-throwing contest (carefully supervised), a fire croquet game with flaming mallets and wickets, and smelled the wafting aroma of a white sage smudging ceremony at dawn. I was passed by a one wheel ride parade…those new urban transportation one wheel thingies you balance on. There was a huge explosion of electric bikes for transportation on the playa.
Again, as a woman of advancing years I choose not to participate in things like a Genital Printmaking class, or lap dancing lessons, and an offer to taste honey off of various male and female body parts, but I did choose to do something totally out of character…after all it IS Burning Man.
A camp member introduced me to an older man, camera around his neck, and she says…”He’s honest, he only photographs women over 60, and he wants to photograph you nude.” WHAT? But really folks, he only gives the prints to his models, and his 80 year old girlfriend chaperones the photo shoot. Fifty five years ago I did some modeling, still have the photos, and thought “Wouldn’t it be fun to have before and after photos?” Plus, the guy liked my braided gray and white pigtails. In a quiet semi-private corner of camp in front of iridescent fabric I shed my clothing and smiled and he took photos. I look forward to him sending me the images, wrinkles and all. And NO, NO, NO, I won’t be sharing the photos.
The Burn ended with a monumental traffic jam as thousands of us chose to leave Black Rock City at the same time. It took over eight hours from my camp on the playa three miles to the pavement and the road to Reno. I also came home testing positive for covid, so my week with 70,000 was followed by a week of no one as I isolated myself. Recovering quickly I can’t wait for next year and a return to the playa.