Burning Man

Burning Man is sort of like summer camp for adults. 80,000 people get together on a dry lake bed in the middle of the Nevada desert, build a 10-story wooden man, pack him full of fireworks and explosives, and light him on fire - and the people who are crazy enough to do that are crazy enough to do a lot of other wild things.

Our camp is so large that it essentially forms a city that we call Black Rock City - named after the big "Black Rock" mountain nearby. During the event, it is the 7th largest city in Nevada, right behind Carson City. Nothing is provided for participants, so we have to carry everything we need, including a week's worth of water. Because it is an environmentally sensitive area, we also have to carry everything out. If you forget something, the nearest Wal-Mart is 4 hours away. It also costs $20 to get a re-entry hand-stamp. Radical Self-Reliance is one of the tenants of the Burning Man event.

To top it all off, there's no vending and no commerce in Black Rock City, so don't plan on buying your forgotten supplies. The distaste for commercialism runs so deeply in Burning Man culture that there is no advertising - even wearing logos is discouraged. People paint over or otherwise cover large logos on trucks, campers, etc. That said, if you really forget something important, chances are that someone has some extra supplies because everyone else over-prepared. "The playa provides," is the saying. There's even a "store" called Trader Bob's Forgotten Supplies where you can pick up items for free.

The logistical challenges to living in the desert act as a filter and discourage people with poor attitudes from attending. The net result is a lot of very happy, easy-going people who like challenges.

Burning Man is a "no-spectators" event - everyone is expected to be a participant in the madness. Some people participate in larger ways than others, of course, but there's a lot to see when there are 80,000 "cast members." Participation can range anywhere from being an event organizer or artist to just wandering around helping anyone who needs it ("hey, can you hold this?").

Burning Man is like a big circus - on the moon.