The 1st Contact Camp at Burning Man, September 2005.
“Water truck!” The call rang out across the camp. “Water truck!”
Like the Minutemen of the Revolutionary war, half a dozen able bodied men and women sprinted toward the dusty road. Dodging tent lines and bystanders, they peeled off their clothes (most thoroughly unlike the Minutemen), tossed their shoes aside and charged headlong towards the lumbering vehicle.
Other bodies from other camps darted into the street and joined in pursuit. Twisting and turning, screaming with delight and cool relief in the water spraying from the back of the truck, the soaking moment held suspended and then ended as abruptly as it began. Several naked and drenched Contacters wiped the water from their eyes and headed back to camp, giggling and glistening in the blazing sun – huge smiles on their faces and clumps of thick mud on their feet.
This was my last of seven days at Burning Man, and was a scene repeated non-stop and shared by the 30,000 or so people who came from all walks of life to live a week in the desert.
Burning Man Is…impossible to fully describe. It is the greatest annual party on the planet. It is possibly the most remarkable outpouring of collective and individual creativity the world has ever seen. It is chaotic and invisibly well-organized. It is orchestrated anarchy and devoutly uncommercialized. It is free once you enter (the ticket is $200) and no money is exchanged or allowed, except to buy coffee and ice.
It is community at its best. It is opportunity. Imagination. Exploration. Expression. Freedom. Voyeurism and exhibitionism. Bacchanalian debauchery. It is Mardi Gras mixed with Cirque de Soleil, Vegas and a Rainbow Gathering. It is erotic, comical, ironic, contemplative, overwhelming, artistic and authentic. It is whatever you choose it to be.
For the rest of the story and killer photographs, read Scott Rodwin’s first Burning Man Experience. [link dead]
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