A Great Burn

Writing this almost a week after I returned from the playa… I went to Burning Man, survived and enjoyed it immensely.

It was a very cool experience, both from an environmental aspect (the playa dust is incredible, gets into everything, sticks like glue, is alkaline and will kill metal, and becomes 100% part of your life while there) and the artistic and fun aspect.  I ran the Black Rock Kwoon while I was there as part of the Black Rock Cultural Centre, and we delivered freshly baked goods (from the Black Rock Bakery) to some 40 odd camps, running across the playa in our orange robes and big flags off our backs, jumping off things, over obstacles, pausing to pose and hang off art projects, and delighting people with our delicious cargo (so awesome to see the joy brought to people from our goods).  Close to 60 people stopped by for martial training during the week, with the Qi Gong classes proving to be particularly popular.  I led a meditation and qi gong class on Sunday that was stunningly awesome for all involved, myself included.

I had designed, manufactured and brought along a little shelter (in the image of the classic triangular tent) made of 1” thick rigid insulation with a foil radiant barrier, complete with furnace filters for windows.  It performed splendidly, keeping me nice and cool into the morning, mostly dust free for the whole week inside and garnered interest and nice comments from other playa denizens to boot.  Woo!

Never did quite get the daily hydration thing down quite right (usually took me into the late evening to get it back in balance) even though I felt like I was chugging water.  Campmates were cool people.  Rode up and back with Patrick, and old Kung Fu friend and it was great to spend time with him (and he ran a very nice little sedate sake bar).  Visited a tonne of the art projects, and missed some other ones.  Saw the blowing up of the Metropolis exhibit.  Grooved to Crystal Method as they spun a set at one of the larger dance camps.  Amazed at the Thunderdome.  Amazed at the Vegas-effect of the esplanade at night.  Met a whack of people, interacted and conversed on many topics.  Experienced the temple and it’s naturalistic forms, lit up in red from within at night, the stars shining overhead.  Took joy in people writing down the instructions to Eight Section Brocade Qi Gong so they could continue to practice it away from the playa.  Laughed when people shouted “Ninja!” to us as we ran by (not only the cultural amusement of Japan vs China and monk, but also that brightly coloured guys with flags would elicit ideas of shadow assassins…), also laughed when people shouted “Speed limit is 5 mph!” as we ran by.  Wandered streets aimlessly to see what I could find.  Wrote messages on the temple to create a future of excellence for us all, and introduced a few people to ontological inquiry.  Rode the bike across the playa.  Gazed at the stars.  Saw the man burn and the party atmosphere that was;  went to the temple burn and fell in love at the very different vibe there, marveling at 10000 people all silent in reverence.  Brought no camera, just remained present for the whole event.  Loved some art projects, wished there were more of others and less generic.dance.camps.  Hung out on the OINK sign in the middle of the night.  Amazed at how well a simple shemagh protected from the craziest dust storms.  Wore no sunscreen yet didn’t get burned by staying properly bundled up.  Did shaolin number 6 in the middle of the desert.  Dodged the art cars, rode on the art cars, thought ‘very cool’ of some art cars.  Stood in the inquiry of “what is self expression?”  Explored and examined and discovered.  And just rode the roller coaster with no set way or concern and made this Burning Man experience mine, and enjoyed every moment of it.

While I took no photos  myself, Google Earth does have a (rather poor at the moment, alas – I know a better one was taken) satellite image of the 2010 festival already available.  To get to it go here and follow the directions;  the kwoon is at 7:30 and Esplanade, look for the green roof square on the north side of the portal (7:30 is the street running basically east/west, if you look by the innermost ring on the north side of the street you’ll see a dome that looks a bit like a soccer ball, the kwoon is very close to that towards the east).

In short – yes, after all that stream of consciousness up there (which almost sums up the experience, though anyone can tell you about it but very hard to get a sense of it unless you’ve actually experienced it yourself) – I had a blast, was very fulfilling for me, and inclined to do it all again.

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