The radiating heat of the desert sun feels amazing on your skin until it doesn’t. A weathered cotton hat became my holy grail against the playa elements, the perfect complement to a creative armor of layered clothing and accessories. And by the end of my first Burn experience, I felt as spirited as Joan Wilder in the jungle.
When it comes to preparing for your Black Rock experience, be aware that everyone will have an opinion on what may aid in your survival in the desert. From hydration tablets to motorcycle goggles, edibles to combat boots. The information can be almost as overwhelming as the experience itself. And having survived one of the hottest Burns on record, my first-timer opinion is one should go into it with an open mind.
Black Rock City (BRC), population 70,000, is like no other place you’ve ever been or will visit again. You may balk at that number but consider that in 2016 Brooklyn’s population was 34 times larger (2.5M), and Staten Island 4.5x larger (468K). Like any other city you may choose to visit, Black Rock comes to life through its community, one that consists of engineers, artists, musicians, firefighters, dancers, healers, doctors, nurses, mothers, fathers, and kids. And all their alter egos.
I say alter ego because the desert allows you to embrace every version of YOU, whether that’s a steampunk goddess or a pirate. Whether you choose to wear a royal blue speedo and combat boots, head to toe vegan leather and a unicorn horn or faux fur and a lieutenant’s hat. In the vibrant words of Missy Elliott, the playa is the place to ‘get your freak on.’
When I think about my experience at Burning Man, I imagine it to be an opportunity to act out parallel lives in the same universe, where the desert is a clock that resets itself with every individual breath. Sounds trippy, right? (This coming from the occasional whiskey drinker whose hardest substance intake has been absinthe.)
This idea of a clock isn’t as far-fetched as you might think, especially when you consider Black Rock City reset its grid system in 1999 (metaphors are everywhere on the playa) to represent the Wheel of Time. The irony, of course, is that any sense of time, or place, evaporates the first day you step onto the playa, allowing for the real adventure to begin.
This post is one of a seven-part series reflection on my personal experience at Burning Man: Radical Ritual. Part one, Stoking the Fire was published on Thrive Global.