Last year I kept getting asked "what IS burning man?" This year it was more "what do you DO at burning man?" I don't have great answers for either, but as I tried to answer the first question last year, let me now tackle the second with a sampling of things I did:
- drink tea and do a henna design at a Persian-themed camp
- happy hour with couchsurfers
- soft serve ice cream, in the desert, for serious
- walk around a dome and mingle, everyone blindfolded, nobody talking
- draw fake money, use it to buy coffee. (priorities.)
- listen to downtempo techno at a replica Black Lodge
- play with tons of legos
- talk and drink with folks who live on the road full-time
- get hypnotized. it sounds like meditating. and try to learn who I was in a past life.
- mad hatter traveling tea party
- learn techniques to lucid dream, from someone who does it regularly
- flex my huge muscles in a strong man competition against two, shall I say, really buff dudes
- learn how to make fermented foods (dosas, tempeh, sauerkraut)
- look at very big art very far out in the desert
The next question is, "how was it?" This is also difficult to answer. It's like answering "how was India?" ... Burning Man is very much. I'll dodge this question too, and just answer with a smattering of great things at Burning Man:
- lucid dreaming and hypnosis are the coolest things
- our campmates from San Francisco were super great, better prepared than we were, and a lot of fun to hang out with
- the dodgeball was the best dodgeball ever
- one beer had the amazing ability to transform your day from "argh" to "wonderful"
- our shade structure stayed up for six out of seven days
- when you sit down, 98% chance the person next to you will be interested in a chat; 80% chance it will be fun and fulfilling.
- costumes costumes! I had, among other things, a Domo costume made of light-up EL wire. (an okay photo; I'm the one on the left)
- I jumped on a trampoline and learned to hula hoop; this is more exciting than it sounds
- I also had one of those rare super ecstatic moments when I totally get why people love dancing
- no internet for a week, and I didn't miss it a bit
- you get to drive through awesome the-good-the-bad-and-the-ugly-esque wild-west terrain
- I met so many great people once. (sadly, only once, and I'll never see them again.)
The question nobody asks, maybe because they think they know the answer, is "are you going next year?" It's a fair assumption; who goes to Burning Man exactly twice? But the answer is: me. I won't give a list of this, because I'd rather focus on the positive. I guess it just doesn't really sit right with me- it's maximalist, you have a lot of stuff, you get enthusiastic about things, you dance all night. I don't do these things. Not to say it wasn't fun- the daytime stuff was a blast, and wandering the playa at night is super cool too. But considering the effort, time, and money, the cons outweigh the pros. At least for next year.
I better just publish this, because otherwise I'll take forever. It's hard to write down, because like I said, Burning Man is very much! But overall a great trip, and I'm glad I went.