Throughout my life, I feel like I unmindfully prepared for Burning Man. I attended endless festivals, slept in numerous tents, couch surfed on literal couches, collected costume pieces during my travels, lived in the city without AC, and talked to what seemed every New Yorker about their Burning Man story while subconsciously building a network of burner friends. I could picture the entire spectacle in my headand had a pretty good idea of what was in store… or so I thought.
To my surprise, I actually was surprised by these beautiful wonders of Burning Man that I never thought of or heard people mention before. And now I know, they just have to be experienced. There were many moments I was in awe and then everything clicked. Day by day I understood Burning Man more and appreciated all the beauty and mystery behind what makes the burn what it is.
Even though only a firsthand experience truly explains them…here are the beautiful wonders I discovered at Burning Man:
FIRST TIME EXPERIENCING NIGHT
As I drove into Burning Man during the early morning, I only saw the beginning of a world that had just been erected in a population that seemed few. I saw the playa in sunrise and in the heat of the day, and was fully content with the structure and beauty of it all. I had no idea that night would be so different. The night turned our calm world into an electrifying circus. Everything lit up in neon. Art cars shined a completely new facade. Streets were unrecognizable. And the playa seemed to continue on and on with no limits. Parties flourished at every camp, and DJs blasted music on art cars scattered across the playa dust, only to be found by flashing lights as sound evaporated into the emptiness. Art pieces revealed fire and strobes. Every light seemed to stand still until it whipped past you on a bike or danced around you as it dangled around a person’s neck. Everything became something to gawk at. Our entire world did a 1800 before our eyes as if stepping into a realm far greater than any dream. It was beautifully wild…Burning Man at night leaves you spellbound.
HOW THIS MAGICAL WORLD IS POSSIBLE
Any where you look at Burning Man, you will see a stunning structure, art piece, camp, art car, decked out bike, or elaborate costume. At points it was like a movie, just watching it all and taking it for what it was. But when I took a second to think a bit further, I became speechless. The money, time, creativity, talented people, and meticulous planning that goes behind every piece of this burner puzzle is just mind-blowing. Every element deserves to share its story and is worthy of acknowledgement. I mean, there was a volcano slide, a glowing mini Burning Man on foot, camps with full on bars, playa weddings, and skydivers casually landing in the middle of a party. Perfect insanity.
70,000 CARING STRANGERS NEW FRIENDS
The beauty of festivals is that they bring many like-minded people together to happily unite for a few days to fuel fun while bonding through music. The beauty of Burning Man is that it could continue on in the desert for months, and every single person would still be their thoughtful, caring, giving best version of themselves in a thriving and collaborative environment. I knew I would make beautiful playa connections given how magnificent the experience is, but I truly didn’t anticipate the kindness and openness of every single individual. Everyone had a welcoming vibe and leant out a helping hand. You could walk into a camp involved in their own conversation, and interrupt them to ask for anything, and they would give it to you and tell you join them. People truly cared about you and your well-being, just like how humanity was intended. I wish more people were open to forming connections daily just like people at the Burn – it left me hopeful.
ADAPTION TO YOUR NEW HOME
Even though nothing is familiar for a Burning Man virgin, the playa can feel like home within hours. Your camp becomes your family as you work together towards comfort, fun, and essentially survival. Burners surrounding you are all welcoming, friendly faces. You learn the layout of the land during day and night. The dust becomes comforting, and you get to a point when you don’t want to shower or get the dust out of your hair. And you feel comfortable approaching and blending with any camp because now this entire world is home.
DISCOVERING DEEP PLAYA PARTIES
The idea that there are hundreds of parties sprinkled across the playa is certainly a wonder. But what is more extraordinary is when you travel through complete, vast darkness to hear an inclining of a party and follow the lights to ride up on to a perfect party circle. It’s a marvel when art cars park in a circle surrounding an art piece, forming dance communities in the middle of nowhere. You can feel all the positive and invigorating energy manifesting in these groups, and just behind the circle, is emptiness and another adventure tucked away in the distance.
MONUMENTAL IMPACTFUL ART STRUCTURES
It’s quite remarkable how the Man and Temple stand tall in the middle of the flat environment beautifying the land, while also acting as a guide and signifying powerful meanings that unite the entire community together. In one way, these art pieces make Burning Man what it is, as they are icons that represent everything. On the other hand, it is the people that bring these installations to life and bring the meaning to it. This cycle of creating art that then brings people together and tells a story on the playa is the wonder. The Man, Temple, and this year, Embrace, are just as beautiful to look at and interact with as they are to watch burn down. The burns literally gave the community energy and brought us all together as one.
There’s a Burning Man “magick” that can’t be described. A part of that enchantment is that the playa always provides. There were many times that I had a desire or need in my mind, and minutes later it would come into fruition. When I needed a break from walking, an art car would come by and invite me on. When I was hot, there would be someone spritzing lavender water. When I wanted something to interact with, I walked upon a drum set perfectly set up at a camp. And when I wanted to make a unique memory, an entire crowd supported and got involved in my wacky impromptu catwalk idea. A wonder of Burning Man is that whatever you can think of has the ability to happen.
THE PLAYA SUN
Nothing quite beats the landscape of Burning Man. The playa dust is a perfect white landscape contrasting against the blue sky contained by towering red mountains. And to top it all off, Black Rock City unveils a sun that appears to be from another planet. It is huge and bright pink and impossible not to gawk at. The beauty is beyond words and uncapturable in photos.
ALWAYS MORE TO DISCOVER…
It’s as simple or complex as that. A key wonder of Burning Man is “discovery”. Discovering that something or someone it not only what they appear to be, but that there is more to their story. The more I learned about art cars or individuals who traveled across the world to be camped in the middle of a desert, I realized there are endless elements of Burning Man to keep on discovering. And so it continues, next year and the year after that…