Words and photos by Daniel DeFabio
The thing you need to know about Burning Man is this: there is more. If you’ve heard stories and think you have an idea what it is; there is more. If you’ve been for years in a row; there is more. And most importantly while you are there gazing in awe at some thing of beauty on the sun baked alkali flats; there is more. Everywhere you turn there is something to elicit awe and wonder. My friend Gambo imposed a moratorium on saying “Wow! Look at that.” My friend Stephanie had to cut her self off from the over-use of “awesome” and I, LeopardHead took pains to curtail my abuse of “amazing.”
People at BlackRock City do more. They live louder and larger and the volume gets turned up to 11. They build more than you’d think possible for a week in a remote desert. A gorgeous architectural wonder of a three story temple gets built to stand for a mere five days and then is burnt. So many works of art are created with no intent other than sharing the beauty of their creation. And these too are often destroyed with no regret or remorse at the end of the burn.
People give more. They may give candy, booze, massages, music or stories but they all give of themselves and their positive energy. It’s astounding what happens when everyone tries a little harder, remains a little more open, accepting, forgiving and embracing. You get unexpected confluences of karma, coincidence, destiny. You get more. More connections. Deeper experiences. It’s a glimpse into human potential realized.
Of course there’s more of the things you probably have heard of at Burning Man. More drugs, more nudity, more untz untz techno rave dance parties. That’s all there in abundance too but ask a burner their favorite part and these things most likely don’t top the list. Instead you’ll hear about the amazing animated sculpture of the man swimming across the sand. Or did you see the art-car of Totoro the giant anime cat? Have you sat in the infinity box? Did you play the giant connect four? No matter how many of these art and theme camp offerings you partake of, there is more.
You don’t need a plan or an agenda in fact I think you’re better off without either. You can wander on foot or by bike and just let yourself gravitate to the next astounding spectacle or event. It’s ADD heaven. Shiny things are everywhere. Once while walking down a darker less populated road my charming companion asked if I was okay. I replied that I was disoriented by the sudden lack of stimuli.
I grew so accustomed to someone saying “Look over there, check that out” and finding an impressive product of human effort that I nearly forgot about natural wonders. The natural wonder of grass helped take two installations to the top of my list. Xara was a rainforest themed dance club with a flowing waterfall, day-glo and black lit fauna and two patches of real grass to lounge on under misters while not dancing. The other was a fenced off grass park with dozens of cut steel flat sculptures.
Days of walking over the moisture sapping playa left me thoroughly appreciative of the pleasures of grass under foot. In seconds the grass seemed no longer out of place in a world where everything but dust is out of place. When a friend called out for me to “Check it out.” My auto pilot response was “Why what do they have?” With a healthy dose of disdain he shook his head and replied “It’s the sunset.” And it was. The real one. Oranges turned to pinks and would eventually be replaced by bright pin pricks of stars. And these two celestial spectacles humbled all the artistic efforts of the talented burners below. When you’re out in the desert gazing at the stars, know this; there are more.