Wow! Norwegian Espen Fadnes and Frenchman Ludovic Woerth wing-suited above and below the left arm of Rio's Christ the Redeemer statue.
A lot of people will say it's a bunch of hippies in the desert taking drugs and dancing. While those things are present, you have to realize it is literally a whole city, it has streets, it has a postal service, there are bars, transportation (albeit to random locations), there are classes to take on dancing, welding, sex, card games etc... There are discussions and speeches by prominent and not so prominent people about psychology, society and ways to restructure it, discussions on drugs, dreams etc... Endless interactive art to be used everywhere. And GOOD art, not shit. There is no money at Burning Man, you can only buy ice and coffee. It is a gift economy, which is different than a barter system. Say you walk up to a bar, you just tell em what drink you want and you get it. Give them a warm thank you and be on your way! What you have in abundance, share it with the people around you. It makes for the best atmosphere of pressure-free community ever. You are always assured you can find food and water if you are in need, very near to wherever you are (as long as your not way out on the playa). You'd think receiving gifts would be the best part, getting all this gifted stuff for free! But the best part is giving. When someone comes in off the harsh, dry, desert road to your little bar, and you plop down a cold beer for them and have a little chat is a beautiful thing to experience. Or teaching someone a practical skill that will make their life so much easier. Or open their minds to new ideas to think about. And it happens throughout your stay, everyday.
A lot of those hippies people talk about are actually very skilled engineers, artists and designers. Burning Man attracts some of the most intelligent, innovative, progressive, respectable and robust minds around. It isn't only for young ravers, far far from it. High-up employees of companies like Google cite Burning Man as a key influence on their general perspective on the world and life, and who they are and their place in the world. They have taken aspects of Burning Man culture to put to use in the real-world. That doesn't happen at music festivals. CEOs of massive corporations don't reveal that they attended Warped Tour, but they will say they attended, endorse and take inspiration from Burning Man. Because when Burning Man's true colors are shown, it is a respectable and inspirational event.
So, dismiss people telling you it's a bunch of hippies doing drugs and dancing. Yes that is present and plays a part. But Burning Man has something for everyone, and I mean it. A city of things to do, from practical to goofy. As I said, discussions, classes, naked bar parties, some of the just straight up strangest activities ever, kids ville (It's a family friendly event and hell yes I would bring my kids there), marathons, the best and most loving, caring people in the world. People give a shit about you out there, and will do astounding things to help you and make sure you're taken care. Some of your best times will be just being around people and having wonderful random interactions.
Burning Man has an atmosphere of ultimate acceptance, you must push past your prejudices there, because they will be tested. Learn to accept everyone around you for the person they are, and you'll experience community and belonging like never before. Burning Man isn't just a music festival, it's an experience, an experiment in community, and is in my opinion one of the most forward thinking and unique events in the whole world. There are so many layers and aspects to Burning Man it's impossible to touch on all of them.
Day in the life: Wake up, have a sausage and a wrap in the heat of the morning sun. Your camp has a music setup so you jam for half an hour with your camp mates, a guy from across the street joins in with an accordion and some girls walking by get on vocals. The jam is wicked, everyone has got skill. After that the guys from the camp next door (Bloody Maryland) bring over some delicious Bloody Mary's for us to enjoy, while at the same time another man camping across the street brings us his home grown pesto on bread (It was effin delicious). You then get on your bike and head out to nowhere in particular. While biking into the playa you get offered some vodka and cranberry juice and you get some in your cup and down it. You bike around and see huge art pieces that people built for everyone there to enjoy. You walk up a large pier that ends with a full scale sunken ship (in the desert). You see a winding, 40 foot metal snake sculpture that shoots fire out of it. You see mutant vehicles everywhere, (an art car or mutant vehicle, modified usually beyond looking anything like a vehicle) one that is a conference table with bolted down business chairs, and people are holding a meeting, in suits, in the desert, driving down the road in the open. You end up at an art car that doubles as a huge, huge see-saw that also spins in a circle. You get your turn on it and get whipped around see-sawing and spinning and a whole crowd around you yelling and screaming and whooping for you and your see-saw partner. You find a sex class going on and you decide, fuck it i'm in the desert and half the people are naked so why not? You learn some new things, there were some uncomfortable moments because you were stepping out of your comfort zone, but after, you feel alive and fulfilled, stepping out of your comfort zone. You bike to temple and it's unbelievable complexity baffles you. It is intensely intricate. And it's not built with any metal or plastic at all. That's right, it's 100% interlocking wood. Here it is: (this is the 2012 temple)
You sit and think about a loved one that has passed away, and you write a personal message on the temple to be burned on the last day. The temple is quiet and you reflect.
You get back on your bike and bike more. You find a game of slapshot going on. A circle of people all have shots in front of them. The first person takes their shot, and then slaps the living hell (one slap) out of the person to the left. This goes around the whole circle, punishments for not slapping hard enough. A unique bonding experience for sure. It's getting dark you head back to camp to eat, pesto guy comes back with more delicious pesto. After eating and shooting some fire out of a fire hose at your camp, you go into the night. The insanity of the night at Burning Man is legendary. You find an arena of sorts, it has two elevated platforms across from each other, about 20 feet apart. There is a grid of metal things sticking out of the ground around them and a person stands upon each platform. You hear "ROUND 1, FIGHT!" and one person throws their arms forward in a hadouken pose. A wave of fire jets woosh towards the other person, and they return with an uppercut, and the fire jets shoot back. They battle with their fighting movements until one is defeated. It's a motion sensor game of Street fighter, where different moves will shoot a wave of fire streams towards the other person (not at them so they burn obviously). You bike around more and come across the Thunderdome. A Burning Man staple. The Geodesic dome has people standing all around it and on it as well. Two people inside are flailing at each other as they fly back and forth on their harnesses, with flying hits to the face and back, grabbing and clawing while the crowd screams for more. I've never done the Thunderdome because getting injured on the playa would really really suck. The whole city is a party. The Man burns on Saturday to a rowdy crowd of probably 40 - 50,000 people, everyone screaming, as the epic fire toasts your skin from hundreds of feet, and your screaming along with tens of thousands of people and tens of thousands of fireworks for that Man to FALL. And he does, and turns to embers and ash and a procession of people walk in circles around the hot remains. And the next night, in contrast, they burn the Temple. And that same massive crowd will sit in silence, utter silence. ~50,000 people sitting quietly, in internal reflection. Just the crackle of the giant hot fire, and everyone thinking of the ones they've lost as they watch the ultimate destroyer, fire. Realizing that one day they will be ash, and all of our art and buildings will be ash. It's a powerful physical message about the passage of everything, no matter what. Burning Man's existence and the results from it's existence show that even though it is temporary and fleeting and will be destroyed, the great achievements that occur during it's run are worth the price of their eventual demise. In other words, don't let the fact that one day all your efforts will be laid to ruins someday stop you from ever doing anything.
My point is, drugs are a part of Burning Man. Alcohol is a huge part of Burning Man. Drugs are actually kind of harder to binge on at Burning Man than other places because you are busy staying alive as the desert is ruthless and taxing on your body.
Anyway sorry about the rant I just always feel Burning Man needs the credit it deserves when people are curious about it. Look up some videos on it!
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