Freestyle: Getting crafty for Burning Man
BY ELIZABETH KIESZKOWSKI / email@example.com
I’ll have one more weekly blog for you. Then, the next time you hear from me, I’ll be at Burning Man, in the temporary city known as Black Rock City, Nevada!
Last weekend, I made one of the final steps in preparation, decorating my dust mask and goggles at the Burning Man regional group‘s pre-party, “Pre:Compression,” in Chinatown.
With floor-shaking EDM as a soundtrack, a few dozen burners huddled around a table at The Loft with markers, scissors, sparkly things and a glue gun, turning mundane items into fantasy.
Like so much associated with Burning Man, getting crafty in costume in Chinatown may sound silly — but doing it is exciting and uplifting. Readers who are artists and performers may already understand this. In an era when people are encouraged to “consume” entertainment rather than invent it for themselves, the creative cacaphony of Burning Man gives us permission to “misbehave.”
It’s awesome, and I don’t use the word ironically.
IF THIS is the first time you’ve heard of Burning Man, a brief explanation: Burning Man is a seven-day gathering in the high desert that is full of art, fire, music and parties. All the fun and work (and food, and water, and ideas) comes from participants; the only “show” is the one presented by those who attend, but those who attend do it up big, creating what can seem like a humongous circus.
(For an amazing panoramic view of dawn at Black Rock City last year, from the airport to the mountains, click here. That volcano and the dusty artifical palms in front of the flag-flying Center Camp mark Decadent Oasis, my camp.)
I’ve gotten to know some of the Hawaii Burners over the past year. Last weekend, the group included a doctor, retired emergency room nurse, state employees, DJs and business owners — representative of the diversity at this event.
At “Pre:Compression,” we were free to be creative in an exuberant, friendly space. It was a small taste of the far more extravagant Burning Man experience. Can’t wait. (Though I’ve been cautioned that my second-timer’s enthusiasm may be overblown.)
I’VE ALREADY packed my suitcase(s) with bandanas, boots, camo, ski and trucker hats, a dustproof camera, fishnets, scarves, board shorts (you never know when you’ll come across a slip ‘n’ slide or misting tent!) and pareo. (Check out the rest of my survival list in my last blog.)
I fly out on Aug. 21, on an overnight flight to Sacramento, Calif. Then on to Chico, where I’ll meet my travel partner, a woman with Hawaii ties. We’ll shop for provisions, pack up the air mattresses, flashlights, bikes and water, and leave in the late afternoon of Aug. 25, for what should be a six-hour drive. The influx of thousands of people into the temporary Black Rock City could extend this by as much as another five hours once we get to the event gates.
My friend is a Burning Man “virgin” who, according to tradition, will be ushered into her first event with a hug by a greeter. She’ll then be encouraged to roll in the Nevada dust and bang a gong.
And boom! It will begin.
Last month, the Nevada Bureau of Land Management gave Burning Man a seal of approval, based on the gathering’s great track record for leaving the environment largely untouched and running the humongous event with an admirable safety record. They issued the organization running Burning Man a four-year permit to host the event, and raised the max population limit to 68,000.
Last year, more than 53,000 people attended, and Burning Man had planned to sell 58,000 tickets this year. With the BLM OK, that total rose to 61,000.
It’s going to be wild.
FOR A TASTE of the event, check out this video, “Dream: Art & Culture of Burning Man, from Spark Pictures, released four months ago. It was directed and produced by Rich Van Every, who was a cinematographer for “Spark: A Burning Man Story,” a film on Burning Man that premiered at SXSW 2013.
Elizabeth Kieszkowski is editor of TGIF, the Honolulu Star-Advertiser’s weekly arts and entertainment section. Reach her via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow her on Twitter.