Burning Man in Black Rock Desert, Nevada

Not a festival but a lifetime experience: The Burning Man, a temporary metropolis of your dream you build yourself.

Every August thousands of people gather in the middle of nowhere to erect a city of total freedom and peace - and to inhabit it for a week. Since 1990, this “nowhere” has a pretty specific address: it’s Black Rock Desert, about 110 miles north of Reno, Nevada. The city has its name as well: it’s (surprise) Black Rock City, probably the only one in the world to appear and disappear every single year.

This Phoenix of a city has its flammable symbol: the Burning Man, a large wooden effigy that is ritually set afire during the event’s culmination. But is it just the caveman worship of fire that makes the crazy bunch of people neglect all commodities and settle down in a desert - and even pay for the tickets?

Partially, yes. But there is something else. The Burning Man is more than a festival, it’s a community, or even a global cultural movement based on 10 practical principles. The most crucial of them are radical inclusion, radical self-reliance, decommodification, and leave no trace. In a nutshell, for a week spanning from the last Sunday in August to the first Monday in September (Labor Day) participants of the Burning Man choose to make the Metropolis of Dream, a paradise of freedom and self-expression.

In Black Rock City people organize themselves in camps (some of them thematic) they build on their own. There is no paid workforce - and, literally, almost no payment at all once you enter the gate. The only things purchased inside are coffee and ice, the latter often being essential under existing weather conditions (remember, you are in a desert and are unlikely to have an air conditioner in your tent). But be sure you take your plastic cups (and, basically, ALL your waste) on your leaving. The sand must stay sand, as if untouched.

All this savage escapism may sound nuts until you try it. Once you survive this week and make it through burning the Man on the last night, you will definitely come back another person. The one who has burnt down the man he used to be and reborn out of ashes.

Ph.: courtesy of burningman.org


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