The back roads of Black Rock City offer a little of something for everyone. Finding it is something else. People would often stop when we were in camp and ask where something was. One person was so confused he stopped twice, not realizing he had already been by. Several years ago a single guy reported to the officials that his car, tent and personal belongings had been stolen. He hitched a ride to San Francisco. After the event he got a call from Burning Man. They had found his car and tent– right where he had left them. It’s easy to get lost when you are out and about.
Black Rock City now has a population of over 60,000 people for its short duration and this, in turn, means that there are miles of roads to explore. BRC is laid out in a semi-circular grid with the circular streets given annual names based on the alphabet and yearly theme. For example, 2013 streets were named Airstrip, Biggie Size, Consumer, Desiderata, Extraterrestrial, False God, Idol, GDP, Holy, Interstellar, John Frum, Kowtow and Laissez-faire. Crossroads that cut straight down to the Esplanade are numbered: 2:00, 2:30, 3:00 etc. on up to 10:00.
Here’s a map from Burning Man to provide a visual. Center Camp is in the middle keyhole-like area. The Man is out in the Playa directly in front of Center Camp and the temple is the small circle beyond the Man. Blue areas represent recognized theme camps. Everybody else is welcome to settle into the white areas– first come, first serve. You simply stake out how much space you need for your group. The scale at the bottom represents 5,000 feet.
The point here is that every road, and almost every block, holds treasures. Theme camps have their own quirky personalities, which sometimes reflect the year’s theme, or not. They often represent a great deal of work. Most give something away, in line with Burning Man’s gifting policy. The camp across from us, for example, gave away free shocks from a cattle prod. We could here the screams. The free shot of whiskey that came with the shock was apparently enough to entice some people in… but not us. The California Library was more to our liking. It gave away books and had a no-return policy.
Mutant vehicles, games to play, and art are also found in abundance on the back roads, as are free bars, music venues, and, well, you name it. Peggy and I are fond of heading out randomly to see what we can discover.
NEXT BLOG: We’ll visit Center Camp, a happening kind of place.