A Walk Through Black Rock City… My 11 Years at Burning Man

The point about wandering through Black Rock City is that you never know what you are going to find, such as a goat with purple hair wearing a sagging tutu and a bear necklace.

I spend the majority of my ‘out and about’ time at Burning Man on the Playa. That’s where the major art pieces are displayed, and seeing them is my primary reason for going to the event. Some, I return to several times to admire and photograph in different light. And there is night, where they take on a totally different personality.

Peggy and I always reserve a day for walking around Black Rock City, however. The same creativity found in the creation of art, mutant vehicles, and major camps is found in BRC as well. In fact, you never know what you will find, such as the goat above. In addition to the fun and curious, there are things to do, food to eat, more art, and camps to admire. People watching is also fun, as it is out on the Playa and at the Center Camp cafe.

I’ll let today’s photos reflect our walks over the years. Most of them were taken by Peggy and me, but some were taken by the two other photographers in our camp, Tom Lovering and Don Green.

Joy riding isn’t encouraged at Burning Man. This was an exception. (Photo by Don Green.)
Safety on bikes is critical with 60,000 or so running around in BRC and out on the Playa. Bike crashes do happen, however, and it’s amazing there aren’t more. One year, bikers were invited to crash into empty boxes on the Esplanade.
This guy welcomed Peggy and me with open arms..
This fellow, not so much.
And this creature stuck its tongue out at us. Looking at it now, I’m sorry I didn’t pose Peggy sticking her tongue back out at it.
Hungry? The PB&J camp had a solution. Lots of peanut butter, several different types of jam, and bread! It was all free and is an example of Burning Man’s gifting philosophy.
A close up.
The Kentucky camp developed a Kentucky Fried Chicken theme one year and offered fried baloney sandwiches with a shot of bourbon— for breakfast. That woke me up…
Restrooms, as it turns out, are a major focus at Burning Man. The reason: the restrooms are the modern version of an outhouse, the porta-potty. If you have ever used one, you know they are not the epitome of having a pleasant bathroom experience.
There are banks and banks of toilets, hundreds of them. This is a view of the back side.
Veteran Burners wait until they are cleaned. A whole fleet of trucks is kept busy.
Another view. You want to camp close enough to the porta potties for convenience, but not too close!
Humor is the best approach when it comes to outhouses. There was actually a bowling alley set up next to the toilets! As I remember, I rolled a strike.
I’ll drink to that!
In addition to large trucks running around emptying the toilets, water trucks are constantly watering down the roads to reduce the dust. Nothing stops the dust storms, however. One’s coming.
Burners used to run along behind the trucks getting their daily bath and washing their clothes at the same time, assuming they wore clothes. I saw more than one naked person running by, giving a new meaning to streaking. Today, Burning Man claims the water is recycled from sewer operations, effectively putting a stop to the showers.
Lest you think that Burning Man is a lawless party in the desert, there are police everywhere including the feds, DEA, state police, BLM rangers, and local sheriffs’ departments. It’s best to behave yourself!
I am assuming that Burning Man is not a favorite event of the present administration in Washington, although Ivanka reputedly has a Burning Man photo in her office. Let me report, however, in my 11 years at Burning Man, I have never once seen an illegal alien cross over. I did once, however. How could I not, given Burning Man’s iron clad rule that no-one is to cross the barrier. Within seconds an official BMO truck was bearing down on me. A Black Rock Ranger yelled at my departing back: Do Not Cross the Fence!
Be that as it may, bear with me and I will move on to more officially acceptable Burning Man activity you can see when you walk around BRC.
Such as stacking blocks.
Or playing a trumpet in drag…
Or getting married on top of a bus…
Or checking out Burning Man in a hot air balloon…
Or riding a fish…
Or having a free nipple covering business. Pastie Dan is close to a legend at Burning Man.
Or checking out a Barbie Doll camp.
Or reading the messages on a large birdhouse. Most had to do with being forgiven for something. Burners, apparently, have lots of regrets.
Or wondering why the grinning dinosaur bit the woman’s head off.
It’s hard to get bored at Burning Man, but if you do, there’s always a lending library of some type or other around. Books are free and there is never a requirement that you bring them back.
The book mobile.
Checking out people’s homes is an honored activity just about anywhere. Apparently, it was moving day for this Burner. You don’t have to be a large camp to have an interesting residence, even if it is only for a week.
This gypsy type home was right across the road from us one year.
And last, but not least, is Zsu Zsu’s Home. There was a suggestion on the side that you might want to give her a kiss. (Photo by Tom Lovering.)

NEXT POST: A look at the Black Rock Desert, home to Burning Man and Black Rock City.

19 thoughts on “A Walk Through Black Rock City… My 11 Years at Burning Man

    • It’s mainly about the money, Ray. There are also issues about how many law enforcement officers are needed. Obviously there has to be enough to adequately cover serious situations. It is, after all, a city of 70-80 thousand.
      Peggy and I may or may not be going. We missed their ticket extravaganza because we were otherwise occupied. –Curt

  1. It’s like you say, you just never know what you’ll find. Got a giggle over the Facilities’ signage.
    Sometimes we all may need to crash into cardboard boxes – might be a small business possibility HAHA (Hey, there’s places you can throw axes or chunk glasses)
    Always something of a wonder or to wonder about there. Cool

  2. Baloney and bourbon for breakfast. Well I might have to start with PB and J I think. I was wondering about outhouse facilities and security. Both clearly need to be massive operations.

    • And they are, Sue. In addition to all of the official police types wandering around, BMO has their own volunteer security team, the Black Rock Rangers who constantly patrol BRC and the Playa. It was the Rangers who came zooming down on me when I crossed the fence. The fence serves a couple of purposes, one of which is to keep people from sneaking into the event. The other, which is more important from my perspective, it serves to keep people from wandering off and getting lost out in the desert. –Curt

    • It touches on communal, Alison. I was interested in how Google describes it as a vetting process for potential managers. Are they willing in the Google camp to roll up there sleeves and wash dishes, etc.

  3. You were all over the map this time, even if it was a city map in the desert. I don’t know about the fried baloney sandwiches with a shot of bourbon – even in my most bachelor days I never went that far.

  4. Fried bologna on white with mayo was a childhood treat. Now that I remember it, I may have to do it — at least once. I love the mama bear with her cubs trailing along behind.

    I remember that story of you ‘crossing the line.’ When you listed all the agents that are present at Burning Man, I chuckled. My own encounter with the Feds is tucked inside my current post.

    • I suspect you baloney sandwich didn’t come with a shot of bourbon, though, Linda. I never ate fried baloney as a child but I certainly ate my share of baloney sandwiches! Mama bear and cubs has always been a favorite of mine.
      It doesn’t matter how innocent you are, It’s hard not to feel nervous when the police are checking you out! –Curt

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s