Art and adventure await at Burning Man at Black Rock Desert

June 19, 2015

Have you ever wanted to dive into a world so free and beautiful that it looks like a dream? I know a place for you, and its name is Burning Man.

This year, during the first week of September, tens of thousands of people will come to Black Rock Desert, Nevada, to participate in an annual, week-long event and to build a city of 7 square miles in the desert.

To become a part of it, you need to bring a $390 ticket and an open mind. Don’t try to get the first without having the second. All kinds of people come to the festival and the things they do can fascinate and surprise, as well as repulse or scare you.

Photo Credit: Alena Naiden
An art car prowls across the desert landscape and illuminates the night with its elaborate lights.

Burning Man is a large-scale event where you witness burning of huge sculptures (up to 132 feet tall) that symbolizes the temporary nature of everything. It is also a music festival and an exhibition of art pieces.

The week of living there feels more like a month with so many things happening.

People share art, build sculptures, create paintings and turn cars into monsters and spacecrafts. Everyone dresses up as crazy as they like; a medieval dress, a duck costume or no clothes at all will work.

The music that fills Burning Man is as diverse as the community. A rock-n-roll fan will be as happy here as a classical music expert or a psy-trance lover.

The most incredible part of Burning Man was people who helped me appreciate the slogan of the event, “welcome home.”

Photo Credit: Alena Naiden
A 72-foot wooden sculpture sculpture titled “Embrace” pierces the skyline.

I felt welcomed there for many reasons, one of which was the gifting culture. There is no money used at the event, so everyone should be self-reliant, but sharing is strongly encouraged.

A gift can be a piece of cold watermelon or a massage session, a song or a painting. Anything from helping to set up a tent to just a hug or a smile counts too.

Another principle of the event is participation. True burners don’t go to the festival for the show, they are the show.

Nobody will push you on stage to sing a song you don’t like, but to feel the spirit of Burning Man, you need to become more than a beholder and to get engaged by expressing yourself through art or any kind of volunteering. No preplanned entertainment awaits for you; Burning Man is a playground, so choose your game.

I gave back by volunteering. I helped at the airport, and the Temple of Grace, a place where people bring photos and letters of people they lost. Overall, I experienced a lot of insights during my time there, most of them were very personal. But my experience was the result of what I chose to partake in.

Photo Credit: Alena Naiden
Interior of The Temple of Grace, a place where people could bring photos of and letters to those whom they lost.

You can take the festival as a party with free alcohol and nightclubs, or devote the whole week to your body with massages, dance classes and even a gym. If you want to learn, there are lectures and workshops and if you want to meet new people, there are plenty and all of them are eager to meet you.

The list of things you can do there is long, but anything becomes possible when the only thing you see are signs for orgy domes or a big naked man smiling at you.

You don’t need to open all doors, but the ability to be at peace with the existence of each and every door is important. If you don’t see something as beautiful, just look the other way and find your own magic.

Of course, it is even more interesting if you face the things that scare or repel you. This way you can get to know your borders and understand things deep inside of you.

Such an understanding can come only if you are ready to meet it. And when you are, Burning Man won’t be a trip out to the desert, but a trip into knowing yourself.

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