Burning Man 2007 - August 25 - September 3

This is my personal photo album from Burning Man 2007. For those of you who don't know about Burning Man, it's hard to describe. Part art festival, part rave in the desert, part hippie, part techno, part pyro, part performance art, lots of lights and music and drugs, and mostly just a kickass community of people who gather in the desert every year, bring awesome shit, do awesome shit, and then leave without a trace. More info at www.burningman.com. I first attended the Burning Man festival in 2004 with my friends from San Francisco, Corey, Carl, James, Eric, and Ben. We took 2005 off, and returned in 2006 with a few new folks. The normal crew chose not to attend this year - it's a major undertaking in terms of effort and expense - but I wanted to go back. I camped with Christine and her three first-timer roommates: Rachael, Satori, and Liz, and was joined by staple burner Carl and his first-timer wife Denali.

I failed to get a lot of good photos of the art installations this year, but many excellent online albums are just a Google or FlickR search away. The below are mostly the photos from my camp and when I happened to carry a camera and remembered to take photos. So except where noted, pretty much all of these photos were taken by myself or Christine or one of our other campmates.

I decided to get a henna tattoo for the event. I scheduled an appointment with a henna artist, Kree Arvinitas of www.seattlehenna.com and she came to my house (Becca's house) in Seattle on Thursday the 23rd and drew this, based on my design that I gave her. This is the henna ink, which remains on the skin and stains in the tattoo.

After washing off the paste, the tattoo is reddish-brown. It darkens with time. This is Saturday the 25th, right before we left for the Burn.

I bought this cargo van for the trip. It was large enough to hold all of our stuff - dome tent, tarps, chairs, futon cushions, pillows, blankets, carpets, table, camping gear, food, coolers, clothes, glowy things, bikes, and so on.

As you can see, we decided to paint it for the trip. We got non-toxic washable paint and spent a few hours on Saturday painting it up. Alas, we drove out of Seattle and hit the only rainstorm in the 200 mile radius, I presume, for about ten minutes, and it washed off most of our paint job.

We drove to Portland and met up with Corey, who gave us the dome tent to borrow, along with some other provisions. Thanks, Corey! We then stopped in Bend, OR to see some of Christine's old haunts.

Christine and I spent some time on Monday morning re-painint the van. Observe nice new paint job. We made a few pitstops along the way. This was probably southern Oregon, but maybe NE California or NW Nevada.

We arrived at Black Rock City at 7:30 PM on Monday night, and saw this fine moonrise. An influx of people heading into the event meant that we creeped in over a 1:45 span. We finally got in and drove around looking for a spot. The city was already crowded, particularly by our street area of 7:30, so we camped near the outskirts.

*PHOTO BY SOMEONE ELSE * Here is an areal shot of BM2007. The arrow shows our camping spot. The city is arranged in concentric circles, named after this year's theme, The Green Man. The streets are called, Arctic, Boreal, Coral Reef, Desert, Estuary, Freshwater, Grasslands, Habitat, Intertidal, Jungle, Kelp Forest, and Landfill. The radial lines are arranged as a clock. So we camped at 7:30 and Kelp. We entered this info into the center camp computer registry. We had to meet up with Liz, Satori, and Rachael, but cell phones don't get reception out there, which makes coordinating difficult. Amazingly, they found our camp within about 30 minutes of registration.

Next, it was time to set up camp and the geodesic dome. I suspected that the girls would look to me for direction, and I knew that I had no idea how to provide it, seeing as how the dome got set up without much of my help in 2006. Luckily, I was wrong. They didn't ask for any direction, but merely picked up all the poles and such, and the dome got set up without a single snag in about 20 minutes. I suppose I underestimated a group of seasoned campers and an architect.

David, Christine, Rachael, Liz, Satori. We got dressed up and ready for our first night out on the playa. The photo does not adequately represent the most important part of the costumes - blinky and glowy stuff. We wore a lot of blinky and glowy stuff.

The girls are excited for their first night out. Note freshly erected dome in background.

For the first night, the city was very well fleshed out, with a lot to see. We anticipated the full lunar eclipse, which started at about 2:00 or so. We stood by the temple and watched the Earth's shadow cover the moon. We left, and I noticed that the Man, formerly green, was no orange. He was also emitting a lot of smoke. He was on fire! We raced over on our bikes, and sure enough, the Man was burning, on Monday night! People didn't know how to react. Some were cheering. Christine said that she felt like crying. Rumors were flying. It was a surreal moment, seeing the Man burn on a Monday instead of Saturday, with the dark orange eclipsed moon directly over the Man's head. Fire trucks came and put it out. We later found out, as I originally suspected, that it was an act of arson.

On Tuesday we hit the open playa and looked at the sights. Of all the awesome stuff out there, we managed to photograph this.

Christine twirling in her diseased jellyfish skirt.

Back at camp, we discovered a little desert mouse! Or perhaps it was a stowaway. Regardless, it stayed with our camp the entire time, eating our garbage and drinking our spilled water. We adopted him as the official camp mascot/pet, and named him Pete the Mouse.

We went to the Man at 2:00 and balanced on this teeter totter tree.

Here is a crew working on the freshly scorched man. They took him down to replace him. We were unable to enter the tent for a couple of days, and had no green man at night to serve as a landmark. However, they got a new Man up by Thursday or Friday.

Christine hugging a tree lady hugging a tree.

The girls all dolled up for Tuesday night.

Hula hooping on Wednesday. It was very hot, so we went to a nearby cool dome camp for meditation, and then monkey chanting, which was very cool. I didn't take many photos of stuff this day.

Satori getting drunk on red wine.

David and Christine ready to go out on Wednesday night.

*PHOTO BY SOMEONE ELSE * It's hard to get a good photo of the playa (dry alkaline lakebed on which Burning Man is staged) at night, but it's huge and it's lit up, and it's amazing.

We got back in at about 3:30 or so on Wednesday night and found that Carl and Denali had joined our camp. Here's a photo of Carl on Thursday morning, grilling up some breakfast.

I took a solo ride around on Thursday and was enjoying myself at Math Camp (a safe place for mathematics) and this guy was explaining the nature of the eleven dimensions used in string theory math, and while I wanted to stay, I noticed...

... a massive dust storm brewing in the distance.

I went back to camp to batten down the hatches. Here's a shot of Satori weathering out the storm. This photo doesn't do a good job of capturing the freaking massive winds and dust that rocked Black Rock City. I remember thinking that large parts of it would likely be destroyed.

Our dome got entirely inverted. We really had to struggle to fight the massive winds and sand and dust. Anything not staked down got blasted away, and everything got very, very, very dusty. It lasted for about three hours.

Here's the girls looking to the north after the storm passed.

Carl, David, and Denali survived the storm.

On Thursday night we went to the Death Guild Thunderdome and watched the battles. It was awesome to climb the dome with hundreds of other people and watch the battles below. After Liz's fight, we left and explored the playa.

Here we are on Friday, hanging around camp, eating flapjacks.

Rachael washing Christine's hair. Our heads became so encrusted with playa dust that we named our camp "Heads of Crusty Filth", for which I made a sign. The sign lasted for about an hour before another massive dust storm knocked it down.

Here we are at the Friday 2:00 Center Camp monkey chant.

*PHOTO BY SOMEONE ELSE * This is the entrance to Center Camp.

Here is the 4:00 Critical Tits bike parade. Christine and I went to the Critical Tits after party, and the band, perched atop a pirate ship, informed us that another massive dust storm with 60 m.p.h. winds, was due to hit in minutes. Christine and I skedaddleld out of there, hoping to make it back to camp before it hit.

We did not make it back to camp. Ferocious winds blasted us, and we soon had no choice but to sit in the open playa, with no cover, and endure the fury. I pretty much wrecked my camera to get this shot (all following photos took some effort to get the lens to open and retract) and the blasting sand and salt pretty much completely sandblasted my back and wore away my tattoo.

We couldn't stay forever, and decided to brave it back to camp. Here's Christine in her dust gear. We again endured a massive storm of a couple hours and worked hard to keep our camp together, and got all the dustier. A little bit of rain fell, which is rare in the desert.

When it finally passed, we were treated to a spectacular rainbow. It was a double, and a full band, by far the most colorful and complete rainbow I've ever seen in my life. My camera didn't capture it fully, but I took this shot from the roof of Carl's truck.

Here we are, ready for Friday night. Notice the dust clinging to everything - such as hair. We had a great night, and especially enjoyed an installation that consisted of a mirrored pentagon platform on the ground, from which pillars rose and formed into a circular dome with a fire star in the center. The whole thing was ablaze, and it was awesome to lay down on the mirror and look up at the fire with other Burners.

*PHOTO BY SOMEONE ELSE * We also enjoyed the Cubatron Cone, described online as "a large scale, colordynamic light sculpture, with an array of 6,720 lights arranged in a cylinder cone 40 feet in diameter and 20 feet tall. It is solar powered and runs at night only", and the lights morph and dance to a computer program.

By Saturday we were exhausted, so the girls napped. It was a good way to pass the heat of mid-day.

This is a photo of just one of the miriad of things people set up at their camps. It was just a tightrope, but Burning Man is filled with stuff like this. I bowled in a double-sided bowling alley, watched people dive down a slip-n-slide, climbed a 40-foot pillar to get a good view, swung on swings, jumped on trampolines, and so on.

Here's Christine with the guys from Pizza Smut, a camp that makes pizza and delivers it around the playa. So many people are generous with little gifts, including food. I got everything from fresh baked cookies to ice pops to watermelon.

Here is the Temple of Forgiveness. It was beautiful.

I don't remember the name of this structure.

This didn't look so impressive during the daytime. Like a lot of the art, it only came alive at night. Powered by the simultaneous cycling of the man-powered generators on the perimeter, the structure would spin in synch with strobe lights, creating an animation of the monkeys swinging as if branch by branch, and eating a snake.

The Big Rig Jig speaks for itself.

I didn't get naked and climb to the top, but I did find this tasty beer in the cabin.

I was very proud to make it to the center of this "maze".

Christine and the Man.

We all got dressed and headed out for the burn. It started with a huge show of fire dancers around the base of the man - spinning poi, fire staffs, fire whips, fire hula hoops on stilts, and so on. Near the start of the burn we were treated to a fireball explosion, then the burn itself.

Rachael, Satori, Carl, and Denali. We had a fun burn together.

Some random shot of a bunch of people on the night of the burn.

*PHOTO BY SOMEONE ELSE * The oil derrick (Crude Awakening) explosion was probably the single most impressive sight at the event. Here's an example of a YouTube video of the explosion. Here is someone else's description of the art piece: "Nine figurative steel sculptures, weighing 7 tons each and standing 30' tall, embody the faithful. In their various poses of worship from around the world, they bow down and reach forth to the Revered Oil Derrick, that icon of the religion which now stands above all others. The Derrick is a 90' tall wooden tower with stairs all the way to the sky."

Here is Denali by the graywater evaporation pool. We have these so that we don't dump crap on the playa.

Christine and her friend Ben.

We often covered the van with a tarp for fear of rain and losing our paint job to the playa.

Sitting around camp grooming on Sunday.

We decided to dismantle camp on Sunday so that we could leave after the temple burn.

The Sunday night temple burn is more solumn and subdued than the Saturday burning of the Man. People are silent and reflective. Thousands have written messages to lost loved ones on the walls of the temple and take the time to reflect. This year, however, the "wave" eventually started amongst the giant circle of people surrounding the temple.

We left Black Rock City after the temple burn, at 1:45 AM. It took us to 4:02 to get out, and then we napped on the side of the road. We had a nice trip back with many pit stops, including this one, at which Christine abandoned her ice cream sandwich in favor of holding kittens.

The scenery in western Oregon was beautiful.

Overall, it was a great burn. I had a wonderful time with all of my campmates, and couldn't have asked for better. The dust storms were annoying, and this was the first year I really noticed the heat, but nature also provided us with the solar eclipse, rainbows, and more wildlife than usual. I think we spent too much time loitering around camp during the mornings, and as usual, I feel that I caught only a small % of what the event has to offer, but I also like the idea that it's all so huge that I could never see it all. I'm continutally amazed that people have created this event, I recommend it to everyone that I know, and I plan to be back.