The Worst of Burning Man 2013
The Best of Burning Man 2013
The 27th annual Burning Man came to a close on Monday as thousands of camps, art carts and stages were broken down and packed away in moving trucks. In just a few days the beautiful temporary city of Black Rock, inhabited by over 60,000 people including officials and festival workers, disappeared like a mirage in the desert. Sure the playa is a truly wonderful place built upon principles that govern a city of goodwill. But don't be fooled by the peace signs and hippie hugs--this experience is not for the weak. Now that we've shaken the dust off and came back to reality, we reflect on the most brutal moments endured at the playa.
5. Getting to Black Rock City
When I shared stories out in deep playa with fellow burners on how my 600 mile trip took a full 24-hours, I realized my story was all too common. "Oh sweetie that's all part of the burner experience," said a member of the Trifucta camp located at 7:00 and Airstrip. People's rides bail, cars break down, flights get delayed and shit always happens as your trying to make it "home." Yet the worst part about getting into Black Rock City was when we finally arrived at the gates on Thursday evening and they had shut them down. BRC officials claimed that authorities had put us all on lock-down with no explanation. Yet, I later learned from the sheriffs themselves (who turned out to be pretty nice--they even gave us playa gifts!) that Burning Man had reached the 68,000 cap and had to let people in as others left. That anticipation of waiting outside with no idea when we could get in after all we had endured on the way there was one of the most excruciating moments I hope no one ever has to feel.
Curious Josh / LA Weekly The not so fabulous bathrooms
Burning Man has a "leave no trace" policy with no trash cans available and attendees are required to pick up after themselves and take everything they bring back with them. This includes the portable toilets which in previous years had been some of the nicest, cleanest shitters I've seen at any festival. This year, with the increase in the amount of attendees, those who felt like abandoning the BM principles for the sake of a good time clearly forgot about the clean up policy. The porta-potties were filled with beer cans, waste and piles of tissue (you're supposed to only drop one ply of biodegradable toilet paper). At Burning Man, it's your responsibility to clean up after yourself and the toilets were one of the few amenities governed by the organization. Last year we woke every morning to fresh clean-smelling toilets. But this year, every time we opened the door it was like staring into a scene from Apocalypse Now.
Losing and Breaking Stuff
While exploring this flat, prehistoric alkali lake-bed, things involving technology are bound to go haywire. It's actually remarkable how complete families survive the cold evenings, dust storms and extremely hot days without larger incidents. One girl had to be taken to Reno after falling on an art installation and breaking her ankle, but injuries and medical issues are fewer than most music festivals. Luckily there are plenty of medical camps, bike and RV repair camps and all sorts of amenities and friendly people willing to share their lamps or water canteens. The biggest issue we observed was bike theft (though they're not officially stolen until after the event or if the lock was cut) which happened to my Paul Frank beach cruiser last year. This year, I lost a cell phone, but after looking at the lost and found forum and seeing the thousands of posts of lost items, all I could do was chalk it up to another frustrating casualty of the playa.