Table of Contents for Civilized Explorer or Burning Man

The Civilized Explorer


Burning Man: 1997

A photograph of our shade, tent, van, and bikes. We attended the 1997 version of Burning Man, and we incorporated many of the ideas we got at the 1996 event, oulined in The Mature Person's Guide. We brought earplugs again, we soaked our feet, used our saline nasal spray, and did considerably better on our shade structure. Our awning is shown here surrounded by the bikes which we brought for alternative transportation and the white bus from Seattle, which attracted a great deal of attention. It was easy to give instructions to our camp site using this bus, visible from much of the venue.

Sensory overload was an issue again. We thought we remembered what it was like, and we thought that by arriving on a Thursday we would have a night's respite from the hullabaloo. Wrong. Such is life at Burning Man.
We give a brief description of one profane but funny night time incident.

Our shade structure was supported by eight- foot 2x2 inch poles. This gave us much relief from the sun, keeping the hot awning from radiating heat onto us as happened with our much lower "leanto" of 1996. Still, it did not work well in the new environment. There are steady winds during some parts of the day, and these winds get significantly strong. We had made an awning which would stand in the mild breezes of Black Rock, but collapse without tearing in the occasional 50 mile- per- hour dust devils. In Hualapie, the winds hit 20 and 30 and 40 and 50 miles per hour and stayed for many long minutes, collapsing our awning or making us stand and hold it in place. Back to the drawing board for next year.

As we had last year, we brought carpet remnants. We were not able to locate one piece that was around 10 by 10 feet, so we brought three smaller pieces which, together, were even larger. This turned out better. The smaller pieces were much easier to get into and out of the van, and the larger carpeting area let us move around to stay in the shade but still on carpet. The carpeting was not staked, but gave no problems in staying put right on the ground; dirt, brush, and clods were blown onto it, but we swept it frequently and maintained a relatively clean place to sit and lay on. It was remarkable that people would not come onto the carpet with shoes on; they either removed their shoes or stood to the side. Where do you find people like this at home?

A picture of our camp on Tuesday. We had brought surveyor's flags of the type used at Burning Man, and as we were rather close to a road, we set the flags out along the right of way to better mark it for people to see the edge of the road and not wander into our living/ sleeping quarters. You might consider bringing a dozen; they do not block pedestrian (or even vehicular) access, but they do seem to have the respect of people at Burning Man if you want to delimit space for some reason.

Our drugs for the week were coffee and three bottles of wine (two red and one white). Although there were drugs there, we never were overwhelmed by drugginess, there were very few people who we thought were impaired, and there were even fewer obnoxious people. Burning Man is a remarkable affair, where you are free to be yourself. We suggest a visit to our Mature Person's Guide if you have not read it before for tips on how to survive, and then browse our Burning Man Table of Contents page for information on what else our Civilized Explorer site has to offer on this wonderful event. We try to have descriptions that will alert reasonable people to the contents of the pages, but if you find we have missed something or you think we have misjudged, please feel free to let us know.

Our final thought is that no amount of media reporting can bring Burning Man into your living room. You can, however, bring your living room to Burning Man -- see our art pages for examples.

This is not the official Burning Man site. That Web site is located at Welcome to Burning Man.

Copyright © 1997, The Civilized Explorer