Burning Man: Evolution – 2009: Aug 31st to Sep 7th, 2009
Anyone going to one of these events for the first time is called a Virgin. Though it is flattering to retain the title after so many years, I can proudly say I am no longer a virgin. If you have been reading my journal all this year (the “my Journey” one specifically) then you know I was coming at it with a lot of idealism and hope that it would make a huge impact on my life. Though I am not certain it was so profound, there were a lot of experiences and people there that made it all worth while. Where else can 42,000 people come together in celebration and communion with a common purpose. One thing of note was that a lot of the veteran burners were missing this year and there was a considerable amount of newbies (aka virgins). In our camp alone there were several people who were making the experience for their first time. My camp was called Sin City Village and it was in an impressive space in the whole festival.
Sin City Village
Someone was given a huge responsibility of creating our village and getting is all setup for the event. There were small segments of the village that were supposed to come together and commit to the event, but unfortunately there was not enough actual cooperation. The village seemed to barely get off the ground and the bar we had kept running out of drinks, which I thought was stunning. We had Party Naked Tiki bar as part of the camp and yes, literally, people are expected to be naked; or whatever. It’s not mandatory. I was off in another village called Comfort & Joy and someone asked me about it including how dead it was and why so many creepy guys were hanging around. Creepy is right! The guy who owned the place was an over-the-hill creepy hippy with his toothless friends scampering around to see tits and ass and then snake in sneaking pictures of girls. The rule about asking generally went right out the window when creepy Jim was around. This guy named Willy was the best part of the crew; he was a real sweetheart.
One of the highlights of the event was ALL the art cars. These are vehicles of some kind that have been augmented for a purpose. We had 2 in our camp. BAM BAM’s art car was made from a golf cart, but there were 2 levels to it and the nose was a stage with 2 stripper poles. It also had black lights with pink and green neon fabric. It was so popular and one night when I was painted up for the Orange Party at Glitter Camp the orange and white paint glowed so brightly. The other art car was a dog made from a golf cart as well. It was way cool looking. I hope to see pictures posted of that soon, but I never got one I think. There were art cars out there bigger than semi trucks and some taller than a 2 story building; many with sound systems larger than a huge dance club. There were aliens, giant pink rabbits, and actual mechanical Tarantula car and a fire breathing metal dragon. There were neon and laser pyramids and there were old fashion coaches. There were so many!
One of the reasons I joined this group was to improve my relationships with women and get a better understanding of women. Yes, we all have mothers and sisters, but I found that my existence with women was something lacking. I think being with my LVBurners has actually achieved that, but the attitude toward women by men and by many women themselves was absolutely shocking. Women were treated like things to be used as sexual objects. The objectification was so profound and so overt that it felt really strange. If it were not for the women themselves playing into these roles I might have thought I was a cast mate in a chauvinistic black comedy. It was disturbing and sickening on many levels; however there is some context in that. There is a over sexual nature to the whole thing I will discuss more later. On the other hand, there were a lot of these earth-mother types lurching around. I noticed them more so in what was called center camp at the coffee booths. Women are funny when given power (a role to assume and manage) where they have no managerial skills at all. Hippies do not make good leaders. This is not to say all women do not have these skills, but I do contend many really do not because they operate on an emotional frequency that is not effective in management. So, you can see why I am interested in working on that aspect of my relationships. My perception is just that; mine. Yes all, my mom will be reading this and she’s a tough cookie.
Going back into the previous discussions I mentioned how much women were being treated like sex objects by a sea of men coming at this event. There were a lot of different kinds of men, but there were continuous and similar subgroups people came from. Like the creepy guys mentioned above. There were a lot! There were a lot of men trapped in the 70’s or 80’s with crappy classic rock and rolling around like horny frat boys trying to get a glimpse of a girl’s tits. Perverts with camera’s sneaking shots through a crowd or blatantly creeping around for an angle. It was so stalker-ratzzi. On the other hand there were a lot of the ‘dudes’ who respected women and were there for the party; like Cameron for example. The “normal” guy just there for a good time with his people! Another substantial group there was the guy with dreads; frail sexy guys with elaborate dreads or braids flowing off their heads and adorned in hippy clothes. But what was funny was how insecure these guys typically acted with their own sexuality and though it was as if they perceived themselves as cool; they were some of the biggest pussies I have ever seen. On the other hand I met a lot of guys who were comfortable with who they were – like Scott from the Utah camp who was comfortable giving a friendly peck to another man with a welcoming hug while respecting and loving his beautiful woman. I love that in some guys. Many guys I met through the burner community out of Nevada and in other parts of the Southwest clench out of fear of their own sexual identity. It just cracks me up because so many people connected with Burning Man consider themselves enlightened over the default world – and yet not.
There were a lot of gays connected at this event which was a welcome relief. I think this is a good doorway for that gay community to merge with our contemporaries on the hetero side. The overt sexual nature of the event was something that was a reflection of what the hetero community perceives of the gay community. In other words, the roles were generally reversed. As expected, mostly women seem to be more comfortable drifting together. Even horny housewives out with their gal-pals dip into their lesbian experimentation blaming it on the booze. Men on the other hand surprised me. I find a lot of burner men will often admit to trying it with a guy and complete it with – ‘it wasn’t for them’. I think any gay man interested in initiating a straight man would back off hearing that line; have the heteros found their Teflon? In this world I would say that gays are more center than their hetero counterparts, but I might be coming from an influenced point of view. While I was busy looking for my identity on this journey I see a whole lot other people doing the same thing and getting lost. The queers, on the other hand, for the most part have been through that part of the journey.
One of the other things I really paid attention to up there was the relationships existing between other burners. I saw one couple (hetero) arrive and almost immediately split off. He tells me she was off on her own and his options were open, too. The fact is there is a huge swinger community in this culture and polyamourus group. This is clearly visible with groups and camps like Poly Paradise and all the orgy tents. I’m not innocent or naive by any means, but I had a dream of meeting a hot and sexy hippie and falling in love… love evaded me entirely. I saw a gay couple at center camp and was so taken by them. They were a pair of handsome guys and as they held hands I felt overwhelming jealousy. I suspect in their mind I was looking at something else (sexual), but I was so jealous. I met a boy named Bjorn on the first night and he fit the bill, but it was just a romp in his book. I met Alex on Tuesday, but he was looking for something else as well. Then, I met Bobby on Thursday and he too was not looking for romance. One of my people basically told me it was a delusion there. And based on my conversation with Bill & Tara, I really was deluding myself. The couples there and the many beautiful children were amazing to see.
Some days were very windy and the conditions were actual white out. The sand is fine like ash and coats the air as well as everything around or on you. This is why it is vital to have a dust mask and goggles that are not vented. I was very fortunate with some goggles I found on eBay. I rocked it and looked stylish at the same time. Mostly the days were lovely and the nights glorious. We have a full moon on Thursday and the energy in the air was exhilarating. When the moon came up it was breath-taking.
Although none of my comments are meant to offend… I think there is a conclusion needed here. Did I find the glowing light and sound of angels singing moment I hoped to find out there? No. I stood at the temple the day before the burn and I felt empty. I embraced Nacie who was leaving a tribute to a fallen friend and I felt for her journey. I was there with Melissa and Cameron, which was the best way I could have spent that afternoon. In the end it was a huge event that defies a single explanation. People took good care of me and I enjoyed a lot of things both indulgent and depraved. However, in the end I plan on going back next year and taking a different path away from the creeps and the depraved and will make my Burning Man experience a more spiritual one. For me.