No rules. No constraints. Welcome to the wonderful world of Burning Man. Words: Kirsty Walker
11 WW). ll) people gathered to watch an Sft man burn on
Baker beach. San lirancisco. And in that same instance.
the Burning Man project was born. Project creator. Larry llarvey. recalls: ‘Suddenly everybody on the beach came running: lire is a primal attractant. I/I(’ primal attractant . . . the naked female body runs a close second.’ Officially the burning was to celebrate summer solstice. but rumour has it that llarvey built the man as an effigy of his ex-girlfriend’s new lover. The next year the ligure grew to 20ft and the spectators to 80. And by 1990 it was 40ft high with a following of over 800. Burning Man had outgrown the city: the police banned the event and the whole event was recreated in Nevada with l()() people in attendance. Six years later the height of the man peaked at 50ft and the crowd numbered l().()()(). Too much for the Bureau of Land Management which owned the land. it now takes place on the nearby. privately owned Hualapai Playa.
The Man himself has become just one part of a series of
art happenings and theme camps. which enable a diverse range of people to release their creativity. interact with other disparate individuals and live out their fantasies in a temporary community. Which is. for the record. bigger than any other population centre in Pershing County.
()ne of the most surprising elements is the relative absence of the drug culture commonly associated with the event. (letting to and surviving the Man is no small undertaking. You have to take in your own water (a gallon a day is recommended). food. tent. bedding (it's cold at night). sun block. body paint. artworks. assorted toys and preferably something symbolic to burn. The nearest town. (ierlach. is fifteen miles away and minute.
The community is arranged around the circular ('entre
(amp. with two sections. one themed and one non—themed. There are three radio stations and two newspapers plus a map locating the different camps. which have names like Alien Artichoke (‘amp. (‘hurch of the ()rbital ()rgy. lixistential Soup Kitchen. Bianca‘s Smut Shack. Alien (‘hess and the .»\nti-Burning .\lan Camp. llaving driven from
Oregon in an ‘art car’ named Duke. I am part of the Alt (‘ar
.-\rt cars are the only cars allowed to drive on the playa (the hard packed earth of the desert floor). There are daily parades in which I stand on top of various vehicles in my glitter wig and feather boa and play at Priscilla Queen of the Desert. A hugely freeing experience and not one you can easily replicate in Scotland.
At the lily Ranch hot springs you can de-stress and gauge your nakedness-comfort Zone. The sight of nude. mud- covered people squirming and swimming can be quite alarming. especially as dominating the scene is Water Woman. at large sculpture of a woman thoughtfully showering people with her ‘piss’. But if you can bear all and bare it. the multicoloured mud allows for body painting. au naturelle.
Whether you go to the Burning Man project for the art and performance. to fuel your fantasies. to find your tribe. to burn your old life or simply to watch naked people roll in the mud. be warned: it has changed some people‘s lives and it may change yours.
This year Burning Man takes place from 26 Aug - Sept 2 and the theme is the Floating World. A seven- day pass costs between $175 and $200. See www.burningman.com for more details.
Festivals, flights and fabulous fares a
I IF SUMMER SHOWERS are getting you down, don't despair — there's a plethora of bargain websites to help you get away from it all. Check out www.holiday. co.uk. www.ebay.co.uk or www.expedia.co.uk for some great last minute deals. If you fancy something a bit more adventurous. log on to www.4Real.co.uk which is offering a wide selection of adventure packages. Highlights include an eight-day Nile cruise for £499 or 15 days in India for $1,795. with tree-house accommodation and elephant reserve included in the package.
I TRANS-SIBERIA IS all the rage with STA this month. Take a shot of vodka, pop in a dash of the Kremlin, squeeze in a trip to Irkutsk and blend with a spot of Lake Baikai. Finally, add a touch of ancient Manchuria and ﬁnish off with a sprinkle of the Great Wall of China. Shaken not stirred, obviously. Prices start at £699. For more information call 0870 160 6070 or alternatively see www.statravel.co.uk.
I FINALLY. THE CUTEST items to land on The List dOOrstep this week were the Rough Guide's new handy-sized maps. These colourful little efforts handily pinpoint the best sights. shops. restaurants and bars. With helpful transport routes. highlighting the best major attractions with time maps these are a tourist must-have.