Monday, November 26, 2012

2012 Burning Man Stories: Art-trike ride

Thursday Night jaunt

   Wanting to spend some time with my family at Burning Man, I headed out with my brother , father, and uncle down the radial street, away from the Man, "uptown" if you will.  We planned to hang out at Quixote's Cabaret Club and Bar and perform solo acts at their open mic night.   Two nights prior, we had performed as a barbershop quartet.  In previous years, Quixote's had been made up like a medieval castle.  This year, they went with a Roman theme, with marble columns painted on the tarps, and, at the gate, a centurion in full armor checking ID's. 

   Inside, it was a packed house, with people relaxing, and enjoying the show.  Performers would take the stage to sing, dance, juggle or speak.  All four of us had something planned to perform.  Mine was a short play.  A bar in one corner of the room dispensed drinks and people were welcome to smoke their cigarettes inside.  This was to become an issue for me, as I could not sit all night in a smoky bar and expect to feel well.  I wandered outside to get some fresh air and considered my options for the night.  The evening's plans having been cleared, I had a free open night to wander and find my excitement.  I leaned back on the padded cushion of a parked art tricycle and looked up and down the streets for what might be happening, the endless possibilities seeming a bit overwhelming.

   Before too much time had passed, I was approached out of the blue by a smiling young couple.  They greeted me and quickly asked me if I wanted to go somewhere on the playa, on their art trike, which I was leaning on as though I owned it.  I thought they were joking at first, but they pressed on, asking me where I'd like to go.  My first thought, which I then blurted out, was that I'd like to go to the Temple.  After ducking back into Quixote's to say goodbye to my folks, and for my hosts to get a drink, we piled on the trike, the couple in the front seats, pedaling, and I on the back furry pad, manning the horn to alert pedestrians of our approach.  While I cannot for the life of me remember their exact names, I'm pretty sure it was close to Lando and Julia, so I will use those names for now.  They told me they would take me to the Temple, stopping along the way to look at art pieces and camps.  I said that was well in line with my plans for the evening.  They seemed not to mind the constant pedaling, as we joked back and forth.  We stopped at the end of the radial street to pay a visit to the Cubatron, a mass of colored LED's that animated into some amazing patterns.  My hosts passed out refracting paper glasses that make every light look like a star made of rainbows.  We moved on after a bit, roving out onto the open playa and viewing a few other pieces which I cannot recall.
We stopped at a bank of port-a-johns, and upon leaving them, we saw a large group of bunnies pulling up.  These were burners in full bunny suits, painted on whiskers, etc.  We greeted them happily and as we were about to pedal off, I saw one bunny seeming to rally the others toward us.  I alerted my hosts that the bunnies were about to perform for us or something, and they stopped.  Then began a full-on bunny stampede.  All of the bunnies, about 20 of them, piled onto us, hugging and snuggling us in their furry suits, in the spirit of friendly, non-threatening animals.  This caused me to laugh uncontrollably.  It felt good.  It lasted about 30 seconds or so, and then they were off, leaving us feeling warmed and refreshed.

   At the end of the block, we came to Opulent Temple, a massive outdoor dance club, and my hosts were eager to dance.  They were fairly lovey-dovey with each other, flirting most of the time.  They ran ahead and I walked in slowly, a bit leary of the large booming club.  I used to be more into this scene, but now it seems to sap my energy.  I admire the camp's construction, with perimeter fences, large dancing platforms, and two huge circular screens where psychedelic images are projected for the dancing, largely tripping, ravers within.  In previous years I have danced at this club and had a good time.  This time, for some reason, the music didn't move me, and after a quick stroll through the thinner part of the club crowd, I headed back to the trike.  It was lit up distinctively so as not to be lost among the huddle of hundreds of bikes, trikes, quads, art cars, sculptures, and other stuff.  I sat in the driver's seat and watched the parade of burners go by.  My hosts eventually came back from dancing, and were ready to continue pedaling.  Such a night of solid exercise would not attract me, but they were more than happy.  From the Opulent Temple, we made pretty much a straight shot to the Temple of Juno, my night's destination.  They dropped me off and we hugged as good friends.  They were off to find their next passengers for the night, and to do this over and over all night, acting as a taxi service to burners on the playa.  For my part, I made my solemn way into the wide Temple complex and started looking for my spot to meditate and commune with the temple, the community, and the earth.

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