Saturday, September 28, 2013

So how was Burning Man 2013?

Burning Man 2013 was, in a word, awesome. Of course that's how countless attendees will describe it, and how they they will describe the individual elements and experiences within the festival. The word becomes devalued with overusage, but it really is the word that best captures the feeling of overwhelming, uh, well, awesomeness.

With more people this year, came more of everything it seemed: more art, more artcars, more costumes, more lighting, more music, more friendships, more, more, more. And everything there was was bigger, better, deeper, louder, faster, and funnier. My own experience was on the tame side, since I was committed to hosting several events at my theme camp, Cartoon Commune. I always had another event coming up to prepare for, so was loathe to wander out for too long at a time. Also, in my ten years at Burning Man, I have become somewhat jaded to all the art and spectacle. On some level, I feel I have seen what Burning Man has to offer and will no longer be surprised. Then again, I do occasionally get blown away by something I see or experience out there.

So, I mostly stayed in my little neighborhood of theme camps, some heavy hitters among them like the Black Rock Roller Disco, which hosts a fully functional and sizable skate floor, and oodles of skates to loan out to eager participants. Of course, the music is always top-notch. There was also the Story Portal, which was an artfully crafted stage and set with a large wooden wheel to spin as on a game show. The wheel would provide the participant with a topic for a story, to be told into the microphone for the audience. Others, which I will not describe in detail in this post, include the Temple of Pole-gasm, Seven Sirens Pirate Cove, Xpat Alien, Trifucta, and Dust Fish.

The best thing this year was probably the giant metal sculpture of a woman dancing. It was some 5 stories tall, had a layered lattice structure, with a skeleton of thick steel poles, smaller poles radiating out to form the volume of the flesh, and a seamless, elegantly-curved mesh providing the skin which allowed one to see all the way through the sculpture. I did not have a chance to view this one up close, but even in pictures, it is breathtaking.

The most amazing thing I saw this year was a procession of law enforcement vehicles slowly heading up the 6:00 spoke towards the Man. It must have been about sixty vehicles, and an officer on foot stopping cross-traffic informed us that it was a memorial for a fallen officer. This caused the crowd to become solemn and respectful, except for a few cowards shouting epithets from a safe distance. It was quite a spectacle, and I heard others' stories of their arrival at the Temple, where the memorial was held. Some others may have bristled at the percieved intrusion, but I found it inspiring that the law enforcement community felt themselves enough a part of the event that they are able to use the temple to pray, mourn and pay respects.

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