Saturday, January 10, 2015

Burning Man 2014: The Man Burn and the Temple Burn

The Man Burn

I went out to the Burn this year with my two brothers, Phil, aka Nostrildamus, and Daniel, aka Fango.

The Man was huge this year, so big that its legs were logs about two feet by two feet thick. Previously, the man used telephone pole-sized logs as the mainstays for the legs, so this was new.  As a result of the thicker legs, the Man stood for some 45 minutes as it burned.  It seemed to go on forever, whereas usually the Man collapses within twenty or so minutes, followed soon after by the collapse of the structure that the Man usually stands on.  

When it finally did collapse, the whole thing just toppled forward, rather than collapsing in on itself.  The legs were not burned through, and ended up as two huge smoldering smoking logs sticking out from the bonfire.  

The tradition is to surge forward and surround the man after it falls, swarming in a counter-clockwise direction around the fire.  I wanted to swarm around the fire at least once, having missed doing it the previous two years.  It took us some time to maneuver in the tight crowd, as everyone else had the same plan.  At some point, we were stopped, and there was no room to move ahead, as the crown was pressed together tightly.  At some point, it became clear what was slowing down our movement: a giant smoldering log was in our path, and the smaller and less agile members of our swarm had some trouble getting over it, needing a hand, or at least patience. 

Then I heard from behind me, the voice of a young man saying, "Just put your arms in front of you and PUSH!"  And indeed, soon I felt the pressure from behind, as no doubt several people had followed this direction and were pushing the crowd forward.  This was a dangerous situation, as it threatened to push people into the smoldering log.  I reacted without thinking, turning my head and screamed at those pushing to stop.  I made it clear to them that I meant business, and felt myself ready to fight.  They quickly relented and apologized, and as I calmed down, I saw they meant no harm, but just didn't consider the consequences.  

Then we were up and over the log, helping others do the same, and then again for the other leg.  The logs put a major damper on the swarming.  Eventually, we had made it around the fire and were ready to move on to the next thing.

The Temple Burn

I got no pictures of the Man Burn.  There are plenty online you can find.  I did capture the Temple Burn, so I will tell that story through photos:

The Temple of Grace. The Sharpie Shaman, in the orange robes,  maintains the perimeter.

People surrounding the now-closed Temple

Looking back from the Temple towards where the Man had been.

Darkness falls as we await the Temple Burn.  Fango and I went nice and early, so had a front row seat.

My brother, Daniel Ari, aka Fango, looking a bit forlorn.

Fango & Freerad

Cherry pickers are great for watching the burns.

They light it up.

It burned quick.

All that lacy woodwork provided plenty of surface area for the flame.

As often happens, whirling dust devils full of red hot embers come spinning off the fire, trailing into the desert, sometimes spilling hot ash on the crowd.

The blaze climbs up the central tower.

Now that's a fire.

The fire is past its peak, and now we wait for the structure to fall.

The surface texture has burned off, revealing the skeleton of the structure.

The crowd is introspective.

Silence reigns.

The structure has fallen.

Dancing around Rolling Thunder, mobile drum circle, after the burn

Fango, left, and Tabias, right, tearing down the camp.
And then it was over... the 7:30 street Monday afternoon: mostly deserted.

Well, that concludes my pictures from Burning Man 2014.  More stories to come.

2014 Burning Man Stories Menu Page

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