Moving Day

Last work weekend and progress as we move to the playa.

It’s been a heckuva weekend. The last DPW “work weekend” dedicated to building the fence around the city and kick starting construction on our beloved city. In addition to the work weekend, more folks, like myself, have arrived to live on the playa for the next month.

I arrived in Gerlach late Friday night, after a standard Burning Man departure scene. You get out of town a few hours later than you wanted to, after having stayed up too late the night before trying to find that _one_ box of blinky light toys, and having a few too many last minute errands to run. Nothing like Friday rush hour traffic to give a girl some quality time with her tunes and thoughts, and a chance to “car-eoke” all the way to Nevada.

The day before my departure, the new Burning Man Wall Calendars arrived back from the printer! Very exciting for me because I’ve been working to produce it for the last six months. Hopefully exciting for others because it is full of beautiful photos, artifacts and illustrations, and has a timeline of the past 20 years-plus of Burn History. Not necessarily part of building the actual Black Rock City, but the calendar allows you visit BRC all year long.

I knew arriving late on Friday would be a little sketchy, not knowing where I would be sleeping/camping/crashing for the night.. and these hardworking DPW folks are up early and _mostly_ in bed before midnight. Gerlach Estates, a Gated Community, was packed with trailers and tents and dogs and vehicles. Rumor had it that every bunk was full, every couch occupied and even some floors were full of sleeping DPW workers with visions of orange trash fence dancing in their heads. Fortunately, I know a few folks (just a few ;-) and was able to find a couch and a catch some zzz’s.

Not enough zzz’s it turned out, as _very_ early the next morning, radio chatter began as folks tried to discern whether breakfast was going to be at 6 or 8. (neither is an appealing option to a night owl city girl with 3 hours of sleep). Usually this operation runs ship shape and one thing everyone seems to know is when the next meal is, but every once in a while there is some confusion. For the record, breakfast was at 8 and it was a full and hungry house.

Turns out the crew had started working on the fence the day before and made huge progress, and then the fence was finished by about noon on Saturday. That’s yet another record for the rocking DPW. Heck, by the time I finished unloading my car and taking an hour to acclimate, they were done.

When fence is done, containers and wood and buildings and more can be transported on site and construction can truly begin. Some of the first structures built in the city are the staff commissary, the DPW Depot, the Center Camp Cafe and the Man Base. I’ve documented the Cafe the last 4 years and am also covering the Man/Fun House this year and anything else that crosses my lens.

Boulders on the playa for Zachary Coffin's Colossus
Boulders on the playa for Zachary Coffin

There is already some art on the playa. Some of the boulders for Zachary Coffin’s keyhole piece have been delivered. They look like large paperweights that have fallen from the sky. Can’t wait to see them with people hanging from them and those crazy spikes spinning around.

Every team is kicking butt on their projects. On day one of construction, the Commissary tent got erected, actually it got erected twice. Turns out it was put in the wrong spot initially. Reminds me of the old DPW saying “We get it right the first, second, and third time.” So far this years phrase seems to be “We get it right the first time… Well, most of the time.” There’s got to be a little room for error and adventure. The playa will always help keep things real.

Folding Time Towers
Folding Time Towers

Today the Folding Time project began recording the amazing task of building a city out of the dust. This project takes time-lapse images in multiple directions throughout the life of the city, from dust to dust.

The Cafe construction team are mostly seasoned veterans and they rock out extra hours and work nights to get the Cafe built quickly, so they can then go assist with heavy machinery needs for many of the major installations and theme camps that start showing up a week from now.

Fun House Construction - Day 2
Fun House Construction - Day 2

The Man Base crew is working very quickly and as of day two they have almost completed a two story structure. Just try to beat that on a weekend deck building exercise with your buddies!

Sneak Preview of the Fun House Map
Sneak Preview of the Fun House Map

Todd Dworman, whose team built the huge labrynth on the playa in 2003 and the Maze in 2001, is onsite, helping with the maze at the base of the Fun House this year. He’s given me a sneak preview of the map of the maze and if you click here, you just may get a peak of the way through the Man Base this year… or maybe not?

Theme Camp Placement
Theme Camp Placement

Also on site and sweating hard so we can (eventually) play hard is the Theme Camp placement team. Everyone is eager to move to the playa and start placing camps and buildings and such, many of which are dependent on the placers and lots of little flags. The placers are very popular folks the first few days of city construction.. and we like them the rest of the time too.

About the author: CameraGirl


Heather Gallagher aka CameraGirl is a recovering corporate IT consultant with a Master's degree in Computer Science tucked under her rhinestone-studded belt. Heather first stepped foot onto the playa in 2000 and, in many ways, has not left it since. CameraGirl was born in 2001 as the Documentrix for the Center Camp Cafe and CampArctica, where she got hooked on Burning Man imagery, joined the web team and eventually became the Photo Editor for Since 2003, she has produced each of the Burning Man Wall Calendars. In early 2004, she began managing the Burning Man Technology Department.