Black Rock City returns to dust

the remnants of Center Cafe
the remnants of Center Cafe

The orange trash fence still marks its borders, but our city is fast disappearing. DPW has all moved back to Gerlach now, leaving behind only a few art cars and beer cans; the rest of the city is… what city?

It’s happening much faster than the build, or at least it seems that way to me. Maybe it has something to do with the Ancestors (dust devils that wander the playa daily) and windstorms; they have been ravaging the desert, creating dunes up to a foot high and burying lots of the trash. But there’s no denying the dedication of the cleanup workers.

Even though the DPW cleanup crew is much smaller than the setup crew, there’s a lot of work being done – and fast. Every day, we go off to work on our various projects; by the time we see each other in the evening, several things have magically disappeared from the playa.

In their place, we are left with piles of scrap wood and metal, which are aggressively being picked over by the ravens. Ravens are fairly common out here, but they spend most of their time in the hills. They particularly love to perch on the bone tree at the ranch, cutting an ominous silhouette against the blue. But this week, they’ve descended on the playa. They hop around all the major sites, helping us moop by picking up anything shiny. And the other day, they discovered a pile of abandoned water jugs. They were spotted using their beaks to pierce the plastic and drink the water.

Out here, ravens are our friends.

Now, shade crew – the one group I’ve really neglected to mention in this blog – built shade structures all over the city, covering everything from the Commissary, to Lanceland, to the DPW Rodeo. They barely finished building all 40 structures in time for the event to start; then, one week later, they took ’em all down again. Once upon a time, this was Shooter’s job. He had an extremely efficient method for removing shade… but somehow, it didn’t quite catch on. This year’s shade crew did all the work with hammers and muscles, and did it fast. No more shade…

No more Gate Road, either. I went with Cowboy Carl, Caution, Trevor, and Caberia to remove all the t-stakes and flags. It wasn’t so long ago that I helped pound them into the ground; yesterday, we pulled ’em all up again and tossed them on a truck to be stowed away until next year. Now, to get into the city, you just get on the playa and drive until you figure out where the gate is. It’s nice to have that back: the feeling of roaring across the open playa, white dust spewing out behind you. The feeling you can follow someone else across the playa and watch the wind sweep their dust trail away just as fast as they can make it.

It’s strange: the more we cart away from this city, the more the desert feels like our home again…

About the author: The Hun

The Hun

The Hun, also known as J.H. Fearless, has been blogging for Burning Man (and many other outlets) since 2005, which is also the year she joined the BRC DPW on a whim that turned out to be a ten-year commitment. Since then she's won some awards for blogging, built her own creative business, and produced some of the Burning Blog's most popular stories and series. She co-created a grant-funded art piece, "Refoliation," in 2007, and stood next to it watching the Man burn on Monday night during a full lunar eclipse. She considers that, in many ways, to have been the symbolic end of Burning Man that was. The Hun lives in Reno with DPW Shade King, Quiet Earp. You may address her as "The Hun" or "Hun". If you call her "Honey" she reserves the right to cut you.