Once upon a moment

bone tree copy2

No matter how much time you are able to spend in Black Rock — a day, a week, a month — there always seems to be a moment or two or three if you are lucky that define the experience, ones that linger in your mind’s eye for weeks and months and years.

On Sunday, on the evening of the Temple burn, the moon rose beautifully over the playa, and it illuminated the Bone Tree that was parked near the entrance to Center Camp.

Other people were struck by the sight, too, and they came running to tell us about it.  So the moment was doubly significant — the sheer exquisite beauty of what was happening, as well as the instinct to share the experience.

(If you are unfamiliar with the Bone Tree, here’s some background from Dana Albany, the artist who created it in 1999:

“I’d been thinking about a bone sculpture for several years … Working  in the desert where cattle grazed nearby, I had access to all the bones I needed. I wanted to use an artifact of death to create a tree, as a way of paying homage to the existence of all life.

“…  I designed and constructed a mobile, interactive sculpture I named The Bone Tree, which consisted of a 27-ft steel frame tower mounted on five wheels like the base of an office chair, allowing it to be freely pushed around the Wheel of Time. The tower was completely covered with thousands of cattle bones. … It looked very eerie sitting on the playa, biding its time, knowing that sooner or later all living creatures turn to bone and that metaphorically all the bones would come to it.

“… The Bone Tree came to a very fitting end in the desert that year. After a ferocious wind storm, one of my friends walked up to me and said, “Did you hear about the Bone Tree?” She told me that the wind storm blew the Bone Tree across the playa, pushing it so far out that it was at least a mile from camp. What is especially interesting is that all of the extra bones stored under the Bone Tree’s frame had been shaken loose, leaving a trail of bones behind it the whole length of its journey.

“I thought this was amazing because I had always envisioned the Bone Tree out on the playa and felt it was meant to return to the desert, and it did.”)

So that’s the story of the Bone Tree, and one of the times that will stand out the most for me.

Tell us about one of your defining moments on the playa this year …

About the author: John Curley

John Curley (that's me) has been Burning since the relatively late date of 2004, and in 2008 I spent the better part of a month on the playa, documenting the building and burning of Black Rock City in words and pictures. I loved it, and I've been doing it ever since. I was a newspaper person in a previous life, and I spent many years at the San Francisco Chronicle. At the time I left, in 2007, I was the deputy managing editor in charge of Page One and the news sections of the paper. Since then, I've turned a passion for photography into a second career. I shoot for editorial, commercial and private clients. I've also taught a little bit, including two years at UC Berkeley's Graduate School of Journalism and a year at San Francisco State University. I live on the San Mateo coast, just south of San Francisco in California.

124 Comments on “Once upon a moment

  • Kim Thurston says:

    Going into the temple, I had a feeling of compassion and sadness for the losses, forgiveness and rememberances written on the structure. I cried, alot, and it was all good.

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  • Runaway says:

    Early Saturday morning, after hours of exploring the deep playa, my intrepid exploration partner and I landed in Center Camp. We were drawn in by an exquisite sound — a masterful violinist was playing solo, not on the stage, but in the center of the building under the stars. His piece moved me beyond compare and stands as the single most perfect experience of the entire event.

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  • The most amazing moment happened for me in the wee hours of the AM shortly after we finally setting up camp many hours after we had expected to arrive. IFrustrated, I set out for a walk to capture the best view of the nearly full moon and began to get covered in the dust storm, thinking that I would never survive this because I am a clean freak. I was stoped in my track when I looked up and realized that we were camped at the cross roads “Evolution” and “Chaos”. It was dark and I didn’t have my tripod, wanting a photo of this epihanous sign post, I started to crough in odd positions trying to hold the camera still enough to capture the light without a flash. It was not working. Suddenly, I fell flat on my bum in the Playa dust. That was the moment. It was clear that I had the choice to go the route of evolving or living in chaos. I chose to walk the path of evolution.

    I surrendered to The Playa and began to open myself to the experiences awaiting me. I let go of the need to clean the dust off, I kicked off my boots and got comfy with my Crocs, the need to carry the camera and catch everything melted away and The Play Provided. Even though my intention was a particular story, the story also evolved and I am much the wiser person for that moment; forever changed for the better; evolved and easier walking about in the Default Society.

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  • mason says:

    My favorite moment was when the gate people locked me and a few hundred of my dearest new friends in a lot with 2 portapoties for seven hours for showing up 5 minutes before midnight.

    Thanks guys you got my burn off to an awesome start!

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  • mattydaddy says:

    Seeing my first playa sunrise in the early morning hours after the man burned. I was at the opulent temple when the dome of sky behind us started changing from black to blue. Our group rode out to the trash fence and then stepped across it. There were a few others doing this same thing. It was very serene and peaceful, not to mention beautiful beyond words. A young couple walked up to the trash fence and shared a smoke. The young woman’s jaw was practically on the ground. I have never seen someone have such a physical reaction to a landscape before. I will never forget this glimpse of the Playa and the reactions of the people who were near me.

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  • Cherry Bomb says:

    On Tuesday, I went to my friend’s camp but she wasn’t there. I was feeling quite lonely and the artist who I was supposed to be assisting was also MIA. I felt like everyone was out somewhere falling in love. I began walking around the playa by myself, feeling utterly alone. I was contemplating a very painful relationship back home that was difficult – we loved each other, but it wasn’t working, and neither of us had the courage to end things.

    I came upon a labyrinth made of Christmas lights. Someone from my camp said, “Hello Cherie” and gave me a hug. In the dark I could not make out the face but he quickly identified himself and I felt accepted. After he left, I walked the labyrinth. I felt at peace, like a great stress had been lifted off me as I did it.

    After I completed it, I felt quite calm. Two men finished shortly after I did, and took me under their wing the rest of the night. They counseled me on my troubles and took my mind off my problems by taking care of me with dancing, music, art, food, and drink. We talked until the wee hours.

    They gave me the courage to open up and feel at peace. I am indebted to them for giving me a wonderful Tuesday. Currently, I am ending things with my partner, and though I am sad, I know it is the right decision – and that these two amazing people are responsible for helping me making the right decision.

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  • Megan says:

    Being a burn virgin, the whole experience was amazing! But I definitely felt a certain magic in the air when we turned on to the turnoff to BRC just as the sun was peeking over the horizon on Monday morning, lighting up our first view of the playa just as we pulled in. I think it was a sign. We’re rarely up for sunrise, so the three sunrises we witnessed out on the playa were amazingly beautiful and are moments that will stick with me… and remind me to come back next year!

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  • Foxy Blonde says:

    I decided to trek to the temple alone on Saturday afternoon after much debauchery. I was delivered into a dust storm on the way, and couldn’t see a single structure or living person at first. Rather than feeling worried it was the most peaceful experience of my life. Later, I would come apon pockets of people and art that would recede into the dust again like apparitions. I finally made it to the temple and cried like a little girl- for me, for loved ones, for everyone there. It was like my soul was wiped clean for the very first time. It was so stunning and surreal.

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  • Level says:

    There were hundreds of amazing moments but two stand out. 1, after a long emotional day at the temple, I decided to take Thursday night off. I had been out there 8 days by that point and was a bit overwhelmed with it all. Emotions were running deep, and was not really feeling my campmates anymore. I woke up early and headed out to the deep playa for some reflection. Still feeling a bit funky, I stopped at a row of porta-potties with several people lined up. I found an open one, and opened the door… to nothing! I immediately fell to the ground in hystarical laughter while everyone just started busting up laughing. They all gave me a group hug, and I ended up joining in the fun for an hour or so. They pulled me out of my funk and I went on to have the best weekend of my life, so thank you!
    2: While biking twords the man, my friend and I ran into the mobile Karaoke bar. WTF? We had to follow it for a while. We headed to the rocket ship with them, when all of a sudden, they put on “Rocket Man”, and some guy was just belting it, horribly. All the workers stopped, in their space suits, and saluted. I don’t think I have laughrd so hard in my life. Priceless!!

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  • Sanjeev Brar says:

    The Playa choir Sunday morning at the Jazz Cafe. Capture that and some other great moments on video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v3w-O0PHX9k

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  • chris berlin says:

    I was on an overloaded art car headed to the temple burn – the car stopped, they needed volunteers to exit so the car could continue safely. a group jumped from the vehicle and we began to run toward the temple which was already beginning too flame. the glow began to gain intensity as did our pace, moths to a flame.
    I left several messages with the temple during my stay in Black Rock City and the flames were beginning to set them free.
    As I made it to the circle I was in awe at the observed silence and respect that all were paying. for a moment if felt as if the world stopped to take a breath, a deep cleansing breath. (this could also have been the mushrooms….)
    the exhale came in a wonderful energetic chant of hope and energy that began to tornado around the crowd. the emotion at that moment was tangible and electric.
    thank you all for being a part of that.
    big playa hug

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  • TheDLN says:

    Watching the temple burn with friends, we were awestruck when a phenomenal cellist humbly played next to us. We listened for a half hour while he drew all the sorrow, love, yearning and spirit of the temple through his strings, and then moved on. I am so grateful for that beautiful experience.

    Also, I got to surrender to the moment many times this year – going with the flow, against my programming and typical behavior or responses, I got to experience immediacy more than I ever have before in 10 years of participating in Burningman. Here’s to playadipity!

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  • shastabeast/engine/mark says:

    favorite moment- the second i road my bike past loadie camp and heard Iron Maiden, number of the beast. i instantly turned around and quickly found out they have the GREATEST home brews on the playa. the dunk is amazing and the honey i dont even have words for. i wish there was somewhere i could buy these beers. I cant wait for next year and having an escape from the uh tis uh tis uh tis music that every other camp plays. LOADIE CAMP – “Oasis bar” see you next year guys. thanks Murph, waffle, jailbait (not part but she was always ready to party there) dont remember the dude who brews the beers name but hes got the best damn beer in america. sorry to anyone else who runs the best damn camp and i dont remeber name but you are badass.

    Also finally making it to the vert of the turf slide standing,and bailing right at the end only to crash on the flat. GIANT baseball sized hematoma on leg is
    what i awoke to temple day. hate having to leave the man. :sad face:

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  • Collin Dunn says:

    The one single moment is tied to a series of events. Me and my fiance had some problems on Tuesday night and was close to being the apocalypse of our desires. Wednesday morning was rough, that day I went to the temple and in matter of about 5 minutes of being on the second floor I started crying uncontrollably. I didn’t think anything could have that power over my emotions, but it did. While I was out there I made sure to bring a marker and wrote my heart out on that temple, I wrote on the bottom so it would go up in flames first. Later that day I went back to my bar and got slammed, made amends with my fiance and we both apologized to each other and had sex for about a hour (which continued every day until we left). Anyway, come Sunday night it is time for the temple burn, compared to the previous burn that I performed in front of (the man) the temple was just so serene as the middle lit up the whole temple started ablaze. As I watched it burn I just knew what I had to do, like watching it just jump started all this initiative to better myself in every way possible. All in all that night, the temple burn, changed my life, and that image will remain branded in the back of my mind forever. I know what to do now. Thank you.

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  • Christian Delp AKA Royalty says:

    This year marked my 7th burning man experience. I can’t really define what has brought me back year after year as I have always felt somewhat isolated and distant from both participants and the event as a whole. This year was no different, however, I seem to have grown into my singular role.
    Eyes closed while dancing at the Opulent Temple I allowed my other senses to absorb the sounds, the scents and feelings as fire blasts warmed my body and the night air slowly cooled me. During one such blast of flame I slowly opened my eyes and found myself surrounded by dozens of like blinded dancing isolationists. A lunatic bunny engulfed me. The moon shone full above me with Saturn at it’s side alone together. The bunny smiled and kissed me then disapeared. I closed my eyes and found the groove again and the distance between me and the moon, the rocket , the temple , The art , The Man and the multitude disapeared like the bunny. The days and nights following were serene and comforting like the feeling one gets being alone with family at HOME.

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  • Ted Chapman says:

    2 years ago I was diagnosed with inoperable brain cancer. Last November, after a year of radiation and chemo I was told I only had ‘weeks or months’ to live. Being at Burning Man again this year was a triumph for me and an affirmation of life. When I put a message on the temple I started to cry because I suddenly realized I had changed from thinking about dieing to thinking about living. That was a moment I will never forget.

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  • Todd Gardiner says:

    I had acquired the habit of dragging my ladder with me during trips to Center Camp. The wheels I had installed made dragging it along pretty easy and it’s always nice to have a stool to sit on while waiting for that “photo moment”. And it helps if that stool is six feet tall.

    As I sauntered into the “keyhole” at Center Camp, I saw this great strand of balloons arcing across the sky. Probably a quarter-mile long. I shot a bunch of picture of it, probably for 15 minutes, and all that time the strand kept getting lower and lower.

    Apparently, one end of the strand was an art car, wandering around the playa. The other was, as I saw it, a thick carbiner clipped to a bicycle frame. And that bicycle had been laying motionless for at least 15 minutes as the car got further and further away.

    Sudden, completely out of breath, a panicking girl ran up to the bike as I stood there 15 feet away. She picked the bike up hurriedly, spun it around so it was pointing in the direction of the art car, and then she took off.

    Almost immediately, three or four people call out to her, “Stop! Stop!” The cord for the balloons had snagged on some art-decorated post that the bike was laying next to and she was about to drastically harm either that art or the line of balloons. Still panicking, she dropped the bike and went for the carbiner. The moment she unclipped it from her bike it was torn from her hand and spun around the top of the “art pole” with a zip sound, like a Indiana’s whip wrapping around a convenient outcropping.

    As I watched her panic mount even higher, I just shook my head at the whole debacle. The only way to get the balloons free now was to go find a ladder somewhere… A ladder! Why I have one right here.

    I rushed over to the post that had snagged the balloon line, passed my camera to a bystander so my hands were free (this turned out to be Gigantic Dave from Seattle) and called for people to steady me and the post while I clambered to the top rung.

    Moments later the day was saved. I handed off the balloon line to the girl, who quickly ran off. Meanwhile, I realized that the quick round of applause was going from people I knew from Seattle, such as Qathi Hart and members of INW. Turns out the Iron Monkeys were checking in at the Artery about their art piece and I had basically just performed a show for them.

    I can’t remember who said, “there was something just perfect about you bringing a ladder before the emergency”, but I certainly have to agree.

    It’s nice to take a ladder around with you at Burning Man.

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  • Shaun says:

    The Temple burn will always stick out in my mind as one of the most moving experiences of my life but the most defining Burning Man experience came on Tuesday night.

    This was my first year and so I had no idea what to expect when it came to the city itself. I mean, my roommate and a large number of my friends have all gone for the last 3-5 years so I had heard plenty about the atmosphere and the energy and the people and the camps, but very little about the city itself.

    So yes, on Tuesday night a bunch of us ate some mushrooms and went out to deep playa to explore and adventure. Our first stop was the slide. We basically b-lined it straight out there without looking back. It wasn’t until I scaled the slide and looked back out at the city did the scale and beauty of it all really hit home.

    I was awestruck by the lights and the fires. By the massive art cars. By the people and the bikes roaming freely. By the massive domes and the little blinkies. It was incredible. I had gotten through the lineup and to my campsite around 330am on Monday morning and just after dawn I wandered out past the esplanade to look at the city. Very few camps were up and built so the city didn’t have any real definition to it yet.

    By the time we scaled that slide though, the city was really a city. A beautiful, colourful, vibrant, utterly mad city.

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  • Steve Doberstein says:

    My first ever burn after a decade of being a naysayer, and it was magic for me.

    There was a terrific piece of fire art made by a group called the flaming lotus girls called “Soma”. It was two beautiful, ornate tree like structures the larger of which was perhaps 30 feet high with a flaming rotating core that had many small flowerlike projections that had either lights or fire coming out of them (meant to represent axons). One large and one small structure (each meant to be neurons) were connected by a large spine (meant to be a dendrite). The whole piece could be operated to emit bursts of flame that are loud and hot enough to be felt both as heat and pressure waves to the surrounding crowd from various parts of the neurons and the dendrite, at the artists desire. Lovely.

    So Tuesday evening we are strolling across the playa and stop to see it in more detail. An enormous robot themed art car, Robot Heart, pulls up (constructed of a double sized commuter bus) with a giant dance floor and DJ booth on top. It has a perhaps 30 foot long video screen that is synced to very loud and very compelling techno/electronica. A large group gathers and starts dancing ecstatically and with increasing energy beneath and around the sculpture, and for over half an hour the DJ on the car and the artist operating the sculpture talk to each other – the robot sings to the sculpture and the sculpture talks back with bursts of fire, while the crowd dances and cheers. Utterly magical and amazing and moving.

    While I expected fire art, and amazing art cars, and creative music and spontaneous dancing, it had not occurred to me that all of these things would inform each other spontaneously and improvisationally. It reminded me of an incredibly moving and energetic jazz performance but with visual and even heat and pressure pulses adding to the effect. Now imagine that this type of thing happens maybe a hundred times a day for a week, and 10,000 times a day on a smaller scale, not necessarily loud and energetic, sometimes quiet and contemplative; and that no one is getting paid; rather people are spending their own time and money to make it happen for the art of it and the enjoyment and pleasure of others. Understanding that was a significant part of my entry into the city and informed my whole week.

    I’ll be there next year, for sure.

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  • Dust E. Bear says:

    During the Burn, I sat next to a blue-haired angel from Finland who spoke fluent Russian. Right before the Man lit up, she turned to me and wrapped a bracelet around my wrist, tying three knots. She explained that it was her first time in America and she wanted to give me something special from Brazil. After each knot she tied, I was to make a wish, and when that knot came undone, my wish would come true. I still have the bracelet on and I think about her and the burn every day. Can’t wait to get back to BRC.

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  • Adam says:

    I had thirty strangers bow down on their hands and knees and worship me like a god. And for ten seconds–I felt like one.

    I recommend being worshiped to everyone.

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  • Jessica says:

    It was my first time at Burning Man and it’s hard to pick just one moment. It was all amazing! From going into the Temple to seeing the fire shows to all the art cars! Obviously my best moment though was watching the man burn! I absolutely loved every minute there and couldn’t get enough. I was sad to leave and I will definately be there next year. I would like to go to decompression also. Shout out to “duck pond” they hooked it up with some good vodka! :>

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  • Pam Man says:

    I traveled with a group of 12 friends to Black Rock this year and for 4 of them, it was their first time to Burning Man. Experiencing the event through their eyes was a lot of fun. To hear them say “Wow” the first time they saw the Man, or the Bone Tree, or a guy on 12 foot stilts, or a giant insect walking through Center Camp, was a great thrill for me.

    My personal favorite moment was on Thursday night when a group of four of us trekked out to deep playa. The moon was enormous, there was a gentle wind that spared us the dust, and there was a hightened mood of celebration. Way, way past the Temple, we sat down for a smoke and to take in the sights. Looking back at the city, it seemed like a huge, loud, beautiful, sparkling, surreal mirage. We talked for a while about how amazing it was that all of us who had planned and struggled to make it to Black Rock in 2009, had made it happen and created this crazy/beautiful fleeting thing which was impossible to describe and breathtaking to witness, and that we could try to explain the exhileration of that view, but one would truly have to be there to understand. It was a perfect night at Burning Man and I’ll never forget it.

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  • Alice says:

    Some of my father’s ashes went in Basura Sagrada last year, and some in the burn that I made (the $hrine), but I had plenty left over. This year he came out to the playa with me again, and I went to put him in the temple, but he didn’t want to be there. I don’t know why.

    The night of the Man burn, I went with two friends to the pile of embers left after the main fire had subsided, and entered the circle to put my father where he apparently wanted to go. The other people who stood with me and watched me while I put his ashes on the embers, and who watched while I scooped playa up to mix with the ashes that would return home with me, paid an honor to us that I can’t ever forget. I don’t know your names or who you are, but if you read this and recognize me, thank you. Forever, thank you.

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  • Sunshine says:

    My 6th year in a row, SO many perfect, magical moments.

    This year, I think it was when I woke up early Thursday morning after a long night of partying and took a stroll. I was in my pj’s (Leopard print shorts) and I really just meant to step outside of the rv to get fresh air but before I knew it I was on a very spiritual journey. I had no sun glasses, no bandana no spf…just a bottle of water and off I went. What a rookie mistake to leave camp w/o the necessities! However there was a force within me that was stronger than reason. I walked and walked and walked and before I knew it I was out at the trash fence. There was no one one within a 1/4 mile of me. I was at the 10 o’clock side and it was incredibly serene. I sat down, and had the most amazing conversation with myself. I kept getting a “Message” over and over…”Does it matter?”, I kept hearing this. I’ve been so frustrated with some things in my life, and when I heard this it was so fitting. A tear came, as I answered…NO! I started to think about what really does matter in my life and it filled my heart with Joy. The Love in my life is the only thing that does matter.

    Thank you Burning Man for always being a place of spiritual growth…and evolution.

    btw, when I walked back and reached the 1st street there was a couple in the closest tent to me and they said…”How was it”? I couldn’t reply, there were no words…. and then I spouted out, “AMAZING!”. It made them smile big (O:

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  • Desiree says:

    Thursday morning I felt a strong desire to be on my own, and took off for the Temple. I had something I needed to do. Armed with a notebook, sharpie and handkerchief, I set off to heal and let go.

    I felt strong waves of compassion and loss as I approached the Temple. I settled in a peaceful spot, overwhelmed by emotion, and spent the next 30 minutes weeping — for loves lost, for wounds that still hurt, for regret. For one lost love, the Playa is his sacred ground, something that makes his eyes sparkle every time he talks about it. It was all the regret and sadness around our relationship ending that I needed to release.

    I wrote a long and heart-felt note, full of rage, sadness and forgiveness. Words I’ve said before but needed to say again. The only thing I may never get to tell him was how wonderful Burning Man turned out to be for me. I finally understand.

    I tucked that note into a spot in the Temple and felt relief for the first time in a while. On his sacred ground, I let him go.

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  • T-Mo says:

    It was my first time at Burning Man and though I had hear stories about what I might see, nothing prepared me for the way all the art cars, sculptures, fire and fire dancing, music, gifting, integrated together into one otherworldly amalgamation. Truly amazing and will be back again.

    My favorite moment came on sunset on Thursday. After watching the kinetic sculpture parade we were standing just 6:00 of the man, watching the flurry of activity surrounding us. Having arrived on Monday I had begun to feel like I had an idea of what there was to see and experience…. Ahead of us closer to the man moved an art car with a giant carrot dangling off the front. Red suited people with megaphones announced themselves to be “animal control” and were chasing and netting a hand full of people dressed as bunnies. Thinking it interesting and odd, my gaze continued to pan about the scene when from behind us marching towards the man turned out to be a procession of hundreds of people dressed as bunnies! The two sides clashed in a bizzarre sort of gang war with wild chasing, and we were right in the middle of it all! As the gang war evolved into techno dancing, my brain spent minutes trying to comprehend what was going on and what had just happened. I was gobsmacked but not with fear but astonishment as any conception of what is spontaneously possible on the playa was redefined. I’m still amazed that after four days of Burning Man I was able to be floored so completely. :)

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  • Brandilicious says:

    With Virgin Stamped All OVER ME ……….

    My lovely RV neighbors decided to try to de-virginize me by invading my tent trailer at 4:45 AM one morning, while I was dead asleep. One male naked and the female half dressed…..I was handed a cocktail (which I didnt drink) and told to get up they were going to go at it and needed my help acheiving the big O……there was extreme persistance……no joke…… no need for extra details. I was able to skate out of it strategically and ended up taking gorgeous photos of the art installations at sunrise…….I cant remeber the last time I watched the sunrise…..but it was outstanding. I also had been contemplating my marriage at Burning Man and new I would have opportunities to try out what I have been fantasizing about for years with a woman. And believe me , it was a very persistant Opportunity that I wanted nothing to do with. I realized how much I really do love my husband and was excited to get home to him.

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  • Joseph says:

    One evening early in the week, as the sun was setting, I walked out into the desert alone, behind BRC, where there was no one. I was utterly alone, no other humans near by. I asked my creator what I should do. My creator informed me that I must lose the costume first…and so away it went, layer by layer, and then the jewelry, and necklaces…all of it off, I stood completely naked, bathed in the blazing colors of the setting sun. I walked away from my belongings, and my footprints appeared in the cracks before me, before I stepped into them, the footprints appeared. They were already there, waiting for me to fill them. My body found a rhythm and I intuitively moved in a kind of slow ti-chi-yoga dance, that let my joints crack and free themselves of their restrictions. I have been in several accidents, have broken many bones and have limited range of motion, but I felt freed of all of it. Free of pain, regret, fear…..FREE. With my creator that evening, I found myself once again. A child, an embryo, a man, a woman, all together, all encompassing, a creative being of light….free to BE… as I was gifted this life to be.

    Later that evening, a fellow burner gave me a bumper sticker that says ‘Fear is Funny’.

    And I have not stopped smiling since.

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  • Face says:

    The beautiful sounds of Aaron’s pink, gem covered brass (trumpet) overlaying the vibrations coming from the four playa coated strings [of my bass]. The moment when the piece of music that was flowing and groving together as smoothly as the breeze that moved across our notes and carried them to beautiful people, who were unbeknownst to us, intently listening came to a close. Looked at each other with the same glazed eyes and shit eatin’ grins… it worked! After sharring four burns together we finally manage to both have our instruments with us this year. The burn of the man brought a spark of creation between the two of us. Perhaps stirring the beginnings of a new project or simply a creature of the desert that we can hopefully look forward to capturing again in 2010.

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  • keith van dyke says:

    my favorite part was when someone in our camp, in the DPW ghetto on other business, caught a glimpse of an expensive 4-wheel bicycle that had been stolen from our camp and hidden away amongst some other items in storage. a fellow by the name of ‘gauge’ had pilfered it, written his name all over it, and hid it. we got our bike back! and the org was made aware of another oldschool sociopath it needs to cull from the DPW herd.

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  • Pepper says:

    Sprawling in the most delicious bean bag in the universe, drinking lukewarm beer and having my new friend Formula Phil, a PHD student of Mathematics at Columbia, describe Einstein’s Theory of Relativity, (Made Relatively Simple) and demonstrating string theory by gently pushing on my thigh. “You know if I press my hand into your thigh like this forever it will eventually go through.”

    I love human beings.
    I love that the playa levels the playing field and we all start as strangers, simply in love with one another.

    I know if I hadn’t been spending so much time with my friends and my husband I could have fallen in love with one person every night.

    Lucky for Phil I leave Burning Man 2009 with only one playa crush, simply because there just isn’t enough time, but perfect time enough.

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  • Mitzi Skyline (aka Frank) says:

    one of my favorite personal experiences of this year happened on tuesday afternoon, i think. i was heading out to the loo, and i can’t recall what i was wearing (might have been a orange sun dress and my pink cowboy hat), but as i walked by a camp down our street suddenly a young woman came scurrying out followed by another woman with a camera. the first woman ran up to me, and with this gorgeous italian accent she put her arm around my waist, struck a pose for the camera and said, “we MUST take a photo to commemorate this moment.”

    i said, “uh, of course!” (or something equally stupid-sounding). after the photo was taken, she asked me if i wanted to join them for some fresh orange slices and some tea with rum that she had just made. after such a fantastic introduction, how could i say no? the oranges and tea were extremely refreshing, and the accents of the 4 italians in the camp were just wonderful to listen to. turns out this was her first burn, and she had only heard of burning man 8 months ago. she had given up her job and her apartment in london to come, afterwards she was going to mexico for a month with the guy who told her about burning man in the first place. ah, the freedom of youth!

    her group wanted to know if i wanted to stay for some more food, but i said, “well, i would love to, but you know, i was actually originally just heading to the loo…” they all laughed and said they understood, so i went on my way. i really wish i had exchanged email addresses with her, because you know, she was right: i really DO want a photo commemorating that moment!

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  • honeybee says:

    for the past two burns i have been captivated by my mission of moop. i can’t say how or why i feel so compelled to pick things up off the playa, but some things are unexplainable. this year i spent near 10 hours bent over picking things up. how can it be that a broken heineken bottle, millions of shards of bright green glass embedded in the playa right in front of the “welcome to sin city” sign made my burning man something memorable? i think it was the sense of accomplishment that i got, knowing that i saved someone else an hour when there was more to be done, the feeling i have right now knowing that DPW isn’t picking up that glass. there is something to be said for being an early-to-riser out on the playa, and i take those moments of my burn and hold them most dear, for they are when i feel most alive, most at home, most at one with our fair city. sometimes it’s the strangest things that move you… for me it’s the moop.

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  • Sparkle says:

    Favorite moments….all of this on the same night… Walking to deep playa after the man burned….visiting the temple…. finding the giant disco ball on a crane with giant searchlight shining on it and animal collective playing and it shut off and packed up for good a few minutes later…. being followed by a guy a little distance away on a bike who thought my friends and I were an art installation …. witnessing the solving of the rubix cube and seeing its colors flash…. standing with one leg on the other side of the trash fence… overhead us the sky still filled with blazing stars and perfect full moon casting a shadow so dark on the beautiful playa as the orange and pink eastern sky starts to light up and the most beautiful sunrise awakens before us….

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  • Kiki says:

    During a trek to the potties, a samurai jumped out onto the road near the DaoDome and asked “May I moisten you?” He was holding a spray bottle attached to a hose. I recognized him from the previous day – he poured me some oj and ice while i battled for the white side in the chess game of good and evil. Then his eyes opened wide and he said “I remember you! You MUST be moistened!” and I spread my arms and let him spray me. Not only did it make my skin feel good, but the feeling of acceptance and community made my spirit feel good. I love BRC!

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  • keith van dyke says:

    my favorite part was when someone in our camp, in the DPW ghetto on other business, caught a glimpse of an expensive 4-wheel bicycle that had been stolen from our camp and hidden away amongst some other items in storage. a fellow by the name of ‘gauge’ had pilfered it, written his name all over it, and hid it. we got our bike back! and the org was made aware of another oldschool sociopath it needs to cull from the DPW herd.
    maybe this is odd for a favorite part, and i’m sorry that it’s not some amazing joyous self-transforming moment. i’ve been to more burns that just about anyone on the playa these days, though. i’ve had a million of those amazing moments. and i suppose, sure, fault me for the experience of being really upset about something, and then it being made better and being REALLY stoked about that. my campmates went to a lot of trouble and expense to acquire that bike, and put a lot of trust out there to just let people go and use it. so for them to not get screwed in the end, well, that was fantastic.
    maybe this post will get censored out, again. i hope not.

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  • gtech says:

    What a wonderful experience. From the Monday dust storm, the art, the center camp shows and the great fireworks. We met some wonderful people saw some spectacular sights. All in all a great week…
    One draw back of the entire week was at the burning of the man. Three photographers were setup to take pictures. One on a tall ladder with a equally tall tripod. One with a standing height tripod and one freestyle for freedom of action. They were setup well ahead of time and as the crowd filtered in and during the pause after the fire show and the burn itself some in the crowd got impatient and decided they didn’t like it that the photographers were in their line of sight. They started chanting and throwing glow sticks and other hard objects. One photographer not held down by a tripod or ladder deemed it necessary to abandon the attempt to record the burn in favor of safety and ran for cover. Shortly after that the burn started and peoples attention was turned to the burn.
    This was the only event that left a bad taste for the entire week. Those that felt it necessary to resort to physical harm to improve your view… shame on you. That is not the burning way.

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  • Reba says:

    It was my first Burn, so as you all know, it was incredible, amazing and it blew my fucking mind…. much like all virgins to the Burn.

    My favorite moment? On thursday night a kind man gifted me two tabs and sent me on my merry way. After I saw Armin and Infected play at the Opulent Temple I went biking through the playa by myself feeling amazing… I finally come biking by the beautiful art installation of the woman with her arm out near the porto’s by the man, towards the 3 o clock direction. Earlier in the day, I had gone out to the playa and for the first time in my life, I went topless! I know everyone does it, but I had never done it and it was liberating for me. I took a couple pictures with her (the art) during my topless session. Well….. arriving back to her in the middle of the night, with the bright moon just over her arm, my jaw was dropped by the intense beauty and the intense connection I felt to her. At night, her heart was aflame and she lit up just beautifully! I stood there, thinking about her from earlier in my day and feeling so close to her and her powerful essence. I looked around at the horizon which was just incredible and all the lights were amazing (mind you I’ve got those two tabs in my system)… I look back towards this beautiful goddess and I’m IN LOVE with her. As I’m feeling a very close spiritual connection with this beautiful, powerful woman…. suddenly the flame on her heart lights up and begins to grow huge, lighting up the playa around us…. my jaw dropped and I started tripping hard. I darted my head around to see if anyone else was witnessing it, but I was alone. I couldn’t believe it… I wasn’t even sure if it was happening. I literally thought her heart was growing in flames BECAUSE I WAS THERE. I thought she felt my energy and was showing me with her power. Of course, I was just tripping. I stayed with her for probably around 15 minutes in awe, before I spotted the man in the shadows 20 feet away. I walked over to him and knew I had been PRANKED! He was one of the artists that built her. He had been watching me, and controlling the flame from a nearby by propane tank. He began laughing maniacally, which caused me to laugh just the same. I ended up hanign out with him for about an hour and he let me control the flame and trip everyone out for a while…. it was sooooo much fun and it was an amazing gift!

    While hanging out with him, I caught my first glimpse of those weather balloons in the sky, the bright blue lighted arch…… INCREDIBLE!!!!

    Can’t wait to be back! I loved everyone I met, and when telling people back home about, the stories bring tears to my eyes everytime!

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  • Don says:

    My first burn, I finally made it, a grand trip indeed!!
    I wish I had the words to describe the emotions that expolded within me during this event. The torment I felt at the temple ripped my heart from my chest, I felt so much there that I had to walk away, tears streaming from my eyes, only to return the next day for reasons I have none, to once again feel the pain so many were trying to shed, painful yet it shook my soul to the core.
    I will forever return to Burning Man, as I have been awakened with feelings and emotions I have never had before.
    So strange that at the age of 52, I feel like I am now free?
    To all I meet, saw, and heard, forever, thank you.

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  • ZapWestin says:

    watching the sunrise, from the top of the temple, on Sunday morning, was probably the most beautiful moment in all my 3 burns…the feeling of being united with my fellow burners, being grateful for pure existence–it was all so moving and incredible.

    another great moment was walking out of the port-o-potty monday evening and seeing the man lit up for the first time, feeling a dusty breeze, knowing to savor every precious moment, not just of the week, but of life.

    And finally Sunday night, the warmth of one of the playa fires, the image of this girl telling me about herself in front of the fire, the embers exploding behind her head…incredible

    thanks to everyone there for being a part of such a beautiful week.

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  • ZapWestin says:

    Oh and I almost forgot being visited by my recently deceased friend in a dream.

    I ‘d said if I were ever going to see Lindsey again, it would be at Burning Man, and I was right. It was beautiful. She was beautiful.

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  • Atticus says:

    My defining moment came to me Saturday night, post burn…. I was drumming to Rahiohiro and MC Zulu. Everyone seemed to be hovering around the vibe that my doumbek was combining with the music. This was like the 20th time this week that this had happened, but the other bluepeace drummers werent with me this time. It was a real retina-widenning, heart-warming, brain-numbing experience – Thanx HookahDome!

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  • Basil says:

    I spent the week in a peaceful state, mainly due to my decision to be sober for the event. Not being weighed down by alcohol made for a remarkably different experience.

    Favorite moment would be the entirety of Temple Burn Sunday night, beginning with the burn, which we arrived to as the structure was already engulfed in flames (Note: it is quite nice to arrive late to the party sometimes…). Followed by an hour of Cubritron goofiness. At which point my pal Zac happened to be standing there as we rose, his Front Porch art car right behind him.

    I’d been looking for that car all week, and it was mighty fine to come across him at that moment. We hitched a ride across the playa and hopped off, headed over to Hookahdome, and listened to the dude from Thievery Corporation spin some tunes.

    Not bad at all for a night.

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  • Marko Maehler says:

    I had many moments to remember but the moment that gave me the take-home message of the whole experience came Tuesday night. I had built a golden chariot with which to drive people around the city. I figured it would be a good way to meet new people, which it was. (turned out to be a good workout too) I wouldn’t offer rides but just drove around until someone asked for one. Tuesday night I was flagged down by a girl at around ten o’clock and Esplanade. She needed a ride to around 3:30 so we had some time to talk. She asked me if giving rides was my usual thing and I answered “no” since this was my first burn. Then I went on to tell her how I’d first heard about Burning Man in 1993 and after talking to a friend that had gone in 1998 I had decided I should go but hadn’t ever made it till this year – 11 years later! She replied “Man, you need to get your shit together!” She’s right. I determined right then and there that I would no longer hesitate and second guess – That I would dive headlong into life and be whatever I choose and do whatever I choose, right now. I went to Black Rock City hoping for transformation. Thanks to you, whatever your name is, for your courage and authenticity. I am transformed.

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  • Double Dorje says:

    It was my second burn….and upon arriving Monday morning I felt like I never left.

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  • Morgana says:

    It was my first burn. On Tuesday night everything still felt new and crazy. After insane dancing at Opulent temple and Hokkahdome (which had best dj and music), and still feeling pretty high, we wandered into the middle of chaos of moving lights and sounds that reached the furthest corners of the desert (damn, they have bad ass speakers). 360 degrees around us was everlasting party celebrating humanity. And I said to myself: WHAT A CONCEPT, man, what a concept! people make all this effort to come here and get loose. And if world were to end tomorrow, that’s what I want my last day to be like. If I am to die tomorrow, I am happy that I witnessed that!
    During that night I saw many characters from many people nightmares. It was a bizarre carnival of sick imagination. And it was great!
    And then when the sun started rising, we found a big tent near the Man, where they served us tea. How nice of them to welcome morning strangers. And a ridiculous yellow duck doing his morning dance to the sun along with a runaway clown standing among nomadic looking people – what a surreal picture.

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  • Richard says:

    Walking from Root Society towards Center Camp around midnight, I hear an excited voice call out, “Excuse me!” I look and see two happily anxious men crouched at the top of the ladder on their double-decker bus.

    Can you do us a favor?

    Uh, sure, what?

    Climb up to the second rung on the ladder and jump off!

    Um… Why??

    The way the light is on the playa it looks like clouds! So it’s like you’re falling into the clouds! You can come up and we’ll show you too!

    Ohhh! Ok. You know, this is interesting because I’m a skydiver, but I can’t jump this year because I don’t have enough experience.

    Really? Cool!

    (I climb up and jump off, giving a decent arch, etc.)

    Do it again, and look into my eyes as you fall!

    (I jump again)

    I climb up to check it out, and indeed it looks like clouds down below. When I tell them it’s my first Burn they’re ecstatic, hugs all around. Then one of them climbs down and does a very dramatic fall into the clouds so I can see. They help me triangulate on finding the 9:00 potties (ah, the Red Cross station, ah) and I’m off.

    So it turns out I got to skydive after all…

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  • Driana says:

    My most meaningful moment was in line waiting to get into the city on Monday morning. I was a virgin who had studied this website like I was getting ready for a final exam. I knew the whole “Welcome Home” bit. So in line I look up at the license plate of the old RV in line in front of me. It had Oregon plates. I’m from Oregon. Vertical on the plates it had the small letters H & C. I took that to mean “Homecoming”. The numbers on the plate were 97203. 97203 is my zipcode. I knew I was home!

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  • Monk Monk says:

    I arrived at BRC Friday the 28th, in order to experience the greeter role for my first time and my second Burning Man. 10 days on the playa is more than twice the 7 from last year. Welcoming the early arrivals home Saturday and Sunday were special. Everyone was in full participation mode to help create BRC, building infrastructure, theme camps, art cars. We greeters were all touch sluts eager to hug, welcome newbies, and create general ribald hilarity with all arrivals.
    I had not realized how being a greeter would connect me radically and inclusively with BRC particpants. Monday while cruising on my bike in a dust storm, I took welcome refuge in 6 different theme camp chill zones. in 4 of those, someone I had personally greeted was there, offering beverage and food to the crazy man who had greeted them in hot pants and head gear. People recognized me on the playa, came up to say hello and thank me for whatever words I had bestowed upon them at Greeters Station.
    As a greeter, my role became much more than the guy who welcomed you home. I had the opportunity to see in the moment, what was the needed message, for each person arrives with certain expectations, and I was there to encourage illusion of what was to happen to drop away, be open to radical immediacy, and to send them on their way.
    On Sunday, a car approached my station, two riders, a trailer full of gear, body language constrained by the stress of driving from the east coast. “We’re two days late and we have our camp’s art car pieces in the trailer, let us in” were the words I heard as I crouched by the passenger window, anxiety obvious in both faces.
    I recall old feelings in the default world of being late, out of place, off schedule, of being somewhere other than I thought I was supposed to be. I gave that up last year at my first burning man, changed forever.
    “OK, so let me tell you that you aren’t late, you’re exactly where you’re supposed to be, which is right here, right now.” I started. “Everything else, including your idea of where you should be, doesn’t exist once you pass this station.” I don’t remember what else I said, but two or three days later, a woman of relaxed radiant beauty came up to me on the playa to thank me, reminded me of the state she and her partner had been in and that the words I had spoken were the perfect thing for her to hear: she had been crying for two days, worried about being late, and I in the moment of including she and her partner in my immediate experience created something beyond burning man, relaxed and opened her to the immediacy that Burning Man expresses, and returned to me unexpectedly
    So the playa this year was about connection, immediacy, dance, presence. Oh yeah, there was a burn as well, wasn’t there?

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  • meganeeze says:

    wow! That was pure ecstasy … home finally coming down, feeling stronger and stranger, still feeling the love, inspired for more.

    A haiku for the week after:

    Ripped open and raw
    Stumbling to find solid ground
    The bubble has burst.

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  • jennifercrimson says:

    Got off antidepressants at the burn! I have been wanting to get off of these for quite a while and finally said enough is enough, if any place on earth I will be happy this should be it. I knew any side effects could blend with all the others, sweating, vertigo, dry mouth, sleeplessness (hello sounds pretty common on the playa) being over emotional. It worked like a charm and ended my almost 6 years of being in prison. I left the burn with such a positive outlook on how to overcome things in my life sans drugs of any kind, how to remain joyful and how to keep moving ahead. Those around me seemed to mop up my energy, take it in, add joy and expel. I am simply okay now, really okay now and feel like a fog has lifted. I can not speak enough about the energy and vibe this year as it just made anything seem possible. I am so thankful to my burningman community for allowing me the space to find myself, lose myself and become myself all at once. I am drug free and no longer under the spell of large pharms so my gratitude and love to all who shared in my detox without even knowing.

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  • Gabbi Thomas says:

    Once upon a moment…

    it was the morning after that big, bad Man burned. All of my close friends and I had managed to stay together for the night (which is a feat in itself as anyone in big groups knows). We had gotten our faces rocked by Bassnectar and then Tipper through down one of the top sets of my life. The bass was so low that i was dancing two centimeters off of the ground for a good 8 mins. Get low, low, low, low…

    Anyway, we had wondered out to deeper playa to visit my friend Paulo’s art installation – the one with all the mirrors at about 1:30 and I. As the sun’s first bright red rays came over those beautiful mountains, my friends Paulo, Jenner, Davey, James, and my companion, Josh, all embraced in the beauty of Paulo’s art reflecting all the light of the sun around us. And we knew we were all so very blessed

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  • JP says:

    My most precious moment was to leave a party hand to hand to one of my boyfriends towards the temple. The bitter cold of the night, the love I feel for him, the huge distances, the bright moon, the tangible challenges we were overcoming in our relationship, the feeling of being insignificant and yet special walking on the playa dust… All combined made me burst into tears… Realization tears… Happy tears… Overwhelmed tears… Gratitude tears…

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  • Amanda Brown says:

    I have two moments that were absolutely amazing but they relate…so its sorta like one..I think they need a little explaination though.

    Before my first burningman my boyfriend told me that I should make something for my dad, who commited suicide when I was little, to go in the temple. There has always been such a stinging pain over the loss and absence of my dad that I have never been able to overcome the pain and resentment that I felt. After thinking a bit, I decided to paint a picture for him…which I thought was fitting because he was an artist himself. I painted a picture that I thought conveyed a fitting message but was largely unattached to it because I hadn’t allowed myself to feel very much in the way of sentimentality towards my dad.

    On the day that we went to put my painting in the temple I had the attitude that I would simply put it somewhere, maybe write something around it and leave..very brief. I found a place on the walkway up to the second floor and put it there..by this time I was already crying, so I put it down and started writing a letter on the baseboards. What came out of me was a message of love and understanding instead of what I was expecting..a letter of anger and accusation. At the end of the letter I wrote something that was so true I could feel it down to the very bottom of my heart: “I Forgive you daddy, and I love you with all my heart.” That was unbelieveable because I literally felt the weight of 13 years of anger lift off my shoulders.

    The second moment was when I saw my painting go up in flames and fall. It was my dad being freed of the resentment and at that moment I knew something that I never could have believed before. My dad loved me. He didn’t do what he did because of me.
    I have a different outlook on life now because of those moments.

    yay burningman

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  • Kay says:

    I can’t describe it in detail, but it took place on an air mattress waaayyy out in walk in camping. I’m now in love……

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  • element says:

    This year was my first burn. On Wednesday night I trekked to the Temple with the person I love and from the top of it saw the playa as a living, breathing thing. The bass from various sound camps and art cars were its heartbeat, the creativity and vibrance of everyone around me were its consciousness.

    And to the man who welcomed me to The End after I walked across the deep playa alone one night — thank you. You made my night.

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  • The Matt says:

    So many stories, but 2 stand out.

    Sunday, before the gates opened, I was exausted and broken. We had been working since Wednesday to finish our art project and it was nowhere near done. Sitting in camp I noticed a lost stranger, someone who just arrived. Im normally shy, and not very touchy but something in my head told me to give her a hug and help her with anything she needed. I needed to escape from my imaginary walls. I walked to her, explained my story, and she gave me the best hug I have ever recieved. We wandered around, left each other then found each other later that night. I walked with her all over the playa, pointed to our unfinished art and watched the sunrise on top of another artists art, with the artist in center camp. We bid each other farewell for another night.

    By Friday I had made it a habit to say hello and hug as many people on our street as possible. I had to pass on the gift of that first hug. We had a shy 3 year old in our camp who I had finally convinced to give me a hug. After the hug, I asked her “Would you like to hug some people with me?”
    She Nodded and we walked to the street.
    I have never seen people with bigger smiles. She gave each person she saw the biggest hug she could, and I followed up with the biggest hug I could. We were both smiling, and sharing that with complete strangers.

    On Tuesday after the Burn, I was alone, in the deep playa de-mooping our art site. I felt alone, lost and confused. I was unsure what would help, but I was optimistic the playa would provide. It had worked for the past week, why not now,…
    As I turned to view the city, I noticed a lone bike rider coming closer to me. It was my wonderful friend from Sunday. We embraced in the silence while I returned her gift to her. It felt like we had known each other for a lifetime. And I know we will.

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  • DDre says:


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  • Mischa says:

    This year my friends from Salt Lake City went to burning man and i unfortunately couldn’t go with them even though we’ve all been for the past 2 years. but thankfully because of the live video webfeed i was able to watch the burn with them. the most meaningful thing for me, even though i wasn’t there, was seeing the photos they took with a picture of me included in them because i couldn’t be there. and finally them placing that photo in the temple for it to be burned along with it. it truly made me feel like i was there in spirit. next year i don’t care what the obstacles are, i will be out on the playa. )'( <3

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  • dino boy says:

    walking into our bar (the unnatural history museum) at 2am, to be greeted by 200 mad people, headed by a close friend who had temporarily lost ALL signs of humanity and just stood there gurgling, yelping, laughing, wailing, grinning, smiling & glowing….

    Here’s to Glowing and Regression… it’s good for the soul.

    this was my third burn, and it blew my mind… I’m am now spontaneously crying tears of wonder and joy all over the place, and this page has reduced me to tears several times.

    thank you ALL for SHARING your stories…. for keeping me warm, my batteries are charged for the winter…

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  • Marko Maehler says:

    Another notable moment… Pulling up to the the greeter station Monday morning as a virgin – My greeter is someone I know from back home! How nice to be welcomed home by someone from home! Just one of many synchronistic events – Like wandering out to the gate to meet my beloved who drove in on Wednesday night. By chance I happened to make it out just at the exact moment she drove in. What magic is this???

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  • susan franden says:

    This was my 8th year and my best year yet. This year I was all about meeting people, where in the past I have been a little shy about that. I met and hugged more people, and I gave out lots of unsolicated love advice too, (hopefully didn’t freak anyone out too much).

    My favorite night was waiting for the man to burn, and making friends with all the people sitting around me. I met some fun girls from SF, and I was thinking clear enough to get an email address from one so we can keep in touch. Also met some great guys, maybe from Sacramento?, they were sitting in low folding chairs with pouches on the back. I had never seen anyone bring chairs to the burn, so of course I had to chat with them. They had goodies in the pouches, so they kept asking me to look for stuff and give it to them. I was not thinking clear enough to even really get their names apparently, but would love to remember who they were. One of them had a king’s crown on and one had a beautiful wife from Romania? I think. If anyone knows who they were please email me, suzket@aol.com.

    There was just so much love all around us, I even commented to everyone about all the pure love surrounding us that night, it just makes my heart happy to think about it. Everyone was just there in the moment, enjoying each other and the beautiful fire dancers, and all the sounds of laughter around us was amazing. That night will live in my heart and memory forever.

    Can’t wait for next year…

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  • Kent says:

    Spending Wednesday night walking, dancing and talking about the brain with a pretty neuroscientist. We chatted for hours about biology….then cuddled-up under a random art installation and watched the sunrise.

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  • missmarion says:

    Being WHIPPED for half an Hour at Spanky’s wine bar.
    Being the lucky winner of the reddest butt the day after!! (did not noticed obviously – who’s got a mirror in BRC?, or was it because of my enormous slide burn?).
    Anyway I am so proud of this Tshirt because it is an evidence this fabulous week was not a dream, just another reality I totally love. I have been overwhelmed with happiness since. Can’t wait for my second burn!

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  • shana says:

    A camp in my village hosted a David Deida Meet Up – he is a well-known writer and tantric teacher. About 35 men and women gathered to discuss his philosophies. After the discussion, a dark-haired, smiling man approached me and told me he was drawn in by my radiance. He asked if he could share a poem that had spontaneously dropped into his head, a gift from “source.” Of course I was flattered and excited that a stranger had written a poem just for me so I happily agreed, expecting something short and corny. Instead he opened his mouth (and heart) and recited for about 7 minutes an incredibly spiritual poem about divinity, radiance, love. At first I smiled politely. Then I started to cry, so moved that he had seen my soul, my worth. Then I smiled and cried and sparkled and let my emotions flow out of my heart and toward him. I felt seen, received, touched, honored, and wildly impressed that he was able to compose a brilliant, very long poem on the spot. A moment of beautiful Playa magic!

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  • Jazzy Fresh says:

    Entering the Temple. Thursday morning around 8:15 as I was walking up to the temple I began to feel calm, sad, happy, warm and cool. It was AMAZING to see the time and compassion that was put into building this sculpture and to also know that their are still LOVING people in this cold world.

    After watching the Temple burn……..I cried and cried until I began to laugh knowing that everything IS going to be ok!!!!!!!

    I’ll be back next year……2010 BABY………

    Peace and Love…..


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  • righthererightnow says:

    This was my eighth and my favorite burn. Yes, it WAS a particularly ease-filled and redonkulously fun year, but really, it was the best because of my intentions. Intentions usually come true out there. To find a new magic friend, the best music ever, figuring out my next professional move… something like that. This year, mine was different. I arrived to the playa with only the intention to continue to truly embody the present moment and to rest deeply into the seed of who I am, of who we all are. Having already found myself over the last couple of months finding that my real home exists in the “now”, I was very excited to bring my new home, ahem, home with me and try it out there! So there I was, having all these cool shifts in my awareness and having so much fun and then it all get taken to the next level, whoo-hoo! Thursday night we were dancing at Nexus, he and I. Freak Nasty was approaching the decks. The sound system was killin! The place was perfectly packed…we sat down to rest. Eye contact for a long minute. I asked, “What do you see?” He said, “A kind of stillness and peace in you. What do you see in me?” I told him that I saw that same stillness but that somehow he was not letting himself experience it. That he was holding on too tight. “Yes,” he said, “It’s true.” And that’s when I let it happen. I let myself come completely into the present, in a way that I have never before. And from that place words came through me. And as I spoke the words to him I was also speaking them to myself and we sat outside for over an hour on a weird little pull cart on the back of someone’s bike and had a good old fashioned satori experience… enlightenment on the playa? HELLS YES BABY. Does it get much better than that? Nuh-uh, it doesn’t! Oh and then I got to sleep in a perfect naked puddle of awesomeness with him for days…that was rockin too ;)

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  • Zang says:

    When asked what Burning Man is like by people who have never been, one of my favorite ways to answer is to talk about the threshold of suspension of disbelief. There is so much happening that defies explanation that eventually the mind simply stops trying to comprehend and simply assimilates everything into its perception of the environment. This year, for example, I was walking along a street and a couple passed in the opposite direction, cross-country skiing across the desert. It was at least 30 seconds, perhaps more, before my mind jolted me and I had to examine what I’d just seen. The threshold had been passed: I was simply accepting magic as truth and vice versa.

    I first experienced this moment in 2007 while walking across the plaza. The number of impossible things roving about the desert was dumbfounding and I was utterly immersed in wonder. I caught a light in my peripheral vision and looking upward I thought, “Wow, shooting stars. Cool.” They weren’t like any other meteors I had seen though: they moved slowly and more closely resembled representations of comets with arching, glittering tails. Several moments passed before my mind bothered to examine this more closely. “Those can’t be meteors,” I thought staring into the sky again. I had no explanation for it and didn’t really bother searching for one. Instead, I fully embraced the magic and beauty of it all.

    Eventually I realized what, of course, was going on. Skydivers. Burning Sky, the people who lived across the street from me. Ever since then I have thought of these exceptions in suspension of disbelief as Burning Sky moments.


    While sitting at the Temple this year, our camp photographer leaned over and quietly said to me, “Some of the stars are moving.” I stared into the sky, wondering what cleverness was afoot. Eventually I spotted two red dots, slowly moving in parallel across the sky. “Those are airplanes,” said a woman sitting next to us. I didn’t agree; making the stars move was simply too much like something that would be pulled off at Burning Man. Another red star appeared, then a blue one. More people started noticing and a fervent debate sprung up. “Kites! They must be kites.” “No! They’re balloons!”

    “Look!” someone cried, “There’s more! Seven, eight…ten…more!”

    “It’s Burning Sky,” I said. I looked at our photographer, who had figured this out before saying something to me.

    By this point a collective murmur hovered above the entire crowd as everyone was staring in wonder at the sky, and suddenly an arc of glittering fire appeared. A massive gasp went up, then cheers. As the second and then third tails of fire came into sight the crowd came to its feet, cheering and yelling and laughing in delight.

    “It’s Burning Sky!” I called out. “They make magic above us!”

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  • lala says:

    i’m kind of with mason on that the staging area was quite the exquisite 420 (pun intended) moments at the beginning of my burn but other than that…very early friday morning…walked into Ashram Galactica. after our wonderful bartender chris made us something generous and tasty, we went into the backroom to find a very beautiful woman…long fauxhawk and the daintiest golden chain draped from ear to ear, across the bridge of her nose, playing classical music on a piano. that was one of the most amazing camps i’ve been to, in their decor, and then to come across that little scene…it is moments like those that keep me dreaming of BRC.

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  • This being my 3rd burn & the most amazing by far, I am filled with limitless facets of moments that I wish the whole world could have experienced. It’s so hard to pinpoint just one.

    What does sit on the surface of it all, is the limitless freedom & appreciation I felt as I looked up from all that was going on around to the epic sunrises, energy filled sunsets with a HUGE moon, wide open ornate clear sky nights this year.

    It felt like every time I looked up at the skies I was experiencing my own “evolution” this year, in just taking a second & having an inward cognitive moment with my natural earthly environment. Seeing yet again, a deeper layer of BM not just all the excitement around me.

    The 2 moments during that sound out the most are:

    – Walking back to camp with some friends traveling down E & 8:00, it was sunset & the most huge huge moon I have ever seen started to creep up from the mountains. One side of the sky was delicate shades of purple, pink & blue with distant stars trying to twinkle. And the other with vibrant purple, red & orange still brimming on the lines of sunset, pushing the sun down into the hills. I screamed to my friends “HOLEY SHIT! LOOK AT THE MOON!”. And we all stopped walking & stared. Even people traveling around us stopped. Some people who were outside cooking dinner & such even stopped what they were doing to get a view.

    For a second we were all memorized & there was silence.

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  • Something inside of me opened up & I just started howling like a wolf in the middle of the desert at the moon.


    ooooow ooooow- WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOooooo!”

    We were a pack of coyotes howling spontaneously at that big white round piece of beauty.

    …. It started everyone around us doing the same. And as we continued down the street it just continued all the way home. It felt so right!


    -2nd moment that stands out was, the first sunrise on the playa this year for myself.

    I experienced most of it alone. Which was a 1st for me. I sat & enjoyed the light that came to me from that stillness. Sitting on the desert floor on the outer ridge of 10:00. Distant sunrise house music playing behind me.

    It set my soul in such a beautiful motion for my whole week. I never lost that grounding the light gave me….. it beckoned me to completely give of myself to the experience of BM. And illuminate that feeling with the world.

    I feel forever indebted to that desert for what it brings into my life. My only hope is to make sure I give it back.

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  • George says:

    The Temple build was an especially trying 3 weeks. Exhaustion, meticulous measurements, tearing through my good gloves in 4 hours, waking up EVERY morning to a gong sounding followed by Clovis announcing “WAKE UP, FUCKERS!!!”, the Hearth appearing suddenly in the distance, like the monolith from 2001; the discussion of ‘what to do’ that followed, the incredibly low rate of injury to crew and burners, the prayers we had to chase across the playa during high winds, the families we met, the mourning, the celebration, the reflections, the encouragement, repeating the phrase, “No, it was Dave Umlas who spearheaded it this year” a few dozen times, seeing 4 shooting stars in under a minute the night we arrived, the awesome crew from Heavy Machinery, the KITCHEN CREW!!!… these all are the most memorable moments, rolled up into a Commentary Burrito for you to devour as you enjoy not having to gouge playa boogers from your nostrils every 10 minutes, or re-apply sunscreen to your nose and ears, or wonder where the next shower will come from…
    Cheers Fellows!

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  • sandra vanvoorhis says:

    SOCIAL CONTAGION – Upon returning from a magical/mystical burn, I read an article in the New York Times regarding the contagious nature of social behaviors both good and bad. The bottom line: our actions indirectly influence 1,000 people! The joy, wonder and hope we experienced in BRC is being passed along to MILLIONS of people. May the flame burn bright in all of your souls. Thank you so much for renewing my spirit with your generousity, warmth and silliness. VU

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  • ZapWestin says:

    another fantastic moment–

    me (in my tent, in the viking sirens camp 6:40 & G): There’s sand in my ass!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    random female voice from somewhere in the vicinity: There’s sand in my vag!!!!!!!!!!!

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  • Richard Van den Heule says:

    On Friday Midday with the sun at its fiercest when me and my BM Virgin best buddy finally managed to borrow some bikes we headed out to the deep playa past the temple and out towards the trash fence as we were attracted by what we thought was an art sculpture. As we approached we began to realise that this wasn’t just a piece of art but it was actually a man and a full drum kit. He was smashing at those cans like Animal from the Muppets, he was sweating profusely as he was bare skinned and playing like his life depended on it. Not only was he an incredible drumming talent he was able to produce a beat that made us dismount our bikes and dance to his enchanting rhythm. After about 20 minutes he slowed up, I began to thank him for his show and was going to ask him what made him think of setting up all the way out here when he replied, “Hell I was just riding by when I saw this drum Kit and drum sticks just sitting here all ready to play. I haven’t got a clue who they belong to!!” The imagery on its own of the drummer playing alone without a sole around him for nearly a square mile in the middle of the desert is worthy of a pink floyd album cover but the fact that they weren’t his and he had no idea who they belonged to really fried my noodle and possibly one of the coolest things I have ever seen.

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  • My moment came when I least expect it, in a way I would have never expected.

    On the drive in, my camp mates suffered a blow out. On the soft sand of the shoulder they could not get a jack to lift the trailer with the blown tire, and needed something to put under the jack to keep it from sinking. The wife looks at me and says laughingly, “Do you happen to have a piece of concrete we could put under that?”

    Why yes, strangely, I do. I tell her, “I got that!” Went to my truck, pulled it out and up their trailer went.

    The wheel on their trailer had fused lug nuts, being that they park it on the coast. Rusted tight. Their wrench could not break them loose. The husband looks at me and says, laughingly, “You don’t happen to have an air ratchet too, do ya?”

    Why yes, actually I do. I felt the need earlier on to pack my entire tool set, and air tank along with a huge generator to power everything. So I say to him, “I got that!” Ten minutes later, old wheel is off, new wheel is on.

    We start setting up camp, building this huge dome. A ton of work, and a little bit dangerous too. I overheard someone wish for a cordless drill to tighten up the nuts on the dome as their wrist is killing them. I grab my new one that I bought just for the trip. No real reason why, but when I saw it in the store, I just thought it would come in handy. I bring it to him, had it over and say, “I got that.”

    Later someone said, “Man, this would be a whole lot easier if we had some music.” I go to my trailer, pull out my stadium speakers, hook up the laptop, amplifier, and start the generator. Wireless mic turned on, volume turned all the way up, I speak into the mic and cover the camp site with my voice, “I got that.” The music played. And it played loud.

    Later on, and after many, many more “I got that’s” one of the strobe lights blew a fuse. It required a special type of extra small glass tube type fuse. By now, after two dozen, “I got that’s” people just started coming to me right off the bat. And yes, weeks earlier I had needed a glass tube fuse for a project I was working on. I had a bunch of spares when it was over and left them in the glove box of my truck. To their amazement, I spoke. “I got that!” – out came the tiny special fuse.

    People started to look funny at me. Thinking that perhaps I had a magic trailer and truck. Or perhaps somehow I was beaming in materials using a transporter. Maybe I had some very well trained pigons.

    Nope. Not the case at all. I just pack everything. From extra socks to air tools, to water to a solar power cell phone charger. I got that. The wife thinks I’m crazy sometime for always having my “batman like belt” on carrying all this stuff around. And I always hear, “Why in the hell do you ALWAYS have to pack EVERYTHING anyway?” Or, “Seriously, do you think we are going to need a hair dryer out there?”

    I couldn’t tell you why, but I thought me might, so I packed it. Sure enough, it was necessary to help dry out someone’s computer that had a drink spilled on it.

    Then it happened. I was out at the temple. Reading and feeling the energy and trying to hold back tears, when suddenly I realized that were was something I needed to write on the temple. A part that I needed to let go. I closing of a door that I was in need of in my life. And I didn’t have a pen.

    I said out loud, “Man, I could really use a sharpie right about now.” I man, standing above me on the second floor of the Temple says to me, “I got that!” and throws down a pen. A sharpie. Black. Just like I wanted.

    You will now find me at every Burning Man until I die. I will bring everything with me. If you need help, just find me. I’m the guy with the batman belt and a sharpie. I got that.

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  • epona says:

    falling in love.

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  • Suki says:

    I love that my husband of 30 years loves to go to Burning Man with me. We work really hard, together, while feeling the ache in our older bones and wake up younger each morning. Our favorite moment? A ride on our friend’s art car, a little horseshoe crab whose tail wagged on the playa. Dancing to Infected Mushroom at 2am. Mostly, teaching people to make jewelry and watching their faces light up and for that intake of breath when they make something personal and cool. Watching firelight glow in the faces of 40,000 people standing around the temple burn and everyone is quiet, lost in their own thoughts and internally processing their experience. And what are the odds of finding a friend lost for 10 years half a block down my street? We hung out in his fur lined van, while other friends came and went. I was offered a custom made ham sandwich which I swear, was the best sandwich I ever ate.

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  • kristin says:

    evolution was my first burn. while the whole week was amazing and truly life altering, there are two events that really stand out when i think about the whole experience.

    the first is driving through gerlach on sunday night and seeing nothing but miles and miles of headlights behind us and nothing but miles and miles of tail lights ahead ofus. it was surreal to see so many people all making the same pilgrimage, it really put in a mindset of community and understanding. and of course the greeters at the gate. everyone was beyond friendly and it was easy to see how happy they all were to be out there making sure we got in safely. plus, they give the BEST hugs!!

    and the other was the temple. i made a point to travel to the temple alone, knowing that it would be an emotional and difficult event for me. i sat at the temple and cried for a long time, and i never felt ashamed or exposed for it. even in such a public setting, i felt free to feel as i felt and to express it without judgement. one nice man sat down beside and hugged me. he didnt say anything, just sat with me, allowed me to lean against him and sob. when i stopped crying he looked at me and told me ‘you’re beautiful and it will all be okay. just wait.’ and that was the extent of our interaction. that morning changed my life.

    i feel different now. lighter. i came to burning man expecting a week long party and found inner peace instead. i miss the playa and cannot wait to get back home to it next august. i now understand why the greeters say ‘welcome home’ when you enter the city. black rock city really is my home now.

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  • Jim Vassar says:

    This was our first Burning man and was one of the most incredible experiences in our lives. There were gates opened within my mind that were locked and chained for many years. I have not experienced freedom and happiness like this for a long time.

    When I was a very young boy my mother and father would let my brother and I run naked in the rain and slide through the grass into puddles. We would shake the trees and laugh as the rain poured down on our heads. They watched us from the window and laughed as we would play for hours in the rain. When we had enough there was always a warm towel and loving embrace waiting for us at the door.

    Burning man awakened those memories of freedom, silliness, love and laughter. We were embraced by people we never meet as family. I miss it terribly and my heart aches to feel it again. We look forward to coming home.

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  • Kassie says:

    My first time, lots of moments, but one in paticular, sitting in the temple art project book tent, waiting for my friend, when the lovely woman (Jenny) sitting there waiting, at the request of the other person with her sang her Chicken Soup song, it was beautiful, not only dd her voice give me goose bumps, but the lyrics themselves really hit home. Just one of those moments that will stay with me a lifetime.

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  • Owl says:

    On my second burn I arived on Saturday as part of a themecamp setup crew. My favorite moment was the opening of the festival at midnight, with a line of cars like a bead chain as long as I could see… Being in Center Camp one night listening to an unknown grey fairy singing (more than) one hour in loops… Laying under thr Cubatron, looking up to the stars and the wonderful lights… Realizing that I should let go all plans and just go with the flow… These are strong memories…

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  • Schimmer says:

    First time burner here. I can’t tell you enough about how I heard from my friend that took me how I was going to enjoy it and was never going to know unless I experienced it. I was even told by a veteran burner I met in Vegas before I got here that I was really going to find out who I was when I left.
    Remembering being in Gerlach getting gas and asking the gas man how much further Burning Man was. He pointed to this enormous dust storm in the desert and said right over there probably expecting me to be afraid! I was instantly excited that I was so close and oddly excited that I was going to brave the otherwise Arabian desert looking sand storm! (You know the ones from the movies like Hidalgo or the Mummy) Little did I know that was a part of my journey because braving the intense sand storms was more than worth the return the Burning Man event gave me. There were so many moments I can’t possibly tell you.
    My friend and I got back into camp almost 5am every morning and would then sit in the cab of the truck listening to our techno a lot of which included Guetta, watching sunrises that were just incredible and are forever etched in my mind.
    I remember walking with my friend in the middle of the night with such energy that was feeding from every person there, it was like the Playa was alive. In the wee hours of Wednesday morning/Tuesday night I kept looking at my friend in amazement at what was going on everywhere, he smirked and said just think, it’s only Tuesday. TUESDAY – not Friday, TUESDAY and I had already had so much fun and seen so much I couldn’t possibly fathom what I was going to do with more people and more fun. All the smiles and friends I was meeting. My journey had just begun.
    We danced in probably every club almost every night and climbed towers I would never had climbed anywhere else. We climbed the rocket, climbed up to see the dance floor from above and even climbed up a little bitty ladder to the top of a tower thing to see the entire playa. Did I mention I’m not exactly graceful so even though I’m not afraid of heights I know it’s dangerous for me to do this? I did it anyway it was being called out of me just to do it that I would be okay. We met people at the bottom and people at the top. Deathly afraid of fire, I would jump every time a flamethrower lit but by Friday I was much much better at it.
    Friday night we were walking again and all of a sudden I felt confidence like never before. I didn’t feel like people thought I was out of place and if they did it was okay because I was okay with being a person on so many levels I was okay with who I am. I have this broad personality where there’s this polite over caring and oh so talkative excited person so it would appear that I would be reserved so when people who are “normal” realize that there’s someone inside that has broad open views and loves to be a bit freaky and free, I usually get treated weird and then when people who are open minded and freaky see the polite caring person, I almost treated as an outcast. It’s like I don’t quite fit in anywhere in the “real world,” which I now believe is the outside world, because I’m both sides of a coin. But Friday night I realized that I fit in here I could be as polite and loving and huggy as I wanted to be and still be that freak who likes to be spanked. I got to hug so many people! There are no reservations when you’re with people who don’t judge you and when you are with 50,000 of your closest friends you’d never met before (as my friend would say). I also got to see a complete stranger go out of her way to take care of another stranger who was not doing so well. Where are you going to see that in the outside world? She was a great hugger too.
    I realized when I was sitting up with my friend before we slept, that at Burning Man the boundaries are only as big as you create them for yourself. He knew this already and I could tell he was happy that I realized what he already knew that moment was also special.
    Driving our bikes to the temple on what appeared to be the worse sand storm of the week so that I could set my loving mother free was a long ride. Seeing the temple knowing what it held inside was spiritually driving. I didn’t want to go in because I knew I was going to let go, but my spirit was truly driven in. We walked around the temple and then walked to find the perfect place for my letter. I thought I found one, but I could still reach the letter so I could have gotten it and changed my mind. My friend found another place for the letter not realizing that I had already put the letter down. I changed locations and when I let go of the letter it floated down where I couldn’t reach it. I knew that was it. I was sad but I knew I would be okay, I had a terrific friend standing with me and holding me up and I had support of the people at BRC and I could feel the spiritual unity.
    Leaving BRC was very hard. Cleaning out the trailer and truck when we arrived back and continually smelling the playa after we left makes me smile. Remembering people say that I was going to leave counting down to the next one and knowing now that I think of it every day, you will just never experience anything like it in the world. You must return this week long freedom camp is calling you, the playa is calling you, the Man is calling you, the non-judgmental, free, happy, loving, united, spiritual people from all over the world that we met, they are all calling you back. I am one of those people now. If you have never experienced it you can’t imagine the truth I speak. I hope to greet you to give you a welcoming hug and tell you to make that dirt angel because you will be so dirty when you leave, but you will think of the dirt as home. If you haven’t burned, you must and when your greeter says “welcome back or welcome home” when you leave you will know he/she was welcoming you home.
    So those are a few moments that I shared with people I didn’t know and with the more than best friend I will ever have and if you can believe it there are more moments I didn’t mention.
    So to the people all over this world who put this on and to the people who participate by coming to enjoy it, thank you so much for loving us peaceful freaks and making a place called home available for at least a week out of the year. Next time you toast, toast to non-judgment, peace, love, unity, respect for who you are, smiles, hugs, spankings, dog collars, clothing, nudity and freedom in all aspects and don’t forget to toast to BRC and Burning Man.

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  • Luvbugg says:

    Getting Married at sunset at Temple….after making the walk to the Temple Tuesday and getting married…..we took our first walk together in the beautiful maze,
    unbeknown to us a gentlemen had been watching and as we left the maze he stopped us and told us he was watching us and what an inspiration we were.

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  • sad guy says:

    Someone has written about feeling alone. I too know that feeling. The feeling of looking up and down the Esplanade for someone who never stopped by. They knew where I was. In their life they speak of kindness. They just don’t know how to practice it.
    God Bless you all and may everyone find peace in their hearts.

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  • fool says:

    ok, i totally fell for the HOT TOPIC joke on top of Thunderdome — i was hating on Deathguild stating they sold out — later i went to their camp because i heard on BMIR they were handing Abercrombie & Fitch T-shirts and i began to clown these guys — anyways, long story short, i think Karma hit me bad because after i gave them a hard time, a few of them started to rough house/wrestle, rolled over onto my leg when i heard three loud SNAPS!! luckily nothing was broken but all my cartilage tore according to some medics and i couldnt walk the rest of the burn — (INSERT MORAL HERE)

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  • Dan says:

    This was my first burn, and favorite memory right now was entering the gate at 3am Sunday, passing what looked like guard towers at the gate. As the only virgin on our truck, I got a full court greeting with multiple hugs and dust angels. It was beginning that set the tone for the rest of the incredible week

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  • Carola says:

    saturday 5th was my birthday and we went in the HMS Beagle to the perimeter fence to watch the sun rise. as it rose, the moon was also in the sky, and I realised it could be my best birthday yet – saturday, at Burning Man, on the day of the Burn!!! At that moment, from nowhere, the massive birthday cake art car drove up and parked next to us – how freaky was that??? we were totally alone on the outskirts of the fence, and a birthday cake came to wish me happy 38th birthday.
    I’ll always remember that.

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  • The Free Radical says:

    3 moments captured this year’s burn (my 6th) for me:
    Thursday night dancing at the Do Lab’s Simpler Times rave camp, to the dulcet strains of Bassnectar for a good long time, I cruised around to the chill dome, looking to rest a bit. As I approached the entrance, I was suddenly ambushed by a whirl of warm flesh and blonde braids, caught up in a life-crushing hug from a girl who I was fairly sure I knew. This was the kind of hug you only get on the playa, long, inescapable and complete. Finally the hug ended and I saw my good friend, whom I knew originally from the default world and whom I bump into serendipitously every year. She is an amazing friend and a truly unique person. Every year I visualize seeing her, and the playa always delivers. The more it happens, the more I get over my astonishment and just get used to it.

    Enjoying myself at a smaller party with a dj spinning classic hits, I randomly befriended a nice couple. They were virgins, so I had to hang with them. The guy was pretty drunk and I was tripping a little too hard on acid, so we hit it off. His girlfriend was gorgeous and dressed to kill in a two-piece outfit with bangles all over it. The guy told me they were extremely close, engaged and all that, that they knew everything about each other. I asked him how long they had been going out, to which he replied “about 3… weeks.” I don’t recall much of the conversation, but just that it was a timeless moment of togetherness on the playa. The highlight was when we drunkenly exchanged spankings.

    Saturday night/Sunday morning, I was partying after the burn along the 10:00 spoke, dancing, climbing up domes, generally having a great time. As the first light appeared, I inevitably started thinking about the coming day’s labors, having to pack up and get ready to leave the playa. The sun slowly came up as I was biking wearily back up the Esplanade. It was cold and a strong wind blowing in my face slowed my progress to a crawl. Finally I gave up and figured I’d rest next to some firepits I encountered on the playa. They were artful repurposed ovens and metal mushroom sculptures piled with burning wood. A small crowd had convened in the morning stillness, enjoying the warmth. Then a wild-haired shirtless man wearing a long red striped robe started busying himself around the fire, putting grills on and pulling out pans, scraping grease off them. Soon his girlfriend, who had a similar robe, pulled out packages of sausages, tri-tip beef, chicken, and bacon. The man started putting all this meat on the fires. At this point the crowd is just watching this, daring to wonder if we’ll get to try some of this food. Two large cans of spam come out and get tossed on a pan, after which it’s sliced thin and doused with a whole bottle of honey. On another fire, he started making a twelve-egg omelet. Some of the food got pulled off the fire and was cooling on a plate in the middle of us with some hot dog buns. Then finally the man spoke, asking if anyone was going to eat any of this. No one else seemed to move so I jumped up and grabbed some. Let me tell you, it was just right after a full night of revelling, this varitable feast of animal products early in the morning. The phrase “best spam ever” gets tossed around a lot, but seriously, this spam was perfect, candied and just a little charred, This man spontaneously gave of himself, asking nothing in return, but clearly enjoying his work. A real highlight of my burn. Thanks, Bob!

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  • chendo says:

    i had a lot of great moments this, playing sunrise gigs, playing at the boombox. but my best moment by far was crying my eyes out at the temple one morning in the arms of the woman i fell in love with, telling her i loved her and then having her show me what she written on the temple a day earlier.

    she had written that she was in love with me.

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  • Freebird says:

    I lost my father to suicide and my Grandmother to lung cancer within a year of one another. The most significant moment I had at Burning man 2009 was when I up photos of them in the temple and wrote all of the things I have wanted to say to them since I lost them. I felt somehow like they could hear me…I believe they were there with me. It’s hard to let them go…I don’t think I ever will but this was a good way to let them know I am always thinking about them.

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  • playa says:

    I was on a pit stop at my campsite when I noticed my friends were engaged with a man who was burning sage and for lack of a better word, blessing them. He turned to me and although I didn’t know him he said “I’ve been looking for you”. Then he waved the sage in front of me and said “thank you for sharing your gifts with the world” which made me cry because I have not been sharing my gifts. I have been hoarding my gifts. and in that moment I called an end to my self imposed exile from artistry, my strike. I will share my gifts again.

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  • Neighbor says:

    i trekked most of the playa myself, feeling the innate calm even amongst all the chaos. my fist night on the playa it was just me and the man.. we smoked together, and then i trudged onward to the temple. just before dawn that morning i found myself at a sculpture and pulled up a piece of playa to watch the sun rise over the mountains. i wasn’t the only one. i found an amazing person named numbers to accompany me through my first sunrise. he was so sweet! and i was entranced even further by robert of the led balloons.

    the people i ended up camped next to were amazing as well. i loved my little family of quacks and the sound of the duck pond megaphone going all day. i found little pieces of everyone i loved all over the playa, just like dorthy in oz for me burning man was just what i needed, a place of meditation, with a few new connections that i hope i see again, and even some that i understand are better left as one time meetings.

    to the guy giving out eskimo kisses in the heebeegeebee healers camp i will never forget you, even if i can’t remember your name.

    meditating naked under the full moon i have to say was the most incredible thing ever! just to be so free and so far from everything in the world, high on so much energy! i will never forget my nights on the playa, it really truly is home.

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  • Misty says:

    On Sunday before the Temple Burn, I was walking through the Temple looking and reading all the emotional things people had written about lost loved ones and only one seems to stick to my head till this day and I think forever.
    There was a picture of this guy in the center of like a poster board, from a previous Burn, and all around it was little sayings from people who had known him and hanging right above this poster was his ashes. He had died only like a few weeks before Burning Man. I could not get over how sad but cool this was. And then to sit and watch the Temple burn with all the little dust devils..it was so spiritual and all I could think about was this guy and his ashes and obviously how loved he was and how much love he had.
    Still gets me till this day…His spirit will forever live on at Burning Man for sure!!!

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  • A says:

    I met the most beautiful people, saw the most beautiful things, and had possibly my best week so far. It was filled with incredible moments. That’s Burning Man baby.

    But my favorite moment was the morning I dragged my sleepy, overheated, hungover body, out of bed to do yoga for the first time… with this gorgeous, interesting woman I met the night before. She looked as happy to see me as I was to see her.

    She held my hand and made me feel like we were sinking through the ground beneath us. I could feel my brain sliding into my stomach as I stole glances and tried to keep the corners of my mouth from grinning like a fool. I did my best to keep my mouth shut, for fear of an escape from all of the cheesy things going through my head. I have to take a deep breath every time I think about her.

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  • Erick C. says:

    around 3 AM one morning i separated from my friends. i wondered off to the outer playa near the fence and came to a video installation of a horse decaying in a beautiful field (Hoarse). i sat in front of it for a good 2 hours or so. eventually it got extremely cold and i crawled in a nearby tiny hut with pillows (Temportal 2.1). there i wrote in a travel log and relaxed while i waited for the sun to rise. my most serene and meditative moment of the trip. as much as i absolutely adore the company of my friends i find that my most profound experiences on the playa happen when i am alone.

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  • Stonebeard says:

    My first shift as a brand new Ranger was Thursday->Friday graveyard. Most of the city, particularly the Man and inner Esplanade where I was, was pretty calm. I saw the super-long string of balloons with LEDs in an odd shape. I figured it was still attached to the softball pyramid and had gotten caught on something, but when we made our way over there, we found folks filling balloons and tying them on to the cable. As we walked around the inner playa, we saw the balloons dance, a giant floating arch, slowly gliding around art installations, hovering over the Man.

    When my shift ended and dawn broke, I grabbed my camera and headed to the Temple. It was full of people: peaceful early risers, crying lamenters, partiers delirious from lack of sleep, but everyone appreciating the beauty of early light illuminating wood, pastel clouds in the sky. And there were the balloons! What had been a mysterious, looming, gliding snake by night was a joyous arch of hope by morning light, purple orbs lifting spirits to the heavens, a light and carefree string hung over the solid and somber building.

    In a city where everything’s tied town so it won’t be mooped by the wind, it was great to watch art designed to ride that desert wind; the largest piece was also the lightest.

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  • Burning Man says:

    This was my first burn….In a word…..Indescribable. I’ve always known I was a happy person. I’ve known I have a connection to music different than other people. I’ve known….. I have an open mind. I assumed for these reasons I would fit well with this event. I had no idea how much burning man would take those things and exponentially quantify them into a week of pure ecstasy! Ok so particular moments: #1 first night on the playa in the dome.. after having jaw dropping awe in the bike ride sights to the dome having the happy drug hitting me for the first time. I smiled ear to ear and emitted so much good energy that night that I couldn’t even count how many people walked up and just saw and knew what was happening to and within me. Thank you to the people that let me borrow their 3d glasses…to the people that danced with me… and to the many kisses and hugs that I received that first night in BRC. #2 I’ve read many other “ favorite experience” blogs and it amazes me that I too had this crazy (seems like a coincidence) experience. I saw this very special girl 3 out of the 5 nights I was there. One would think impossible to randomly bump into someone so many times within 45,000 people but I know now, it was the divine intervention of this event itself. We shared some great moments the first two nights but on the third when it just seemed so crazy to bump into each other again, we let ourselves go. We embraced our burning man virginity and succumbed to the inevitable climax of the week long experience. Indescribable.

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  • Storyboy says:

    1. At the last minute we find out that the art car leaving from my friends’ camp does not have room for all of us, so we walk in towards the Esplanade from 7:00 and D, heading for The Man. The wind suddenly picks up and it’s dark and we can’t see ANYTHING. Arriving at the Esplanade, we are in such a brown-out that we cannot see The Man at all. As we stand there contemplating our options, leaning strongly towards heading back to camp for shelter, a kid comes running up to us in a panic. ”Uh, we cooked too much food,” he says. “Do you guys want a cheeseburger? And some potato salad?” Bewildered, we take the plate, and eat the delicious food while struggle through the dust storm back to camp to wait…

    2. At 3:00 am, we serve S’mores roasted on the embers of The Man to the people huddled around. Big thanks to Jewel making it happen!

    3. By about 6:30 am, my friends have gone to bed, and I’m straggling out of Root Society and thinking about hitting the sack when I hear a familiar tune. The DJ is doing a mashup of some contemporary house music with King of Pain – my favorite Police song – and I’m drawn back into the dome [this moment could be a metaphor for my whole Burn]. Dressed as a turtle, I’m dancing slowly for maybe 60 seconds when a friend who I have not seen all week magically appears and gives me this massive hug. From here, I end up staying up for another seven hours despite myself.

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  • Cristina says:

    I remember getting to Burning Man Thursday evening. I took a couple of hours to assemble lights onto my bike and then ran off with the friends I came with to find my Jellyfish crew over by 2:30 and A. As I arrived at the camp with a sleeping bag in one hand and the pounding excitement of the night in my heart, the Jellyfish was slowly pulling out of its parked spot to officially start their awesome night journey. I immediately hopped on, surprised all of my friends and started rocking it out. I wasn’t into the slow dubstep that was playing at the time so I ran off into playa. The bright lights and craziness is exactly how I imagine how awesome Las Vegas could be and of course, I got lost (though you are never truly lost at Burning Man). As I was wandering about by Spanky’s, I met this amazing guy named Dale. His feverish excitement was rubbing onto me and we ran off together from one awesome glowing art piece to the next. I was so happy to have made such an amicable friend. We made it over to the 3D lightings and our eyes enjoyed an amazing vibrant show. The peacefulness of the night had a bit of a calming effect. We wanted to go to the slide and as we were traveling through playa, the Jellyfish came into view. We hopped on and danced some more. The bus ended up temporarily dying over by 10 and esplanade and most of us hopped off the bus and walked towards the amazing music that was blasting out of Nexus/Roots Society. A friend of mine broke off from the initial group and I ran after him. All I remember next is the following five hours of crazy dancing and laughter and having musical love course through my veins. During a dance reprieve to find the porta potties, we came across an open teepee and rested for a bit. We somehow ended back onto playa and as we were walking, we noticed the majestic Jelly floating in the near distance. As we were catching up to the gorgeous glowing blue and purple Jelly, an art car decided to stop right in front of it, making the moment even more perfect as we strolled back on.

    Skip to a later part in the evening and a friend of mine and I were trying to make it back over to our camp from 10 and esplanade. I did not realize how large playa was and over the next couple of hours, we slowly made it across the cool desert with sporadic stops to admire the beautiful art that was made for us. As we were making our way over towards the Temple of Sorrow, the warm sun started rising and pulsing its miraculous pinks and yellows in the sky. As I was sitting on playa and watching the sun rise with the purple balloons over in the distance, the Happy Birthday cake was making its way slowly over towards the Temple of Sorrows and was playing the most mellow and most perfect sunrise music possible. Life couldn’t have been more awesome and everything was beautiful. My soul was jumping for joy.

    There was another night, where I was hanging out with a friend in a tent and on the side entrance, a guy in a banana suit with an orange beanie hat comes in. He decides to hang out by the entranceway for a couple of minutes when all of a sudden, a guy in a monkey suit enters from the other entrance and runs over to hump the banana. That made my night. :)

    I love all my burners and all the art pieces that they pour their souls into. I love you Burning Man for making me more complete and I hope everyone had as awesome an experience as I did.

    And Dale, if you’re reading this, please contact me! I loved hanging out with you and would like to again.


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  • kath says:

    There, with an EXTREMELY close friend and realizing I am in the middle of something amazing!!!
    I walk onto the playa my first evening ,wednesday) and realize I am transformed…………………
    then I see our NEIGHBOR……………
    making beautiful poses that reach to my heart………………….
    He is gay……
    he is afro-american………….
    he is my friend…………..
    he exudes everything good……
    I so love this place where I feel we are ALL equal and loved…………..
    I DON”T want to leave……….

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  • 9 says:

    I began to leave camp and my neighbor tells me to hitch a ride with him, they’re heading in to see the rocket ship do it’s magic. I hop on this fantastic art car boat, with fur and lights and start heading to the playa. I feel like I’m on the boat from Gilligan’s Island lol. The driver was hilarious, mono tone voice mocking innocent bystanders on our way. sweet man. :~) I have to say, I was interested in the rocket ship but what I was really after was music .. Beats Antique. I knew they were playing at the Hookah Dome and I kept missing them all week. The boat finally parked and there were a ton of people surrounding the rocket ship. My thinking; I’ve still got a long way to walk so I’m going to head out now and I’ll see the rocket ship do whatever it’s going to do on the way. Destination Hookah Dome reached, no rocket ship action or the dust was too much to see. Beats Antique! OMG. Moved as if I’ve never moved before. I am an aspiring belly dancer and felt connections with music and connection with body and sound that I’ve never known. New plateaus of understanding. The music ends and I’m saddened. I hear they will be playing at El Circo an hour from now. I begin again to find them. Traveling inner playa, meeting beautiful and gracious beings on the way. Encountered a metal sculpture of a woman, her heart a blazing propane inferno. The creator hands me the controls and I control her heart beat .. fast, slow .. like mine, we are one. I venture forward again towards El Circo only to stumble upon the Memor Trees installation. Inside I encountered friends that I felt I had known forever. We shared laughs, a smoke, and then I left leaving hugs behind. When I reached El Circo finally the energy was incredible. An intense passionate, vaudevilleish dramatic flair, that is only how I can describe it. I was close to the stage dancing and was having the most blissful moment when I overheard these two girls making fun of another girl; she was not dressed up extravagantly, she was obviously high on somerthing, but she was having a blast. This upset me greatly because arent we all there to have a good time and exress ourselves how we choose? Cattiness is so ugly, it didn’t belong there. I continued to dance and met a few folk involved with the show that was about to begin. They had no lighter and it may have been so simple, but little did I know gifting my only source of flame to them led to one of the most important and impactful displays of art, dance and drama I’ve ever encountered in my life time: Cirque Berzerk. I cried. I sobbed at the beauty. I wondered if everyone around me even had a clue at the beauty before them. I was humbled truly at life and freedom of self expression and the real beauty we have to gift others as performers and artists. I was angered by ego and I felt renewed as an artist. After the show had ended I went outside to even more incredible music and ambience. I put down my bag, took off my coat and danced with a new energy inside me. I danced while watching fire performers gracefully move through the shadows, the dust surrounded us all, I knew there was no place in the world I’d rather be, right there, right then .. together, united energeticaly, spiritually, as one.

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  • doodlebug says:

    Coming back sort of late (maybe midnight??) from a trip out to the Temple (still under construction but already awesome!) my partner and I were just coming into the 9:00 plaze when a really good looking guy rushed up to us. He thrust a plate in our direction and said “Please help me. I have 22 of these I must get rid of. I made way too many.” On the plate were two, big, hot double cheeseburgers! We each grabbed one and thanked him PROFUSELY (at least I hope we did – I was so focused on the cheeseburgers I am afraid everything else got a bit blurry).

    We ate them immediately surrounded by a swirl of bicycles, dust, people and light and that cacaphony of drum beats, people talking and laughing, and amplified music from at least two competing theme camp sound systems and a very large art car that is the essential sound of the playa.

    The burgers were teriffic – perfectly done with a charcoaled crust and the cheese just melting. Eating them was orgasmic – especially after several days of eating out of cans and bags. All in all, it was sensory saturation – completely satisfying and leaving us both in an advanced state of mellow.

    Thank you mysterious burger bearer, whoever you are!

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  • ~lancho! says:

    Funny…. of course on the playa the magical moments are many and hard to bring to focus sitting in front of a computer but…. truly I think my favorite part of Burning Man every year are the playa-centric dreams that dominate my dream landscape for weeks afterwards. Fabulous and otherworldly as dreams so often are but, all of them with a playa foundation of place or activity… Just love it and love the world we all create out there. Thank you and hugs to all!

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  • Miki says:

    This years burn really hit home for me. I cannot even EXPRESS how pivitol it was for me to go this year. Last year was my first year and you can bet that I was prancing along the playa like a prisoner finally escaping and seeing the sky for the first time in years.

    This year was a bit more spiritually deep for me.

    I explored the art, went out on my own, met some great people who helped make this whole experience possible and I found myself. It was a raw and awakening experience this year than it was my first.

    There were a lot of things I wanted to let go of this year at the temple. One was the emotional baggage of losing my mom, my best friend, 5 years ago. It still feels like yesterday and yes I blamed myself for losing her but not after the burn. I let it go. I told her that I loved her at the temple and not to worry and then I walked away. I watched it burn. It was so invigorating.

    For about six months, my brother had been taking care of my grandmother, who had raised him growing up. She was deathly ill and a month before BM she finally passed by his side. He didn’t think he would be able to make BM this year because he wanted to take care of her. He was alittle bit in a funk the first couple days but finally spread his wings when he decided to mentally let her go.

    The biggest part that Burning Man played was when I got back. The very next day, I wake up for the first time in my own bed and hear that my grandfather shot himself. My mom was my grandfathers shining light, my grandmother was always his rock, and they had both passed. I was shocked, in tears, at first. We arranged the funeral at the oregon coast, where we used to play as kids. It felt good. We were all laughing and jumping in the water. The spirit I gathered from Burning Man made me stronger to bear all these hard times. Since the experience was so fresh in my memory I was able to see the brighter side of things.

    I feel like if all these events had taken place without BM I wouldn’t have been so strong. I wouldn’t have any fond memories to cloud the bad ones. I would still have baggage.

    The spirit lives through you, I say. You see the light in things you never thought you would before. Burning Man was my savior.

    Thanks for reading

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  • erick dunn says:

    Hands down, my favorite moment was when participating in the Billion Bunny March, I looked up at the man while on the 6’oclock arm to see two giant bunny ears proudly protruding from the head of the man. I thought it both clever and brilliant that they were able to create this illusion without actually affixing anything to Larry’s oh so sacred sculpture. To me, this act, joke, happening or whatever you wish to call it, embodies the true spirit of what Burning Man means to me, namely the kind of artful shenanigans one might expect from the the Cacophony Society to whom arguably are the true founders of Burning Man.


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  • Gerald Fleischmann says:

    After an all day trek from Orange County, we arrived 2AM on Sunday to set up, and just sacked out on the playa. (No problem, I thought; I’m a 5th year burner.) I awoke to the early sun and the strange sound of flame jets coming from somewhere. I rolled over in my sleeping bag and looked up. Directly overhead, a hot air balloon was lazily moving up 7:30 with a cargo of early risers! After marveling at the sight, I jumped out of my bag, grabbed my camera, and caught some shots of the balloon. My nudity was irrelevant, as was the cool morning air.

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  • Rikki Tree says:

    Early early Tuesday morning, Center Cafe, listening to a Brit duet sing acoustic, “The where, the when, the why” — and realizing through my tears how little and insignificant our non-playa dramas are in the bigger more important scheme of things. Your HD 31″ plasma TV or high falutin’ mortgage can’t hold a candle to the connection of community, humanity.

    Say hi and truly smile at others. Mean it.
    Less TV and more people time.
    Move your body more, without inhibition. Dance.
    Give freely. Accept freely.
    Laugh and cry more openly.
    Be honest.
    Love your body. Decorate it. Play with it.
    Share without condition.

    See you on the playa…

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  • Sunday night/Monday morning there were shooting stars out. On the way up the state hwy there’d been an accident that stopped traffic for about 40 minutes. This was about 12:30am. Turned off the car and stepped outside and chatted with others, pointing out the constellations each of us knew. Must have seen about 20 shooting stars in that time. These were fairly faint.

    Then, coming down onto the playa about 2:30am, there was a huge shooting star that seemingly was coming straight down onto the playa before me. It burned out well before landing, but I took it as a sign that this would be a special time. It was.

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  • Tom Rom says:

    There were so many interesting, wired, mind-blowing and hillarious moments I had as a first-timer at BM 2009 that it’s hard to say what was the most smashing.
    One of the greatest moments was surely the 1000s of Burners gathering around the temple on Sunday. evening. Suddenly somebody screamed “Look at the sky” – and step by step the sky was moving more and more, many stars turned colorful and moved around like UFOs. Then the comets with their sparkling tails and the blue “migratory birds in V-formation were such a wonderful choreography that people around me started to cry. So many people who danced their soul out for a week were completely quiet and hardly anybody spoke a word when the temple started to burn – earlier than everybody expected – what a holy moment I will never forget. The bizarr tuba and the BM band playing after half an hour was such a surrealistic scenery like in a Tarkowskij movie….

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  • Vanja says:

    ,,,,WAOO !!!!!!!!!! ,,,my virgin year ,and,,,not in my wildest fantasy could I have dreamt of anything like it !!!!!!!!!! Squeezing every moment of this so pure,,sincere
    ,,,and the aliveness this event was carrying .
    ,,,The howling ,,,,full moon was smiling down at US,when I heard far from the other side of the playa how the howl travelled ,,,,with closed eyes ,tears running down my
    dusty face while smiling, I turned towards the sky ,,and from the bottom of the earth
    all the way through my body ,,from every cell ,,,I HOWLED,,,AAAAAAAAAOOOOWWW
    OOOAAWWWOOOOO !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! …I AM HOME !!!!!!!!!!!!

    ,,,Planning ,OF COURSE !!!,already what to bring as gifts for next years burn !!!!
    Thank You Ever so Much for everything !!!


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  • Captain Abalone says:

    Standing there in the middle of a propane powered explosion symphony, feeling the concussions in my chest singing to a raging rythym. Heat on my face rising and falling in the crescendoes of fire. Feeling like I was truly a burning man. How from hell can I possibly go back to the world?

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  • Fairy Godmother says:

    As always, it is the synergy that occurs when people of vision meet people of ability and, between them, create more than they could have alone.

    I have three defining moments. The first two were at the Temple, where I first realized that I have the ability to help people through difficult times, to see their own potential and live more joyfully. The second was realizing that I have become the woman I always wanted to be.

    My most defining moment this year was when the finest, most intelligent, playful, conscientious, loving and passionate man I have ever met asked me to spend the rest of my life with him as his wife. I accepted and we will wed at the BRC Post Office in 2010. Everyone’s invited!

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  • Bert from Colorado says:

    I worked feverishly to prepare for my Burn this year and ended up arriving late wednesday night. I spent the night sharing wonderful music and comraderie with fellow Burners in and around center camp. I slept in my truck for a while and awoke around 9ish. After being gifted a breakfast of delicious blueberry pancakes I went to the porta johns around 4:00 and Genome. When I’d finished my business I was standing around enjoying the vibe of my neighbors. I met a young woman and we chatted a bit. I expressed to her how good it felt to be back and how much I loved BRC and all of you. She leaped into my arms and we gave each other a firm and heartfelt hug, and then she just scampered off joyously back into the neighborhood. I felt so happy and good to be home.

    My second most special time was participating with my Djembe in an AWESOME drum circle at center camp at about 3-4 pm. on thursday, maybe friday. We had one hell of a groove going and with people of both genders and all ages just dancing in pure joyous celebration in the middle of all that powerful music. It was absolute exstacy! Thank you all so much for being there and being you. I love you all. See you next year!

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  • Basura says:

    That is simply amazing… simply beautiful… I am mermerized by that photo. Thank you for sharing such an interesting and informative article. – Basura

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  • nite says:

    many to mention, yet what stand out in my mind are :

    Enveloped in the poetry of Rumi–literally feeling the texture of the language and soulfulness of the message–“I am you and you are me…n”–which I repeated endlessly, truly illuminated by the words, while riding Mother Nature’s goodies–enlightening to say the least.

    Looking into the eyes of someone for a solid minute–being in the moment–I happen to meet when I lost someone else while riding our bikes at night–I know, no such thang as a coincidence.

    Riding my bike out towards the distant art installations and borders of BRC, and embracing the quiet mood of the oncoming night and full moon, while looking out at the wildly colorful and tirelessly energetic civilization–the magical tapestry of BM.
    No matter where you are you are here and there’s a time for being in your dynamism–dancing and socializing and a time for being in your solitude–breathing, walking, and balancing both states of consciousness, and somehow creatively weaving all within and throughout the authentic YOU.

    Like I said, many, many moments, so it’s crucial to give ourselves the gift of wholeheartedly embracing our innate humanity.

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