Raising the roof

An army travels on its stomach, and if the DPW is anything, it’s an army. A funky, sweaty, loud and brash army, and maybe not so big on the uniforms, but an army nonetheless, and one that builds up an appetite.

For the first days of the build, everyone eats  breakfast and dinner in the big back room at Bruno’s. Some mornings, the scent of sizzling bacon wafts powerfully down Main Street, and you can almost see the weary early risers being drawn to breakfast by the hypnotizing aroma.

But feeding everybody at Bruno’s is pricey, and the room gets  crowded and the lines get longer  as more workers arrive. So one of the first big tasks of the build is to get the Commissary tent up and running, so everyone can move from town out to the playa and start taking their meals on site.

The wind has been very strong the past few days, and putting up the tent in the gusts and the dust was a trial. It was a challenge to get the center poles in place while the wind was trying to take the whole thing airborne, but various crews came together from all the different work crews to get it done, with Bean and Hayseed providing overall direction.

Meanwhile, railroad containers full of gear are being moved out from the Ranch to the playa, so the Commissary staff can get going now that the tent is up. There are lots of containers on the playa for this early in the operation. Last year, there were 19 containers moved out the first day. This year, there were 60, thanks in part to the double trailers that carry four containers instead of two on every trip.

The huge generators are also arriving fast,  and trenches are being dug and lines are being laid to get the electrical grid up and running.

It’s all happening fast and furious in the dust and the wind.

(photo by Erica Bartel)

(photo by Erica Bartel)

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.

26 Comments on “Raising the roof

  • affinity says:

    Looks like a uniform to me!! Fabulous, thanks, I don’t remember seeing the raising of the Commisary before. One might have said that there are no new stories to be told, setting up for the Burn is just the same old same old. But you keep proving that that is not true.

    Lot of hard work out there!

    Report comment

  • Mitzi says:

    THANK YOU, DPW, FOR ALL YOU DO! we are setting aside some cocktails for you. just come by our camp at 9:00 and G and ask for a beverage. WE LOVE YOU.

    Report comment

  • nolaslag says:

    Thanks To DPW –
    Yours is the BEST WORK IN THIS LAND !
    New Orleans is coming to thank you !

    Report comment

  • melissa says:

    wow, this is truly something to behold. thank you for sharing these amazing photos and words! and for reminding me where the soul of burning man begins to grow. see you soon enough.

    Report comment

  • Karen Ashley says:

    Powerful and amazing-thanks for letting us ‘see’ this in action so we don’t forget who makes this possible.

    Report comment

  • lala says:

    Great journalism! And I can’t wait to have meals there in about ten days. Thank all of you!!

    Report comment

  • Hunter roi chien says:

    wow thanks for the pix, wish I could be there, but I am a wimp, and am there in spirit. thanks for sharing.

    Report comment

  • Milady j says:

    Some damned sexy people in those pics doin some damn sexy work. woot!

    Report comment

  • John Glueck says:

    DPW – The only people in the world that can kick ass and take numbers… in a tutu…

    Report comment

  • Grateful says:

    Words cant express my gratitude for making this possible <3

    Report comment

  • Lee-Anne says:

    You guys rock!

    Report comment

  • Sandra says:

    And so the dusty story unfolds for BM 2010 … you guys are amazing!!!!!!!!!!

    Report comment

  • DAWG says:

    ohhhhhhh WOOOOOF yahhh arrrrrrr arrrr woof

    Report comment

  • Tangles says:

    The words “thank you” just don’t seem enough to express how much I appreciate all your hard work. I know it’s a labor of love & I love you all for doing what you do.

    Report comment

  • Davide says:

    Very nice photos and very huge job. Impressive.
    I would come at least once in a life time but…you know, Italy is realy quite far from you.

    Report comment

  • Sick photos!!! I can’t wait for Burning Man omg! Just got another ticket in order and flew in a friend biking across Asia for a nice detour!

    Report comment

  • hope and fear chance and destiny}
    DPW raising the roof like you always do.
    no one i meanno one should ever question the DPW
    like the mob just never question
    may i sugest anew dress party
    oh i just did

    Report comment

  • primal says:

    It’s all true — what everyone is saying — “Words” and Thank You’s” just don’t seem enough to express the heartfelt gratitude toward this crusty bunch of work-loving, extreme, over-the-top, basic, good people… so we will dance, instead! PyroKlectic and AZ Conclave Village are (all) on our way(s) to dance and spin fire for you and for all you are doing. See you soon!!

    Report comment

  • 'CHrd from the wierd pile' says:

    You guys are having too much fun already….will be there in 7 more sleeps to help set up ‘Journeys’ Camp…see you then…….

    Report comment

  • Lexi Lu says:

    heart u

    Report comment

  • Dawn says:

    That’s a beautiful pic of Just George power driving a pole into the playa. He’s my DPW hero!

    Report comment

  • Just Danny says:

    DPW, you suck! And by that, I mean miss you. I can’t be there working with you this year due to a new job, but I will be there shortly and will be helping as soon as I get there. Seeing the photos reminded me of last year and remember just how many people are required to raise that huge tent.

    Make sure you give the cooks a high-5 for all of us. They do a great job. I always I eat better on the playa than I do at home.

    I’ll be there soon, bottle of Jamison in my hands …

    Just Danny

    Report comment

  • Tracy says:

    I unfortunatly have to say that I will not make it to the playa this year, and I also cannot tell you how sad I am about it. But, I would like all burners and DPW to know that I work at Shear Bliss Salon & Spa and am happy to offer waxing (bikini, under arm, leg, brazillian, sorry guys not for you) and I also can provide a shower after the Man burns….for a small fee, to be discussed…
    Shear Bliss Salon & Spa 5270 Longley Lane, Reno, NV 89511 775-750-1422
    on the corner of Longley and McCarran….this is my cell call anytime…..

    Report comment

  • Tonka says:

    I didn’t have the same appreciation for the DPW when I was at the burn that I have now. The people I camped with looked at the DPW with some sort if disdain I didn’t understand but went with. That’s changed now. I won’t make it home this year and it’s already been too long, but I’m working hard to make it next year, and if I do, I have a cooler full of brewskis I’m taking over to the DPW camp to share. Thanks for all the hard work people.

    Report comment

  • Comments are closed.