Counting down the hours

The Striding Man is up in all his glory

It really won’t be long now. The months and months of prep are finished, you’re on your way or about to leave, and everyone already here is  getting ready for you.

The city really is different in this run-up week to the event. The number of people and the readiness of the theme camps, especially, remind us of what it was like during the first day or two of the event five or six years ago. Back then, it seemed, the gates would open and there’d be a mad dash to get everything set up. These days, there are more people on the playa early, and there’s a lot in place and ready to go right from the start of the week.

The weather has been hot, but there’s a cooling trend forecast for the coming week. The nights have been really warm, but it seems like you’ll want to remember to bring something warm to wear at night as the weather cools.

There's plenty of art installed on the playa already, and more is arriving by the hour.

The lines to get into the city are getting longer, even though it’s only those people with early arrival passes being admitted now. Yesterday afternoon, it was an hour or more wait to get through the gates. The greeter’s station was busy, with plenty of hugs and rolling in the dust and bells gonging to announce the arrival of first-timers.

The official opening is tonight at midnight, and there will be a huge group of people down at the gates to usher in the newcomers. Then, finally and officially, Burning Man 2011 will be underway.

The Man burns in six days.

The Temple of Transition is nearly complete, after three amazing weeks of work by the crew and the people of DPW, especially the Heavy Equipment folks. Kiwi, the mastermind of the Temple team, is ready for people to arrive. The team had to break camp yesterday, which was another long day of work. "People ask me, 'How can you build something so beautiful and then burn it,'" Kiwi said yesterday. "Just watch me," he said. "We built it to burn it."

The lines for the Will Call office were getting long yesterday afternoon. Of course, for the first time, the event is sold out. There won't be any tickets available for purchase at the gate.


The line of cars waiting to get in with early arrival passes was more than an hour long.


The gate crew has a number of super bright spotlights mounted in various places around the entrance and in other locations. They're bright enough to guide you halfway into the city.


The gate crew has a good view from an elevated tower overlooking the entrance.


Even if you were just picking up a "will-call" ticket, there was a line. But the line was a festive one, for sure.


After the gates come the greeters. There weren't any lines yesterday, but the dust was heavy.


The peace camp was setting up for business.


Got a problem? Your personal adviser will be on duty during Burning Man.


The Department of Mutant Vehicles was busy licensing art cars of all shapes and sizes.
Some of our favorite art pieces out here are built by a single person, and you come across them all over the playa.


There are gargoyles attached to the outside of the Temple of Transition.


What do you think of the color scheme for the Man this year?


Marco Cochran, whose Bliss Dance was one of the most poplular art projects last year, is setting up another one in the far playa. in the far playa.


Even when there's no art around, there's plenty to marvel at in the desert sky.


When the event begins, we're headquartered in Media Mecca, where the communciation teams deal with reporters and photographers and videographers from all over the world.


There's a Narwhal in front of Media Mecca, and she was getting some new makeup yesterday.
Once you get inside the gates, you'll be having social hours and various places and spaces.


Burning Man is a good place for kids, and Kidsville is full up this year.


There's a whole lot of G-rated places for kids to explore, like pirate ships.




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.

6 Comments on “Counting down the hours

  • Kelly says:

    THAT big? I hope my baby doesn’t get lost. My baby, however, is 22-years-old, 6’3″, and attending burning man with his boyfriend. They are staying in a camp (whatever that is) with 30 people from somewhere in L.A. There was no room in the ice chest for the apples and oranges I bought because the ice chest was filled with bottles of booze. (sigh) Hey people!! Keep my baby safe!!



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  • Cheryl says:

    So excited for the event this year ! I will be watching from my computer in peoria Az this time. BM changed my life to think ahead and love one another. I went for 3 years . Peace to all who enter the gates and peace out until they reach home again. Don’t miss a thing ! Sleep durning the day and party all night . Hugs

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  • Aunt Barb says:

    Mama…. I was 60 when I went to my first burn…. your son will have a wonderful time, and remember he is with all his new friends. The playa gods will take good care of him.

    I wish I was able to be there, but, alas.. I need to be in the default world as I have a new employee starting tomorrow.. how I will miss the playa.

    I have carried it with me… and it did change my life.

    he will be fine.. and have wonderful stories to share

    Aunt Barb
    my nephew took me to my first burn

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  • sunset says:

    Really? Burning Man is a good place for kids? In my 10 yrs there…I felt like telling each and every child I saw, “I’m sorry you are here. I’m sorry you will be scarred for life in this adult venue.” I saw children high, lost, dirty, and tired. They deserved better….like left in the comfort of their home or somebody’s home.

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  • Bean says:

    All the kids I know who went had a great time. You’re happy and comfortable wherever your parents are taking good care of you. What an awesome place BM is! So fun. I hope to bring my kid someday.

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  • Cecile says:

    We took our 18 months old daughter to Burning Man last year and it was an amazing experience!
    This year we just had a baby a few days ago so we can’t make it but are looking forward to being back on the playa with our two girls next year!
    Everyone was so nice to us, we had a blast!
    Children are definitely a part of Burning Man!

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