Decompression and beyond

Sunday was the day to strut your dusty playa duds one more time before putting all those summer outfits away for the season. It’s getting chilly and wet now, and sparkle shorts and bikini tops won’t work so well when the days get short and the temperatures dip.

Sunday was the day of Decompression in San Francisco, and this gathering of the clan will have to do until the next time we get together in the desert.

That is, if  there is a next time.

Oh, we’re not saying that there WON’T be a Burning Man in Black Rock City next year (even if the 2012 theme is still an enigma wrapped in a mystery.) And we’re not trying to be all melodramatic and end-of-times.

But there does seem to be an inordinate amount of self-examination and Burning Man examination going on, and we can’t say that it hasn’t made us thoughtful.

There were so many good and amazing things this year. By many accounts, it was maybe the best year ever — great weather, great playa, more and better art, one of the most amazing Temples ever, the Regionals stepped up … lots of stuff to like and to feel optimistic about.

But then, the grumbles: My friends didn’t go because they couldn’t buy a ticket. Or … the city has gotten too big! The Esplanade was so crowded! Or … there were soooo many art cars, I felt like I was missing out if I didn’t have one or wasn’t on one.  …  And  the RVs! Everybody was in an RV! They were having their own good time and not  being part of the community! That’s not Burning Man! Air conditioning is not Burning Man!

Sigh. It almost makes you want to wash out the playa dust and be done with it once and for all.

And that’s exactly what some folks are going to do. They’ve been to their last Burning Man. They won’t be going back. And you know what else? We honestly and sincerely think they’re doing exactly the right thing. And we wish them nothing but the best.

Because here’s the truth about Burning Man: it has changed. And here’s another truth: it will continue to change. It won’t ever be the same as it was  in the ’90s, or five years ago, or six weeks ago.

And that’s good. It’s not a museum piece, or a stage play. It’s jazz. It changes. It’s not the same every time. It’ll never be like that again.

Gather round the campfire now, and let me tell you tales of the olden days, when there were only a few hundred people out there in the wilds, and they built and lifted the Man into place themselves, and they had to follow a map to get to the site, and they huddled in the shadow of their vehicles to escape to the heat. They weren’t quite outlaws, but they were definitely fringe players — jokesters, pranksters and artists and musicians.

But here’s another thing: Not all of the old timers had the experience of a lifetime. Some of them were miserable and out of sorts and felt disconnected from the other people there, who all seemed to be loving everything and were  being fabulous. They didn’t know if they fit in, they didn’t know if they were doing it right, and they weren’t exactly sure of just how to act under the circumstances. And yes, there were even a few people who were just along for the ride.

Does that sound familiar? Did you have moments like that this year? Of course you did. That part hasn’t changed. It was always better last year.  And it’s always been crappy for all the people some of the time.

Burning Man always has been an event for the people who have the time and money to be there. Are there more trust-fund babies in the population now, proportionally speaking? Maybe. Maybe not. But there are still people there who have to scratch and claw to come up with the dough to make it happen.

So what’s to be done?

We think the people who run Burning Man figured out a long time ago that all you can do is set the stage, and the rest is going to happen on its own. You can try to direct things, orchestrate them for a good outcome, but you can’t control what happens. You can try to lay out a city that fosters community, but you can’t make it develop.

The whole point, the whole essential point is that there ISN’T the kind of control that tries to make, and keep, Burning Man a certain thing. The event has been allowed to change, to grow, to be organic. Lots of people have tried to anticipate what’s needed to allow a certain kind of magic to happen, but then they have to sit back and watch what actually does happen.

And things take a left turn sometimes.

For all the “leave no trace” proselytizing, there is plenty of trash that gets left behind.

For all of the talk of radical self reliance, we still see people who have instead a  radical sense of entitlement.

And for all the talk of fostering community, we know there are plenty of people just looking for an easy lay.

Even Sunday, at Decompression, some bright lights thought that glass Christmas ornaments and sprays of confetti would make wonderful additions to Esprit Park. Of course, they didn’t have to clean it all up, and didn’t think much about the people who did.

But there were still dozens and dozens of people who had signed up to clean the neighborhood the next day —  in the rain, we might add — and somehow what happens at Burning Man motivates involvement like that.

We talked to Kelvis, a chef who put on a fabulous dinner for a VIP group out there a couple of years ago. He knew what he was up against — lack of resources, a distracted all-volunteer staff, the lure of the event. And yet he pulled it off,  his whole group pulled it off, because they were energized and motivated by the challenge of contributing, of maybe playing a small part in accomplishing something big. They believed they were doing a good thing, and it showed.

Will and Katie’s beautiful baby

It’s going to sound trite and simplistic, and maybe that’s just the way we roll, but Burning Man is going to go its own way. … It’s going to go the way the people want it to go, and that’s not anything to get riled or disappointed or disaffected about.

We like gifting. We like a non-commercial society. We like feeling that we can do whatever we want (without impeding others from doing the same). We like the rituals, we like being, or trying to be, our best selves. We like the random people we meet who turn out to have amazingly relevant insights to share.

We like it. Granted, it’s not the same as it used to be. But it hasn’t worn off. We still feel excited and energized by thinking about the contribution we can make.  We won’t go to  be entertained, we’ll go to be the entertainment.

We still don’t know of anything that brings so many fun, thoughtful, creative, supportive and appreciative people together.  Are there some assholes around? Yes there are. But we’re willing to bet that there were some assholes around in ’91, too. Maybe they were hostile or  aggro or cynical. And maybe they were looking to get something and weren’t very interested in giving anything. And they came away from Burning Man not liking it much, either.

The dislikers have always been with us, and they always will be. But some people will discover that the spirit and the atmosphere and energy that they find at Burning Man will have an effect on them, and they’ll go with it, even be nurtured by it.

Others will remain untouched. And that’s ok too.

Minding the store for the Flaming Lotus Girls

As Burning Man changes, those it touches will be different from those it once touched. Or those that it once touched will need to be touched in a different way. And that’s not to say that they have lost their humanity or their vulnerability or their hearts have hardened, and it doesn’t necessarily mean that they’re just thrill-seekers, looking for a new hit.

It just means that Burning Man is not working for them anymore.

Burning Man isn’t a lifelong commitment — at least, not the part of Burning Man that says you have to get a huge group of people together in the desert and wear funny clothes and burn a bunch of stuff. But the other stuff, the desire to leave commercialism behind, to include all who wish to be included, to take care of your own shit, to gift and be gifted — well, these things might stick with people, even if they’ve decided to not go back to Burning Man.

And that’s not a bad thing.

As you leave, though, please don’t make me feel bad or guilty for still liking Burning Man.  Because I still get to do it the way I want to do it. If I want to, maybe I’ll be in an RV. If I don’t want to, or can’t swing it, maybe I’ll be in a tent.

Maybe I’ll be with a huge group of people in a theme camp on the Esplanade, or maybe I’ll be in walk-in camping, enjoying all the glitter and glow from afar.

Maybe I’ll be with the sparkle ponies at Pink Mammoth, or maybe I’ll be having tea at the perimeter fence.

But not matter how I try to do it, big or small, fancy or bare-bones, I’m going to look for ways to make the experience amazing. I’m going to look for ways to live in style and grace.

And I’m going to be around a lot of other people trying to do the same thing.

As ever, your thoughts, observations, feedback and participation are most welcome. We’d love to hear from you, and thank you in advance for taking the time.


Ok, how ’bout some pictures:



The Gerlach jail is apparently missing some laundry

A lot of the DPW folks who had been out in the desert and in Gerlach since July made it back for Decompression. The crews passed the BLM playa inspection with flying colors. Phoenix and Logan were getting used to being back in the city, after 80-odd days away.
Jane and Jen
Will and Katie and the little one

There were plenty of people on stilts roaming the streets

This couple got engaged at Burning Man this year, after meeting in the desert last year. We’ll be looking for the playa wedding ceremony next year.

Josie was on duty watching over the art in the park
Kids had a good time too
This little girl was having a good time twirling around on the monkey bars


KidHack and pal relaxing in the park
Not everyone was having a dance party at Decompression

Three hoops at a time

D.A., the leader of the Playa Restoration team, was another one of the DPW people who had just rolled into town.
Angela and the MegaFlame crew were among the performers
Megs and her man after the MegaFlame show

Club CoCoMo was plenty crowded


Anyone want to have a caption contest for this one?


Playarazzi Andy, one of the finest Burning Man photographers around
When there’s fire around, Dave X isn’t far away

SFPD, please note

Opalessence and Lord Huckleberry have been friends for 38 years. They both moved here from Indiana. They didn’t know each other there, but met each other within weeks of moving here. The rest is (very interesting) history.
Flash, the man in the middle, called this picture an Oreo cookie shot.
The Senator and an aide from BRAF
Campmates reunited at the Media Mecca booth
The jellies lit up the street as darkness fell
She’s the one who designed the beautiful jellies. We didn’t get her name, so if you know it, please let us know in the comments below

This might look like trouble, but it’s not. Both of them were laughing. It’s just the way DPW decompresses.

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.

64 Comments on “Decompression and beyond

  • Lisa says:

    What an amazing entry.

    Every year I go to Burn hoping to have a repeat of my best year (whenever that was). It’s not until I start to plant my tent that I realize I’ll never have that perfect first experience again. I’m going to have a different experience for better or for worse.

    During the course of the week out in the desert we all find that the city is never the same day to day. Wasn’t that giant cone over there yesterday…? What happened to my favourite art installation? It’s gone!

    It would be pretty boring if every year was the same, and it would be pretty boring if each day was the same. Change is good, for better or for worse.

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  • Scott London says:

    Somehow you’ve managed to synthesize a thousand playa conversations into a single blog post. Thank you John. Very thought-provoking and, as always, beautifully expressed. Thanks also for the fabulous photos.

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  • Stu Sands says:

    Thanks for the post, John. What could be more boring than the same Burning Man year after year? I’m glad for the changes, the whimsy, surprises, the beauty, and that wonderful trip into the unknown. That’s where the excitement lies.

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  • Dena says:

    As someone who is thrilled to be going in 2012, and yes, for whom it will be a stretch in all kinds of ways including the financial one, I thank you for these words and pictures. I can’t wait to see what happens next.

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  • Kailey says:

    This was an incredibly pleasurable read. Thank you. :)

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  • BrotherMichael says:

    There is nothing else like this happening on earth in our lifetime.
    I’ll be with it until it ends.

    It ain’t over until the man no longer burns.

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  • Trilo says:

    Hear hear. Thank you, great post.

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  • Bob says:

    Please Please Say the theme for 2012 already! I can’t wait anymore. lol

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  • Jonty says:

    2011 was long overdue for a virgin burn and so it was. I am one who wishes that I could replicate burner culture in everyday life. For those who saw me in my blue camouflage kicks you know how we do it. Distrikt, OP, Bass Temple. Burner forever.

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  • andreas says:

    Very well put, John. Thank you.

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  • Jorge Bongo says:

    I used to think burning man was a stupid idea-why pay that much money to go out in the middle of nowhere and do whatever you do at burning man when you can do it right where your at for free. Well 2 kids, a wife, mortgage and a lot of life later I decide that 2012 is my first year. I realized that I couldn’t find what I was looking for right where I was at. So this burning man idea of community is what I need now. It’s huge now. But thats ok. Theres a lot of artists and musicians out there that I need in my life. I have a lot of life to give. I guess the point is-is that the spirit and the energy will always be there whether your a new burner or old burner it’s there for us.

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  • Deb says:

    You said it perfect!

    Heck we couldn’t even find our favorite bar from last year. But found other wonderful things while looking for it.

    I would say the only thing I found sad about this year, that I had not seen before was people tagging things.

    Signing the temple is one thing but putting your spray-paint mark on everything is just tagging and no one appreciates it, except maybe you.

    Other than that it was the best burn ever! Wait…… Maybe I said that last year! :-)

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  • Cakky says:

    A wonderful and extremely thought provoking piece. Thanks John for furthering community self reflection and transformation.

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  • Arthur Horne says:

    Excellent Sharing! I feel like I was there. Burn-on!

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  • Ben says:

    Great article. Wonderfully thought provoking.

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  • FAT WM says:

    AMEN brother…..see you at home

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  • brody says:

    Great blog, John! The jellyfish were part of the Billion Jelly Bloom project, one of our 2011 Burning Man honoraria projects. Patti Lord was the lead designer, she and her husband Rob Lord are the two Lead Jellies, along with their “Team Articulate Undulate & Bloom”. They’re based out of SF and you can find more info for them at:

    Burning Man Art Department Admin

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  • thanks to tony says:

    “The only thing certain in life is change…. ”

    Heraclitus of Ephesus (c.535 BC – 475 BC) was a Greek philosopher, known for his doctrine of change being central to the universe, and for establishing the term Logos (λόγος) in Western philosophy as meaning both the source and fundamental order of the Cosmos.

    Here’s to many more years of the burn (and life) nearly achieving what you set out to do, and actually achieving an amazing bewildering array of other things both closely related and wildly different….

    As some one above said — there is nothing even close the the Burn anywhere on Earth, and it’s not over till the man no longer Burns…


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  • Andrew W says:

    Best thing I’ve read about anything in a long time. Really well done! Made me think about my experiences on the Playa in a whole new way. Thanks!

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  • Pubert Dunkle says:

    This was my first burn. My bro went to jail on the way up from Vegas. I was miserable the first 3 days of the burn! Thursday rolls around and who do I see at my camp? MY MOTHAFUCKIN BROTHER! Crazy how shit works out. See you in 2012 fam!

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  • Gravy Girl says:

    Burning Man is not a lifetime commitment…it’s a commitment to a life.

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  • Kenetic says:

    To the creator of the jellies…Thank You! What a great idea. I hope to participate if you decide to do it again next year!

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  • MonkeyGurl says:

    Loved this piece, thank you….my first burn this year, and someone said to me the other day, it will never be that magical again….maybe not, but it will be magic in some form….it is organic, it will change and grow and maybe fade then re-spark….I plan to go as often as I can….


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  • Paperboy says:

    From now on I’m referring all nay sayers to this beautiful piece of writing. This was my 12th year and i really can’t imagine how it could get any better. I’ve never spent less than 10 days out there for the event, and this year we gifted the city with the exodus kite fly.

    Several years ago, I imagined that I’d had enough. Then I had my best year ever, and I realized something about myself and Burning Man. If I can keep coming out, not much in life can hold me back.

    It’s so frakkin’ hard some times. It’s hard to get there, it’s expensive, it’s the most work I do every year. Hard, hard, hard.

    Then I get there, work my ass off, the time flies by, and whoosh, I’m renewed. Just like that.

    I’m so over the use to be’s. ‘Whatever dude, have you seen our camp?’

    We were fortunate to camp next to what I’d call ‘old school’ burners this year, Gedi Prime. These guys are raw and genuine and have hearts of pure gold. They told us that they were almost done too, but then some sweet stuff happened.

    The point is, you have to go to see, and if you don’t give it YOUR all, what the hell?

    Thank you everyone that makes this happen, from the bottom of my heart, I love our city, I love our community, I love what we do, I love us! and thank you for this brilliant wonderful post, love it!

    DOTA ROCKS~AoxomoxoA~Love~

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  • John Curley says:

    Just a quick note to let you know that I very much appreciate the kind words and that I really enjoy hearing your thoughts and reactions and experiences. Your participation is the best.

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  • Alliebeez says:

    Wonderful post!! I wasn’t able to participate next year but will be going next year! It’ll be my first time and I’m very excited!
    Nothing can ever be the same. Everything evolves and especially something so organic like burning man.

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  • Sassipants says:

    Thank you so much for this lovely and thought provoking post. This was my second burn and was quite different from my first year.

    I agree with the other comments, that this is one of the best things I have read about Burning Man in some time. This post is a great reminder to everyone that our burn, and maybe even our lives, is what we make of it. Thank you for sharing…

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  • oh kay says:

    Paper boy and the rest of you – you’ve said what I feel, too. My fourth year – and the energy out there was fantastic…..stayed 8 days and it just flew by…..I know things change…but this is one of those unique (!) experiences that offer you the opportunity and challenge to go with the flow. Yes, I wish the RV-ers would open their camps and not “circle” to block out the rest of us……yes, I wish Dub-step until 7 am could tone it down (is the sound of a skill saw really music?) but I know I just have to be patient and this too will pass! All in all a totally blissful experience at 9:30 and H….and already planning for next year!

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  • beta says:

    Re the jellies, the jellies designer’s name is Debris. Our thanks to all the burners who inspire the bloom to undulate!

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  • sharwest says:

    I will always carry the amazing experience we shared in the desert of Burning Man Past. Even if I never make it back. My heart is always there.

    I miss you John Curley! I’m so very proud to say I know you.

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  • Fleabag says:

    Nectar Village was our neighbor this year. I decided to put my long forgotten massage skills for them. Help out a little, ya know.


    Client 2: “Oy! My neck and back are ruined from cooking meals for 100 people! Please help, massage man!”

    Client 3: “I want a massage.”

    Final analysis: everyone needs to be touched somehow. And out in the desert, you’re bound to be touched just as you needed.

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  • Cyan says:

    I’m with Bob….

    What is the theme for 2012?
    What is the theme for 2012?
    I can’t wait for next year!
    I love you Burning Man!

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  • Nick says:

    I was a newby this year at 60. Changed my life for good. Honored to be a citizen. Grateful for all that give so much. In dust I trust.

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  • As usual, beautiful photos and wonderful stories.

    Thank you for your posts!

    (and thank you for taking a really nice picture of moi)

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  • Andromeda says:

    2011 was the third time i’ve gone to burning man and my 3rd virgin burn.

    I went for the first time in 2002. blew my mind.

    I went in 2010 a completely different person than the girl in 2002. I went to escape the realities of being a wife and mother and to shake up my spirit. Burning Man had changed as well. it was bigger, more spread out. and the energy was different. Perhaps I was seeking different things than before and the energy I needed found me. Either way, it felt like a virgin burn.

    I went in 2011 with my husband. His first year. It was … a really good year. :) and completely unlike the previous year.

    Next year will probably be different. No expectations.

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  • BoomBoom says:

    Thanks for this. I’m involved with a group in Sac who is building an inclusive and sustainable base community for our “region”. I read this post just as I was asking myself (again) what are my motivations for being part of this process. It had the words I needed to help crystallize my thoughts and answer my own question. *cheers*

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  • i always love and appreciate your posts John. the comparison to jazz is spot-on. i would also add that seeing the playa through the eyes of a virgin each year is very special and changes your perspective when you get jaded. is this what it’s like to raise a child? :)

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  • joe says:

    Sweet read. Thoughtful juxtoposition and thought provoking.

    I like Gravy Girls’s comment above. A committment to life is a good thing and what life is all about really and yet is so often hard to do. It’s all too easy to get caught up in going through the motions. Instead of stopping to smell the desert(s). Please excuse the pun I just can’t help myself! :-)

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  • Patti Lord says:

    Thanks so much for this perspective John it’s truly inspiring. I’m going to look for ways to live in style and grace right along with you.
    You asked who the girl with the jelly is? That’s me.
    This year we where blessed with the Burning Man honorarium funds to grow a project that started as 5 jellyfish in 2010 to a full 25 jellyfish bloom- more than enough to share the experience with countless fun lovers on the playa.
    The participatory aspect of our project along with astounding commitment of the Billion Jelly Bloom team was incredible. For the first time I feel like a truly experienced the flow of a gift economy: we spent months of labor to bring the project to fruition and in return have been riding a wave of love and “thank you’s” that keep us blooming with joy.
    @Kenetic Thanks! We plan to bring all the jellies to BM 2012 and we have some local participatory events happening in the interim. Events are posted on

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  • Roja Alexandra says:

    2011, My virgin year…
    Finally I made it to BM. I was suprised and astounded with the synchratic energy and grace of BRC. I found community, spirituality, inspiration, sensual expression, edgy experience, beauty, awe, dust, dust, dust.

    I found my tribe.

    Thank you, John, for your eloquence.

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  • Robear says:

    9 years and counting on being there next year, my mom just passed so I am counting on her being in the temple in 2012. Excellent article and I continue to be amazed that just like another community I am in people continue to step up and do the work so that we can be back on the Playa. Kudos to the Moop crew.

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  • Eric says:

    I got all tingly (all over again…) reading this. One of my bestest (I know it’s not a word, but it’s what I feel) Burns, and the SF Decom was awesome this year. Thanks, one and all!

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  • bucky says:

    Thanks you John Curley for the most spot-on thing I can remember ever reading about Burning Man. Also the photos are wonderful.

    It was better next year.

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  • Jimmy says:

    Thank you John Curley this is the best obituary that I have ever read.
    You are right and we need to let go but it is so hard after so many years. The week in the playa was equivalent to been out of the box and able to see the sun and the dust. It was a chance to exhale and inhale before going back to the solitary confinement of dally life.

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  • shylar says:

    the awesomest soul i met at my first burning man (this year was my first) told me this was his 16th and best ever burn as he stripped naked and dances in the mans simmering coals..i believed him..i had a enexplainable wonderful time and will NEVER miss burning man again..whatever it has changed into is still beautifull amd wonderful and luved and FUN!!! and bauh humbug to the haters everything changes

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  • Playapuppy says:

    After 5 burns and I am dumbfounded with the wonderful community that I am a part of. Thank you John for expressing the realities of Burning Man. I don’t know what the next burn will bring. I will do my damndest to bring with me what will best contribute to our city. And again I will return to the default world with a better vew and understanding of community. Love and peace to all my family!

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  • Ursa says:

    Within 10 minutes of entering the burn on my second year (2010) I came to the quick realization that it was not going to be the same as my first year (2009). I actually had a good laugh at myself for thinking anything would be the same in a temporary city in the middle of the Black Rock Desert from year to year…

    Excellent article and pics!!! Cheers!!!

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  • jazmang says:

    That really hit home…I needed to read that, thank you.

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  • Melissa says:

    Thanks for sharing. I have not yet been to burning man but am considering it for 2012. The thing that holds me back is that, while I love that the event makes a commitment to ‘leave no trace’, I can’t help but wonder about the amount of oil that is consumed in everyone flying and driving there and back, the air pollution that results from everything that is burned, and just the general amount of ‘stuff’ that is consumed and discarded as a result of art installations/costumes/plastic water bottles/etc.. We live this reality in daily life and I’m wondering if it is taken more seriously at the event given the principles of burning man? Is this something that is discussed at decompression? Might you be able to refer me to any blogs/articles that might explicitly address this so I can make an informed decision? Thanks so much for your time!

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  • GTA says:

    Reminds me of electric kool aid acid test when kesey says: be what you wanna be. I hope that burning man will be a life long thing I feel that There is alot for it to offer the whole wide world. and is now becoming a powerspot in the world kinda like the pyramids.

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  • glaucia says:

    2011 was my first year at burning man and i was blown away by how much art there was, it’s magnitude and how much money people spend just to drive a huge boat in the desert! i think that burning man is and always will be in the eye of the beholder. no one can quite explain it, you just have to experience it to understand. with that said it will always be what you want it to be. for me it was inspirational and made me realize even more that anything is possible. the only thing constant in life is change.

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  • Jim Hobson says:

    Burning Man has been a yearly ritual for me since 1997. What keeps me coming back? One thing I recognize and appreciate is that -for me at least- it’s life condensed. Every year at some point during the Burn I feel overjoyed, connected, alone, annoyed, exalted, exhausted and appreciative. What hasn’t changed is that every year I get an opportunity to contribute. I make giant toys that people play inside of, and I LOVE watching people enjoy what I’ve created for them.
    Has the event changed? Yes and no. It’s obviously bigger, and I have some idea of what to expect, but I’m new things still surprised me. I continue to make great new connections, deepen old ones and get a chance to share myself and my art. I’m very grateful to have experienced the gift of attending 15 Burns in a row. I hope to make it 16 in 2012.

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  • Jim Hobson says:

    …Oops, I should have proof read my comment. What I meant to say was “I now have some idea of what to expect when I go the Burning Man, but every year I come across new things that surprise me.”

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  • ECP Tubo says:

    I needed this article, right now. Thank you. It found me the same way I found home for the first time in 2008 – fortuitously. Both the Burn, and the previous month volunteering in Peru with BWB were pivots in my life. And I couldn’t be more grateful for the way they spun me around (or I spun them around?).

    Thank you to all the Burners. The fire never dies; the flame remains inside. Welcome home.

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  • abalone says:

    I first heard the faint beat of a pumping heart 20 years ago until it pounded loudly for me in 2002. This year was 7 or 8 for me. I had my best year ever. My first few years were all about me…I couldn’t fill myself with enough of anything to feel completely satisfied….through the years I’ve learned that the more you give @BM, and in life, the more satisfied you feel. I know it sounds corny, but it’s quite true. I’m still evolving but I’ve had some major breakthroughs. I still hold out hope for those who may be “assholes” in their first few years…I was one. I try not to be one any longer, often failing. I’m lucky BM found me.
    Thanks for the wonderful article.

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  • Dimitri says:

    Just reading this is sweet emotional release. All the giving and hope of the human spirit – beautiful, so beautiful.

    Thank you.

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  • Galaxo Magic says:

    Great article. 2011 was my 11th Burn. My first Burn (2001) is a fuzzy memory. My favorite years were 2004 and 2006. 2007 was such a downer I almost did not go back in 2008.
    But I joined a funk/fusion band and they said they wanted to take the band out there. So in 2008 I came as a musician. Three years of playing a lot of music, 2008 and 2010 were both pretty good years. Still, after 10 years, I felt that maybe I had done it enough. Seven years of partying, 3 years of working as a musician.

    Then the bass player hatched an idea. Let’s build an Mutant Vehicle! 2011 was such a completely different adventure. We spend almost 6 months designing and building our Mutant Vehicle (the pink elephant). We were both so tired of it, just getting it to the playa was a hard time, breaking down in Nixon. However, the Saturday before the Burn we got Beau Le’Phant put together and took it for it’s first drive and folks ran out of their camps to cheer the pink elephant and take pictures! It was a moment I won’t forget and an experience I never expected to have. I think Beau gave folks more joy than all of my previous years of giving.

    So I have reinvented my Burning Man experience three times in 11 years. Each gave a new perspective. I think I will run with the Mutant Vehicle crowd for a while. The amount of happiness that our pink elephant brought was overwhelming.

    Burn long and perspire!

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  • Will Couch says:

    AMAZING, let all the haters hate and let the dreamers dream, then we’ll see who’s enjoying themselves!

    This article not only summerises Burning Man but life in The Universe in general.

    Evolution not revolution!

    Will Couch


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  • Silvanfan says:

    Yo I only recently heard about Burning Man because one of my fav youtubers posted her show there. I’m from the Caribbean, and while i know its going to be expensive, I’ve determined that before I die, I WILL go to burning man. I’ll be a newbie, but I know it’ll be great.

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  • HDarkness says:

    This was my first burn. It was magical. It put me in a place in my life that I had been yearning for. I felt like I was exactly where I was supposed to be. I feel more awakened than I have ever felt. Now that I am back, I dream of the feeling of being home again. I know it will never feel the same way as the first time, but I do know it will grow into a different version of that feeling that I experienced out there, home.
    I don’t want it to be the exact same. I’m ok with it changing. Because I am constantly evolving I want it to evolve with me, with us. I want it to evolve like any community, reminding us to grow. It reminds me of why I live for this. We have much more to keep giving. People search their whole lives for it, and I feel blessed to have found it at the age of 24. Thank You!

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  • Tim says:

    Well put and much appreciated. Thank You.

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  • Flame says:

    I have 3 words for you. Mr. John Curley. Here they are:

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  • Ali Baba says:

    A friend shared this link awhile ago, and I just read the post. Whole lot of goodness here.
    I’ll share what I told her, before her second year:

    Your second year may be more enjoyable than your first, because if the stress and anxiety of preparation can be high for you, the second year allows you to be-and-feel much more prepared, and therefore better-able to simply BE, and enjoy your surroundings.

    She reported afterward, that I was right. ;-)

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