Countdown to Blastoff

Dylan and the Spires crew

They put down the last spire in Black Rock City yesterday, which is one of the more significant events that marks the end of the preseason around here.

The city structure is is virtually complete. Dylan and his spire crew have put down about 300 of those tall wooden spires, after Lexy and her assembly crew have put them together. And we can report with complete accuracy, thanks to the meticulous record-keeping of Art Art Art, that the shade crew has built 113 structures of various sizes, using 6,191 feet of 12-foot shade cloth. Oh, and they’ve dug an average of 63.29 post holes a day to do so. The power crew is still installing spider boxes and connecting them to miles of electrical lines hooked up to mobile generating stations. The Heavy Equipment folks are doing lots of the heavy lifting, and Makeout Queen gets trailers and water where they need to go. Sweet Thang makes sure that people and camps are where they should be, the IT team has had wifi banging all week long, and Hayseed and the catering crews and Spectrum  keep the various armies well-fed. While all this and more has been going on, the devoted and ever-bubbly Fluffers have supplied water and snacks and sunscreen, plus lots and lots of smiles.

The Gate and Perimeter crews are gearing up for their big night – the gates to the city open at 6 pm Sunday, and it’s up to them to make sure that all who enter have tickets. The number of inspection lanes has been increased from 8 to 12 this year, and they are hoping to keep wait times to 4 hours or fewer. Then the Greeters have the new arrivals ring the bell, roll in the dust and get a hug to welcome them home to Black Rock City.

Some of the Fluffers who gathered for a team picture when the last spire was put into the playa. (And remember, one finger in the air means “We Love You.”)

All of this preparation and all of the work behind it is celebrated when the last spire is put down. Crews gather from all over the playa to do some last pounding and janky decorating. There’s also a sledgehammer-tossing contest, and Marlee was  blasting 100-pound anvils into the air. Refreshing adult beverages were readily available.
So once again we’re coming down the home stretch. It’s the end of one thing, and the beginning of another. One door closes, another one opens.  And we can’t wait till you get here to get this party started.

Here are some more pictures from the Spires crew and the last spire party:

Each spire is lifted into place by hand.


The spires are attached to rebar that is pounded into the desert floor.

Work crews from all over gathered round the janky last spire for an office party.


Makeout Queen never seems to be off duty, even at a party.


You don’t have to be DPW to have a good time.


Work booty.


Lexi’s Spire crew did all the construction


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.

One comment on “Countdown to Blastoff

  • Nancy A. Hall says:

    I wonder how many other people had an old man like mine? Our family moved from an island off the coast of Maine to Alaska in 1967 when I was a teenager. After a while, Fathah got a job as a section gang worker on the Ak Railroad, so he worked outside year round. After a few years, it occured to him that it might be a good idea to observe the Vernal Equinox in a significant way, specifically by having a burning of winter’s garment. So he took one of his suits of long underwear & stuffed it full of highly combustible materials, put it on a stake, & stuck it in our backyard in Anchorage,with some gunpowder on top of the whole shebang. Then, on the evening of the Equinox the family & our friends gathered to eat, drink, & make merry, recite original poetry, incantations, songs, etc until finally Father would recite the words required to (hopefully) cast off winter’s garment, & touch off the stuffed underwear. It always flared up magnificently & then exploded with a major bang…after which some bolder individuals liked to jump through or over it. This ritual is still being carried out each Vernal Equinox, in my brother’s backyard now, since our parents have both passed away about 15 yrs ago. My brother(s) know how to go about it ofcourse. I always think about this whenever I hear news about Burning Man Festival. Probably someone from those long ago days of our first Vernal Equinox ceremonies has gone to BM, but I’m not inclined b/c there’s no ocean around there.

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