Wait, What? It’s the Middle of the Week Already?

Out between the Man and the Temple, a solitary woman danced in the dust.

It’s hard to believe, but it’s true. Here we are on hump day, halfway through the week already. At least it is as gorgeous as you can imagine.

Yes, we’ve had our share of blowing dust, but nothing, NOTHING like two years ago. There was no way it was going to be one beautiful calm day after another like last year, but to these eyes it seems that balance has been restored. Sometimes you get caught in some nasty stuff, and you have to hunker down in your tent or in Center Cafe or whatever you have, and wait it out. But the waits have not been very long.

Folks continue to stream into the city, although anecdotal reports say the lines at both the Gate and the Greeters have been … dare we say it? … not that bad. Melissa and James, our guardian angels from S.F. who brought our backup camera to the playa, left Reno on Monday morning and were in their camp three hours later. Three hours! On Monday! … Another group of friends came in last night and pulled in to Gate road around midnight, and there were three cars ahead of them in line. Three.

Maybe the longest delays have been caused by the very noticeable police presence here. We are told by reliable people with direct knowledge of the situation that there are more law enforcement personnel here than in previous years, and they are keeping a higher profile. More cars than ever before are being pulled over and searched as soon as they pass the Greeters’ stations. And almost any infraction will be cited, so make sure your tail lights are working, and that your bicycle racks do not block your license plate. And of course obey the Black Rock City speed limit. Also, reacquaint yourself with your rights regarding searches, because in almost all cases officers will try to search search your car. And they have dogs to help them. A word to the wise.

Beyond all that, things proceed apace. The city feels positively crammed with high-quality art, maybe more than ever before. The 35 pieces associated with the CORE project enhance that impression, but in general, there is art everywhere. And there are art cars everywhere, as well. There are old favorites like the Neverwas Haul, and new favorites like Christina, the giant yacht. Really, it’s never been easier to hitch a ride around the playa on something fun, cool or loud – or all three.

Mike Garlington’s and Laura Kempton’s “Ego” draws visitors no matter what the conditions.

Even though the population of the city is ahead of last year’s pace – there were 40,000 people here yesterday, and today we’re at 47,249  – the city seems quieter than in recent years. The public spaces like the Esplanade and Center Camp seem almost eerily quiet. It’s hard to figure out why, but one theory goes that because there is so much art out in the playa, and so many ways to get out to it, that more people are out exploring than gathering in the more public meeting places.

Here’s a look at some of what’s been going on:

Tuesday night was “friends and family” night at Thunderdome, and the various crews that build the city had a great time going at each other.
Christina is here and drawing big crowds.


There are LOTS of children around the various camps, and one of their favorite activities is to help the Lamplighters put out the lanterns in the evening.
The Pier 2.0 is simply spectacular; if you visit it, make sure you find the “mer-pig,” half pig, half mermaid, in formaldehyde.


“Singularity Transmission” had some problems with the wind, but the symphony of sounds being gathered there is otherworldly and beautiful.


Street fights with fire? Sure, Burning Man has those.





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.

5 Comments on “Wait, What? It’s the Middle of the Week Already?

  • janna says:

    that mean we only have half week left to enjoy the mission district.

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  • Mick70 says:

    Man this thing went by fast. The ride back is looming large already.

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  • hezcatt says:

    janna i <3 you.

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  • Dienekes says:

    What made this burn less burny, meaningful, epic and amazing as others? What went wrong?

    Nothing. Fucking NOTHING!

    The newbies arrived early and did all their newbie things early enough to figure it all out and assimilate with the city before the burn.

    We arrived on Sunday to no line at all. We left Sunday after the burn, at sunset, and Exodus was only 90 minutes. How is that possible?

    Lightning, rain, dust, hard playa, soft playa… Enough to kick a veteran burner’s ass, but, to all of the cynics who thought that tens of thousands of experienced burners couldn’t bring it to the playa and make Black Rock City what it is: the problem isn’t them, it’s you.

    Big hugs to Black Rock City 2012! In spite of everything, you all kept it awesome!

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  • What a great article. Thank you John :) The picture you captured of our piece is AMAZING! Do you think we could have permission to add it to our website? It’s so beautiful :)

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