WHEN: Wednesday, August 31, 11 – midnight
WHAT: Turn all your lights out. Look up at the sky.
Have you ever been out in Black Rock City, looked around at all the natural beauty, and thought “goddamit, this city’s really in the way?”
One of the most amazing experiences of nature I’ve ever had was looking up at the night sky in the Black Rock Desert and seeing the whole goddam Milky Way … maybe the whole universe … stare back.
The DPW gets to see it before they build the city. The Restoration crew gets to see it when they clean up after the city. But people attending Burning Man don’t get to see it, because for all that Black Rock City is a miracle, it is also a massive source of light pollution.
Unless we turn the lights out for a little while. You wanna do that?
BlackOut BlackRock is an idea that has been discussed among nature loving Burners for a few years, but no one’s ever really pushed for it. This year, however, they’re pushing. Politely.
Alaric Moore is a second year Burner who knew she wanted to be on the DPW and Resto teams after she first got a good look at rural Nevada.
“Last year, when I first was driving up to Gerlach, it was super lush,” she said. “And I saw the mountains, and the blue sky, and the green … and I was like ‘Holy Fuck! I’d have been here 5 years ago if I’d known it was so pretty! I’d been avoiding it because it was all blinky lights and noise and people trying to give me backrubs.”
But nothing compared to the view of that night sky.
“This year,” she told me from the desert, “I was leaving the saloon and I was talking to Dark Angel, and I was looking up at the sky, and I just couldn’t stop looking. And he told me about this idea, that people had been talking about it as a joke for a couple of years, and I just said ‘fuck it. I’m going to create and event for it.’”
Operation BlackOut BlackRock is now real. It’s got a Facebook event and everything. And the message is simple: if we turn out all our lights at the same time (Wednesday, August 31, from 11 – midnight) and look up at the night sky, we’ll see something amazing. The most amazing light show in the cosmos.
“Each year, thousands of people travel to the Black Rock Desert, a pristine and remote wilderness, and bring enough light pollution with them to drown out one of the most beautiful night skies you’ve ever seen,” said co-organizer Spencer Bartley. “Black Out Black Rock is asking everyone, just for one hour at 11pm on Wednesday of event week, to turn off their lights, look up, and remember why we came to this desert. Park your art car and look up. Turn off your theme camp lights, play your set in the dark, and look up. We left the cities of the default world for a reason. Just for one hour, look up, and remember why we came here.”
It’s voluntary of course, but the more people who participate the more amazing it will be.
“I don’t want it to be a thing where people go around and kill each other’s generators, although that sounds fun and I would probably do it,” Alaric said. “But I don’t want it to be that. I just want the people who come for the human aspect of Burning Man and don’t get to enjoy the natural aspect of it as much to see what they’re missing. As a good friend of mine put it: Burning Man is all about what people can do, their potential. The blackout is about what nature already is.”
BlackOut BlackRock has no official leaders, and everyone is encouraged and welcome to contribute in whatever way they can. To connect with other people on the project, visit their Facebook event page or join their Facebook organizer’s group.
But the bottom line is: if we can get enough people to turn all their lights off from 11 – midnight on Wednesday, Aug. 31, we’ll see something far more amazing than anything anybody can bring to the desert. We’ll see what’s always been there.