It takes a village to raise the Man, as they say.
The Man Krewe has weaved the 2017 theme of Radical Ritual deeply into the design and process as they build the infamous Man on which Burning Man is centered.
On Saturday morning, Mary Poppins, leader of Man Krewe, invited the citizens building Black Rock City to come out and raise the Man:
We put in a ton of effort the last two weeks, and I’m so excited to say that we are prepared to lift the Man in an old-school fashion with a rope. This radical ritual hasn’t been done since 2000 — 17 years. We are incredibly aware that we can not do this without the 70-plus departments who are out here building Black Rock City, so we are inviting you to all come participate by raising the Man.
Members of Man Krewe describe what they find special about this year’s Man:
Miguel, Safety Steward
I’m the safety steward, and I’ll be helping everything go smoothly as hundreds of people raise the Man by rope. Today, my job is to keep things boring.
What I’m most inspired by in this project is the group of individuals who painstakingly took the hard route at every turn. You can see it in the details, the dowels where there’s no visible screws, the way in which we put it together, the way it was raised. The return to pulling it. There’s 70-some departments here, and this is DPW’s shit. And it’s really important that everyone gets their hands on this. We can’t build this without every other team out here, so it’s not ours. This is everyone’s, and we should all bring this up and then burn this fucker down. It’s going to be pretty sweet.
Haggis, Man Base designer
We’ve only ever had a couple of clad men. It’s nice to go back and revisit an old friend, [the classic, ribbed Man].
I think every society needs ritual. This is a proper society; I think we need to have our rituals. Raising the Man in this fashion with ropes is something we haven’t done in 17 years. I think it gets us back to a point of origin. It’s how we used to do it on the beach. And here we are again, 40 years later, doing it with a rope again. That’s very cool.
It started on my couch a year ago with some sketches, and at this point it escapes anything I imagined. I whistle a tune, and these guys play a symphony.
See, people writing there name on there, that’s another ritual. It’s a tradition. You know you’ve earned your spot. This is my 13th Man Base, and it’s something we’ve always done. They probably did it on the beach.
I’m excited about the overall level of craftsmanship and dedication this crew has shown, to really make a beautiful Man Base not only in the macro sense but in the micro sense. You can see that in the Man himself. Have you seen him? They’ve routed all the edges and made it really pretty. There’s only four places where it’s going to be attached. On the corners there is this beautiful trim detail, and they did a really beautiful job on the skip sheating roof.
For the Temple of the Golden Spike, all these outer and inner walls are going to be faced with little niche alters, and it’s basically DPW’s version of a temple dedicated to the Man and to the Golden Spike and to all those rituals and people can put things in those niches.
It’s done immaculately. Check these details out. The routing, the pattern in the side of the head. The idea was to do the original Man, which was raised by rope back in the ’90s. I used to build the Man. I did it from 1990 to 2000. In 2001, they started using cranes. So we are going back to it because it is a ritual year.
It’s a significant ritual in that it’s a really hands-on thing. It used to be the first year we were out here in 1990, there were around 90 of us, and it took everybody at Burning Man to raise the Man. If there were any less of us, we wouldn’t have gotten off the ground. Now it takes a fraction of the people to put him up. So, it used to be much more of a participatory thing. Now, 70,000 people, and it only takes 200 to raise it. It became a spectator thing. They come and watch the Man burn. So, I think it’s a great ritual, raising the Man.
This year, the Man is 40 feet from head to toe. The scale of the Man, Larry Harvey used to say it’s kind of like parents are to an infant, and we’re going back to that with this size Man. Instead of putting him on a pedestal, now he’s back on the ground. I think it’s significant that in this ritual we are raising him with rope instead of by machine. When it went to a crane, it took away an element. It was done as a result of putting him on a pedestal.
The amount of attention to detail and love that goes into something that is only going to be around for a week is amazing. I mean, look at that — this is all perfectly flush and sanded and routed and dowelled.
Part of this is that we knew that it was going to be on the ground, so we built it knowing that people would be able to walk right up to it and see our work. A lot of these details we’ve been doing for years, but now you can see it. The dowelling is new. We knew that people were going to be able to see this up close. when, normally this is 40 feet in the air.
Aside from the Krewe, a number of other Burning Man legends were there to lend a hand.
That’s the classic Man. Bringing it back to its roots. And frankly nobody likes the Man with the suit, except for Larry.
The Man was actually this size the last year it was on the beach — That was ’89.
Temple of the Golden Spike. God, it’s more amazing than the Man!
It’s the detail that’s just amazing. He’s just like a cabinet. The fact that he’s on the ground makes me a little nervous.
Raising The Man
Four rigging points connect the Man to an enormous rope.
350 people stood together, and on Bruiser’s cue, they all picked up the rope, joining together to create a community force that would accomplish a task no one person could do on their own.
There was a silence amongst the large crowd. Bruiser guided the crowd as they got into position. “All right, everyone pick up the rope.”
“Okay, so everyone together take five steps backward.”
“ONE. TWO. THREE. FOUR. FIVE.”
The Man slowly began to rise, and cheers rippled down the line.
After three or four good lifts, the Man was nearly in place. With a few half steps, he was eased into place. “POINT FIVE!” the crowd exclaimed, taking a half step.
“All right, we got it.”
A roar of excitement swept through the crowd after having taking part in the radical ritual of raising the Man, an homage to Burning Man’s early history, roots and community.