“Necessity is the mother of invention.”
Nowhere is the weird, dusty, futuristic vibe more prevalent than Burning Man – and Twitter is full of people calling out ‘burners’ for their over-the-top get-ups – but one thing is for certain, face coverings, goggles and nudity are very, very practical at Burning Man.
Face cover: to keep out the incessant dust.
Goggles: to protect your eyes from said dust.
Nudity: With temperatures up near 110 degrees, you tell me if you want to wear a sweater or not.
Takeaway One: Ride the dusty, futuristic vibes – there is something practical about dressing light in steampunk goggles and a kind of desert scarf.
The Aesthetics of Burning Man
The nature of artistic innovation of Burning Man is such that it invites playfulness, LED lights, and weird, mildly futuristic get-ups. I’ve heard it described as, “Whatever you would be if you were your childhood dream of a superhero.” We all wear “costumes” every day, one might say – and at Burning Man, you’re invited to think a little bit more freely, act out a bit, and enjoy yourself with costume-like attire.
Takeaway Two: Costume is everything – bring a core idea perhaps, but let the costume blossom in the context of the play. There are places that give away elements of costume there, as well.
The installations and art cars are the best at Burning Man – drawing you in to take a closer look with their fascinating designs and attention-grabbing aesthetic. From a case in the middle of a vast expanse of desert that says, “In Case, A Uke” with a ukelele inside – to two kids riding around a mobile, monstrous beetle-looking thing, like something out of Mad Max.
Many of the installations at Burning Man are interactive – including weird merry-go-rounds, climbable statues, and this extraordinary musical Tesla coil, which featured a playable keyboard that made electricity jump back and forth to the tune as you played.
The camping area is festooned with themed camps (I highly suggest going with one of the camps) that invite you in for drinks or just to massage one another, join a car wash for people or get covered in glitter.
Takeaway Three: Have a fun way to pleasantly interact with people like a head massage station, a big mister, or drawing/ poem writing station.
My favorite area my first time at Burning Man was the deep playa, otherwise called “the trash fence” where fewer people ventured, though we occasionally came upon a caravan or lonely installation. Where things were more spread out, it felt like a very classic desert adventure. It provided me with the space I needed to relax and truly enjoy the experience. Here’s a “flower castle” from that area of the playa.
Overall – I’ve Always Loved the “Dusty Futuristic” Vibe
Out here for my first time at Burning Man – it felt uncontrived, authentic, and a child of necessity and circumstance. Overall, my experience at Burning Man was more of a bucket list relic of myself ten years ago, who aspired to a level of hippie-dom I would never actually reach. That’s not to say Burning Man may not be just the thing for many in search of themselves. However, for its seemingly endless reach towards a feeling of communal openness, Burning Man is hampered by the sheer amount of “ported in” frivolities that people purchased before arriving.
I did feel like it would have been delightful to have my wife with for the company, as people seem to be a little weird around single males at burning man – perhaps because of the whole sexually charged vibe.
Takeaway Four: Have a good balance of feminine and masculine within your own camp – for the sake of the overall Burning Man vibes.
All of the purchased oddities and amenities everywhere may bring down the naturalist and spiritual aspect of the experience, even if hedonism and debauchery are your ultimate idea of wholeness. For me, it’s just not. So, perhaps I’m not the best to judge an event where that principle is central. Not to mention in this day and age, true hedonism isn’t really an option what with all of the laws (cops patrolling) and general political correctness that dominates the socially minded people these events attract, for good or ill.