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Burning Man 2010

(EDIT: I have added pictures!)

This is burning man to me: The desert and the sun.

This is burning man to me: The desert and the sun.

So it’s been a week since I got back from Burning Man and moved into my new apartment and I’m finally sitting down to write up some of what happened.

Below is a rough chronology of what happened at the burn for me.


I spent Sat night at Jesse’s house and Piko picked us up at 3am to start driving to the burn. It was amazingly cold and my sweatshirt was in the back of the van so I couldn’t get it. I slept for at least a few hours. I helped Stephi (one of the girls who was riding down with us) do her hair. Her hair took about 6 hours on and off. We got to Gerlach, NV (the nearest town to Burning Man) at about 3pm which was earlier than we planned. Then we had a last meal at a restaurant with some other people we met who were camping with us. Then we headed for Black Rock City.

We reached the gates at 6pm sharp, but they were not open yet. However to our surprise we only had to wait for around 45 minutes before we could go in (for all we knew we might have ended up waiting until 1am). So by 8pm we were at our camp site at 7:35 and Istanbul. We unloaded and I setup my tent and other gear. And by the time I was done with that it was 10pm and I was really tired. I felt like maybe I should go out but instead I went to bed.


I got up around 9:30am when my tent broke 95°F or so inside (it’s a little green house, ventilation is not an option due to the dust). The day was clear, cool (75°F or 80°F) and the desert was beautiful. The city was still pretty empty. My camp mates had already started to put up the shade structure (a 65′ parachute) and some people had started to setup their domes and tents.

I checked out my bike and discovered to my great sadness that it had no rear bearings. This turned out to be unfixable despite several attempts and it made me very angry for various reasons, so I won’t get into it. I’ll just leave it at saying I did not have a bike at any point during the week (except for the public Yellow bikes).

Burningman from the platform under the Man

Burningman from the platform under the Man (looking to 3 o'clock)

During the day on Monday I wandered out to the Man and climbed to the observation deck and I walked out to the temple. There were still not many people so it was nice to wonder around and never have to fight a crowd. Mid afternoon to my surprise it started to rain!! And it wasn’t just a sprinkle. The ground got very wet which is a problem because it makes it really sticky so it coats the tires of bikes making them unridable and sticks to cars resulting in ruts in the roads. However like they say about clouds there was a silver lining. There was an amazing rainbow.

That night I went to Playa Speed Dating. It didn’t look to be happening because of the rain but I met some fun people out in front of it and we wondered around for like 3 hours. Then I met up with one some of their camp mates who happen to spin fire. So to my joy they agreed to safety me while I spun my fire whip. So we all went out to the Espanade (the empty central area inside the circle that is the city) and I spun my whip and someone else spun a staff. It was a lot of fun and we developed a small audience.


I got up just the same. The heat is the limiting factor for sleeping and I got up at 9:30 or so every day.

I finally got to meet some of the other Orphan Eaters (my camp was cannibals). They were all very good people and older than I expected (Average age 40 I think) which was nice because it meant it was in no way a party camp and there was a nice chill attitude. Later in the day I went to a talk about open-source hardware. It was very good he talked about the possibility of building machines that can “print” plastic and even metal parts. There are common in industry but the technology is getting to the point that you can build them in your basement. And he said he was going to try to bring one to burning man next year so that he can make things that people need from raw plastic stock or possibly even from other plastic objects that people donate to them (recycling).

A art piece/sign on the deep playa. It is at 12 o'clock and "Oz". It's electrified to prevent people from stealing it I think.

A art piece/sign on the deep playa. It is at 12 o'clock and 'Oz'. It's electrified to prevent people from stealing it I think.

In the evening I went to the Speed dating again. It is a silly little event where you talk to people for 2 minutes each and then choose who you would like to go on a date with and then if any people mutually choose one another the guy who runs it “blesses” their union with his “Invisible Snowflake Wand” and sends them off together. I met one of the girls who road down the BRC with us there and ironically (but not really surprisingly) we were matched up and spent the rest of the wandering the deep playa together looking at art and talking philosophy and spirituality. We walked all the way out to the trash fence at 12 o’clock and then got a ride back on a Triceratops whose horns were flame throwers. Then I went out to the outer ring and did a fire whip burn. It was a really good night.


I walked around with a Kiwi (New Zealander) who was camping with us. We went to center camp and I climbed the tower there. It was a lot of fun. I did it in nothing but my underwear. My skirt would have been a hazard. It was a real climb not just walk up some stairs or climb a ladder.

Then we looked at art and went out to the temple again. There were some really neat spaces inside the temple. They were all made of plywood but they were setup to look like a cave with stalagmites and stalactites.

The night I went to the dragon noodle bar and got noddles! I would have had to weight in line for a long time but I sumo wrested and any one who sumoed got to skip to the front of the line. I lost, but I still won because I got noddles.

On my way home I stopped at a lot of fire sculptures on the playa. And I saw a really amazing piece. It was a fountain that was on fire. They were bubbling LP gas (propane) out of the water and igniting it. It was incredible beautiful. I also got to play with an interesting piece that was a large rod on a 2-axis pivot with a flame thrower at each end. They let me control the flame throwers (which could pivot BTW) to make it move in different ways. It was a lot of fun.

I also got to play with another set of flame effects and a collaborative step sequencer where people at 3 different podiums could sequence music. Each podium controlled a different instrument and together the group would produce sort of techno. It was a lot of fun.

Also on my way up 7:30 I saw a Tesla coil up and running. It was a big one and as I later learn it was around 3/4 of a million volts. It was a traditional Tesla coil instead of the newer solid state ones. So it had a group of spark gaps. They were arranged in a ring and were visible from the outside. They looked a bit like the machine in Iron Man’s chest. It was really cool and they let me press the button to control it. It was such a power trip.


A dust devil on the Playa. It was only a mildly dusty day.

A dust devil on the Playa. It was only a mildly dusty day.

I tried to go to a “Make your own jellyfish umbrella” work shop, but I failed to get there on time and there were too many people their already when I got there. So I went to the techno club across the street for a while and then headed out to the Playa to look at stuff.

Late afternoon I went to the Skeptical Bastards camp. They had a hang out and chat and listen to a podcast event. But what drew me is that they were Skeptics (in the Skeptics Society sense) so it was very different from the rest of burning man because there was no mysticism or “woo”. It was really nice. I get really tired of hearing about spirit healing and the power of love. I just want to talk to people who understand physics. At this event I met a young man about my age named to my surprise “Arthur”. We talked for a while and then we went over and sumo wrestled for noddles.

That night there was supposed to be a fire jam at the fire organ. So I got my gear and headed out there. I met some people who spin so we did have a bit of a fire jam. But sadly they never got the fire organ working. Something was wrong with the control system I think. But we to spin. It was a slight nerve racking evening because me and one other person were the only sober ones spinning. There was one guy who was so drunk he kept dropping his staff. It really worried me. But we did have one safety on duty at all times. We should have had more but it was something.

People are really impressed by the fire whip. From what I could tell there was only one other guy on the play with a crackable fire whip. Some other people had fire ropes which look similar but cannot be cracked. So I was definitely the local bad-ass for a while there. It was fun.


I was slow to get started. I hung out under the shade structure until after noon. But then I went to a “talk” about nuclear power and fusion. However there was no speaker. So we the “audience” just sat around and talked about it. We did have some experts. A man who works on a “pump storage” system. Where they pump water up a mountain when power is cheap and then let it flow back down when power is needed and is therefor more expensive. We also had a young man who does research on fusion reactors. So I learned a lot of interesting things.

Then some of us from that talk went over to a workshop on making Tesla coils. However that turned out to have been a prank that someone had added to the schedule and it had never existed. I was sad.

That evening Jesse and I went out to the playa to spin fire and most of our camp came out to see us do it. It went well. I was pretty happy with my burns. Also one of the women from our camp used Jesse’s devil stick and spun it like a fire baton. She had not spun fire for more than 20 year so she was really nervous. However She was really good.

Later, I went into a bar that looked to have couches and it turned out to be a really nice place and I hung out there for a couple of hours and met some nice people. I discovered that whiskey and ginger ale is really good especially with a lime in it.

Later on I went to Root Society and saw Crystal Method! I really enjoyed my self. I only stayed for the first 30 min or so (it was way too loud) but I got a chance to hear some really solid songs and I was really impressed by the stage. They had a 4 store tall, 40′ wide wall with scrim on it. The performers were in an opening in the middle. There was an array of strobe light scattered over the wall that could be flashed in different patterns and 4 huge strobes that could be used for emphasis. The wall was also being projected on by 2 huge Christie projectors. And they had a VJ who was working with both normal stock footage and burning man footage from past years. It was an amazing show.


By Saturday I was totally beat. I stayed in the shade structure all day until the sun went down. I just didn’t have it in me to hike around. So I sat around and napped a lot.

That night we went out to the playa again with the camp and we spun fire again. I had one of the best burns I’ve ever had and our dear baton twirler was even better because she was more comfortable with the fire. It was awesome.

Then we watched the Man burn. It was a really good burn. Though I would have liked to be closer. Also I was surprised that he mans arms were raised before the burn. Usually they raise up during the burn and I always liked that so I think this burn was missing a little bit for me.


Sunday was strike day. We took down all the shade structures and I wondered around a bit, but over all I just helped out with strike and tried to stay out of the sun. I failed at the last part as all skin that has pealed off my body can tell you, but it was OK. It was the last day.

After sun down. A group of us from the camp walked out to the temple for the temple burn. We got good seats, but I was incredibly cold. At this point I’m pretty sure I was going slightly subnormal temperature due to my sun burn. But it made it pretty awful. I was shivering constantly. Finally the temple did burn and I was so glad I was there for it. It was beautiful. There were huge fire cyclones that came off of it and when the main framing fell it went down like a series of dominoes. It was really cool.

Then we left a couple hours after the burn. I was in a lot of pain from my burn at that point and I was shivering uncontrollably. But I made it through the night and the next day and Monday evening I was in the Hostel in Portland again. It was really nice to be home.

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