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RamblinMan's Playa History


I went to Burning Man on a whim, to see what it was about. Arrived after dusk on the Friday and spent the evening wandering around aimlessly, being absolutely blown away by the spectacle. This was one of the most memorable nights of my life. I spent the beautifully hot Saturday doing mostly the same, and the only person I met up with was Coe. I spent both Friday and Saturday night sleeping in my beat up 1975 Toyota Celica, but I was on too much of a high to want to sleep much. I left on the Sunday—8 hours stuck in playa traffic will prevent me from ever doing that again!


Despite all good intentions of arriving early and joining a theme camp, I left all my planning 'till the last minute so that didn't happen. I arrived on the Thursday afternoon (this was the only year I actually made it before sunset—I only had to come from Sacramento) and spent every night until the Monday with different people who I'd met on the Playa. (I was still well and truly in my slut phase in the late 20th century. At least it saved me from having to set up camp too much!) I met so many diverse, friendly, warm, interesting people, all of whom were talking about the storm earlier that week, but somehow never really kept in touch with anyone. I had the Burning Man logo shaved into my chest, though, and my pubic hair died flaming red to symbolise the fire, so I carried that as a momento for months afterwards.


I finally took part in a theme camp: Poly Paradise, home of the Human CarCass Wash. Unfortuantely, it was miserably cold and wet that year, so there wasn't a lot of call for it... in all there weren't enough naked people that year. =) I arrived on the Wednesday and shared an RV with Terri, and four of her other lovers who all, like me, were named Michael on their drivers licences. I met lots of friends of friends that year... all real Burners are wonderful!


I branched out camp-wise this year: I helped create the super-cool L2k playa light show, played the role of a Burning Man greeter, and lived in the Temple of Atonement, the BDSM camp. I also signed up to be a LampLighter, but sadly I flaked on that one... as cool as the lamplighters are, I just don't seem to be able to get my arse out there. The weather was warm again that year, so definitely no complaint about the lack of naked people, especially with the new tradition of chasing the truck that sprays the roads with water! (I never did tell the L2k co-ordinator that she was my favourite person to watch doing that! <blush>) I was naked most of the time too, not even bothering with my usual sarong, not even for the daybreak Greeter's shift... I found out six months later from my housemate that her boyfriend had been intimidated by that particular detail. Oh well, if you can't handle nudity, Black Rock City probably isn't the place for you. I got sick from too much playa dust in the middle of the week, but since I was there for the full nine days, a day or two of downtime wasn't too horrible.


I was living in Amsterdam that year, so I missed out on the Burn. I swore I'd never do that again, but in 2008 I changed my mind. (There were lots of fire jugglers and other cool artists on Dam Square on the night of the Burn that year, though. Cool fluke, but not the same.)


A rather minimalist Burn this year. I camped with my lover, karenbynight, her friend angelbob, our friend angstronaut and one or two others. I slept in a dome tent with a missing tarp, which I replaced with emergency blankets. I figured that the silver of the emergency blankets would keep the heat out, but it only did so moderately, and when the big wind storm came up on the Saturday it tore the whole lot right off, so all my stuff got covered in playa dust. But what's Burning Man without playa dust? More about the Burn that year is here in my LiveJournal.


A bunch of friends and lovers and I created Boa Babes, camped in Hushville. We had a dome in which we showed passers-by how to make playa-friendly boas using just their fingers. Despite hopeforyou's illness being sad and a major disruption, this was one of the best Burns I'd been to. More about that burn year is in my LiveJournal in four parts: 1, 2, 3 and 4.


After attempts at previous years, I managed to bring a complete and mostly-working 'contraption' to the Playa in 2005: a backpack that supplied me with all my water, light, music and other Playa needs. Unfortunately, it was so heavy that I ditched it after Day One. =( Other than that, it was a really good year. I camped at the BLD, a well-established, traditional Burner village. Our camp itself, the Psycho Angel Smiley Camp, was a small, loosely-themed bunch of friends and lovers. Actually, the majority of them were lovers—I may have been over my slut phase, but pretty much everyone I was dating was a Burner so it turned out to be a bit of a harem. But harems seem to work at the Burn; just as there was no drama when I camped with multiple metamours in 2000, my sweeties all got along beautifully. (Not hard, since some of them were also dating each other—who said poly is hard?)


'Contraption' take II; it was still heavier than I wanted, but okay to carry with me most of the time. Other than that, this was far from my best Burn. None of my partners wanted to go to the Burn that year so I camped with a mate and a bunch of his friends, and a woman he was in the process of breaking up with. Camp Drama. All my other Burner friends were scattered across the Playa, so there wasn't really anywhere I could hang out to get away from it. On the plus side, I got to do a lot of shifts for Burning Man Information Radio. And I suppose there were enough other plusses to write a pretty positive LiveJournal entry about it—even the worst year on the Playa is still great times.


Best. Burn. Ever. It really made up for the previous year! I camped with the Temple of All Gods, the biggest camp I'd been involved with since the turn of the century. Great people, great village, great fun. And I found new love. Here's the LiveJournal entry, and here are several hundred photos I took that year—underwater camera enclosures make great dust shields!


I skipped the Burn in 2008. I went to Africa instead. And a lot of other places.


I'm not 100% sure where I'm camping this year, but I've already had some Burner experiences at Burning Toast Man, an Arizona regional event. I blogged about it, of course, with photos.


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Mik Scheper, 30 May 2009
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