It has been a last minute decision, and the luck of someone giving me a ticket because he was not going anymore. I heard about Burning man many years ago, and since then I wanted to go. The fact that it all happened at the beginning of the Panamerican journey it has proven to be a convergence of events to which it would have been unwise to say no.
So I went, thinking that my little emergency tent and some food will do the trick, and that the hard conditions of the natural environment would also provide a great test ground for Wheelrider, Photorider and Jeckt.
Until Reno (Nevada) I just followed the highway. From there, smaller and smaller roads led me into canyons, through India reservations and opened onto the great flats of Black Rock Desert: a white, endless territory of black sand surrounded in the distance by mountains all around, that once a year become a temporary self sustained city.
They tell you to be prepared. They tell you to bring enough water. They tell you to protect yourself from the dust storms. They tell you the desert is big, and it is better to have a bicycle. They tell you to bring everything you need to survive. But they don’t tell you that the Plays also provides.
I did have enough food with me. I had a small tent. I had goggles and the rider’s tube neck to protect me from the dust storms. But I did not have enough water, and I was not sure about the natural environment either.
In the midst of a sand storm, as I arrive at the gate, two burners greet me. They are covered with dust (and nothing else), they remind me of the 10 rules of the Burning Man, give me a great hug and wish me a great experience. I park and set my tent between a group of small campers and trailers. I am one of the very few to attend the Burning Man with a motorcycle, and as I set up my tent, few people stop by to say hi, almost immediately, asking if I was in need of something. In a short time a couple of guys offer me water. Another stops by concerned that my bike will flip over under strong winds. “Do you have anything to fix it to the ground? – He asks – The storms here can be very strong.” And as I shake my head, he pulls out of his bag 4 large screws and a driller: “Here, I have extra of these. I help you to secure your bike”. Soon I started to realize the strength of one of the ten pillars of the Burning Man: gifting, without prejudice and without expecting anything in return. I start to easy my worries of what I have or don't have. Someone, somewhere will help me: The Plays Provides – the burners say.
In what at first can look like a huge camping ground, the art, the magic, the freedom and the burners start to come alive. Everyone has his own way to express his or her personality in the way the dress, or in the incredible machines they have built for the occasion. Some are clearly the result of months and months of work and complicated engineering. Sometimes I have the feeling to live in a mad Max movie on steroids.
I guess there are many different ways that people can see this event from the outside or live it from the inside. For me it has been the total freedom of expression and burst of creativity in everyone and in every corner that struck me the most. If this is what people can do, if this is what they can create in the outmost expression of art and technology, why can’t we live every day like this? Why our self expression has to be repressed until we can release it only in the middle of a lost desert?