Photo: Ingus Kruklitis /Shutterstock

24 Hours at Burning Man

Nevada Travel
by Sonia Zamborsky Oct 2, 2008
A day in the life of a burner.

Monday 23:00 – Drive through Reno, relishing your last bits of civilization for a week. Stock up on water, groceries, and critical last-minute supplies like one more box of glow sticks.

Monday 24:00 – Arrive at the entrance to Black Rock City. Peer out the window at the stark lunar landscape, and wonder what you’ve gotten yourself into. Stop at the Greeters’ Station, where you are cheerily assaulted with a dusty hug and a hearty “Welcome Home!”

Tuesday 1:00 – Carefully drive around the City at a speed of 5mph, find your designated camp and pilot your mothership of an RV into its appointed spot. Get some sleep… you’ll need it!

Tuesday 10:00 – Greet fellow campmates and spend some time lighting and accessorizing your bike. You just *knew* that Electronic Yodeling Pickle from Archie McPhee would be put to good use someday.

Tuesday 12:00 – Enjoy your first Playa meal – pasta alfredo with smoked salmon and a crisp Chardonnay – and thank your higher power that you are camping with foodies, while others eat pop tarts.

Tuesday 14:00 – Explore the neighborhood. Greet your neighbors in their scorpion dune buggy. Visit The Golden Café, a full-service bar with live music. Dance barefoot in the dust.

Tuesday 19:00 – Attempt to shower in the RV’s tiny bathroom, and realize you’re just going to have to live with Playa dust in all your nooks and crannies for the rest of the week.

Tuesday 20:00 – Don your furriest, glowiest Playawear and head out to visit The Man. Admire His Dudeship in all his neon glory. Climb the tower and take in the exuberant, sparkling cacophony that is the Playa.

Tuesday 22:00 – Catch a ride home on a lit-up dragonfly art car. Marvel at the fact that although this has only been your first day, it feels as though you have been here all your life.

Wednesday 13:00 – In the 110-degree heat of the day, plunk yourself down and let the circus come to you. Immediately get rewarded for this brilliant plan, as a man covered in Mardi Gras beads walks by and gifts you with a freezie-pop.

Wednesday 23:00 – Assemble with several friends and ride out to The Opulent Temple, where some of the world’s best DJs spin house and techno from a booth that belches gigantic flames in time to the beat.

Thursday 11:00 – Crack open your copy of “What Where When” and become instantly overwhelmed by the sheer number of events taking place at any hour of any day.

Thursday 12:00 – Set out in search of 4:30 Plaza, where an art car tour of the Deep Playa is setting sail at 2pm. En route, stop at Pee Funnel Camp.

Thursday 13:00 – Encounter the infamous Barbie Death Camp & Wine Bistro. Enjoy a refreshing glass of white wine, while relishing the torment of legions of plastic blondies. Celebrate the arrival of the French Maid Brigade, who stop by and “clean” everyone with huge featherdusters.

Thursday 14:00 – Arrive at what you believe to be 4:30 Plaza, where there is no art tour because you are actually at 4:30 Portal. Sigh. Spot a man bedecked head-to-toe in purple, wearing a beaded purple fez. He produces two George Bush voodoo dolls from the depths of his gold suitcase. Who needs art tours, anyway?

Thursday 15:00 – Enjoy the spectacle of the Topless Teeter-Totter of Terror, a three-story wooden seesaw ridden by a bevy of topless passersby. Consider riding the TToT yourself, but decide you’d rather have a cold lemonade in the shade.

Thursday 21:00 – Set out for a night of party-hopping that includes, in no particular order, stops at Spike’s Vampire Bar, Unicorn Camp, Ashram Galactica, Porn & Eggs, Duck Bar, and the Tree of Knowledge. Dance to Bollywood, techno, blues, and the ever-present tribal drumming.

Saturday 11:00 – Take a bike ride out to the Temple of Basura Sagrada, an enormous structure meticulously crafted from recycled materials. Write a personal offering on the Temple. Spend a few moments in silent contemplation.

Saturday 13:00 – On the way back to camp, visit the art installation “Bummer,” a massive Humvee painted khaki and dayglow colors. As another art car passes by blasting ‘80s tunes, join other Burners in an impromptu dance party on the Bummer’s roof and reflect on the duality of The American Dream.

Saturday 15:00 – Head inside the RV as an enormous dust storm begins to gather strength. As other campmates pile into the vehicle for shelter and libations, and Mother Nature shows no sign of letting up, you wonder if this might be the first year the Man actually does not burn. Shrug and help yourself to another mojito.

Saturday 18:00 – Listen to RFBM for some news of the Burn, but realize there is really no way to know if the howling wind and whiteout conditions will subside anytime soon.

Saturday 20:00 – The Man will burn! Hurriedly throw on some flair and join the grand parade out to the Esplanade. Watch the fireworks as the Man begins to go up in flames, and the crowd of nearly 50,000 people cheer, sing, chant, and dance.

Saturday 21:00 – As the remains of the Man tumble into a huge bonfire, the crowd rushes forward to dance around the circle. The world around you is a stew of music and lights and tribal drumbeats and other celebratory sounds. Hop an art car shaped like a giant rubber ducky, with laser beams shooting out its eye sockets, and ride into the maelstrom. The revelry continues till dawn.

Sunday 6:00 – Bleary-eyed, pack up your gear and head out of Black Rock City. Donate leftover food and booze to the sainted volunteers who will remain behind to clean up. Adios until next year!

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