ARC was closed late august, so I went swimming, Fred went to LA where the heat was all they talked about and Quinn, to everyone’s surprise, attended Burning Man – a week-long annual festival held in the Black Rock Desert in Nevada. Here’s her low-down on this low humidity event…
Burning Man is founded on 10 principles that serve as guidelines for the community, including radical self-expression, radical self-reliance and decommodification. Basically, this means that all attendees are expected to participate and contribute to the event in some way, without relying on commercial transactions. There is no governing body that determines what events will take place at the festival—this is determined entirely by what participants contribute. No provisions aside from toilet facilities are provided—everyone must bring their own water, food, shelter, and other supplies and take care of any trash or grey water they produce. This meant that I didn’t brush my teeth or take a shower for nearly a week (unless you count my trip through the “Human Carcass Wash,” which is more of a “communal cleansing experience” rather than a proper shower).
Most of my days were spent bicycling around visiting various camps and trying to drink enough water to not dry up and blow away with the playa dust. One of the coolest things I did during the day was take an airplane ride over the encampment.
Nighttime is when Burning Man really comes alive. In addition to the elaborate “mutant vehicles” (decorated cars, bikes, and buses, some of which operate as mobile parties) whizzing around, and the bars and dance parties set up in various camps, hundreds of works of art in the desert are illuminated for nighttime viewing. Throughout the week there are various “burns” where groups light wooden structures on fire to the delight of onlookers.
Since the ARC is a music archive, I ‘suppose’ I should talk about MUSIC. There’s tons of it out there. Mostly techno, which isn’t really my thing, but I did enjoy some relaxing steel drum and acoustic performances in the center camp. Unfortunately I didn’t pick up any recordings for the archive (next time!).
In all, participating in Burning Man was a wonderful experience and I am glad I spent my time away from the ARChive there. Perhaps next year we’ll have an ARC camp with listening stations featuring highlights from our collection for fellow participants who need a break from the endless techno. I’ll leave you with a picture of me and my partner Brian inside a…