First Night out on the Playa – BRC, Nevada, United States

My patio table art car friends were zooming past again on their way to the DMV so I jumped back on for the ride. Apparently, all the art cars must be inspected and approved before they are deemed playa worthy. After a thorough check by the officer, he slapped on a sticker and we were set. He reminded us that in order to drive the car in the dark, it would have to come back and get a night license. I was impressed by the level of organization, care and safety being taken to ensure no burners got hurt.

After I hopped off the car, I jumped on my bike for a little ride of my own. I ended up driving around aimlessly just observing the different camps. I saw a bit of a crowd gathering and made my way to it. It appeared to be some kind of ceremony so I found a spot and sat down to watch. After a long procession of drummers and dancers, a older woman came along and said some words. I learned later that she is called Crimson Rose and is quite the legend at BM.

She is the managing art director and her commanding presence indicates quite a lot of experience. She went on the use the sun and a magnifying glass to create a fire in the unique burn barrel. This fire would be kept alive through out the week and would be the same fire that would be used to burn the man on Saturday.

I helped make some supper consisting of soup and salad which was surprisingly filling. The Cosmic Elves had a little meeting where we all kind of met and I was surprised how many of us there actually were. After dinner I was able to secure Dylan`s help with fixing up my bike with a LED light so that I would be able to ride it. It`s a really dumb idea to try and ride around at night unlit. I chided myself for waiting until past dark to get ready as I stumbled around looking for this and that.

When we came in the gates, we received a booklet, a program of sorts. It shows what activities and events are planned everyday at all of the camps. Sadly, as I write this, I have somehow lost my booklet. So I will have to go completely by memory which will be a tall task indeed. If I mix up the experiences, forgive me. I was having trouble tracking my minutes, much less days on the playa. I will have to go by moments, which works better for me anyhow. As I remember them, I will tell the stories. If they collide and crash into a jumble of confusion, well just know that was how Burning Man was for me.

Monday night there was supposed to be a Fairy Formal so I put on my tutu and sparkly fairy wings. Anna and I glittered up our faces and headed out on our bikes to the party. Sadly, we found that there was a schedule misprint and the Formal was to be the following night instead. A little frustrated that I had dressed up all for nothing, I peddled back to camp so I could leave my wings and grab my coat.

We ran into Ruthie who decided to join us and we three drove out to the Esplanade. I heard some rockin` beats over at a camp to the left but they insisted that we head into the middle to visit the Man first. I got a swift gust of cool wind and pulled my wool coat just a little tighter around me. It was not so easy to drive a little 8 year olds bike and try to keep my balance. But I managed.

We stopped at a few art cars and installations along the way but I really just wanted to get to our destination. The open playa was much colder than I thought it would be and I wanted some shelter from the wind. As we peddled across the playa towards the large neon blue lit structure, I gazed up at the sky. There wasn`t a cloud anywhere to obstruct the twinkling stars shining down on us. I felt closer to them than I have in a long time.

As we approached the Man, I was a little apprehensive about the number of people who had the same idea as us. There were hundreds of bikes lined up in rows blinking and glowing in every color of the rainbow. It was cute and odd at the same time. It was like some alien parking lot at a space party in some other galaxy. I hesitated as I draped my coat over the basket wondering if this was a good idea. Ruthie, an experienced burner, assured me it would be just fine. I took her word for it and we ventured inside the building below the Man.

There were several ways to get in and it appeared that it was just a big maze. Around each corner there were strange and mostly interactive art to trip you out. I didn`t participate in too many but I did write down in marker on the “What is your biggest fear” wall. For the most part, I just wandered around trying not to lose Anna and Ruthie. I was kind of just overwhelmed with it all and had a hard time focusing on any one thing. It was like some kind of twisted fun house with the people visiting being just as weird as the place we were in.

When we had enough, we located our bikes where we ran into Stewart who quickly joined us on our adventure. We learned he was from England but was living in the California. We made our way to the washrooms for a potty break then went on to the Opulent Temple were we decided it was time for a dance. I couldn`t get my kickstand to work very well (this remained a problem through the entire week) and some guy who saw me fiddling with it, offered to help. He just held my bike there while I went to dance which I thought was a really nice thing to do. “Are you sure?” I inquired kinda confusedlike, to which he answered “Ofcourse!” with a smile. This act of kindness was just one of the first of many genuine gestures I experienced all week long.

After shaking it for a little while, we decided that it was time to move on so we headed back towards camp for a snack. I was getting a little chilly and tired so I began to consider calling it a night. On our way, we stopped at some art where we ran into Steve who had no water, no glow and no proper shoes. We asked him why he was no unprepared and he said he really didn`t have a clue. Obviously. We fixed him up as best we could hydration and lights, explaining to him the importance of proper footware. We warned him about playa foot (chemical burn) caused by the alkali dust that makes up the desert. He thanked us, promising to take better care of himself and then joined our little gang.

We finally reached our camp where we refilled water, ate some granola bars and I decided that it was my bedtime. It was only Monday and I really didn`t want to wear myself out. I bid my friends adieu then put on my jimmies before crawling into bed. I was one of the first ones into the Sleeping Pod that night and I was pleasantly surprised with how much warmer it seemed. I nestled myself into my doubled sleeping bag, plugged in my ear plugs and covered my eyes with my sleeping mask. It didn`t take me long at all to fall asleep. Infact, I don`t even remember my head hitting the pillow.

Grateful for exploration.

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