Burning Man 2004: Vault of Heaven

You can go back here for my index of burning man reports, and there for my 2002 report, which includes more details for the first time burner (and answers to common questions if you don't know burning man)

Pictures and Videos

I have taken 1460 pictures and videos and brought the count down to 825 pictures (now 5 megapixels) and 29 mini movies (now 640x480). It's all here
All video links require the Divx video codec. Go download it if you don't have it yet (mplayer on linux should work out of the box)

First Impressions

Looking back at what I've seen the last two years, I have to admit that I was slightly disappointed this year. Not that it wasn't enjoyable, but it seems that there was a decline in the quantity of displays, clubs, and just sheer extravagance in the size and quality of structures built by independent contributors (i.e. people who spend a lot of their personal money to build night clubs, attractions, and various displays). See below for a suggestion to the burning man staff since I believe they could lend a hand financially speaking
I had fond memories of Xara, the Sumo club, the light tunnel display, Dr Megavolt, Barber Roulette, and many others. Sure, some were replaced, but not all, and not necessarily as well (some of it is also just due to my taste in music, mind you). I am also under the impression that there were fewer camps with real themes (i.e. nice displays, games, jokes, etc...), but I might be wrong.
Mind you, I'm not blaming people for not being able to spend as much of their personal money on this, after all, it is quite expensive. On the contrary, I am very thankful towards all the people who have made any effort to contribute to the event in any way. Hopefully, my contribution in the many hours I spent taking all these pictures, cleaning them up, sorting them, and publishing this report, is a small way to contribute back to people who were at the event and get to re-enjoy what they had seen, or enjoy what they missed, as well as let you share with people who weren't there.
That being said, my hope is that as the burning man event gets more money through even more participants (30,000+ this year), they may be able to sponsor more people, or offer free tickets to all camps who give back by having entertaining camps, art on the playa, or art cars (a fair amount of artists already receive sponsorship, although I would love to know if that includes the huge night clubs at esplanade & 2 o'clock and 10 o'clock, as I'm guessing that they are coming on their own dime, and this can't be cheap)

Mind you, the event was still incredible, and even if I missed a few things in the base city (see below), none of this makes some of the existing city landmarks, like Center Camp, less pretty


and some of the things that weren't there, were replaced by other ones, like this year's pendulum


As for the base city layout itself: One might argue if those were the same every year, it'd be boring, but I still think that you could change the implementation details while keeping the end result (eye candy and visual landmarks)

Random factoids and picts


Even if so far, nothing tops 2002 for me, my first burn: I still definitely had a great time. I also don't regret taking it a bit more easy, and enjoy the people and activities instead of trying to snap the very last picture.
As one example, among many, on Saturday, when I was almost done with the last rows of streets (as I was carefully crossing them out my map :), I was thinking about taking care of dinner, and while it would have been easy to just drop by any camp, say hi, and get food, it just felt a little wrong (probably shouldn't, but never mind). I was heading back to my camp for food, and biking at a good pace when someone flagged me and said "dinner, come on here". Of course, turns out that many people prepare way too much food and are more than happy to share with you, but it was still cool to be flagged down the street like that. I had a nice chat with a couple while having dinner with them. That was very enjoyable, and a good example and reminder of what Burning Man is all about (just like when I got the chance to do a simple thing like giving one of the two water containers I was carrying to someone who had completely run out and was in clear need of fluids)

So, I was saying, I had a good time :-)

Want more?

Here are a few links:


Please let me know if you'd like to take pictures or text for online or publishing use, I'll work something out with you, and help you get direct access to the raw pictures if needed.



2004/09/14 (11:15): Version 1.0
2004/09/14 (23:05): Version 1.1. A few clarifications on my impressions