Like the previous years, it was a lot of work to process/fix/sort all the pictures and write this summary report (2940 to start with this year, all organized by cateory). All pictures are geotagged, so you can click on them to see where they were.
As a way to say thanks if you enjoy the report, share it with your fellow burners, or friends who might be interested in burning man.
If you'd like to see reports from previous years, you can go to my main BM page, and especially if you don't know burning man, you should read my 2002 page which has more of an introduction.
If you'd like to use my pictures in a commercial setting, drop me a line to discuss and I can give you full resolution pictures (marc<at>merlins.org).
If you want to say thanks with cash, please donate money to one of the many camps and art installations that are often out of pocket after burning man, be it Opulent Temple or others.
Of course, BM was a lot bigger this year than last time I went in 2007. I tried to bike as many streets as possible to see all the camps people built, but even after 4 days of biking and 127 miles biked :) I had to exclude the outer streets. Here's what I was able to see:
It had been 7 years since my last trip to burning man in 2007 (if you read my 2007 report it has some hints why). I think the novelty hard worn off a bit, and the time to prepare before and clean up after made it a bit less fun for me (smarter people take gear make it playa gear and never use it anywhere else again, but somehow I never quite did that since a fair amount of my gear I use elsewhere too and feel bad buying double just for that).
If that makes me a softie and loser in the eyes of hard core burners, sorry :) (and I still have 7 burns so far, so hopefully that's not too bad :) )
You can go to my main BM page if you'd like to see my other burns.
Anyway, this was the year I woke up and decided to go back, just to learn that getting tickets was now near impossible. Thankfully my friend Joyce was able to locate a spare one for me, and we flew in together:
You can read more about the flight here
The fun thing about burning man was how in a city of 50,000 people I ran into several people I hadn't seen in a long time, including Gen, as well as Michael and Blondie whom I recognized from their back at night while biking by. Talk about the odds :)
my friend Gen, found volunteering at playa info
The Tech Side
The tech side of burning man is usually hidden, but consider the following:
high speed point to point internet link to the nearby city of gerlach
a real NOC with free NOC engineers who do this the rest of the year and know what they're doing
wifi repeaters and autoconfiguration setups
power distribution from multiple sources, from solar to diesel (burning man doesn't provide power to camps, but to its own infrastructure, and big camps also provide their own, mini cities in the city).
how to properly burn structures in a way that's both safe and doesn't throw too much debris in the air
precise GPS mapping of the city in a way that changes a bit every year to lessen the impact on the playa (what my own GPS map on this page is based on).
An airport with 2 runways built on ground that's generally not so safe for planes.
I've also seen FPV biking (one person hoding a camera and biking ahead and the other person biking blind behind with a set of wireless video goggles).
the amount of fancy LED lighting on people, bikes, and art cars is of course amazing to see each time.
all the very fancy art installations and art carts (some running on arduino or other microcontrollers):
remote controllable chair with driving cameras
Black Rock City
I always try to start with the city itself, visiting installations from BMorg:
The Artery is a good place to go to find out where the major art installations are, as well as which burns are going to happen on a given day (you can look at the burn radius in red dots to see how big that burn will be):
this is the map where you look for the burn radius in red dots
Since last time I've been, there are now post offices and ice at 3, 6, and 9 o'clock, which considering the size of the city is a great thing:
ice at 3, 6, and 9 o'clock
we also had 3 post offices
indeed there is no team in fuck you :)
thank you to the folks providing medical care
lamp lighters every night helped us out with light
One treat at Burning Man is always the sunrises and sunset:
It's always fun to go check out the deep playa to see the contrast from the city:
Weather is also interesting, between dust storms (no big ones this year), rain and rainbows (just missed a big rain on monday before arriving), and dust devils:
Night pictures of the playa are also nice:
One thing to do during burning man is to bike to the trash fence, look a random patches of lit art, and look back at the city:
I found this kangaroo mouse, so cute
It was by the lost outpost, which was well done:
If you're lucky, you'll find a structure you can climb for better view (here Embrace):
There is art on the playa everywhere of course, too much to see all, especially as it comes and goes during the few days, but here are some shots:
this bird would fly when you pedalled
not sure if it fits in a porta potty, but still helpful :)
playa art on wheels
Of course, night time gets even more interesting :)
this control console let you change the color patterns on this sculpture
the creator explaining how you could program the flashing patterns
During the day, I spent most of my time visiting all the camps I could see. I'll start with a few pictures of Red Lightening, where I happened to be staying:
my tent with shade and power :)
never saw these tesla coils working, what a shame
time for a nap in some shade, this definitely had customers :)
yes, glitter can be used as full body sunscreen :)
they promised to go play by the trash fence at midnight. Somehow I didn't find them there, wasn't too surprised :)
bad ass tatoos, impressed...
Irish bar with singing
another afternoon nap pod
'gas' station :)
went there to attend a talk about astrophysics and more, no kidding :)
I will need to get my EZpass for next year :)
flashing your junk got you a snow cone faster :)
Of course, it's interesting to go see camps a night too, the other city :)
Of course, thunderdome was still there, still a crowd favourite:
I'm putting sound camps in their own category because they are such a big part of the nights. Some are actually a cross between art cars and mobile sound camps. Since last time I came, I was impressed by how much bigger and numerous they got. Some are crowdfunded (some total veterans like Opulent Temple), and others are paid by wealthy and generous burners (like White Ocean and Root Society). Both are very welcome and appreciated, and as far as I'm concerned, I'm still a trance addict, so I go for that, wherever it is :)
Opulent Temple had a great lineup announced for all
White Ocean's lineup was a bit harder to read, and no set times :)
Sander Van Doorn
Oakey, spinning in his own camp
handing off to Above and Beyond
There were many more sound camps, but I just couldn't be everywhere. Here are some pictures:
Root Society was the major sound camp across the playa at 2 o'clock.
DanceTronauts had an awesome mobile installation:
I of course also enjoy taking pictures of people :)
BM of course is known for its parades. I happened to catch critical dicks going by (critical tits was whited out by a dust storm):
The billion bunny march is always fun too :)
Of course, one main attraction of BM are all the crazy vehicles, art carts, and bike-like constructions :)
I'm on a motherfing yacht! :)
I actually found the number of crazy bikes went down, but still caught a few:
And then this:
Speaking of bikes, when biking in the middle of the playa at night, more light is usually better (as soon as you don't blind people coming the other way). It's most useful for seeing sand pits ahead of you and steer around them:
this is a normal high power 1000 lumen flashlight
My 3000+ lumen firesword, love it :)
water truck to to make the roads easier to use
DPW, Department of Public Works:
propane refills for all your fire needs :)
Other random vehicles (not art cars) seen during the week:
After people and vehicles, I have my usual Fire picture section, fire shows, fire dancing, fire structures, and random burns:
Alien Siege had an awesome structure and burn. The pre-burn show easily rivalled the man's, the alien was attacked with pyrotechnics and fought back by shooting at its attackers:
nah, it's not even hot :)
Other miscellaneous burns:
Embrace was the big fancy construction from an outside team this year. You could climb inside and there was even a small passageway to cross to the other structure. Unfortunately, the view from up there was limited since outsie of the eyes, there weren't really any viewing windows, but it was still nice.
Very unusually the burn was at 07:00, which meant I went to bed for 2h and got back up somehow to go see it. That was tough... This was supposed to be for lower winds, but honestly the winds at 04:00 are pretty much always lower than winds after the sun rise. Anyway, the structure wasn't chiefly designed for being burn, so the outer skin went up in blaze quickly, and the inside structure which was very soundly built never came down. I personally gave up after 1h of waiting and went to bed :)
it was touching to see them burn together
this is as far as it burned :)
Temple Of Grace
One touching part of Burning Man is always the temple, this year the Temple of Grace, to read the notes left by people about lost ones, from family to pets, to celebrities (here Robin Williams). The inside was also beautiful:
Ah, yes, there is some kind of little wooden man there that gets burned :)
This year, it was much bigger than usual, which meant no platform. I thought it was kind of a shame because I liked the platform you could climb and get sweeping pictures from, and turns out the platform actually was quite useful for bring a good blaze to the man and allow it to burn whell. This year, the fire went up, but the feet never really burned, and despite being half cut with a chain saw before the burn, it took over an hour and extra help for it to fall.
Then came the burn:
ranger meeting before the burn
lots of pyrotechnics, that was impressive
this is why I check the wind direction and don't sit downwind :)
the core man was strong, it didn't really burn or fall
note how the legs were cut, but that didn't help
But finally, after way too long, the man fell down, but it wasn't really a clean burn, there were beams across the ground, so the dancing around the fire wasn't easy when you had to jump over half burning beams that were still lying across.
nothing bad can happen here if you jump high enough :)
Since it had been 7 years since my last bm, the changes are obviously bigger with more people. We didn't get any severe weather after monday (I arrived tuesday), so that part wasn't too bad for a change.
I think I made the mistake to try and go see as many streets as possible, and ended up not spending enough time on the center playa to see the cool stuff there. At night, it was a bit gruesome to get so little sleep and twice wake up for sunrise (once for a DJ set, and once for the Embrace burn).
While the non burning man with no platform is hopefully something that will get remedied next year, I otherwise found that BM didn't change in worse ways (as in the "it was so much better last year" meme), which is a good thing. The ticket limit, auctions and scalping are a problem, but on the plus side while BMorg actually did a better job in the last 7 years keeping the ticket prices from rising as much. Ironically the only sane way to fix the ticket problem is to make an auction with higher prices, cutting out people who can't pay as much.
I was just not very impressed with some law enforcement apparently having sting underage officers (between 18 and 21) trying to get alcohol without being carded to bust camps. I'm not an alcohol person, but having to carry your ID around the playa is kind of a stupid thing if you lose it. That said, all officers I saw were actually doing a good job of trying to enforce the law in helpful ways as opposed to unhelpful ones. Hopefully the trend continues in that direction. Hopefully the cowboy save the world local sheriff or DEA agents are an exception.
Anyway, after 6 days it was time to fly home, 'till next time :)
traffic pulsing on the way out (allows you to wait with your engine off/take a nap)
If you're still here and actually reading, here are tips I'd like to share from my personal experience:
Go to the Artery to find out what is burning and when each day
Go see the man before the day it burns, it'll be closed on Saturday
Same thing for the temple, go see it before Sunday
If you want a good seat, fo to the Man Burn at least 90mn early with some reading, check the wind (don't sit downwind), and don't sit just at 06:00, too many VIPs will be in front of you and block your view (no fair!). 05:50 or 06:10 will work better.
You took your bike to the man burn or the temple burn? Do not leave it next to an object that actually can move. If you have a GPS, this a very very good time to leave a waypoint of where your bike is. You will thank me later. If not, find a lamp post or something that you can find for sure when you've turned 3 times around the man, you don't know where 6 oclock is anymore, and you might not be sober anymore either :)
If you run towards the man when it falls, turn counter clockwise, wear full clothing (burning stuff flies, it could burn you), and wear goggles (amber in your eyes is not good).
If you walk, wear lights for others to see you (some have died run over by art cars). If you have a bike, use custom blinking lights so that you can find it later in a sea of bikes
You didn't use your bike since last burning man? You didn't clean it? Have it inspected and cleaned or expect it to fail during burning man. There are camps at 3 and 9 oclock that can help you fix your bike, but they'd rather that you take care of your bike so that they don't have to :)
Once, go to 12 oclock and the trash fence, look for weird art out there, turn around, and look at the sea of lights and crazy music all playing at once. Nowhere else can you see that. Even if daft punk wasn't there, it's worth it :) (I saw the lost outpost 7 that way as well as the kangaroo mouse, see pictures above).
I'm not giving you a packing list, but if you don't have duct tape, a 1000 lumen LED light, and a swiss army knife, you're probably doing it wrong :) Same thing for ear plugs :)