Burning Man 2002: Floating World


I have taken about a thousand pictures and brought the count down to about 670. I will give links to chosen sections of the archives, but the impatient can find all the pictures here


I had heard of burning man, and I had been meaning to go, but you don't really want to go by yourself, so when 2002 when a bunch of my friends had made plans to go, and invited me to join their Zim Camp (Invader Zim cartoon theme), I happily accepted.


Why go in the middle of the desert?
The idea is to be away from civilization, you aren't going to be bothered by your cell phone there :-) (some camp had a fake cell phone ring to spook people out).
Besides, not only is it a great experience to live there for a few days, but it can feel just like the beach (if you set aside the small fact that there is no water whatsoever)
I also read on the burningman timeline (fascinating read), that it used to be done on the beach in San Francisco, but that the authorities caused problems, and it's easier and safer to burn something big in the desert than on the beach.
But isn't it full of hippies and drug addicts?
You have no idea how many people have asked me that... It is full of all kinds of people. Sure some may be a bit hippy-like, some are full fledged geeks, some even look normal :-). Honestly, not only did it not bother me, but also the whole event is about tolerance and sharing, so really it shouldn't matter
As for drug use, if you put 30,000 people anywhere, you will have some that will do drugs, they were doing drugs before going to the event anyway. Besides, while I'm not very knowledgeable about all what's out there, I firmly believe that having tobacco and alcohol legalized, and not marijuana is a complete joke (oh, and I'm saying all this without ever having used any drugs, so I'm not being hypocritical).
Anyway, yeah, there was some drug use, just like I see some around the different places I've lived in, in California. It's not what you may think though, because there were undercover police officers and DEA agents in the event, and this was clearly announced.
Where are the bathrooms and showers?
The showers, you bring (camping showers, or RV), although most people wash in various ways, or try to catch the water truck (see below)
For bathrooms, burning man has a huge number of porta-potties that are serviced daily. People are asked not to put any trash whatsoever in there and to actually use the potties (the desert must be left pristine when we leave)
Clothing optional?
Yeah. Burning man isn't about arbitrary rules. It's hot out there, and clothing is an arbitrary rule. You don't have to strip, but some people do, or are topless.
Keep in mind that in many countries more enlightened in the US in that respect, it is absolutely acceptable, and even usual for women to be topless at the beach.
Besides, when you run after the water truck in the morning for your daily jogging and shower, you're better off washing without clothes, aren't you? :-) (I sure wasn't shy about doing so)
Update Warning: in recent years, the non potable water has become non suitable for skin contact. In 2005 a fair amount of people got sick after contact with the water due to some bacteria, so you may have to pick other ways to shower from now on.


So, what's the event about then?
The following is my own interpretation. It's about (in random order):
What should I expect?
The typical answer is that if you haven't been to burning man, one can't fully explain to you what the experience will be like, and if you've already been, then one doesn't need to explain to you what it will be like :-), that said, read on...
Where does all the money go?
Tickets cost from a bit above $100 to $250 or so if you buy them at the very last minute. That said, anyone who's seen the event now can only imagine what it costs to run it. A few pointers can be found here: financial report from last year (chart and detailed writeup). You can also read past interviews: 1, 2

What I've seen/Quick fact guide

Tips for the techno-geek

Whether "techno" means "Technology" or "Techno music", it doesn't matter, you have both, but focussing on technology, here are a few tips: The only way I got all these pictures processed before I got home was by working on them daily during the afternoon when I was hiding from the sun, or the evening when I was tired of dancing and would find a club playing good techno, and chill there listening to the music while sorting and working on the photos.
Incidently, I got kicked out of a double decked art car that was playing some great Trance because one of the owners thought I was working and got offended. Figures...


Random cool pictures

  • Random pictures of The Temple of Joy


  • Sunrise and Sunset and pictures


  • The various camps that were out there and pictures of them at night


  • The many Mutant Vehicles that were cruising around the playa


  • Miscellaneous pictures of People


  • Random Fire Shows


  • And of course, the Man Burn


  • and the burning of the Temple of Joy


  • Last but not least, Miscellaneous pictures including the well loved Playa dust


    my poor laptop, it sure saw rough conditions. Good thing IBM laptops are rugged

    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.



    2002/09/04 (07:56): Version 1.0
    2002/09/07 (22:57): Version 1.1. Minor updates, added size tags
    2002/09/12 (09:30): Version 1.2. Added links to other BM 2002 pages
    2002/11/06 (09:00): Version 1.3. Added link to drama in the desert
    2003/09/02 (09:00): Version 1.4. Split out in separate page