Like the previous years, it was a lot of work to process/fix/sort all the pictures and write this summary report (Around 3200 pictures, trimmed down to 2124, and 534 selected as the better ones sorted in different categories, 237 are in this page because I'm not good at picking :) ). 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'd like 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. If you don't know which one, please donate to Opulent Temple: https://www.opulenttemple.org
This year was weird with the unexpected rain that shut most everything down for almost 2.5 days. I also didn't try to be out so many hours every day, and with the missing days, I barely biked 100 miles and sure didn't cover all the streets, and missed a fair amount of camps during the day. Oh well....
Like each year, thanks to our lamp lighters. Of course, by the end of the week with all the mud and rain, the streets got a bit darker...
The Location Related Rain Problem: Weather and Rain
No major duststorms this year, but yeah, we had his little rain problem instead. I've stopped being a fan of the burning man location and the playa dust, a long time ago, but also pointed out almost 20 year ago that the location felt between very suboptimal and stupid to me, I mean, a lakebed that still gets flooded most years, what could possibly go wrong? (the alkaline playa dust that messes up all your stuff, and destroys electronics, is just a bonus). So yes, I love BM, no I really don't like the location. Obviously this year after 2 days of fairly heavy rain on and off, it really became a problem.
Many burners shrugged it off as part of the experience, but I was personally quite disappointed about all the events and work that were cancelled as a result.
Anyway, for me burning man mostly ended thurday night/friday morning a bit after sunrise, which wasn't much of a sunrise:
by then the wind was already quite high from the pressure front coming in.
While getting some sleep to recover from the night, rain started, and wind ripped out a fair amount of things. Thankfully the anti-sun tarp I had was damaged but helped deflect the rain from the tent that wasn't very water proof:
we will rebuild! :)
Before long, the playa started becoming a swimming pool. It looks cool and all, but walking out was bad because it tore up the playa surface, making it terrible for biking/driving later, and it was sooo sticky that you ended up having pounds of playa attached to each foot if you tried to walk anywhere:
people quickly figured out walking with ziplock bags and duct tape was the way to go, not fun though
sure it was pretty :)
Unfortunately it rained on and off for 2 days, so it took forever to dry, and when it did finally dry enough, the few people who drove against recommendations, tore up the playa surface making it unbikable in many places:
a few took advantage to have a bit of fun :)
Weather always makes for nice pictures, but the cost was a bit high this year:
Since we were mostly stuck (shelter in place order/strong recommendation to preven futher messing up the playa surface), I used some of that time to make and publish a few videos, some were used by news outlets:
It was defininitely unexpected that the News Media worried about us so much when the exit road was closed 2 days due a small river crossing the path and deep mud, while most people weren't trying to get out and had plenty of food and water. I even had a TV station in Australia that wanted to do a "live" report from BM (a moronic idea, I told them that live was pointless and asking for wifi to fail, which of course it did).
Kudos from Jaewon Jung from KNTV who did a much better job: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DwywUTudtLw
The reality, which I explained in soe of the video clips above, is that we were inconvienced for sure, lots of things were cancelled, some art was damaged, and it kind of sucked for many of us to be kind of suck within a short radius instead of being able to enjoy BM and have fun. The hardcore survivalists probably had a great time :) but for me it was disappointing to lose almost 3 days of BM, even if indeed were were totally fine the entire time.
Now, had this rain happened on sunday/monday/tuesday instead, it would have caused more problems because now it really would have stopped people from geting out (very few people want to get out on friday or saturday), and probably a few people would have fun low on food. Running low on water was never really going to be a problem, way too many people bring way too much water. I had twice as much as need like each year, not counting the bazillion gallons that my camp, had:
Will BMorg move to another more suitable and safer location? I already asked more than once and the answer is "very unlikely". I'm told they've recently signed a multi year contract with the BLM to stay at this location, and it's true that they and a fair amount of camps have infrastructure and storage nearby, so moving at a radically different location would definitely cost a fair bit. I still think it should be done, but I understand it's not likely to, and that BM attendees will have to be ready for more extreme weather, and continue to deal with dealing and fixing all their gear that is covered and potentially eventually damaged by alkaline playa dust.
Before the weather turned to shit, going out at night was a lot of fun as always
And two teams of drones (actually I'm told several team banded together) were nice enough to perform drone shows for us comprizing 100 or more drones depending on the show:
Most people don't quite realize the amount of effort involved in bringing that many drones, preflighting them all one, by one, recharging that many batteries between each flight, from power that you had to make/bring yourself to start with. From my understanding, those drones also used unsealed outrunner motors that are more efficient, but likely need to be manually cleaned afterwards to remove the bad playa dust from the coil wires afterwards. That's a *lot* of work, and those teams deserve a huge thank you from all of us.
This year again, I stayed with the wonderful people at Dustfish, and my tent did ok despite the rain:
I brought an alledged 190W of solar panels, but since they weren't exactly matched and the ratings are always kind of a lie, I got 85W usable out of them in perfect conditoins, which was still useful to recharge my DC battery system:
top meter kept track of how much I used, bottom of how much I produced
Sadly, charging all my LEDs and lights took more Wh than I was able to produce, epsecially once it started raining, so I had to use our camps' grid, which thankfully stayed up thanks to wonderful advance fuel planning.
I probably need to find a way to bring these extra panels next year, but they are mis-matched so they'll need a separate system
thank you to our generators
we also had showers with real toilets and enough water to survive the week, nicely done!
I didn't have as much time to go out and bike to see all the camps during the day, but I tried:
circle J was awesome to supplement what you migh have been missing
I feel like I didn't get to see as much art this year, maybe there was a little less, and also the rain made things harder, especially for late setup, or refueling generators for night lights when you couldn't bike or drive around. I even unfortunately saw a set of solar panels that were rendered useless when the rain fried the power converters that were attached to them :(
Of course, it gets even nicer at night:
sadly the storm was rough on some of the art
A crowd favorite this year, was Mariposa
This one was fun too:
One special piece of art was Chapel of Babel:
We were lucky to be hosting these planets at dustfish, great way to bike back at night
another thing to climb that was totally quite challenging we totally hoped was safe :)
we had this one too
felt less dangerous to climb, though
On the plus side, once on top, without having died, there were good views:
As each year, people pictures:
great to run into friends every year
well done sir!
Hi Karin, we climbed this deathtrap and neither of us died :)
yeah, it got messy around the end, some actually had boots, well done
And yes to LEDs!
Went back to the Billion Bunny March, the only big parade that didn't get cancelled due to rain:
eh, I recognize you
Plenty of people doing fire dancing this year again, awesome!
The flaming lotus girls were still there:
Before everything went to crap with the rain, got to cach a few smaller burns
sad to see a butterfly in flames :)
these guys brought the perfect vehicle for this year's conditions ;)
Like every year, thanks to all the camps that brought cool arts cars:
and of course, it gets much for fun after sunset:
this cool art car had colors ...
... that were synchronized with the members' vests
Of course, let's not forget bikes:
mmmh, I see one of those every year, it's very far from its home
And thank you to all the camps that help fix bikes. I had spare tubes and tools, but mine had a non trivial issue with its hub and pedals falling apart that I was able to fix thanks to one of them!
We didn't have that much dust this year, due to rains before the event, and once we got a bunch more rain during the event, dust sure wasn't a problem. Thanks to the water trucks though:
A new temple this year, another nice design. I didn't stay long enough to see it burn, especially since it was burned Tuesday this year, after most people had left, but here are a few pictures:
every year, a nice guy plays piano which you can hear insie the temple while contemplating the inside
Last but not least, the man, of course.
The man didn't burn on saturday given the rain, nor did it burn on sunday, but by monday the playa was finally dried up enough to prep for the man burn:
Because things were a bit weird with the unusual schedule, the fire conclave was not allowed to perform as normal within the man perimeter, so a few rebelled and performed right outside at 6 oclock around 20:00, and it was a good show as always:
Then came the man burn, just 2 days late:
Due to time constraints, the art car circle didn't last as long as normal because the Chapel of Babel burned next at midnight, which was a bit early and broke up the art car circle a bit early, a slight bummer. Still, given that it was monday night, that was much more than what I expected, as I thought a lot of people would be gone by then.
thank you to the lovely people who offered food to us
more lovely people who made canadian poutine!
tuesday morning, last view before heading out
The gate was mostly closed from mid friday to mid monday, almost 3 days, due to heavy mud that most cars, except serious offroading ones, would get stuck in. By monday afternoon, one of the 2 runways re-opened, and by tuesday morning, after the burn, it was not that hard to get out. Somehow even the exodus line wasn't as terrible as it usually is.
crossing the 2 finally dried out small rivers that were created by the rain. This is where cars that tried to leave early, got stuck
This was my 13th burn, lucky 13th I guess? :) I was recounting last year that it felt like the toughest weather I had experienced between excessive heat and dust storms, but this year was honestly even worse since the rain cancelled so many events, never mind the damage to equipment that wasn't water proof, or not designed for that much water. Let's not pretend that it's just bad luck, our climate has been changing and the odds are shifting not in our favor the longer we keep going there. It doesn't mean every future year will be that bad, but I'm very afraid the weather will be overall worse and more unpredictible every year, which is very sad.
So yes, I really wish the org would consider new locations, but I'm also not holding my breath about it happening, which is unfortunate because engineers and people who bring all the cool stuff, are unfortunately likely to eventually get tired of the worse and worse weather, and coudl just stop, making burning man less cool over time. I sincerely hope to be wrong, but I think the most likely way that will be true, will be for the org to pick a better location, if BMorg is reading this, please pretty please with cherry on top.
Related to this, this year I didn't bring any LED art piece due to the damage the playa did in past years, and this year again the playa dust got into both my expensive camera lenses, which has to be sent for repair/professional cleaning (I use real cameras because cell phones cannot take pictures nearly as good at night). So yeah, I really don't love the playa dust or general price to pay for that location for those who participate.
I hope you enjoyed this report. Feel free to say thanks to me by simply sharing it with your friends, and see you on the playa in the future (or you'll see me at night with my lights).