The gates are open, and Burners from around the world are pouring through, eager to experience a week of living in a utopian construct wrapped in a harsh, desert environment. For now, that concept looks bright, colorful and entertaining.
White-out conditions threatened to make day one a struggle for the multitudes trying to navigate their way to the Playa. The dusty haze lasted most of the day and we heard the gates were closed for a while (but that might have been a rumor). It all turned benign in the late afternoon when the wind died down and the air cleared. It was crystalline by night.
We waited until well after dark had fallen to venture across the Playa and sample the offerings at this year’s Burn. We were not disappointed. Highlight of the evening for us was the drag show at the Flamingo Motel (7:00 and E), which ranged from ragged to polished and ended with a hilarious one-man parody of “Les Mis” as he recalled it being performed by a small town amateur theater group. During his rendition of “One More Day,” he played at least five different roles, including an operatic female singer and a “friend” of the director who was tone deaf.
We also visited Playa favorite “Party Naked” for a drink, some conversation, and the offer of a free Hawaiian-style lei if we’d just take our clothes off. We chose not to get “lei’d” that evening.
We just missed Burner Buddies’ drive-thru snack shop where you could place an order for one of a choice of cheese-based items and pick it up at the next window – just like at home. We watched a performance of a pretty good rock band at Center Camp and closed out the evening with a visit to our old friends at Lamplighters, where we camped for nine previous Burns. The banner Lashes made for the Lamplighters’ bar still greets visitors.
Earlier in the days, Lashes and I were honored with a “Working for the Man” award from Cherub, the head of the Temple Guardians. This award is given to around 300 volunteers each year out of the 10,000 who annually give their time and effort to make Burning Man a reality. We were moved to have been so honored by the Guardians and our fellow Burners and will wear our new pin proudly.
The Playa was alive with art, fire, color and people on the first official night. We believe we saw the art car that has replaced the famed flaming octopus (“El Pulpo”). It’s called the “Rabid Express” and is a step up in sophistication but similar in its firey essence.
Meanwhile, our camp is humming along and Guardian training is apace with hundreds already certified for duty at the 2018 Temple, which is scheduled to open this evening.
If the internet remains viable, I’ll post again soon.