Love is in the air at Burning Man, and it’s a great feeling. From the moment you arrive, you’ll be inundated by hugs – beginning at the greeter station and continuing throughout the Burn. There are hug camps and kissing booths, compliment camps, and smile camps. Hugs are the greeting du jour of Burning Man. If you have an aversion to being touched by other humans, be prepared to jettison that phobia and embrace another self – your Burner self.
Your first visit to Burning Man can cause some cultural shock waves in your life – and that’s especially true if you’re settled into belief systems and habits. At my first Burn, I was startled one morning when I stepped out of my tent and saw a group of naked men and women running behind a truck that was spraying the road with water (done regularly to keep the dust in check). After a couple of days of exposure to … well … exposure, I became accustomed to nudity. It had quickly lost its shock or titillation power.
However, the nudity, partial nudity and provocative dress combined with the many erotic activities (such as couple’s nude photos by a professional photographer, camps devoted to pleasuring one sex or the other, orgy domes, etc.) made for an immersive sexual atmosphere. The hugs were fun, but the eroticism was fabulous.
I’ve always believed that sexuality is a life force, and that embracing your eroticism makes you feel young. What I’m talking about is different from random sexual hook-ups on the Playa; instead, this is a ubiquitous and energizing state that infuses the entirety of Burning Man. For my wife and I, it has changed our life together for the better, prevented the dulling down of our romance (even after 51 years), and made us act more like a young couple than a couple of old fogies. We embrace the physical aspect of our marriage far more today than we did prior to the year we fell in love with The Man.
I believe the life-affirming erotic power of Burning Man has its greatest impact on people a few years beyond the “hooking up” stage. It puts us back in the game of living life to the fullest.
My first Burn was 2005, the theme was Psyche, and the atmosphere was even more erotic than it is now. Each day was named for a sex act (e.g., Oral Sex Tuesday); nudity was more commonplace than it seems to be today; and it felt like every other camp had some sexual purpose.
I realized after my first Burn that I felt a lot younger, but it took me a few years to make the connection between feeling younger and feeling sexual. I’m convinced that the connection is real, and that my life is made better by feeling sexy for a week in the desert every year.