Every now and then I like to reiterate the reasons that I go to Burning Man and why I think it’s a particularly great event for people over 50.
It all started in 2004 when my then 20 year-old son asked me (age 60) to go with him to Burning Man. Who could have said no to a son 40 years your junior? The opportunity to spend quality time with him was simply too great to pass up. Additionally, I had heard about Burning Man for years and knew that the festival was – at least in part – about art.
So why hadn’t I previously gone myself? Like most people, I was put off by the harsh environment and the onerous requirements involved in radical self-reliance. So it took the serendipitous opportunity created by my son to get me out to the desert.
What I discovered was that art was only one of a number of extraordinary aspects of Burning Man that made it worthwhile for me. Upon my return, I discovered something else extraordinary. I felt, looked and acted younger – and not just a little younger. I felt 20 years younger.
My wife of nearly 40 years came with me the following year and loved Burning Man as much, maybe even more, than I did. It has become a part of our lives and a true enhancement to our relationship.
The art turned out to be only one part of Burning Man’s secret sauce. There was also the fun – the whimsy that pervades the playa. Crazy art cars that look like dragons or magic carpets or gigantic boats or ducks; signage that made you laugh (my favorite was at the Black Rock City post office and said, “There’s no Team in Fuck You”); amazing costumes (one of my favorite movie characters, Leelu from “The 5th Element” came to life); and parties that had nothing in common with the typical quiet little backyard events of my age group. It was all about the freedom to be whoever you wanted to be for a week without judgments or repercussions.
All of it made me feel younger. But there was also the erotically-charged atmosphere of Burning Man. Between the naked or semi-naked bodies, the many camps devoted to some pursuit of sexual pleasure and the totally open attitude toward sexuality, there was a pervasive erotic attitude that had its impact on me. I realized looking back that the life enhancing power of eroticism was one of the most important reasons I felt so much younger when I got home.
My wife and I both sense it and respond to it in ways that rekindle our physical and emotional relationship year after year. Who wouldn’t want to go when, nearing 70 years old, you find yourself feeling renewed about your own sexuality and renewed in your love and appreciation of each other?
Those are the reasons we love Burning Man, we continue to go (this year will be the eighth Burn for both of us), and we encourage others our age to give it a try.
Plus,each year there are surprises that bring new pleasures as well, and our anticipation of what this year will bring grows as the days to Burning Man count down.
If you haven’t gone, join us. We’ll be parked in Lamplighters Camp. Ask for Perky and Lashes.