Burning Man 2010 – Still Has a Gay Edge

Nearly 20 years old,
and growing bigger every year
 the
 Burning Man Festival 
is an annual  liberal festival that  takes place the last week of August/week before Labor Day. In 2010 Burnin’ Man begins August 30th and finishes September 6th. The theme for 2010 is Metropolis.

Larry Harvey  sort of started Buring Man in San Francisco in 1986. And In 1990, an event was planned by Kevin Evans and John Law on the otherworldly, remote and largely unknown dry lake known as Black Rock Desert, about 100 miles north of Reno.  Evans conceived it as a dadaist event with temporary sculpture to be burned and situationist performance art. He asked John Law, who also had experience on the dry lake and was a defining founder of Cacophony Society, to take on central organizing functions. In the Cacophony Society’s newsletter, it was announced as Zone Trip #4, A Bad Day at Black Rock (inspired by the movie of that name).

Trying to explain what Burning Man is to someone who has never been to the event is a bit like trying to explain what a particular color looks like to someone who is blind! There are no rules about how one must behave or express oneself at this event (save the rules that serve to protect the health, safety, and experience of the community at large); rather, it is up to each participant to decide how they will contribute and what they will give to this community.

THIS IS NOT A RESORT!  You “rough it” at Burning Man. Water is precious and the sun is NOT your friend. Besides packing the usual suspects; toothpaste, toothbrush, deodorant, lube….you need sunscreen (LOTS), flashlights, sand-proof goggles, canned air, extra socks, loose clothes for day and warm clothes for night. AND LOT’S OF WATER!

Art is an unavoidable part of this experience , and in fact, is such a part of the experience that Larry Harvey, founder of the Burning Man project, gives a theme to each year, to encourage a common bond to help tie each individual’s contribution together in a meaningful way. Participants are encouraged to find a way to help make the theme come alive, whether it is through a large-scale art installation, a theme camp, gifts brought to be given to other individuals, costumes, or any other medium that one comes up with.

The Burning Man project has grown from a small group of people gathering spontaneously to a community of over 48,000 people.
Size can be a problem.  When the crowd was under 10,000, that was one thing. Sometimes bigger is not better. And the organization  has issues at times, with losing the original feel and concept of it’s roots. One of the biggest challenges faced by the organization  has been trying to balance the freedom of participants – a defining element of the experience – with the requirements of BLM and various law-enforcement groups. Over the years, numerous restrictions have been put in place to help maintain it’s original concept – as well as safety.

Even considering going to Burning Man for the first time can be daunting. And while it’s true that Burning Man is not for the faint of heart, with some research, preparation, and planning, an experience — and opportunity — beyond your wildest dreams awaits you. In Black Rock City, you’re guaranteed not to be the weirdest kid in the classroom. And you’ll become a part of the growing community of Burners who are active year-round, around the world … ensuring that the fire of Burning Man culture never goes out.

Not surprisingly, the nonstop week of art, music, radical self expression, and, yes, mind-altering substances –  draws a healthy-sized queer contingency. While welcome anywhere , many choose to stay with or attend events at gay-themed camps. There’s even a gay pride parade which gets flack from burners not for its promotion of gay rights, but because some feel it isn’t  “original enough.”

Here’s the short list of gay resources:

Gay camps (locations noted in parentheses where available–if they make no sense, they will once you’re there):

Moonbow Camp  (3:00 & Athens)

Pink Heart Camp (9:00 & Esplanade)

Gender Blender, Camp Beaverton (Women/trans only)

Comfort and Joy (7:30 & Detroit)

Camp Rainbow, Astropups

Celestial Bodies (7:30 & Detroit)

Paradise Motel  (7:30 & Edinburgh)

Camp Stella  (7:30 & Detroit; drug & alcohol free)

Mudskipper Cafe  (7:30 & Detroit)

Gay pride parade: Friday, Sept. 3, 2010. Meet at the Man at 2:00pm and march through Black Rock City, ending at a reception at Moonbow Camp.

Tickets are about $300  when bought in advance ($360 at the gate). NEXT YEAR, if you want to go, BUY TICKETS  early, usually in January the first 10,000 tickets sell for $200 and the price starts going up as the event gets closer.

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