Every summer in the middle of the hot and dry Nevada desert, over 65,000 people gather to spend a week covered in filth, and they all have one thing in common, they probably have a big smile on their face. It’s called the Burning Man Festival, and the only way to describe it, with words, is to say it’s a mini city full of a very broad range of personalities and artistic expression where you have the potential of seeing absolutely anything your mind can conjure up.
It originally started back in 1986 in San Fransisco as a beach party celebrating the summer solstice. It usually would take place starting the last Sunday in August and would go until the first Monday in September wich is Labor Day. The culmination of the event is a symbolic ritual burning of a large wooden effigy, often referred to as “the Man”, that usually takes place on the Saturday evening of the event.
The first effigy only stood about 9 feet tall and also had a small wooden dog beside it. But over the years the Man grew significantly, the following year it jumped up to 20 feet tall and by 1989 it had reached 40 feet!
It would stay at 40 feet until 1996 when it started to increase again and eventually reached over 50 feet in 2000. It jumped to 80 feet in 2004 and would continue to bounce around before the tallest was built in 2014 at 105 feet tall. I’m not sure if you’ve ever been to a big old bonfire or not, but 100 feet tall is a serious blaze, luckily it was in the middle of the desert.
Even though they were in the middle of the desert it still must have been somewhat of an issue because the following year it dropped back down to 60 feet.
What I personally think is the best part about the Buring Man annual gathering, are the visuals of what you see there. Some of the things may not be safe for work because as I’ve mentioned it’s a gathering of artistic expression by any means necessary, and some people like to push those boundaries.
One of the most popular art displays each year are done by David Best, who’s responsible for the massive 360ft long wooden sculpture of London that was burned. Best usually will do a temple of some sort, but whatever he does it turns out quite impressive.
But also the many different art exhibits will absently blow your mind, and the people too. It seems like every year they attempt to outdo the previous, and in now way is that a bad thing.