It was around this time last year I was in the middle of the Nevada desert fighting sand storms, gusty winds, extreme heat and extreme cold at the Burning Man festival. It was an extraordinary festival experience and a shame I never got a chance to write about it then. So, from the archives here’s my Street Style fashion gallery I wrote for Cosmopolitan.co.uk …I know am biased but I absolutely love this collection of party people on the Playa – all so brilliantly weird and wonderful. Take a minute to flick through, it’s totally worth a look!
For anyone unfamiliar with Burning Man, it’s a festival of arts, music and creativity under the theme of Radical Self Expression in America’s Nevada Desert…It began in 1986 in San Francisco with just a few hundred people and now it’s around 60,000. Every year there is a theme and hundreds of people create festival art-cars, structures, sculptures and installations (like the one you see pictured above) which form part of the desert landscape for this week-long festival.
The challenge is to stay alive against the unrelenting desert elements – sand storms and extreme heat and winds are just part of the daily battle. You can’t go anywhere without your goggles (sand or ski goggles), head scarf, water, food/snacks, sunglasses, etc. It’s a logistical challenge!
Burners love to party, dressed up in weird fashion that’s somewhere between Mad Max and S&M. Huge camps set up immense sound systems until dawn, scattered around the festival site, which is a whopping 15-mile radius in the middle of the desert. Just don’t forget your bike.
One of the key principles of Burning Man, is that no money is exchanged – this is a commerce-free festival. That means nothing to buy (apart from ice, tea and coffee) and you have to bring everything with you, (yes, absolutely everything).
The whole event has been created by the people for the people. I know that sounds a bit hippy but it’s cool…hear me out.. People donate their time,skills and resources throughout the year and during the event to create and build every structure, tent, installation, etc.
Imagine.. There’s a bowling alley and roller disco made of wood in the middle of the Playa; there are pirate ships to hang out in, there’s a make-belief Wall Street to burn down and real size temples to pray in… It’s all quite incredible.
The Playa provides everything you might need by… Feeling hungry? Just keep riding and you’ll stumble upon a big tent making fresh, oven baked pizza and cinnamon rolls (yes in the middle of the desert!); lost your sunnies or simply bored of the ones you have? Turn a corner and you’ll find a sunglasses swap-or-donate shop. There are hundreds of tents providing a multitude of services, activities, fun and drama … from getting your bike fixed to joining a group to write a letter to younger yourself. All the weird and wonderful is there…
LEAVE NO TRACE
Another key principle is Leave No Trace. That means every structures, tent, building and art installation is built from scratch and pulled down or burnt down at the end with not a trace left behind. That goes for us too – we spent the week collecting every scrap of rubbish, being careful not to leave rubbish behind us. Makes a difference to our UK festivals.. Did you see this jaw-dropping picture taken after Reading Festival this year?! If only there was a Leave No Trace mentality…
The scenery is amazing with the white desert sand against colourful structures and blue skies. At night, it’s jet black (no lights provided on site) so everyone decorates themselves with lights and neon. It looks a bit like you’re in a pinball or computer laser game. Again, very surreal!
I could go on but if you want to know anything more just fire away in the comments box!