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On the playa

Not Brooks Brothers

September 2/Day 47. Today is much like yesterday. I ride my bike to

Center Camp, the Esplanade, to watch the garish parade of fantastically costumed people. The theater of it never seems to lose its fascination. Sometimes I find a spot on the shady side of a structure and just sit for an hour, watching as the parade goes by. As a newbie to Burning Man, I hadn’t expected the elaborate nature of many of the costumes and I stand out in the crowd as underdressed for the occasion, wearing only my cowboy boots, cargo shorts and a cowboy hat. Oh well, at least I’m comfortable…

A number of Segways were running around

As a non-drinker, there’s really not a lot for me to do besides watch from the outside. Many of the camps (you might call them booths) serve alcohol in some form as their main theme. There are all kinds of fruit smoothies, with vodka; coke and rum, pre-mixed in large 5-gallon containers; lemonade and fruit punch, spiked; commercial beer and home brew, all served with a heavy dose of small-talk and chatter, which I might be better at if I were to sip a few drinks.

Then there are camps whose theme is women’s issues, homosexuality, bi-racial couples, various forms of yoga, fetishes involving a hierarchy of weirdness, body painting, speed-dating, on and on…. When entering Burning Man I was given a booklet with literally hundreds of counter-culture activities, none of which particularly interests me.

A stroll in the sun

A stroll in the sun

One activity that my brother-in-law convinces me to attend (it isn’t too difficult) is called “Critical Tits.” It involves hundreds of women, young and old, riding their bikes topless from The Man to the Esplanade, through a half-mile gauntlet of cheering spectators. At the end of their ride, the participants have their own women-only get together. As they ride by, it’s obvious they’re having as much fun as anyone else. (I took pictures of this event with my iPhone. I’ll have to figure out how to transfer them for posting to the blog.)

Awww, what a great daddy

Toward evening—and I’ve notice this before—the City is filled with the exotic smells of cooking. As I ride up and down the different streets I often wish I knew just what was cooking, it smells so delicious.

I go back to the trailer for a little rest but soon hop on my bike to ride back out to the playa to see the lights. There are fireworks, brightly lit bicycles, creatively designed body lights, the fire-breathing machines roaming around, sometimes challenging each other to whimsical contests of fire prowess. But the main spectacle I want to see is the burning of the huge horse, perhaps 40 feet tall, reminiscent of the Trojan Horse of mythology (you may have seen pictures in an earlier blog.) I thought the burn was to take place at 10:00 p.m. and waited nearby for half an hour, along with many others, before being told the burn wouldn’t be until 12:00 a.m. Cold, tired and dusty, I decide not to try to kill two hours more just waiting, so I head back to camp and am soon asleep.

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