I haven’t been to Burning Man in 10 years. I went for the primary time with my spouse, and we ran round for a few days and thought, “Wow, that was loopy.” It was very stimulating. Plenty of lights. This will likely sound very “woo-woo” and I’m not a “woo-woo” man, however currently I’ve been listening to that it’s an important place to go to be taught one thing about your self. It wasn’t even presupposed to be an possibility for me as a result of I ought to have been capturing a film in Australia proper now however the strike shut me down, so I used to be at residence and out there. My buddies had been planning a man’s journey and I believed, you understand what, I like these guys and I ought to go. Possibly I can be taught one thing, see some stunning artwork, meet some cool folks and have a good time.
The primary 4 days of Burning Man had been stunning. I used to be with a really, very cool camp. Everybody was in an important temper, the climate was nice, there was no mud, and you possibly can see for miles — it was ridiculously good. On the morning of Friday, Sept. 1, I had strike obligation on the camp, serving to to take down some tents and do some heavy lifting by transferring issues into storage, simply primary chores as a part of being a very good camper. Then it began to rain. After which it began to rain even tougher.
It’s laborious to evaluate the climate and tougher to foretell what’s going to occur, however we had been listening to that it was going to proceed to rain on Saturday and once more on Sunday. Not everyone has WiFi at Burning Man — there are pockets of WiFi for individuals who have Starlink — so there was a whole lot of misinformation concerning the forecast. However the issue with rain on the playa is that it’s nearly like an acidic lakebed, so as an alternative of seeping into the bottom, water collects on prime of the bottom. In case you attempt to stroll, drive or transfer round in it, it doesn’t flip into mud, it turns into one thing like a moist cement. Your footwear seize on and it turns into nearly like a snowshoe of four- to five-inch-thick dense clay. In case you’re strolling, every shoe feels prefer it weighs 40 kilos as a result of the footwear decide it up and gained’t let it go. Evidently, it turns into very troublesome to stroll.
The overall temper was, let’s hunker down, make some meals, maintain one another and ensure everyone seems to be OK. The folks in RVs can be high-quality, but it surely was the individuals who had been staying in tents that may be in bother due to the standing water. By Saturday after we awakened, it was no completely different in any respect. Based mostly on info from the playa, it will take 12 hours to empty and dry out so when there was standing water Saturday morning, we figured we couldn’t get out till Sunday and folks had been already ready to remain till Monday for the official burning of the person and the temple. But when it saved raining, we wouldn’t get out till Wednesday, Thursday or Friday on the earliest. If no service vans may get in, we knew it will be a catastrophe. However the stunning factor about Burning Man is that the primary query folks ask isn’t, “How do I get out of right here?” — it’s “Who wants assist? How can I assist?”
What Burning Man does rather well is ship in a fleet of water vans and pump vans just about all day, each day. The vans are pumping porta-potties and RV bogs, and the water vans are delivering contemporary water so you possibly can take showers, run sinks, wash dishes, and many others. However when it’s raining and the roads are a multitude, these vans can’t get in or out in order that’s when the concern issue begins to creep in. It turned an actual concern if no person may get in with water as a consequence of this muddy, scary mess. Folks had been afraid. It doesn’t rain at Burning Man. I believe it rained as soon as for 20 minutes in 2014. Nobody had skilled it earlier than. Then these trolls began circulating stuff about Ebola as a consequence of porta-potties overflowing within the rain however that was misinformation. Then there have been stories about somebody who died however they’re saying he was present in a tent, and it was not rain associated. You’ll be able to speculate on what occurred.
Nonetheless, with the specter of issues getting worse, my buddy made the choice to stroll out as a result of he has a pregnant spouse and didn’t need to take any possibilities. I believed it sounded loopy as a result of the principle street out is six miles, and that street was just about destroyed by the rain. However there’s a service street off the playa, subsequent to the mountains, which was solely about three miles away. I don’t perceive the science behind it, however we discovered that if we duct-taped our socks and walked in these, you possibly can get some grip and your socks wouldn’t get caught within the mud the way in which that footwear do.
We began to noticeably ponder “Ought to we do that?” We had three RVs with primarily six folks in it. So our reasoning was, if we walked out, we are going to alleviate the burden on meals, water and assets which might be used for different folks in case they wanted them for the remainder of the week. If there have been folks in tents who wanted assist, meals or a spot to sleep, there can be some further area. Ought to issues get a lot worse, the very last thing we wished is for there to be six dudes fully draining assets throughout three RVs. And our mates are Burning Man veterans so they may keep, and so they know methods to navigate all the pieces. As soon as we thought it over, we determined, OK, let’s go for it. That’s when issues acquired fascinating.
We didn’t actually know the place we had been going. We knew that if we walked in the direction of the mountains and took a left, we’d finally discover the service street. We had heat garments, meals, water and energy bars. We had ponchos and backpacks and contemporary socks and footwear. We deliberate it taking it one step at a time and knew that we’d finally make it to a paved street. That was the purpose. We headed out at 2 p.m. on Saturday and instantly issues acquired somewhat scary as a result of my buddy stated that we solely had 4 extra hours of daylight. That put an entire new perspective on the hike. However as quickly as we hit the playa, we may stroll. It wasn’t terrible and we knew we may do it as a result of we weren’t sinking within the mud.
We acquired about three miles, and we may see the street and we seen that there have been vans driving forwards and backwards. We made it to a station the place they had been letting vans out and in and there was somebody there who was hellbent on not letting us go away. “You’ll be able to’t go away,” a lady stated. “The street is closed for 45 miles.” However we knew that this wasn’t a jail, and we may go away if we wished to, so we agreed to disagree and we saved strolling. After a few mile, we noticed one other group to our left and so they had been strolling as nicely, so we felt like we weren’t alone and if one thing occurred, we may hunker down collectively. As we acquired nearer to the street, we noticed emergency autos with lights on, tons of rangers on the aspect of the street all of whom had been ready to see what their subsequent transfer was going to be.
Then, out of nowhere, we noticed a white shuttle bus with blacked-out home windows. It undoubtedly wasn’t an emergency automobile and positive sufficient, we walked as much as the aspect and a man opened the door and stated, “Are you going to Gerlach?” We stated sure and he stated, “Get in.” Seems he was a Burner who didn’t need to wait it out both and so we took off our soiled socks, put them in a trash luggage, placed on some dry socks and Vans and jumped in. Gerlach is 10 miles away, a few 25-minute trip, but it surely’s a tiny, tiny city with solely about 5 – 6 constructions. As soon as we acquired there, there have been about 10 folks milling about, and everybody was stunned and attempting to determine what to do.
The three of us immediately acquired on our telephones attempting to determine if we may get an Uber or a taxi. There was a limo driver there with a sprinter van with 4 or 5 ladies who had been getting on. We requested if we may leap in, and so they stated they had been full. However my good friend Billy was throughout the road, and he seen a person holding an indication saying, “Heading to Reno.” We requested if they’d three seats left in that limo and so they did so we jumped in. We had been most likely in Gerlach solely a minute and a half complete. We had been on our option to Reno and instantly tried to entry our choices like, ought to we get a resort room? Ought to we get a flight out? We checked out flights and there was a airplane leaving at 7:30 p.m. and our driver stated we may make it to the airport in time, so we stated, “Good.” We booked the flight, made it to Reno an hour later and acquired dropped off on the airport proper on time. We walked on the airplane and flew residence. We by no means stopped transferring.
I arrived again in Los Angeles an hour and a half later than I initially deliberate to be residence had nothing occurred. That’s precisely how Burning Man works. You simply belief that you just’re going to have the ability to determine it out and also you do. All people was calm and dealing collectively to supply the issue and determine it out. I’m positive there have been sure folks that attempted to e-book it out with automobiles and acquired caught or who acquired actually intense with each other as a result of they had been moist and scared. However, for essentially the most half, everybody helped one another, and no person pushed anybody out of the lifeboat. It was actually cool to see that.
I don’t take into account myself a Burner in any means, form or type. However I’ll say that being within Burning Man is way completely different than it seems from the surface. It’s not a pageant. It’s not a nonstop occasion. It’s like dropping your self into a really, very fascinating metropolis. You discuss to fascinating folks; you see wonderful artwork and get to witness folks gifting their skills to folks. You’ll be able to stroll into camps and have conversations and be gifted coconuts, mangoes, pineapple the other way up cake. The images you might even see are ladies coated in glitter standing in entrance of a DJ sales space. That actually, to me, is 1/1,000,000th of what it’s actually about. I don’t suppose I listened to a DJ longer than 20 minutes at a time. We climbed artwork and appeared on the view and checked out artwork and frolicked.
I don’t do nicely with uncertainty. As a producer, I’m all the time attempting to regulate all the pieces and determine 9 steps forward, so shit doesn’t go improper. If this had been a film set, I might’ve identified the rain was coming and we might’ve moved the manufacturing to a stage and that may’ve been that. However with out the Web, we didn’t know what was going to occur and even what our choices had been. We simply needed to belief every step and it was stunning as a result of each step then specified by entrance of us like a lily pad.
My takeaway, once I was lastly residence and settled again in L.A., was that you need to take that subsequent step and belief the trail. Proper now, due to the strike and no cash coming in without end, there’s a whole lot of uncertainty. I can’t management something aside from my very own enterprise. That’s been so profound for me, and I discovered that from Burning Man. Once we took step one on the playa, my buddy stated to me, “We’re doing this and we’re not complaining. It doesn’t matter what occurs, even when we’re within the rain all night time out within the desert, we’re sticking collectively it doesn’t matter what and we’re going to maintain going.” We took that subsequent step, and it was essentially the most stunning factor, man. And all I can do now throughout this strike and in my enterprise is transfer ahead after which wait to see what the following step is.