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Express Yourself at Burning Man

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The Man silhouetted against the night sky

Burning Man has been drawing artists to the Black Rock Desert, 120 miles north of Reno, Nevada since its inception in 1991. The crux of Burning Man is a temporary community in the arid desert, where artists congregate and display their art pieces and mutant vehicles and watch the burning of the Man. This takes places annually around the Labor Day weekend and this year it falls on August 26 - September 2, 2013. Let us guide you through the event and why you as an RVer should go.

The Burning Man draws its roots from the summer solstice of 1986, when founder Larry Harvey and his friends torched an 8 ft wooden effigy of a man on a beach in San Francisco. From an impromptu small gathering of friends, the event grew in popularity over the years and now draws 60,000 visitors. The Man too has grown and is now a 40 foot effigy stuffed with flammables.

The Burning Man experience is unique, and some would even go so far as to call it bizarre. The tenets of Burning Man are community, participation, radical self-expression and self-sufficiency. The participants come together and create a temporary community called Black Rock City, in the form of two-thirds of a circle. You can drive to Black Rock City but to move around, your only options are foot or bike. You can either bring your own tents or stay in an RV in any one of the many theme camps or villages. You could even create your own theme camp! The event believes in a gift community, wherein, everyone participates and shares with their neighbors, so RVers can volunteer in any respect.

The setting of the event on the playa (ancient lake-bed) makes for some harsh weather conditions. Temperatures in the desert can vary dramatically from freezing lows to boiling highs. RVers be prepared to come fully-equipped in terms of food, clothing and shelter to handle all your needs as the only items sold there are coffee and ice at the Centre Camp. There is a daily shuttle to the two closest cities of Empire and Gerlach should you feel the need to replenish supplies with daily in and out passes, but this is not encouraged. If you don't have tickets to the 2013 event already then you have two options; 1) Sign up for the Secure Ticket Exchange Program (STEP) before July 31, 2013. People who have an extra ticket to sell can submit it for sale through the STEP system, so you can join the STEP queue to buy them. 2) Register for the the Last Chance Sale on Friday, August 2, 2013 or Monday, August 5, 2013. Sales will open on Wednesday August 7, 2013 and be on a first-come, first-served basis. There will NOT be tickets for sale at the gate when you arrive. You can find out more about ticketing at Burning Man 2013 Ticket Information.

Let's talk about the art. This year's theme is Cargo Cult. The theme explores the concept of "John Frum", along with his splendid and limitless bounty, his shiny technology, his generosity, and his motives. Has John Frum made us unapologetic consumerists who cannot survive without the cargo he brings? This year's Burning Man stands on a gigantic replica of John Frum's spacecraft, imploring the Visitors from Elsewhere to return to Earth with their bounty and generosity; the effigy itself stands in the center of the city. It will be burned on the Saturday before Labor Day. All around the playa surrounding the Burning Man will be scattered various forms of artwork, installations and sculptures. Many of these will be burned along the Man in a symbolic purification of the artists' motives.

Participants are encouraged to give of themselves and express themselves freely, be it through communal kitchens or their wild and whacky costumes, or the lack of, as clothing is optional. Burning Man is a participatory event, rather than a spectator event so be prepared to share. It is a Leave No Trace event, which implies that one leaves the environment as pristine as one found it. For more guidelines for RVs, go to Burning Man Preparation.

The Burning Man is almost mystical in nature, with silent workers who come and erect an entire city in the scorching desert, experiment in all forms of radical self-expression for a week, burn a wooden man and then magically vanish almost overnight, leaving no trace of their ever having been there. It is a surreal experience, one that cannot be truly understood or explained unless one goes there. This one is not for the faint-hearted. So read their Survival Guide, bring out your inner artist and go.

For more information on Burning Man, go to www.burningman.com.

Image courtesy of photographer John Curley and www.burningman.com.

Copyright ©2013 Camping Road Trip, LLC

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