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Building Burning Man
The Official Journal of the Burning Man Project - Spring 1997 Newsletter

Back to the Beach

Burning Man is Moving
Burning Man began on a beach in San Francisco in 1986. From that birthplace it moved, in 1990, to the equally vast and oceanic space of the Black Rock Desert. In 1997 Burning Man will migrate once again to the nearby shore of Hualapai [WALL-A-PIE] Playa. Named after a now vanished Native American tribe, Hualapai means "people of the pines." Like Black Rock, this playa is a remnant of the prehistoric inland sea that once was Lake Lahontan.

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Our camping ground will be the broad and sweeping plain which parallels the playa. Cattle grazing on this flat plateau reduce its native grasses to a fine and intermittent haze which seems to hover on the ground. To the east and west it is surrounded by the Calico and Granite mountain ranges, like the floor of a vast amphitheater; to the north is bordered by Fly Springs. This legendary oasis is composed of eighteen separate hot-spring ponds dominated by Fly Geyser. Like so many other things at Burning Man, it is a sight so vivid that it seems unreal. Here super-heated waters gush in plumes that petrify the landscape into brightly colored terraces of stone. Through special arrangement with the landholder, we will make these pools available to bathers (a small fee, dedicated to protecting and preserving this site, may be charged for their use).

Hualapai Playa itself measures five miles in diameter. It is administered by the Bureau of Land Management, but reachable only through the private land that is our campground. As a condition of entry, we will request that no one drive upon it. It will be designated "No Man's Land" and will belong entirely to pedestrians and works of art. No bush, or bump, or single blade of grass disturbs this flat expanse, and it will be our playground. Our downtown center will arise upon the edge of this dry lakebed and its theme camps will be spread along the "beach." Glittering in the moonless night, our city will resemble some impossibly exotic seaport.

This year signals a return to contact with the natural world. Last year auto traffic in the Black Rock Desert neared a critical mass. The unrestricted use of cars for transportation almost buried our event within a cloud of dust. Reckless drivers threatened everyone. It is our goal in 1997 to reduce this traffic to a minimum.

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Day visitors will be asked to leave their cars in our parking lot and hike to the event, and campers must agree to park their cars at their campsites, using them only to enter or leave the area. The firm terrain is suitable for trail bikes. Participants will also have the option to camp in a special low density zone located at a distance from our central city.

We have entered a new era. People who return from Burning Man each year internalize its lessons. Burning Man, the event, has gradually become Burning Man, the phenomenon. The result is a prolific outpouring of energy, a creatively contagious cycle of activity which has spread through San Francisco and across the nation. Upon this fertile ground it seems as if the merest stick, if planted, will grow leaves -- and we believe our new land in the desert is potentially a year-round home for many of these efforts. We envision a place where prodigious works of art can coexist with equally prodigious works of nature. We see it as a meeting ground for the community of Burning Man. Join us for our founding rites in 1997 and say, in years to come, that you were there.