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BURNING MAN 2000

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Burning Man 2000
by Molly Golightly

We couldn't believe it was cold again either. And the wind storms were back. Regardless of the elements that came our way, we put our goggled faces into the wind and marched off across the playa. After all, we'd been waiting a year. Rain or shine, hot or cold, the city blew down and all the city's people put it back together again. It's a testament to our experiment in civilization.

Everywhere there were distorted, enlarged, even engorged bits of man. The Body theme was evident everywhere — participation and theme came together to form an impressive body of work. And what bodies we built! Anatomy was taken to playa proportions: a 20 ft. flaming anus complete with slide (by David Normal and Max Hunter); a 20 ft. tall heart ('Hearth' by Sidney Klinge and Charles Smith); and of course the familiar 50 ft. Man.

The Body theme was carried out not just in the kind of art that was created, but in the very placement of art on the playa. Laser Man (engineered by Russel Wilcox) outlined the Burning Man across the playa, marking our collective body for the universe to see. This was the world's first giant pictogram in lasers, clearly visible from the air (and space!).

Beginning with the head and going through all seven chakras, large-scale theme art made a grand axis down through the body's gut and heart, culminating in its vast diamond-shaped head.

about this photo
about this photo
The Three Faces of Man (by Dan Das Mann) was a stunning piece of playa art, featuring a three-sided, tearing visage. And of course, the Burning Man, who went up in flames a bit earlier than we hoped but remained central to our experience.

The "man" was also out in force at Burning Man 2000. Increased presence of law enforcement took some members of our community by surprise. It was a reminder that our city is part of a larger world, whether we like it our not. Our sense of complete autonomy may have been reduced somewhat, but it didn't change the fact that what we are building is unique in all the world.

Weather played a huge part in the playa experience of 2000. Sunny days and warm nights early in the week turned to fierce windstorms by midweek. A cold drizzle kept many burners close to their camps on Friday night. Those who experienced the cold in 1999 were back with warmer costumes and gloves. Those who weren't ready for the task kept our population numbers low; people who left late in the week kept Black Rock City's population hovering at slightly more than 25,000 by the weekend.

Danger Ranger once said "You may die here, but you'll never be so alive." The roads, the outposts, the fire barrels, center camp, the cafe — all these things are part of Burning Man's infrastructural evolution. Yet none of these things changes the fact that bringing Burning Man to Black Rock City is hard work. The most rewarding kind of hard work, yes. But the kind of work it takes to survive. And thrive.