So Burning Man rolls round again.
Burning Man is an arts and music festival and an alternative-community experiment, held every year in the Nevada desert at a place called Black Rock that is several hours’ drive out of Reno. Every Labor Day Weekend, a colorful and bustling city of 35,000 or so — and unlike any other city on this planet — rises out of nowhere, and then disappears again like it never existed. In the beginning, I went for the adventure and the party of it; now I go for the spectacle, for the surreal artistic displays that get better every year; I go for the freewheeling sense of community, where strangers are relaxed and friendly with each other; I go to reunite with some of my favorite people who trek out from different points of the country; I still go for the adventure and the party, although now I calculate how much recovery time I can afford to give myself once returning to the real world, and pace myself accordingly, which must be yet another sign I’m getting old; and I go for the clothes.
At Burning Man you can wear whatever the hell you want. The crazier the better, especially at night, when the temperature drops and people roam the playa, checking out the music and tents and sculptures, exploring a landscape ablaze with colored lights that looks like something from an alien world. This year I decided that I must have thigh-high boots which, sadly, I have not yet had the opportunity to wear in daily life. Since I don’t have time to physically shop, I went online. And damn, it’s not easy to find thigh-high boots made for walking, since every boot I saw that was more or less in my price range seemed to have a six-inch heel attached.
And although I consider myself a respectably worldly person, I’m still taken aback by the sheer horror of these things. It hurts just to look at them.