In the barren Black Rock Desert of Nevada, people and resources are scarce. But once a year, thousands of participants join together for the annual Burning Man Festival. 2011’s Burning Man took place from August 29 to September 5, where nearly 50,000 people from around the world created a temporary city in the desert, making it the most populous community in the county for that time.
Burning Man is not your ordinary festival with headlining performances by famous musicians. It is a distinct festival because there are no rules, aside from keeping the community safe and clean. Stepping into the temporary society of Burning Man is a unique experimental experience.
Burning Man has set foundations in creating a community where one has not existed before. Thousands of people come together with their own resources and supplies they will need to survive throughout the week in the desert. Participants in Burning Man camp out in the desert during the duration of the festival and rely on themselves as well as other people in the community.
People are encouraged to participate in the makeshift community as much or as little as they want, knowing that their own contribution to Burning Man has an impact on the festival as a whole. Strong bonds are formed and self exploration is highly encouraged.
Burning Man has strong roots in self expression and art. Each year, the festival has a theme for the artwork presented. For 2011’s Burning Man, the theme was Rites of Passage. All across the temporary community, art installations are presented and people are often inspired to create their own art as well.
The Rites of Passage theme was chosen to signify the change people go through while attending the festival, as well as the emotions that surface when people loose cherished loved ones.
Based on the Rites of Passage theme, participants are known to dress up in costumes throughout the festival in forms of self expression. Art installations pop up around the temporary city as people enjoy their new forms of extreme reliance on themselves and one another to survive throughout the week long period. There are performances and theme camps, as well as dramatic sculptures.
The Center Camp Café is one of the popular spots where performances are ongoing. Musical performances by the participants of Burning Man usher in a wide variety of genres, including jazz, marching bands, and experimental music. The overall energy of the Café is geared to inspiring people with their talents and bringing a positive, social environment for all who wish to join in.
Comedy shows, spoken word performances, and even magicians are also highlights of the artistic acts that express their talents at the Center Camp Café.
The Fire Conclave is another key component of the dominant self expression theme throughout Burning Man. A group of people perform a scheduled fire show that signifies the spirit of life. People who attend Burning Man gather around the massive fire ceremony to dance and play drum beats while the performance goes on.
Participation in this event are said to bring together the community and to strengthen the bonds of its members. Burning Man takes a strong stance towards assuring that the Black Rock Desert is not negatively harmed by pollution. Burning Man believes in being a Leave No Trace Event.
Even though thousands of people come together for a week in the harsh desert, there is no trace of them once they leave. Participants of Burning Man believe in protecting the environment by continuously recycling and taking sustainable measures to make sure the Black Rock Desert remains just the way they found it.
The week long journey into Burning Man is one full of conscious awareness of the environment, ongoing art performances, and extreme self expression. Experiencing Burning Man is a unique way to participate in a festival that is truly one of a kind.
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