Burning Man 2011 event day 1

It is enough today to be quietly at home doing the preparation for this last minute Burning Man. Finding all the stored boxes, restocking, pulling together enough food and water and ice. Preparation the first year is the most complex and difficult, after that you will have the layers from the previous years to build on.

This morning the city populates. From last night at midnight, participant vehicles are allowed to enter. Once in awhile entry is opened up a few hours earlier, but it is never a good idea to expect that as arriving at the gate before midnight may put you into an impound until dawn, with release in a pack just in time to create a two hour backup for the dawn arrivals.

Some people do the last of the drive in to arrive in the midnight first wave. There will be a second – the dawn people, and a third the 10 am crowd, then very steadily the rest of the day and first night. How else do you populate a city of 50,000 people in three days? People stream in, the city is growing exponentially. The infrastructure is waiting and ready.

There are two entry stopping points, ticket/security check, then more crawling along to the greeting stations. Then a few miles of a 5 mph two lane parade with entertainment brought to you by a series of text signs – burma shave ad-like. Eventually you reach the city and the road splits. To the left are radials from, 6 o’clock to 10. And to the right from 6 to 2 o’clock. You have entered the city.

From half inhabited rural type spaces composed of the early arriving art camps and theme camps, the city will fill in with the general population. Each day it becomes more mature.

Most of the art will already be set up, but not all. More will be arriving. Large installations like the temple and the man base may be getting finishing touches. People will be straggling in every day till Friday, the day of peak population. And yet Thursday there is a major burn scheduled, multiple regional installations in a ring around the man will burn that night. They will be cordoned off far earlier to prepare. How early does one need to arrive to be able to walk up to these installations? Earlier and earlier.

A city has life at every stage, from establishment to buildup to deconstruction.

And months later, when it is all done, in the quiet of the playa one can remember. GPS to the exact spot of your campsite. Lie quietly in the night as the milky way flows across the desert dark sky. Where, for a brief intense week, there once was a city.

It is enough today to quietly finish the preparations, knowing so many of the stages now, and always wanting something a little bit different. To see it all from various vantage points and times and perspectives.

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