It’s the first thing they say to you when you arrive. Yeah, it sounds kind of creepy and I knew in advance that this would be the greeting, but in context and after a rather arduous four days getting there, I received it as a warm and comforting greeting. The hug helped.
If you don’t know what I’m talking about, you have never been to Burning Man.
It was dirty. It was dusty. Every day the sun would be blotted out by the talc like dust from the wind coming up in the afternoon. Dust in your nose, your mouth, your hair, your food–everywhere. Nice RV’s and campers give a little relief to those who have them, but nothing can stop it completely. My beloved and I slept in a very nice tent, but after two days and our best efforts to keep it clean, the interior was covered in dust as well.
In spite of the dirt and the difficulty of just getting there, I found the experience to be singularly astonishing.
It was in many ways very much as I expected. The camps, the port-a-potties, the naked guys on bicycles, the art cars, the art itself–all of these things were unsurprising. But a superficial survey of the day to day experience cannot account for the barely discernible and inscrutable essence that accumulates over time. It is the sensitivity to this that determines whether you’re a “Burner” or a guest. Burning Man has a taste: it’s the umami of social experiments.