The student news site of Diablo Valley College.

The Inquirer

The student news site of Diablo Valley College.

The Inquirer

The student news site of Diablo Valley College.

The Inquirer

Experiences of a dreamlike city

Sound pulsates from all directions: BOOM, BOOM, BOOOOM.

A flamethrower erupts in the night sky causing hundreds of shadows to dance into existence.


A pirate ship glides by full of glowing revelers, smiles and laughter all around.


Everything has become indescribably alive…


Where am I, you ask? Burning Man, of course!


What is Burning Man? Having been there, I honestly can tell you that I can’t possibly come up with an answer that can do it justice. Attempting to do so would be like trying to tell you about a bizarre dream that I have already started to forget. And certainly, my own small experience there cannot allow me to define the event as a whole.


Even so, I can do my best…


Imagine a flat, dusty place where no plants grow and dust storms can strike at any moment. It can be terribly hot in the day and viciously cold at night especially with the wind. In the temporary city, known as Black Rock City, the only things you can purchase are ice for coolers and drinks like coffee and lemonade. 


Everything else you must bring yourself, and necessities such as water you will need in amounts far greater than usual. There are no garbage cans, so you must haul out what you haul in. Your ability to be self-sufficient, as well as your ability to work together with those whom you choose to camp with, will be tested like never before. 


You are there to have fun, but first and foremost you are there to stay alive. 


And yet, in contrast to the bleakness of the natural environment is the incredible richness it provides. Both sunrises and sunsets can be profoundly gorgeous. The heart of a dust-storm is a surreal place to be but only if your eyes, mouth, and nose are protected. The dried-up lake bed where the city is located makes for almost effortless biking and walking. Hot days can result in warm nights in which a T-shirt is all you need to stay warm. The desert sun darkens the skin and people unashamedly reveal more of their bodies in the heat.


But what really makes Burning Man a truly unique place is what its diverse participants bring to the table. From the giant statues to the intricate costumes people wear to the cars and bikes people travel in, art is omnipresent.


Music is always playing somewhere. Live music is easily found and every art car seems to be BUMPIN’ good tunes ranging from dub-step to hip-hop to house to trance to country to classic rock to classical to unclassifiable noise. At one dance floor, DJs are even equipped with a button that sets off a flamethrower above the crowd.


After buying your relatively expensive ticket (starting prices online are about $200), a gift economy reigns where there are no advertisements to bother you, no overly-priced pizza stands to stress you out, and virtually no need of cash for a week. People will give you things freely with no expectation of compensation. Once there you are a participant and not some sort of detached observer, and even if you didn’t bring any gifts of your own, you could always give compliments (if you want). Simply by being there, you are, whether you like it or not, a part of Burning Man.   


And yet, for all it has to offer, some people consider the event to simply be a giant waste of brain cells because of drugs. While the “other-worldliness” of the event does indeed tend to attract users of various substances, don’t assume that this is what Burning Man is entirely about. There is much more to it than that, and many people there don’t do any illegal drugs and still have an amazing time (if not better). 


Anyway, the most prevalent drug there by far is alcohol. Free alcohol is easy enough to come by as long as you look old enough. In the playful spirit of the festival, someone might require you to chase that Jameson with pickle juice, or find four other friends to take a shot with since all the glasses are glued to a board.


Ultimately, Burning Man seems to be about having the freedom to be yourself in any way you wish and having the responsibility to enjoy your time there as much as possible since it goes by so fast. It is certainly not a place for everyone (I could see my mother referring to 99 percent of the people there as “friggin’ weirdos”) but it is definitely a place for some, perhaps even their true home. 


As for me, I’m just glad to have a real bed again. Soft, comfy, glorious, dust-free. ZZZ


*For more information see


Contact Kevin Hayes at [email protected] 








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About the Contributor
Kevin Hayes, Staff member
Staff member.

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Experiences of a dreamlike city