"Cruising at Burning Man"

Yes, there are all sorts of cruising styles going on in Black Rock City, but in this case, we're talking about motorcyclists hitting the scene. A great Burning Man overview article by J. Joshua Placa of motorcycle-usa.com, of all places. We are everywhere!

"Next time you’re droning down the highway wishing some adventure would come your way, take a moment to imagine a place where you can be truly free and uninhibited, a biker’s paradise. Picture somewhere that is all you ever dreamt motorcycle rallies should be, but never were. This isn’t the latest 3D fantasy flick; the event is real, and you can ride there.

The road to Utopia is open but once a year. For a singular week in September, some 50,000 of the faithful make the pilgrimage to a naked playa somewhere in the sun-drenched Nevada desert. The destination is Burning Man, a galactic, raw romp of pure, dazzling, inconceivable fun. If you ride anywhere in your life, ride here.

This is not somewhere over the rainbow. You can find it off Nevada Route 447, near the parched town of Gerlach, 120 miles north of Reno, pretty much right in the middle of absolutely Nowhere. It kind of looks like hell, but it will feel like heaven.

The annual event is an alternative-culture, avant-garde happening that redefines the borders of bohemia. Those frontiers were last seen in the underbelly of cities like New York and San Francisco, circa 1960s. They haven’t vanished, they just moved to the desert. This interactive art-music-weirdness festival is a coronation of passion, creation, destruction and rebirth.

In 2009, Burning Man drew nearly 44,000 freedom seeking souls from around the planet to its bare, fertile bosom. They came by motorcycle, they came by scooter, they came by serpentine waves of RV caravans, cars, SUVs, trucks, bicycles, and vehicles of unknown origin. They come more each year.

"Black Rock City" is temporarily erected on a featureless alkaline clay playa of the Black Rock Desert, complete with streets, signs, radio stations, a daily newsletter, a town square and a volunteer civilian patrol, the Black Rock Rangers. Nothing can live on the salt flats—what better place for a party?

It is a surreal, sensual experience that will enrich you, change you and leave you wondering why the hell this can't happen everyday. The event's crescendo is the spectacular, ritualistic burn of The Man in an out-of-this-world pyrotechnic display that makes the Fourth of July look like a wet firecracker. Thousands defy the dark, dancing under a full moon in frenetic revelry. The Man never dies; it renews itself every year as the centerpiece of this experimental community........

The emphasis at this metaphorical metropolis is on participation, on active involvement with people from all ages and walks of life, and interactive art forms that boggle the imagination and enchant the senses. From super-size playgrounds to outdoor art galleries to scooters and motorcycles shaped like flying saucers, dinosaurs and land sharks to Taj Mahal-like edifices and robotic sculptures, the dry lake bed is populated with the bizarre, the comical, the sublime, the suggestive, the bold, the sardonic, and mostly, the unreal. It is raw, it is refined, it is provocative and will tilt your view of the world 180 degrees. It has been called, "an arena of visionary reality."

No matter how creative you think you are, you will be humbled. Burning Man cannot be compared to any other event in the history of the human race, or any race. It is a daring fusion of Woodstock, a San Francisco performing arts festival, Mardi Gras, Halloween, and Daytona Bike Week. It is an unbridled 24-hour, seven-day celebration. It is pagan, spiritual, clothes optional; it is creatively assertive, wild, outrageous fun colored in body paint.

Through a prism of art and action, of liberated self-expression and total acceptance, a joyous light shining brighter than the hot Nevada sun will focus in your mind, burn away your paradigms, and change the way you think....

Rather than always wear the predictable biker uniform of menacing leather and evil T-shirts, you can reinvent yourself everyday. The biggest decision you'll have to make is which body paint to use that afternoon. Complete or partial nudity is in vogue. You can dress like the man from Mars, or you can don nothing but the international motorcycle colors of black and red and no one will bat a glittered eye. This may be one of the reasons this is such a peaceful happening—it’s hard to argue with a naked person.

Perhaps awkward at first, it very quickly seems like the natural state of things. It's a non-conformist's dream; you can be whatever you want to be. If you ever wanted to ride your bike clothes-free, this is the place. After days in big black boots, the clay playa feels good on bare feet....

All commercialism is banned; gawking is discouraged. Nothing is sold here, not even T-shirts, but there is barter. You can swap a jar of mayonnaise for a bottle of Jack Daniels, or bread for a blanket, or water for a massage. The void of vendors, the absolute lack of something, anything to buy forces people to move their focus away from themselves and onto the experience. It encourages people to act out, to express their otherwise private passions and beliefs without care or consequence.

Burning Man means something different to most people. It can be a spiritual experience fraught with pomp and ceremony, a “burning” or cleansing of the soul, or it can be just one tremendous release. To most, it's a mix of many things, a collage of fantasy and free-spiritedness.

Virtually anything and everything goes, as long as it hurts no one. The police stay on the periphery and out of the way unless there is real trouble, which has never, to my knowledge, occurred here. The citizens of Black Rock City do a good job at policing themselves. People like it that way, and it works, at least for a week."

Full text at http://www.motorcycle-usa.com/321/7103/Motorcycle-Article/Cruising-at-Burning-Man-Festival.aspx