Among other things, my best friend Halcyon said that Burning Man is pretty much divided into day and night and that the experience of these two dichotomies are very different indeed. He prefers the day, where he feels he meets and shares more deeply with people, to the night where partying and spectacle is the main focus. He said he’ll often sleep through the nightlife saving his “burn” for both ends of his candle during the day.
My experience at Burning Man was in alignment with this. During the day I was able to meet more people, either at my base camp, Nexus, gathering for meals or working the bar or getting lost looking for Jane Doe and our monkey hut (which was the shade structure that housed our luxury tent setup) or wandering around the Playa dancing, peeing, exploring and peeing some more (in Porta-Sans, mind you!) One reason for this–not all the peeing but why it was easier for me to meet and connect with others during the day–was because it was light outside and I could see all the faces and smiles in front of me, as well as an eyeful of breasts and penises preferably not that in front of me, unless it was Jane Doe’s penis, of course.
At night, Jane Doe would lead me from one place to the next, usually at a semi-frantic pace. The combination of me not being a partier nor drug user, never putting much time into studying the map thus totally violating the principle of Radical Self-Reliance by being completely not self-reliant in navigating Black Rock City, that it was pitch dark minus the colorfully glowing art cars and bicycles and camps and art pieces, i.e. no street lamps, and that the music–which blasted 24-hours a day–would find its decibel zenith at night, it was hard to impossible for me to really settle down and chit-chat with anyone.
We did talk to some guy from New York on an art car which was nice but not too in depth. Jane Doe talked to some dude on another art car we rode but I found him way too overtly–I don’t know if it was sexual or skeevy–and when he offered my girl a hit on a hash vaporizer he found in the car, I had to pull deep down inside to the little Gandhi I keep chained to a wall and beat every day not to punch him in his fuckin’ head. If I wasn’t so tired I might have been a little more, “Back off, buddy!” Exhausted as I was from sleep deprivation, the most I could offer was a resigned, “Just use a condom.”
In a small tent Outside of Fractal Planet, a New Age artsy camp, if the heat of the Playa didn’t suck all of our water out of us then the dry humor of the Tea Giver was enough to suck us into one of those original Star Trek geometric dehydrated human cubes. We tried to not completely combust by whetting our whistle with not only the variety of exotic teas he shared with us but also by engaging in a little jabber-gabber.
When we first sat down one of my Size 12 clowny shoes kicked into one of his “delicate” little Holly Hobbie tea cups and he made a snappy comment that indicated annoyance. I gave him the New-Age version of “Lighten up, Francis!” from the movie Stripes, something of the nature of, “Why don’t we step out of the tent and discuss your attitude and give you some time to gather your teeth.” Thereafter we were right as rain.
When someone asked him if he liked what he was doing he answered, “I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else but here serving you tea.” Jane Doe took this as sarcastic and lectured him that he should reflect on why he is such a bitter piece of shit. I don’t think he was sarcastic, just as dry as a nun’s vagina.
But besides the occasional sharing of a thimble of tea with a bone dry tea-sir, it was usually a high-speed race to see as many things as we could so Jane Doe could check them off of her Things To See list and combined with me usually being tired, music blasting too loud for any real conversation or sleep—a contributing factor to why I was always tired–and the possibility of Jane Doe and me having some point of contention that carried a little tension into the night, I mostly just met vampires who either wanted something like my blood or my girlfriend that I was not interested in sharing and who I would never see in the light of day.
Still, the spectacle of the night was something, from fire spinners to what looked like a giant fire grasshopper that someone walked, to a fire hammerhead shark that “swam” on a wire, to the art pieces like the large wire mesh lady, to the neon colors that lit up the Playa. I’m just less into spectacle and shallow interactions and more into making deeper connections. I’m less into getting high and spacing out to psychedelic colors and more into staying clear-headed and focusing on the beautiful colors of a heart connection or making a new friend. I am not saying that this was an either/or situation–either you enjoy the spectacle of the night or you make deeper connections; this was just my experience.
I do like movies with explosions and speedy car chases, but I would forego these accoutrements for a good plot and good acting any day. It seemed most nights I was a bad actor pretending interest in explosions and car chases when all I wanted to do was go back to our tent and make love with Jane Doe. I guess I like romance over action films.