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Burning Man – Faces of the Playa!

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Burning Man was started by a few friends almost 20 years ago, in 1986, and today it has expanded to a global phenomenon with 50 events taking place locally all over the world!

The event begins on the last Monday in August, and ends on the first Monday in September and takes its name from the ritual burning of a large wooden effigy, which is set alight right after sunset, on Saturday. Officially the event is described as an experiment in community, art, radical self-expression, and radical self-reliance, however, in my opinion — people and human spirit is what remains to be the driving core of this phenomenon. When you arrive at the gates of the Black Rock City, you are expected to disconnect from the outside world and enter a space where human spirit is the main ingredient.
For some, Burning Man is a life changing experience, for others it will simply remain a painful look back into a happy childhood or raving teenage years that they can never have back.  And then there are those who will hate it and call it dusty, hot and a crazy druggy experience, where hippies roam free and disorder is king.

There are tens of thousands, who come to the Black Rock City every year. For many it’s a new experience, but for most it’s a pilgrimage home they try to commit to once every summer. Regardless of the fact that Burning Man lasts only a week, its a yearlong preparation and the countdown begins as soon as The Man burns to the ground.  During the time between burns, the spirit of BM lives on through the many camps that are scattered all over the country: RobotHeart, I Feel…, Disorient, KostumeKult – these are just a few New York camps! These guys commit to throwing parties once a month for the duration of entire year, this way collecting money for the Burning Man art projects (in case you were wondering how everything gets funded.)  Once the art project is approved, Kickstarter campaigns start and parties become more and more exuberant the closer it gets to August. And costumes at these parties deserve a special mention!  I have never seen a crowd more committed to expressing their inner magical creatures! It’s what inspired me to create my own costumes for my first BM this year. I spent 4 days working on my headpieces and sewing. And then I made a few for my boyfriend as well.  After all, how often does one get a chance to be whomever they want to be for an entire week?

One of the most astonishing experiences at Burning Man for me was walking towards The Temple of Grace on Wednesday, at sunrise. Pink and orange sky peeking from above the gray mountains at the horizon, hundreds of people, dressed in their fantasy, some were hugging, some dancing, some waiting, others sleeping among the art and dust. Suddenly it was clear to me that here you completely forget that you are disconnected from the outside world and that you haven’t checked your email in three days. Very fast you realize that what surrounds you evinces your reality: the rough conditions, the daily heat and the nightly freezing temperatures, even the white sticky dust that gets into everything, no matter how hard you try to guard your things inside Ziploc bags and plastic bins; the unshaved legs, the occasional dreads you find in your hair by day five — you get used to it all… it becomes OK. See, if you were worried about things like that, you would not be here, in the middle of a desert, torn from civilization and its comforts and neither would 80% of these people. This is where it hit me- I am with my tribe!  They are here; melted into the milky white skin of the Playa, gathering together to greet the sunrise. And we speak the same language.

These are some of their faces.

 

 

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Temple of Grace set alight on the last night of Burning Man. As the flames took over the structure, people in the crowd started shouting “I love you, mom…. dad… Liz!” in memory of all who passed in the last year. Before I had a chance to realize what was happening, tears were already running from my eyes.

 

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A fashion look from July 2013

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