Burning Man: The Dog Lady Field Trip Series Part 1 The Experience

Black Rock City

Burning Man: The Dog Lady Field Trip Series

Part 1 The Experience Overview

Black Rock City
A panorama of Black Rock City
Burning Man

Burning Man 2018
The Man
This year I was lucky enough to score a ticket to the infamous Burning Man event.  While some may think of it as a festival, it is really experiential art.  The community itself, in its vehement independence coupled with astounding neighborly kindness, is the most poignant work of art.  When venturing around the playa, or the grounds of the Black Rock desert where Black Rock City is constructed and destructed every year without a trace left behind, one is struck by the singular thought that if humans were free to be as they would choose, the outcome would probably look something like Burning Man.  I mean, who would not want to cruise around on a mutant bunny vehicle, while munching a snow cone, then stopping for a quick game of climbing wall Twister??
snow cone machine
Hamster Snow Cone Maker Machine...because of course

The Ten principles of Burning Man are radical inclusion, gifting, decommodification, radical self-reliance, radical self expression, communal effort, civic responsibility, leaving no trace, participation, and immediacy.  There are plenty of articles written on these tenants and the community culture of Burning Man.  If you want to read more about it, check out: BurningMan.Org

It strikes one that Burning Man is a first-world creation- one which could not exist without an outside infrastructure to aid in creating this temporary oasis.  How lucky are we to be able to do so?  Pablo Picasso once said "The purpose of art is to wash the daily dust of life off our souls."  Burning Man, however, shows the rise of the confluence of dust (literal) and art.  Living in and through art.  In this protected sphere, we can see the joy of living freely, if only for a week each year.
mutant vehicle
Pony Espresso...lolz

Living freely takes on many forms including dress, activities, and gifting.  When one is free of the weight of the historic societal judgement, one is free to give of oneself without reservation.  I was given many gifts this week both tangible and intangible.  The gift of laughter, of whimsy, of food and company, of play...these are all gifts whose value in the real world are staunchly increased due to their scarcity.  I suppose many people think of Burning Man as a "dirty hippie" festival or a camp for wealthy people to get away to imbibe in drugs for a week.  I found these stereotypes did not ring true.  Sure, there were all kinds of esoteric conversations about the nature of this and that, profound so-called deep thinking which can only occur in the comforts of a protected society.  But how lucky are we that we can achieve such a state, to be able to devote time and resources to cultural experiences such as this?  As for the notion only the privileged few can attend, I will say a large swath of the socioeconomic spectrum was represented, although it does cost a pretty penny to get a ticket and have enough provisions to survive in the desert for a week.  That is a limiting factor for a lot of people.
Burning Man

Burning Man

747 night club
Why not take a jet, cut it in half, roll it out into the desert and then dance on it?

I will say the Burning Man culture has done an excellent job in promoting a culture of consent.  After the #Metoo revolution, burners were keen to promote a culture of safety and acceptance, including the acceptance of the answer "no."  I did not at any time feel judged or unsafe.  Burners were perfectly respectful of personal decisions and limits.  No one was going to slip drugs into my food or drink or take advantage of me.  As a single female, I felt perfectly at ease here, and I do have a pretty good instinctual radar for precarious situations.  No blips on the radar here.
monks chanting
Japanese Monks do their sundown chant- extremely moving

car tower
Totally climbed that...yeah no safety net
One aspect I found particularly refreshing was the ability to exercise sense.  The playa is not inundated with the rules we are (often out of necessity) plagued with during every day life.  There are no traffic patterns.  Climb structures at your own risk.  Use your basic coordination and common sense skills to avoid disaster rather than fifty billion warning labels.  I climbed a number of objects which could have been considered risky.  But we are allowed to take on that risk and trust in our own abilities.  Last year a man committed suicide by running into the Burning Man fire.  This year, there were rangers to help keep crowds under loose control, but we were still allowed to circle the fire after all the structure had fallen.  Partly due to communal effort and partly due to the responsibility of freedom, this loose system based on trust actually works.  Burners do not want to be regulated and restrained.  Could someone have ran into the fire?  Probably.  But is it really the roll of societal rules and regulations to prevent such actions?  More deep questions to ponder...
God telephone
I suppose we could inquire here...
Although I believe someone named Steve picks up

Although dogs are not allowed into Burning Man (for good reason, the environment would be too harsh for a lot of them and the waste would be an added concern), I am considering doing a dog training class with "dogs" the next time I go.  I just need a load of stuffed dogs and leashes and we can have a Black Rock City "Dog" Club.  Our dogs will be the best behaved dogs ever.  They will sit and stay like nobody's business. Who is down?

I will leave you with some pictures of the art and life there.  I plan to follow up this blog with one on what my travel buddy and I did to prepare for Burning Man, what we packed, and lessons learned, etc.

Cheers and Happy Travels,
Sammy the Dog Trainer

burning man sculptures

burning man art

Burning man art
Burning Man art

burning man art

irobot art

robot art
Burning Man statues

uplifting art

drone show
This synchronized drone show is one of my all time Burning favorite works

drone light show

Burning man nightlife
The city comes alive at night

Burning man lights

Burning man nightlife
Yep loads of tutus everywhere


  1. Thank you for posting the picture of the hamster wheel. I knew it was only a matter of time before I found one on the internet. The burning Man event was one of my most favorite events of all time. In a way it was a
    very religious moment for me. Sharing the hamster wheel with others was only a dream, but it became a reality. The whole event was very real. The hugs were real. Thank you to all that cross paths. I love you all. Be the hamster!


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