Burning Man  

One Serious Bonfire
Back in 1986, on the summer solstice, Larry Harvey and Jerry James dropped down to San Francisco’s Baker Beach and built a nine foot tall effigy of man. What did they do then? What all boys do after building something cool: They lit it on fire and threw a party.

What started as a simple beach party with friends has certainly grown over the years. The size of the party has grown proportionally with the size of the effigy. Originally around 8 to 9 feet tall, and witnessed by a few friends, the more recent years have seen flaming pyres of neon, wood, and steel cabling erected over 40 feet, with as many as 50 thousand spectators.

Each year features a theme, with the 2010 celebration titled “Rites of Passage.” A virtual city, the week-long festival takes place in a prehistoric alkali lakebed deep in Nevada’s Black Rock Desert.

Spectators pack up sunscreen, lip balm, skin lotion, and tons of liquids and head out to the show with makeshift showers and their own toilet paper. Once at the site, spectators discover a world of art. Hundreds of vehicles topped with twisted steel and wooden sculptures parade the grounds at night. Giant sculptures of wood and cloth and steel tower over the desert, lit an night by violet and neon lights and accompanied by blasting music and friendly faces.

Those who attend the festival say that trying to describe it to someone who has never been is like describing color to the blind. It’s not an art show. It’s not a bonfire. It’s easy to say what it’s not. But what is Burning Man? It’s hard to say, until one lives the experience and witnesses the fifty foot tall pyre, shooting flame and sparks for miles into the desert sky, with their own eyes.
Burning Man
Black Rock City, United States
Rating 89.16 
Rank [category] 14 
Rank [overall] 173 

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