Right now I’m in my RV travelling to the Superbowl in New Orleans with the Exposure Burner crew who managed the build out of the legendary Circus Maximus for Nexus in 2010.
It took clay models and months of CAD design, for something that probably just seemed like a rope swing to most Burners. It took a crew of 25 people, 2 weeks to build and 4 days to dismantle. It was designed to accomodate 10,000 people at any given time – the crowds to see Bass Nectar and the Funktion1/Turbosound audio system definitely approached the limit. Likewise, out on Treasure Island you can see the amazing amount of work that Marco Cochrane puts into his sculptures like Bliss Dance and Truth or Beauty. Bliss Dance only used a computer for one tiny part – load balancing analysis for the one foot that is on the ground and supports the whole structure. Everything else was painstakingly made by hand. And that includes multiple iterations of clay modelling miniatures. It is 45 feet high, you can climb over it and up it, and it’s still going strong out as a public statue on San Francisco’s Treasure Island. It lights up like crazy and you can control it with an iPad.
So Burners know something about architecture. We also know something about temporary, pop-up communities, and re-using or re-cycling materials. Many different kinds of temporary modular structures are invented at Burning Man, or prototyped there. For example in 2004 one of my Burning Man dreams manifested when I brought an RV with a second-story vertical popout:
…would love to say that it was my trailer, but I rented it from Will Smith. For anyone interested, call up my good friends at Anderson Mobile Estates. Ron and his son RJ have both been to Burning Man, they love it even though it’s a bit of a downgrade from their usual clientele like Steven Spielberg and George Lucas. If you want to book a trailer from them, don’t even dream of trying to pretend that it’s not going to Burning Man! Just tell them the truth, and you’ll get the desert-hardened vehicles you need.
But Burning Man isn’t all about grandiose displays of luxurious extravagance. You can do it small too. For example, many people get low income tickets, their presence is our presents. And others spend money wisely, for something they can use again and again.
The hexayurt is one of the greatest Burning Man inventions. They can be clustered together in pods. A simple swamp cooler (thanks FIGJAM) or portable A/C unit can turn 3 or 4 connected Yurts into the ultimate chill zone.
Hexayurts costs very little, are easy to construct, and are re-usable.
My RV cost me $19,000 on eBay. We stuck in a killer sound system and reupholstered out a lot of the 1950’s
dumb-ask damask – surprising to see in a vehicle built in 2000, but I guess they’re catering for a particular geriatric demographic. It’s been to 2 Burns, Lightning in a Bottle, and all around the country. 2 slide-outs, 34′ long, 2 A/C units, bathroom and shower. If we run out of room I can pop out the inflatable tent. For anyone who wants to go to Burning Man more than 3 times, something like this will probably pay for itself. Another advantage is this thing is frikking LOADED for whatever party we want to take it to. It took almost until Burning Man 2012, to drink all the booze that was still in it left over from 2011. And when I say almost – we didn’t manage to drink it all. Not to mention how easy it is to find lighters, duct tape, bottle openers, papers, headlamps, glowsticks etc.
Last year, we brought an ekoVillage shipping container. Solar powered with battery backup for night; air conditioning; a keg; iPad driven A/V. It was a nice little private party space at our camp, for up to 20 people. Some people slept in it, some people fucked in it. The container is a powerful object in a Cargo Cult, and expect to see more of this in the future. This year there were at least 400 shipping containers at Burning Man.
If your budget doesn’t stretch so high, you can still have an amazing camp. I am a fan of the Tiny House movement: these are true mobile homes. Less is more. There have been Tiny Houses at Burning Man, but the Tiny House blog themselves also admire other Burnitechture. I recommend reading their whole guide from 2011, but here’s some highlights:
…and on that note, I’m gonna go, because we just pulled up to the real French Quarter. Go ‘Niners!