(After talking to two dope couples, I wanted to broaden my horizons. I met Tree at a wedding in a castle in Austria. After he helped me DJ the afterparty, we became fast friends. He agreed to speak to me and talk about Burning Man & burner culture from the perspective of someone a little farther away than the East Coast.) By Terry Gotham
1. How was the journey to Burning Man from Amsterdam?
Great, but BM was part of a larger road trip for us, so we only did Vegas – BRC – Vegas especially for this. It was quite the hassle though, with having to arrange a car and buy everything we had to have. It was also our first burn, so the shopping was a bit more extensive because of that I guess.
2. Are you a burner/party person by trade? Or do you have a default world day job to pay for your travels?
Who the hell is able to get paid for partying?! Anyway, no. I’m pretty picky about my festivals, and wouldn’t want to do it all the time because there’s so much more to life. So yes, I have a default world job. Fortunately I’m self-employed, so I am able to try to incorporate as much of the burn-philosophy into it as possible.
We finally got BMOrg’s official Afrika Burn coverage yesterday – the event took place in April. Although it’s the second largest Burner event in the world, it’s evidently not as big of a priority to BMOrg as book club discussions about the Death of God or art in their new office. We’re still waiting to hear their take on what happened at Midburn in Israel last weekend – the promoters paid for 2 BMOrg staffers to attend for “ranger training”. Apparently this doesn’t include posting photos online, maybe they still have to work out who owns the photos (or, more precisely, their future royalty stream).
Personally, I prefer this Afrikaburn summary from Buzzfeed – 31 Reasons You Have To Check Out South Africa’s Burning Man Before You Die. Great photos. I am super-keen to get to Afrika Burn, hopefully next year.
1. You’ll get to feel like you’re on the set of Game of Thrones.
2. And an extra from the set of Star Wars.
3. And feel like you could be starring in a Donnie Darko remake.
4. You can dance in the arms of a multi-storey-high wooden man.
5. And spot wildlife on the long dirt road to the middle of nowhere in the Karoo Desert.
6. You can cheer along with thousands of other people when he is burned.
7. And send a postcard anywhere in the world or to someone else at AfrikaBurn (and it will be hand delivered to their tent.)
8. At AfrikaBurn, gin and tonics come with a kiss from this German bar man.
9. You’ll get life-affirming messages from lemurs on the dance floor.
10. You’ll feel like dancing by yourself in gold tights in the desert is more than acceptable.
11. You can hang out at an apres-ski bar without having to touch snow.
12. Karoo sunsets are some of the most beautiful in South Africa.
13. And are best taken advantage of by dancing on a pop-up dance floor with hundreds of other dressed up people.
14. Or sitting by yourself and gazing over the vast horizon.
15. Night skies are spectacular, especially when lit up by giant artworks and sculptures.
16. Most days you’ll have big blue skies and sunny weather.
17. But in the Karoo, even the dust storms are beautiful.
18. You can ride around on the most badass VW beetle you’ve ever seen.
19. Or get a lift from the cheapest taxi you’ll ever take.
20. Or on the back of a sequin-covered VW van.
21. Or inside an emoji.
22. You can dance on top of a rhino.
23. Or under a top hat on a yellow German postal van called Judy.
24. If you’re bored of traveling by bicycle or mutant vehicle you can go windsurfing (without the surf).
25. You’ll never run out of things to explore.
26. You’ll get to see someone actually looking good in a scout’s uniform.
27. You can save a lot of money on a conventional wedding and get married at a mass purple wedding in the desert instead.
28. You’ll make a lot of new friends, who’ll probably be in your new Facebook cover photo.
29. Some of whom you can smooch under the Kissing Tree.
30. There’s always something to be entertained by, like an impromptu slacklining performance.
31. You’ll get to realize that life really does imitate art.
Burning Man’s Social Alchemist Bear Kittay is on a mission to attend as many regional Burns as he can. Seeing them all in a year is about as likely as seeing everything there is at Burning Man in a week. He has made it to Afrika Burn this year, and he reports that it blew his mind:
Afrikaburn this year was unlike any “regional” I’ve been to, or even like Afrikaburn was last year, to me. This year saw a city of 10k people gather in the Tankwa, much more racial and societal diversity, magical art all around, a powerful sense of purpose and unity. I’m still reeling in the experience, this was as powerful as any Playa experience I’ve ever had. Hit me by surprise, kicked my ass, made me cry, I’m full of a new wind of purpose — this Burning Man culture is working… FAST, in places that are working hard to right injustice and move into a better future. The “jaded” burner and “apathetic” burner seem to not really exist here, there is an immediacy to this culture here in South Africa that spreads from the 1% to the townships. Can’t wait to see what happens tomorrow during the elections (20th anniversary of the end of apartheid). Inspired by all the stories…
We look forward to hearing more of Bear’s adventures when he gets back home, if they’re not on the official blog or Afrikaburn site, we’re happy to write about them here.