Why We Burn: Dj $mall ¢hange, 17 Year Burner

(This week, I decided to bring in the big guns. DJ Small Change is one of the few remaining funky institutions in NYC. An unparalleled DJ, spinning everything from your sister’s wedding and art museum openings to loft & underground events across Brooklyn. He decided to share some amazing stories about the early playa and the slow change he’s observed in his time at Black Rock City. This guy was going when a lot of us hadn’t even heard of it yet, so give it up. Pour yourself a cup or a drink and dig in. A lot of really interesting stuff here! ~Terry Gotham)

1. How was Burning Man 2015? Anything unexpectedly dope happen?

Actually got a lot of sleep this year, which I know isn’t the usual thing for that town. My gf Kate was sick the 1/2 half of the week, I would crash with her, thinking I’d get up in the middle of the night to roam around, but end up waking up well past dawn. I guess I needed to rest myself. But I got out, went dancing, DJed, saw some old/new friends, some nice art pieces. Bubbles & Bass and the Sunday night party at the Pickle Joint (shouts 2 Ezra / Darkat) are always a sureshot.

Probably the craziest shit I saw was the Regurgitator out by the trash fence. They had a pulse jet engine hooked up to a fulcrum on one end with a motorcycle seat and a wheel turned sideways on the other. Basically it was a machine designed to spin in circles extremely extremely fast, the ultimate nightmare spin around and get sick carny ride. I hate carny rides oh man, this is not my cup of tea at all, nope, not fucking getting on that thing. I’m not sure I’ve ever seen a human being move that fast in real life. Shit was truly insane. To start it the guy used a leaf blower in one hand and a flame thrower in the other. Safety 3rd? More like 5th. Felt like some old school shit. Very DPW-ish.

2. Urban legend has it that DJ Small Change has seen 17 Burns, is that true?

Yup been going straight since 1999. Ppl always say ‘it must’ve been so different!’ Well kinda sorta. Though I wasn’t attending then, I feel the real transition years were mid 90s, with things really changing after ’96, when dude drove into that tent, and they had curb back certain rules about driving on the playa etc. So with 1999 you have a city that is similar to what it is today, in terms of layout. The population was less then now but still significant, about 25K. And not as big, they’ve added a more few streets. Things were a little more out in the open, police was definitely less of a factor back then. Pershing County wasn’t ticketing so much back then. Its now akin to NYC parking tickets, tax these hippies for smoking/pissing/fucking/etc. Continue reading