img: NevadaLee.com

From the sky, it looks like a ginormous horseshoe. From Center Camp Cafe, it reminds me of the bar in Star Wars. From the trash fence on the outer perimeter, it looks like the place where they shot the Martian landing in Mars Attacks! or parts of Dr. Dre’s “California Love” video. What do you get when you take the world’s second largest flat expanse of land–a prehistoric lake bed in Northern Nevada called Black Rock Desert–and fill it with 50,000 of the world’s most creative individuals (and quite possibly representatives from other worlds as well)? A week long experiment in temporary community called Burning Man.

One common misconception about Burning Man is that it’s just a Rainbow Gathering in the desert. Now, I’ve never been to a Rainbow Gathering, but I think it’s fairly safe to assume Burning Man doesn’t much resemble one…unless they have giant flame-throwing robots and wireless internet access. Almost everything that happens in a normal permanent city, happens in Black Rock City (christened after the desert) in one form or another. People do yoga, people get coffee, people roller skate, people ride bikes, people engage in manual labor, people jump on trampolines, people shower, people research stories for the newspaper, people have sex, people build huge flammable art installations and people dance to house music all day long. Of course, there are some minor differences. Underground plumbing’s kinda out of the question, but public nudity and above ground bonfires aren’t.

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