On day 2, I discovered my heaven. A heaven titled Center Camp. Center Camp was a theme camp at the center of everything, just as the name implies. Center Camp consisted of a large open-air circus tent, located at the 6’o-clock axis. Everyday thousands of spectators filed their way through to catch a glimpse of the current event taking place whether it be an open mic event or a series of bands and comedians. The creativity and self-expression here was brimming over in excess. One day, as I looked on in amazement, as I often did, a circle chant swiftly formed as hundreds chanted on in synchrony. The voice and passion of many reverberated through the entire desert as one.
Most my time at Burning Man was spent sitting here on a pile of pillows watching entertainer after acrobat after dancer express themselves through their carefully executed and well-practiced performances. Best of all, it was interactive if one so desired. Even I, with no experience or practice could participate in and be taught how to juggle, balance on top of others, dance with fire, live. Everyone was completely willing to invite others in to their world and in to the Invisible Circus. Or if you preferred not to interact, one could just sit back and have a deep conversation with the group of people lying beside you. Center Camp was also the one and only place at Burning Man that sold coffee, among other delicious refreshments. So you could imagine how popular of a place this was. It was heaven’s coffee shop.
Also by day 2, I have gotten use to being dirty all the time. Any attempts to wash the dirt and dust from one’s self only resulted in a dust storm to kick up five minutes later, leaving you immediately caked in Playa love. During this week in the dessert, I do not recall being hot or sweaty even once. I am one that would burn from the sun’s greedy tendrils just by setting foot outside my door back home but during this week at Burning Man, I did not burn. Perhaps thanks to the nice layer of brown suet that covered every inch of my body at all times. I spent all day walking around in an ocean of dust and when night fell, I curled up in a dust pile to sleep where I dreamed of more dust. However, I frequently applied lotion (4-5 times a day) to my entire body so that I would not completely dry up and form yet another wooden statue in the Playa desert.
The lamplighters were a highly valued organization of people that dedicated their time and energy to walking the main veins of the Playa lighting and placing lamps along the way. These lamps gave others a guide and light source to make their way around. It was wonderful to see the lamplighters start their exodus for this was the sign that the sun was setting, brilliantly illuminating the Playa and giving birth to the events that would unfold during the night. The lamplighters were highly appreciated and as they walked their course illuminating the way, young and old stopped to applaud their efforts and give thanks to these individuals.
Another amazing discovery was that of the Thunder Dome. A highly popular theme camp that consisted of a MAD Max: Beyond Thunder Dome style cage match between spectators. If I were a rich man, I would open a bar that consisted of a Thunder Dome style cage where bar patrons could participate in and watch others fight each other with foam weaponry. This was highly entertaining and strangely conflicting to the mood and atmosphere of the rest of Burning Man yet the crowds went wild as they watched two people slam their bodies into each other with great force while swinging their foam swords and batons wildly at each other. Every day forward, we made it a point to set an ample amount of time aside to experience both the events that unfolded at Center Camp and at The Thunder Dome. What more does one need?