Not official frequently asked questions, but the ones that were asked of us, two unlikely attendees.
1. What is Burning Man?
Attended by 62,000 people in Nevada's Black Rock Desert, it is a temporary complete city, set up for one week and then it's gone, all citizens agreeing to leave no trace of their existence. It is a social experiment with an amazing display of art installations. There is an element of survival to it. You agree to follow the ten guiding principles.
2. Did you see naked people?
This question probably comes from having watched that old Malcom in the Middle Burning Man episode. The answer: out of the hoards of people I saw three naked women and ten men. I don't get it, especially in that harsh environment, but it's about self expression and you can always look the other way. I'd say about 10% of the women were topless or sported nipple stickers. The quote of the week was from one our 19 year old campmates who was experiencing issues with the stickiness, or lack thereof, of her wee coverups. She lamented that if she lost one she'd be topless and that would be embarrassing. Her solution? Duct tape. Ouch.
3. How many toilets and showers were there?
For 62,000+ people the score was portapotties: 6000 and showers: zippo. They were cleaned and pumped twice a day and I never had to wait in line to use the facilities. Of course people who could afford it came in RV's (we stayed in a tent) and there was great relief in the occasional solar camping shower filled with melted cooler ice, keeping in mind that no water was to touch the ground and all grey water had to be carted off or evaporated.
Even portapotties have positives. One of my favourite things, being serenaded by mandolin and dulcimer each morning at our bank of portapotties:
At the bank of potties located near my daughter's camp, there was an experiment: The Good Smelling Portapotty Project. Essential Oils were smeared on the walls and no kidding, it worked. I was most appreciative.
4. Were there sand storms?
That is the biggest myth. First of all, there is no sand. The playa on which Burning Man takes place is a dried lake bed, 400 square miles in size, from the Pleistocene era. Think of the bottom of a lake. It's silt, and dried, this kind produces an incredibly invasive alkaline dust. It sticks to every nook and cranny of your body and belongings. You are caked with it and like sand, it doesn't simply shake out. You need to neutralize its effects with vinegar water.
There were constant dust storms, tiny to huge with white out conditions.
5. Was it hot?
The weather during the day wasn't as hot as I've ever experienced, but it was dehydrating. We relied on electrolyte packets. The nights were quite cold. The Black Rock Desert is at an elevation of 4000 feet. It even rained heavily one night.
Enough for now. There will be a part two. Here's a picture of the reason for our attendance, our son, the film guy, basking in the desert dust. The things you do for kids.