I am working in a bar. I pour drinks in the middle of the Black Rock Desert in Nevada. It sounds a little bit absurd — like everything at Burning Man. That sounds like an insult to the annual attempt of universal efforts to create an alternative reality. In this psychedelic brew, there are all elements of a real city — post office, hospital, airport, cinemas, cafes, and spa centers.
If there is a flat or partly secluded surface at Burning Man, someone will inevitably end up squirming on it with a partner of their choice. While not everybody goes to Burning Man expecting to have a ton of sex, sex is available, shameless, and no-strings-attached. In between all the high ideals of personal responsibility and reliance is the reality of a lot of people in booty shorts and nipple pasties, many of whom have decidedly open relationship arrangements. Photo: Mindaugas Danys. I actually met an ex-boyfriend at the Great Canadian Beaver Eating Contest, a now-defunct event that promoted competitive cunnilingus. All genders were welcome, so long as there was somebody going down on someone with a vagina; no penetrative sex other than fingers or toys for stimulation purposes only allowed, no spectators, and you were allowed to be creative — one couple I saw had clearly been practicing their acro-yoga. One year, I met a heavily muscled aerialist with a devilish facial expression and the kind of curly hair that usually shows up on images of the Greek god Pan.
They light it up, and a curious crowd gathers to watch it burn. And so it began. Please explore this interactive timeline to see what Burning Man was and what it may become.