Mad Max Meets Alice in Wonderland

Article by: Chip Conley|@ChipConley

Fri September 28, 2012 | 00:00 AM

I’ve found the journey to Burning Man to be an odd reflecting pond on how we show up in life. There are the persistent planners who have their meticulous checklists and the community organizers who are experts at herding the cools cats who will join their camp. There are those who spend ten meandering days at Black Rock City (or BRC, the temporary village of 60,000) and others who drive in Saturday morning, stay up all night, and then drive home the next day. Most people come with a tent, others create geometric yurts while RVs and trailers are the most plush accommodations (at this point in my Burning Man career, I wouldn’t do it any other way).

My ritual upon arrival (and this time in 2012, I stayed 6 nights) on Monday is to find an elevated vantage point that can allow me to survey this surreal playground. This photo was taken inside the belly of the tall Man that will be burned and I’m facing the ethereal, Asian-inspired temple designed by architect David Best that is burned the last night of the festival. Two years ago, my initiation was going through a three-story macramé birthing tube naked as I writhed and grinded myself to the ground while a small crowd applauded their approval of my arrival.

Burning Man is simultaneously simple and complex. It’s an adult summer camp, free and easy, immersive and discovery-filled, a place where both time and money are imaginary figments. And, yet, the sheer organization necessary to create this ethereal, utopian village and its stunning art and architecture is awe-inspiring. Let the joy ride being….