Close your eyes and imagine for a moment that utopia exists. Imagine a place where peace, kindness, smiles, hugs, laughter, freedom of self expression, exploration and love come first. A place where no monetary exchange exists but instead only the beautiful simple act of gifting. Take a deep breath and envision yourself experiencing something you’ve never felt, seen, smelt, heard or touched before. Visualize every single one of your senses being heightened so much so that the energy in the air somehow touches the stars and your soul at the same time. What if I told you this place does exist? Would you believe me? Welcome to an account of a sensory-mind -explosion, by Kora.
“Seeing how far people’s imaginations can go and what they’re capable of creating is simply mind blowing” Jim Madsen.
Being touched is a fundamental mode of the human experience. It’s been proven to help reduce anxiety, keep you connected with others, allow you to strongly bond with the people you love, create a more positive outlook on life, and just straight up gives us what we long for. Hold me.
The very first person you encounter on the playa gives you the world’s warmest hug. You’re then summoned to roll in the playa dust and get to know the texture of your new )’(OME for the next week.
Burners respect the gift of being touched, and Burning Man is almost like Christmas for your skin. Everything from hugs to spankings, to a full body massage — are offered and exchanged in kind. Touch at Burning Man is, at its best, a non-invasive sensual experience, one full of passion and authenticity. This is a place where you really feel ignited by a hug, or sparked by a high five.
A great example of one of these gifts, and a welcome exchange of energy, could be found at the mobile toothbrush cart that patrolled the playa every night. All was provided: recyclable toothbrushes, toothpaste and a mobile sink. Fresh breath and an invigorating re-up on personal hygiene, altruism at your convenience.
Climbing steel jungle gyms and hitchhiking on art cars, Burning Man encourages you to journey into your imagination through touch. It’s a strange idea to say that you can be truly “touched” by a fuzzy neon beat-rocking mobile, but it’s true.
Each camp sets out to touch Burners in a different way, whether it be with a cozy comfy and inviting setting such as the oversized cuddle puddle hammock-like nest of “Trifuckta,” by the infectious music of every bumpin’ party at “Ego Trip” (which featured Tycho, The Funk Hunters, Polish Ambassador and SX Stampede among others) or dancing in the the illuminated shadow boxes of the “Slut Garden,” you can always find a place to call )’(OME within the sometimes unforgiving environment of the Playa.
Taste, like smell, is a pleasure provider, enhancing the way we ingest our surroundings. All well seasoned Burners will know that food and drink is another exceptional sensory exploration at Burning Man.
Food is a universal language; taking care of each other through food is something completely human. We thrive as a community when we are all well fed, and Burning Man puts this idea into practice, revealing how well we work together to stay fed and thrive.
The act of eating is no chore during Burning Man, rather another way to stoke the flames of imagination, and connect with old friends, new friends and any strangers that you might want to adopt into your Burn family. Miso Horny, eatery and magical late-night hub, generously serve up delicious Miso soup, soothing sake and smokables by soft light and great tunes. Miso not your flavor? Perhaps it’s time to start salivating over a freshly grilled PB&J sandwich just a few minutes away.
Burning Man, never short of talented humans, is ripe with creative and amazing bartenders and cocktail concocters. Mojito Mondays at Mistopia, Daiquiris at District, a personal favorite from the Wide Awake Oasis Bar – punctuated by the bar man’s mad skill with the bongo and genuine charm — are just a few examples of the many tasty things you come across at Burning Man.
In the spirit of leaving no trace, we ate every fucking leftover as a family on the last night of the burn. Yours truly helping host a camp-wide food fire sale, family dinner never tasted quite this way before. Mmmmmm.
Smell is the closest sense connected to memory and emotion. Smell is animal, instinctual and our strongest primal alert system — it keeps us connected to the outside world and acts as our primary attractor. Smell is important for pleasure, enjoyment and for finding a mate. A sense of smell is a crucial burning man accessory – so bring your nose.
Scented oils and lotions — possibly wafting from the massage class taking place at the orgy dome, aka camp “And Then There’s Only Love” — tickle the nose, while a passersby surprises you with their delicious aroma despite the lack of available showers. Burners create their own potpourri for a week and we couldn’t thank them enough.
Hungry? Let the smell of 50 lbs of bacon frying guide you to Robot Heart (deep-playa art car) at sunrise for an early breakfast.
Never forget that smell is a central piece to the main event, burning wood and playa dust fill into nostrils, creating your indescribable memory at the Burning of the Man.
Easily the most used and beloved of all the senses; sight is the chief that brings together all other information to give awareness. We all know that eyes are a window unto each individual and we read the most from each other through our eyes. Sincerity, truth and our inner child are all to be displayed through our baby blues, chocolate browns or striking hazels. Dust, smoke and fire aside, at Burning Man our eyes are the paintbrush on the blank canvas of our imagination.
By day, visuals are blanketed in a flattering haze as the warm desert wind circles Black Rock City. Commuting on the Playa is nearly exclusively done by bike; a set of wheels is the Burner golden ticket to exploring the pop-up city. Forget about art cars for a moment, let’s get real, where would anyone be without their burner bike.
Easily the most plentiful feast for the eyes each year at Burning Man can be found on the festival’ers outfits, costumes, and in some cases the literal stripped-down approach. There are plenty of nudies rolling around town every year.
The art installations are not just a pure delight for your eyes but are truly the heart and soul of Burning Man. For example; The Temple, a breathtaking visual and spiritual monument and the last structure to be burned each year, is a close second for the most inspiring sight in the city. Both outward and in, seeing this holy place is grounding and altogether overwhelming in the best way possible.
Hands down however, the lasting impression of the week is from witnessing the infinite moments of joy, amazement, happiness, gratitude and sheer thrill – from the simplest acts of kindness and generosity to the biggest laser blowout party you’ve ever seen.
A transformation takes place after the sun sets as if someone at center camp flips the breaker and the playa explodes into bursting beams of light and energy. This creates the perfect setting for exploration whether that be the alluring and sometimes freaky campsites, the extravagant art installations or the intriguing personalities of each individual art car there is no limit to the adventures to be had at Burning Man.
Don’t forget to look up. The Milky Way stars illuminate the sky above as if the Greek goddess Astraea holds the torch herself.
Every sunrise is a new and magical experience. The moment when the first ray of light softly touches the dust of the playa is truly enchanting. Whether your riding your bike off into the abyss of the deep playa or watching one of the many early morning show’s the Playa has to offer with your new found burner family the sunrise is something not to be missed.
Watching the fire in the sky during each separate burning, Embrace, The Man and The Temple is it’s own unique ceremonious experience carrying a particular feeling and meaning for each individual member of this vivacious city.
Sound is the social sense, a key ingredient into how we express ourselves and communicate. Instead of hearing the drone of an on-coming bus, or the clack of an impatient toe tapper at a long-lined office elevator, Burners tune into a very special station — one where a rich symphony of audio treats can be found unlike anywhere else on this earth. At Burning Man your ears lead the way on your sound-gasmic journey.
Every art car, stage or camp has a different audio taste to offer, southern jazz mingles at the table with rockabilly, electronic of every flavor is the main course with a jam band for dessert.
The wind carries more than just dust. Laughter, kind words, the vibrational sound of OM, and jubilant screams float through the air at all moments of the day and night. You hear questions and answers, conversations and epiphanies, marriage vows being spoken and friendships igniting, all the while love seems to travel from ear to ear.
The sound never dies. After all, we all need a Soundtrack to our imaginative experience.
Through the senses
“There’s another sense here… One that doesn’t exist anywhere else. It’s as if everyone is learning to feel in a new way” Bree Laboucane.
Everything changes quickly. Blink. Be awestruck. Repeat.
Burning Man makes you feel good. What you gain from burning is not something tangible that can be touched, tasted, seen or heard anywhere else in the world. The playa provides something unique that you can only feel within yourself. Each unique experience of the burn changes you in an inexplicable way that will forever leave an impression on your soul.
Words by Kora & The Lion at Large
PS HUGE shout out to everyone that made this incredible journey to the burn A) possibly and B) so magical and to all who helped contribute to this article. You know who you are. I feel truly blessed to be surrounded by so many amazing people in my life and I love you all dearly.