Fire in the Night: The Man Burns… Burning Man 2015

Intense flames engulf the Man at Burning Man 2015.

Intense flames engulf the Man at Burning Man 2015, reminding me of the power of fire.

People were cooking bacon over the smoldering ashes of the Man, symbolically reminding me that life goes on. Regardless. Others were collecting remnants of the tall sculpture: pieces of metal that refused to burn in the conflagration, even bits of wood and ash. These were souvenirs meant to be put up on the mantle or stored away as memorabilia. I stopped and watched for a few minutes before moving on. It was my last day at Burning Man 2015 and I was sure there was art lurking out on the Playa that I had somehow missed. Plus there were several sculptures that I wanted to revisit, to admire one last time.

Burning Man at night is a different world from Burning Man during the day. There is fairytale magic in the air as Black Rock City comes alive and colorfully lit mutant vehicles, bicycles, and Burners make their way though the temporary city, parade up and down the Esplanade, and move out into the desert. Dragons, ducks, ships, a rhino, an octopus and a myriad of other creatures breathe fire into the night. Acres of dust are turned into gyrating dance floors while shows ranging from burlesque to circuses entice burners in. Even the art takes on a different persona— some pieces shoot out flames, some burn, and all are lit up in ingenious ways. As wild as each night is, the burning of the Man exists in a class by itself.

Sixty thousand people plus and several hundred mutant vehicles gather in a huge circle around the Man. Music booms out into the night, a thousand fire dancers work their twirling magic, fireworks light the sky, and the Man burns, at first standing tall, arms outstretched, and then eventually falling— as Burners catch their breath in anticipation and then yell together in celebration. The deafening sound echoes out across the desert and then is absorbed into the night.

I like to wander around the night of the burn, as opposed to sitting in the dust for two hours. My tailbone doesn’t have the same sense of humor it once did and I enjoy the night look of mutant vehicles. I catch glimpses of the fire dancers as I go, but stop to watch the fireworks and burn. Here are some of my photos from 2015.

People perch on El Pulpo Mechanico at Burning Man and watch as the Man burns.

People perch on El Pulpo Mechanico at Burning Man and watch as the Man burns.

This one-eyed, toothed monster was one of several hundred mutant vehicles at the burn.

This one-eyed, toothed monster was one of several hundred mutant vehicles at the burn. I like his yum sign up on top.

A seahorse was accompanied by a jelly fish and other ocean life.

A seahorse was accompanied by a jelly fish and other ocean life.

Unicycle, or...

A very unique bicycle built for two.

Splendid tail feathers.

Splendid tail feathers.

Sharp teeth, and I suspect, a fiery breath.

Sharp teeth, and I suspect, a fiery breath.

Exotic bug? It's dome back made a good viewing station to watch the Man burn.

Exotic bug? Its dome trailer in back made a good viewing platform to watch the Man burn.

Fish mutant vehicles at night Burning Man 2015

No doubt about this water creature. Fun fins.

I am thinking grass hopper here.

I am thinking bee here. And it looks angry.

My search for unique mutant vehicles stops immediately when the fireworks start.

I stop wandering when the fireworks start. The Man’s head can be seen on the right between the two columns.

The fireworks can be intense with dozens of explosions going off at once.

The fireworks can be intense with dozens of explosions going off at once.

Red spotlights set the man off against the fireworks.

Red spotlights set the man off against the fireworks. We were standing on the side instead of in front of the Man, so we had a side view. His arms are always raised to announce the beginning of fireworks show. Immediately following the fireworks, the Man begins to burn.

Man burns at Burning Man 2015 1

Ghost-like, the man’s head appears out of the flames.

Man burns at Burning Man 2015 2

And then disappears.

Don Green took this photo.

Don Green took this photo that shows the burning platform and the Man’s arm, no longer held aloft.

Man burns at Burning Man 2015 4

I caught a pair of rabbit ears in this shot. The Man has become a skeleton of his previous self.

And eventually, even that is burned away.

And eventually, even that is burned away, leaving one center pole and the metal structure.

And finally, he begins to fall, bringing an to the burn.

And finally, what remains begins to fall as 60,000 plus people cheer.

This marks the end of my 2015 Burning Man series. I hope you have enjoyed viewing it as much as I enjoyed putting it together.

I’ll be out of touch for a couple of weeks as Peggy and I head off to Alaska to visit our son and his family. They’ve urged us to come up and join them at the Fur Rendezvous in Anchorage and the World Ice Art Championships in Fairbanks. We will be taking the train up to Fairbanks from Anchorage. Altogether, I suspect there will be some good blogs to come out of the experience. To fill in the blanks while we are gone, I am reposting some blogs from our trip up to Alaska three-years ago. —Curt

26 comments on “Fire in the Night: The Man Burns… Burning Man 2015

    • It is Carrie. BMO has a large group of volunteers know as the Black Rock Rangers who constantly patrol the Black Rock City and provide crowd control at the large events such as the burns. There is a large contingent of sheriff deputies form the local county with back ups from other counties, BLM provides an equal number of federal law enforcement officers. It was learned this year that even the FBI had a contingent. Apparently they haven’t found any problems but consider their participation as a training exercise. Their is also an extensive medical network with facilities and ambulances staffed by EMTs, doctors, etc. –Curt

  1. Thanks again for the Burning Man tribute and you two have a terrific time in Alaska. Say hello to your son and his family for me and please shake his hand for me. Have a safe trip!!

  2. Thanks for taking us on this ride, Curt. This looks freaky deaky and with 60K people, I bet it is/was at times! Ha! Great shots.

    Safe travels to you and Peggy–I’ve heard Alaska is spectacular. I always think cold and bleak, but everyone that’s visited says it’s something to experience. Be well!

    • It was good to have you along, Brigette. Freaky deaky… yes, it can resemble that. 🙂 It’s never normal. I lived in Alaska for a while. If you enjoy wilderness and the out doors, it is incredible. Watched sled dog races yesterday. Today we are off to outhouse races. –Curt

  3. You and Peggy truly are adventurer’s Curt!! I shared the first post of Burning Man so this is quite the finish to a great series of yours. It looked as though Tim Burton collided with Mad Max to create a spectacular creation. A sight of glorious art to be sure our friend!! These pictures were stunning. We can’t wait to see Alaska through yours and Peggy’s eyes. Sharing these now.

    • Burning Man is a fascinating place to spend a week, Inion and Mathair. There is no way to get bored, no matter how many times we have been there. Thanks for sharing our adventures. Peggy and I watched sled dog races yesterday. I have never seen dogs so eager. It should make a fun blog in a couple of weeks. –Curt

  4. That fire truly is terrifying. I get the symbolism and all that, but I guess I’ve just seen too many wildfires not to react viscerally to it. On the other hand, you choice of photos always does a fine job of, shall we say, maximizing effect!

    Enjoy Alaska, and the visit with family. Safe travels!

    • Living next to a national forest in Oregon that is prone to fires, I understand your concern, Linda. Two years ago I watched one of the massive Western fires come within about five miles of our home, which may seem like a safe distance— except it isn’t. Great time in Alaska so far. My favorite so far: the sled dog races. –Curt

    • Thanks. 🙂 Good observation, AC. The world of Burning Man at night provides a whole different perspective on the event in general and totally on the mutant vehicles. On another note, I went to sled dog races here (in Alaska) on Friday and I thought of you. It was really neat. I have never seen dogs so eager to do something. –Curt

  5. This is a fabulous post! I felt like I was wandering around with you. I doubt I’d be sitting in one place for 2 hours either – far too much to see and photograph! Have a wonderful time in Alaska!
    Alison

  6. What an amazing finale to this desert production! I had no idea this was going on in America until I started to follow your blog. Thanks for this conflagration and great ending to the story. You’ve definitely done Burning Man justice.

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