At Burning Man, nobody goes by their real name. The name you had in the default world, the world you left outside the gates and perimeter of Black Rock City, is no longer who you are or who you introduce yourself as. Your playa name, as it’s referred to, is a lot like coming up with your graffiti tag, but without the criteria that it needs to be something you’re also good at writing in spray paint. For me, it was a no-brainer. I already was, and still am, MAXE. At Root Society, Jeff simply goes by his DJ name, Jefr, but his right-hand man, and camp GM, Dan Gold, is none other than Skywalker. And everybody knows Skywalker. The playa itself is very easy to compare to Tatooine, the fictional desert planet that is first seen in the original ‘Star Wars.’ Black Rock Desert is an equally beige-colored, desolate world inhabited by human ‘settlers’ and a variety of other ‘life’ forms, and of course, the home ‘planet’ of Skywalker. As one of the single largest theme camps at Burning Man, Root Society is in fact an electronic dance music (EDM) or rave camp, with an impressive roster of global DJs, sound and lighting crew, an open bar dome called Oscar’s, a chill dome, a MASH-like catering staff that prepared and served four meals a day, in-camp porta-potties, a couple of cold showers, a motley assemblage of playa bikes, and outdoor lounge furniture surrounding the fire pit. It is a community. It is home.
Mos Eisley, one of the two major spaceports on Tatooine, is the location of one of the most noted scenes in Star Wars, Chalmun's Cantina, which is shown as a busy saloon patronized by exotic alien species. On any given night, on any given street or out on the playa, you will come across such a place and feel right at home in Black Rock City. It is an absolutely unbelievable indescribable scene. Imagine Star Wars being co-directed by Wes Anderson and Tim Burton, with Mardi Gras, Disneyland, Playboy, Steam Punk, Disco, Haight-Ashbury, and Mad Max all bedazzled in Christmas lights on Halloween. That’s a good place to start, but it doesn’t do it justice in that it’s not just a few people playing dress-up for a night out on the town. It’s 60,000 (or more) Burners doing so - all at the same time - all day and all night. The only people NOT in some sort of creative get-up, well, they’re in their birthday suits.
As I’ve said before, the ultimate TrenzWalk would be to not just visit another planet, but to be a cultural anthropologist living among the life-forms there, capturing their fashion, survival mechanisms, living conditions, transportation, and of course, food and beverage preparation, choices, and offerings. For most, going to Burning Man is one big trip, but for me, it’s a business trip through and through, and it is damn hard work. It’s impossible to cover it all, and that’s with 24-hours a day for seven days. Impossible. There are thousands of things happening at the same time, spread out over five miles, and for every incredibly amazing thing that I’m observing or participating in, I’m missing every other incredibly amazing thing going on somewhere else at the exact same time. A simple rule I always put in place with any of the associates or colleagues I’ve brought with me over the years is that at no point during the day or night is anyone allowed to say to each other “Did you see…?” Because unless we were together, just assume I didn’t.