The week-long affair built on radical self-expression and self-reliance annually takes place in the desert heartlands of temporarily established Black Rock City, Nevada. Known for crazy costumes, theme camps, interactive installations, mutant vehicles and more, the event has been called North America’s largest outdoor arts festival.
Burning Man has always been a bit of a mystery to me. Despite hearing about it from West Coaster, veteran Burners over the years, I never fully understood the concept until researching it this past week for a class blog. Coupled with news that a pair of shorts I embellished were sold for wearing at the event (pause for freaking—AHH!), it’s been my latest unconventional source of inspiration.
With themes of individuality, free spiritedness, participation and sustainability going strong, fashion contributes a major part to the overall vibe; however, let it be known, these aren’t your average (and somewhat contrived) #festivalfashion statements.
Compared to the “default world” as Ignite Channel coins it, the unique outfits of Burning Man present contrast to say the least. With monotonous uniform and lackluster lockstep plaguing the looks of daily life as we often know it, the festival’s featured costumes are a breath of extremely fresh, original air.
From intricate wearable art to borderline clothing-less getups, Burners span all possible ends of the wardrobe spectrum. Whether full-out ensembles or stylized pieces; serious art or a silly statement; part of a pre-planned theme or simply sporadic, costumes are one of the event’s most potent forms of self-expression.
Calling them “costumes” may bring to mind assuming an identity separate from your own. For some, maybe so; although in Burning Man spirit, it could just mean engaging the chance to embrace a part of you that’s otherwise repressed.
Regardless of how you see it, the fact most costumes are hand-made or customized deserves mad respect. Gathering ideas from fellow playa players and drawing influence from the “experience”-centered event, your outfit choice can be a major manifestation of voice.
Akin to festival go-ers, the atmosphere runs rampant: 100+ temperatures during the day, freezing conditions at night, with constant sun and dust storms for days. Appropriate dress may take a bit of thought, but it’s by no means impossible.
Before getting too carried away with Cher and/or Lady Gaga-inspired flair, it’s important to know anything not “firmly attached” is looked mega down upon. In light of their 10 guiding principles, Burning Man upholds a strict “leave no trace” philosophy. The desert must be left just as it was before, since after all, we only have one Earth.
While not all of us can take a week completely off the grid to go party in the desert, Burning Man offers plenty of admirable cues and concepts we can each incorporate into the daily grind.
Make the most of experiences and seize every opportunity to be radically ourselves.