22 January 2010
The Burning Man festival is quite simply the most beautiful and anarchic expression of love and music anywhere on this planet. It’s a social experiment & a musical hothouse, as well as an experience in extreme living. Going in September 2009 changed my life..
I was booked to play out there thanks to Matt Fusello AKA Radiohiro AKA Mini Monk, and Janaka Selekta, friends and brothers in the International Desi electronic scene. That entailed bringing out my music, an R.V. (Motorhome) and enough water to last 7 days in the driest desert that the US can offer. It also meant I would be camped with a musical/soundsystem owning commune called ‘Hookah Dome’, a bunch of interconnected diverse people from around the world who were all passionate about World Electronica & Desi Beats, as well as being seasoned ‘burners’, the term for someone who has been to Burning Man.
Make no mistake – its tough, grueling and all done without money. Yes, erm, well, moneys banned at Burning Man so you all pull together, feeding each other and running the Hookah Dome experience for other people at the festival. I went out to DJ, but also ended up working in the dome as a doorman as well as helping build the structure’s around the camp. It’s an incredible buzz working for three days collectively building a musical grotto in the middle of a desert, and then seeing people flock to what you’ve invested in and dance to the music you’re playing under the galaxy’s stars and a desert moon – you’re quite literally hit by primal emotion. I’m sure I experienced ancestral reverb out there as well, as millions of years of human evolution waxed and waned inside of me whilst I lived on that land.
So, while I was having all of my beliefs and assumptions recalibrated, I also documented all of it for the BBC Radio 1 programme strand ‘Radio 1′s Stories’. The hour long radio documentary broadcasts on Monday 25th January 2010 on Radio 1. Here’s a short explanation from Radio 1′s website:
“In the last of the current series of International Radio 1, Bobby Friction heads to Black Rock Desert in Nevada for Burning Man – one of the weirdest and most wonderful festivals on planet earth. Follow Bobby as he goes on an 11 day journey into the desert, covering 22 thousand miles, only to reach a place where temperatures reach 40 degrees in the day, and sandstorms mean you can’t see three feet in front of you.
And once there, there is nothing Bobby will not do to get into the spirit of the festival. He samples 150% proof moonshine and unsurprisingly ends up a little worse for wear. He hears why if you dance too hard at Burning Man you end up with Christmas toe – when your toe-nail falls off every Christmas. And he gets to watch bands called things like Boiled Eggs and Speaker-phone Underwear. But maybe the icing on the cake is witnessing 5000 naked ladies ride past his camp on bicycles.
Listen to the programme to hear one of the most bonkers things ever undertaken in the name of International Radio 1.”
As you can see it’s a unique festival that has a lasting impact on just about everyone who’s managed to reach it over the last twenty or so years. Listen up, as I’m a changed man now, and for sure I will spend the rest of my life evangelizing and preaching about Burning Man.
*The Documentary will be available to listen to for seven days after the 25th January 2010 here.