Mad Max Meets Burning Man
No need to worry about makeup at Burning Man — the desert dust will gladly cake your face for free. Well, if you don't account for the cost of tickets, that is. But $500+ a pop seems worth it for some natural desert exfoliation and fun with your artsy friends. We're not sure what benefits sand has for the skin, but we can only hope it's good.
That being said, this picture gives us serious Mad Max vibes. From the outfits and the color scheme to the dusty setting and odd art piece in the background, it's basically Mad Max: Fury Road come to life -- luckily, without all of the war and resource shortages. It's a worthy alternative!
Paris Hilton's Here?
Remember what we said about the Hollywood elite infiltrating Burning Man's sacred community? Well, here's Paris Hilton for you. She probably didn't bat an eye at the ticket prices, and who knows how long she actually stayed on festival grounds. Do you see this socialite sleeping in the dirt? Yeah, probably not.
This year's Burning Man isn't the first time she's attended, and it's certainly not the last. In fact, she's made a habit out of reposting pictures from Burning Mans in years past to show off just how much fun she has to her thousands of followers. Not gonna lie, her outfit this year was pretty cool. We're not jealous at all... Obviously...
The best aspect of Burning Man is its emphasis on expressing your true self. These two wore their tutus in the desert, so you know they're both super cool. The whole light and dark theme they have going on is pretty great, too. There's no room for bigotry or hatred at this festival.
Radical inclusion is the first principle of Burning Man enacted by co-founder Larry Harvey. He wrote, "Anyone may be a part of Burning Man. We welcome and respect the stranger. No prerequisites exist for participation in our community." Similarly, the last principle is immediacy. "Immediate experience is, in many ways, the most important touchstone of value in our culture," Harvey wrote. "We seek to overcome barriers that stand between us and a recognition of our inner selves..."
If you didn't know any better, you'd probably assume that these light paintings were an actual installation at this year's Burning Man; unfortunately, you'd also be a fool. How are we supposed to know what's real and what's not?! Everything lights up and floats around there... Give us a break!
Apparently, light painting tubes exist, and that's what the festival-goers used here to make make the party look more interesting than it actually was. There you can see the various ways light tubes can be used to brighten up your pics! Others go with long exposure techniques, which look amazing either way.
People might make jokes about the costumes and nudity at Burning Man, but it's actually written into the event's principles. One of the principles is "radical self-expression, which the website defines as "rising from the unique gifts of the individual... Participants at the Burning Man event in the Black Rock Desert are encouraged to express themselves in a number of ways through various art forms and projects. The event is clothing-optional and public nudity is common, though not practiced by the majority."
Along these lines, another principle is participation, meaning that people are heavily encouraged to engage in the activities of the festival rather than observe them or appropriate them for their social media. "Our community is committed to a radically participatory ethic," the committee writes. "We believe that transformative change, whether in the individual or in society, can occur only through the medium of deeply personal participation. We achieve being through doing. Everyone is invited to work. Everyone is invited to play."
The Man. The Myth. The Legend.
There he is—the Man of the hour himself. And to think, all this craziness happens just so people can set him on fire. I'd be a little miffed if I were him. Artists spend weeks and weeks designing, collaborating, constructing, and delivering the Man in one piece to the festival.
But what do we do? Burn it down so that we have a pretty backdrop for our YouTube vlogs of us dancing and crying as it turns to dust. Perhaps that's what Burning Man is going for. You can put a ton of hard work into a piece of art, and its ability to evoke emotions can continue even once it burns away.
Dust In Curious Places
Despite all the negatives of the festival, not everyone who goes to Burning Man is there to flaunt their wealth or act like a pretentious art historian for a week. In fact, the event started with a bunch of so-called "crunchy granola" hippies and artists who all have their unique personalities and artistic motivations to be at the festival.
In fact, these people have a great sense of humor. Half the fun of being a creative genius is using your art to make people smile! There's merit in constructing giant temples and makeshift men to represent humanity's shared understanding of loss... but sometimes we just want to laugh about everyone having desert dust caked onto our bodies in all the worst places.
While exploding wooden structures are pretty cool in theory, when you play with fire, be prepared to feel the heat. The festival is usually rife with arrests for everything from drug possession to assault, but there have been a few terrible accidental injuries that have happened since the festival first began.
The most recent was an accidental death that took place at the 2019 Burning Man. Shane Billingham, a New Zealand native, was found on Thursday, August 30, which was the fifth day of the event. According to The Guardian, the toxicology report "showed a concentration of carbon monoxide in his blood that would be poisonous to human life." Wonder how that could've happened...
Like Paris Hilton, influencers from all over come and reminisce on Buring Man of years past by posting a photo reel for their followers. You can't truly appreciate the fun times you've had without sharing it on social media, right? And, no, it's not bragging at all... Nope, not even a little bit.
Some go for the themes specifically. Like in 2019, the theme was "Metamorphosis." Coordinators of Burning Man described the theme on their website, saying: "This year’s theme is a celebration of change and an exploration of uncertainty... None of us knows what he or she will become, but we can seek to understand where we are at this point in our transformative trajectory, this fleeting chord on the strings of existence."
A LBD Won't Cut It
While we were just praising the exfoliation benefits of sand for the skin, no amount of looking sexy is worth the amount of sand this attendee is going to have to deal with at the end of the day. Believe it or not, this outfit is actually practical for the setting.
The goggles protect her eyes from the dust, which is a natural irritant. Then, she protects her hair with a head covering so it doesn't get damaged by the sun or whip her in the face. As for the rest of the outfit, she goes minimal to stick with the theme of a Stranger Things's upside down.
Despite what most of the pictures that influencers release from Buring Man, it's not all white desert backdrops and whimsical selfies in front of sound camps. In fact, all types of people gather at these festivals, and the pictures can be pretty telling (some being worse than others).
This one is pretty lighthearted with a hula hooper, but she gets pretty dangerous with the flames dancing around her hoops. They're actually attached. We can see why people are mesmerized by something like this, though. It takes some serious skill to do something like this in the middle of nowhere.
There's a lot to unpack with this creation. What appears to be a half-ram, half-school dune buggie, the creator of this vehicle created something everyone wanted to take pictures in front of. Paris Hilton loved it so much that she took several photos in front of it. It does give off a "goddess" vibe, doesn't it?
But if you look into the Burning Man photo and art archives, you'll quickly notice a pattern among these vehicles. They're crazy, over the top, and sometimes snaily. Yeah, you read that right. For some reason, sails are also pretty big at this festival. Maybe it's funny to construct a car out of an animal that's known for being slow and fragile? Yeah, we assume it's the latter.
To get a good grasp on just how massive these figures are, look at how they tower over the mountains in the distance. It's all about perspective, of course, but even standing a few miles away from the mountains would further emphasize how massive these structures really are to the viewer.
Many of the art pieces constructed for burning Man are massive because they are built to encourage community participation, which usually means it's a thing for people to party in or on. On the other hand, Burning Man is like an outdoor art gallery, only differing from brick-and-mortar galleries in that the massive wooden art pieces burn to the ground by the end of the week.
The Desert Is Not the Place to Dress Like Royalty
I bet those clothes stayed white for all of ten seconds after this picture was taken. But that's not really the point, is it? These totally impractical outfits were put together for the sole purpose of snapping an Instagram-worthy picture of their "totally rad" time at a desert festival. No shame, but it's the truth.
Before it became a destination for those who wanted to take the most envy-inducing Instagram photos, Burning Man was an "underground gathering for bohemians and free spirits of all stripes," but it has since evolved "into a destination for social media influencers, celebrities and the Silicon Valley elite," as described by NPR in 2019.
We're sure they got up there safely — not so sure the structure stayed up the whole time. The middle of the desert is the last place you want a broken leg, but as long as you got that Instagram photo, right? Do it for the 'gram! And if you do end up breaking a bone, you can capitalize on your pain by posting routine recovery updates from the hospital. It's a win-win!
Many of the art pieces brought to the festival are Avante-Garde and not easily understood. This massive structure is from 2014 when the theme was "Caravansary" which was supposed to celebrate the Silk Road as the world's first superhighway of trade and information. Guess the ladders symbolize that?
And It All Goes Up in Flames
If you haven't journeyed to the desert to run around nude and set something giant on fire have you really lived? If you haven't journeyed to the desert to run around nude and set something giant on fire, have you really lived? That's what regular Burning Man participants would probably say to all of us weirdo normal people.
Most people like seeing things explode as much as the next person, but running around flammable objects in the buff isn't safe nor most people's idea of a good time. But it does make for some cool social media pictures for everyone who wasn't there to fantasize about for weeks.
Don't Forget to Pack a Fire Extinguisher
If you were worried that the desert heat won't be hot enough for you, don't fret—there will be plenty of pyrotechnics. From fireworks to exploding statues to burning down The Man, this festival is the place to be for pyromaniacs. And it's all completely legal (we assume)! Even when you're dancing during the day you can see bursts of fire explode from floats traveling across the desert.
Business Insider describes how the festival got its name: "The event derives its name from its culmination: the symbolic burning of a large wooden effigy, referred to as the Man, that occurs on the penultimate night of Burning Man, which is the Saturday evening before Labor Day." Makes sense!
No Building is Normal at Burning Man
We're not saying this mind-boggling structure leads Burning Man attendees to some magical wormhole that transports them into the ethereal plane, but we're not saying it doesn't. You'd have to ask someone who has been there to see what really goes on in these tends. Is it really just music and art appreciation, or is there something more going on?
Okay, okay. It's probably not that deep. Based on all the people dancing and gathering around it, it looks like a place for attendees to relax and chat while the festival around them explodes with music (and actual explosions). It's healthy to take a moment to reflect no matter where you are!
Hope You Brought Your Instruments
Even in the middle of the desert, there's nothing better than pulling out your instrument and jamming with others. All we can say is count us in! We doubt these people have the energy to dance all day and into the night. They need to unwind at some point and just jam out, no matter what you play.
There's a lot of creativity at the festival, and that's turned it into an Instagram hotspot. While there's a lot of controversy surrounding "the problem of non-participatory influencers and elite at the event," as reported by the Burning Man Journal, it's nice to know that the festival hasn't slacked in the creativity department.
Drawing a Crowd
These people are probably having a great time with their daytime dance party, but all we see is one giant melanoma. Rule number one of any desert festival is this: wear sunscreen! If nothing else, broad-spectrum SPF is key for surviving a week-long dance marathon and salvaging any of your skin's health after the party's over.
Burning Man is made up of a range of "camps" featuring different activities and art pieces. A large part of the festival is made up of sound camps, which cropped up in the early '90s as San Francisco rave culture bled into surrounding areas. Terbo Ted was the first DJ to perform in Burning Man history as he blasted a vinyl record of Jean Michel Jarre.
Just so we don't forget—because this is truly the incredible part of Burning Man—this giant art piece (and many others) was constructed and taken down in the span of this nine-day festival. This is like an engineer's fantasy...or maybe their worst nightmare if you really think about it.
This piece is another installation that uses people as the basic theme, but this one has obvious differences from the usual Burning Man we usually see. For one, it shows two people that are embracing. That goes right back to the heart of the festival — be who you are and love who you want.
Sound camps are a big deal at Burning Man because music and dance appreciation are key parts of the festival. Many of these camps feature art pieces in themselves that hold all of the sound equipment necessary to transform a portion of the bare desert into a hot party spot.
In fact, a bunch of different sounds are so prevalent at the festival that the coordinators of Burning Man released new guidelines around sound camps. "Bass travels multi-directionally and cannot be effectively contained with any structures. This gives “sound” as an art form an unfair advantage over other art forms," the coordinators explained. "Burning Man is dedicated to radical self-expression, but it is also dedicated to creating community. This means we all must find a way to get along with our neighbors..."
A Quiet Moment
As you can tell, not every moment is action-packed at Burning Man. But even the quiet moments are equally surreal. Everywhere you turn, there's a far-off art piece surrounded by influencers, a sound camp blasting techno music, and people kicking up dust in makeshift cars. Nothing about the festival is dull, that's for sure.
The bad thing about camping in the desert is that you really can't escape the gaze of onlookers without a tent of your own, but the good thing is that there's plenty of space to lie flat on your back and stare at the clouds with only distant music to bother you.
Until Next Time
Burning Man might be life-changing, but it doesn't last forever! You've got to make your way back to the real world at some point. Packing up after witnessing The Man burn to the ground is probably a very odd feeling. Many describe the event as ethereal and a spiritual experience, so returning to the "real world" isn't exactly motivating.
Imagine what attendees look like after they depart from the desert and return to their suburban home or urban loft -- covered in dust and glitter with a glum expression on their face for having to go to work on Monday. At least they have the pictures to remember their time at Burning Man and brag about their desert adventures to jealous co-workers.
A Sandy Bike Ride
We're not saying that fur leggings don't look great, but it's maybe not the best look when you're partying in the middle of the desert. If you thought the sand at the beach was bad, just wait til you're finding dust for weeks after Burning Man!
We'd say that we hope she looks both ways, but honestly, what good would it do with low visibility like that?
When you go to Burning Man, protecting yourself from the sun's harsh rays is a must. But it is Burning Man—which means that your run-of-the-mill canopy or umbrella just isn't going to cut it. You need something more creative!
And this turtle mobile is nothing if not creative! It's definitely one way to navigate the festival in style. This lady looks like she's ready to take on anything, but let's hope she didn't forget sunscreen!
Take Out Anyone?
Your best bet at Burning Man is to expect the unexpected. People routinely show up with some of the wildest, most out-of-the-box costumes and creations that you've ever seen. However, even for Burning Man, this has to be a first!
Why a giant takeout carton? It's best not to ask too many questions when it comes to Burning Man. And we won't even begin to touch why this giant structure has the words "Hot Dumps" plastered on the side. People have to use the bathroom out there somehow, but we'd rather not know the details!
The View of a Lifetime
When you go to Burning Man, you can expect to see some seriously creative people sporting seriously creative things. However, some of the best sights at the festival only happen when no one else is around.
The desert can be a brutal place, but, as this woman now knows, it can also be an incredibly beautiful place. Sometimes you just need a break from all the chaotic hustle and bustle of the festival to slow down and appreciate the small things.
If it's big and shiny and weird, it has a place at Burning Man. We have no idea what this crazy structure is supposed to be, but it's weird stuff like this that makes the festival so special.
Is this the mothership here to take festival goers back to the stars? A glittery weapon of mass destruction? Just a weird sculpture? It's probably the latter, but really, anything is possible at Burning Man!
All that fabric makes for a fantastic photo at Burning Man, but it's also probably pretty great at keeping the bugs at bay too! If you didn't take a photo of your fantastic festival outfit, did you really wear it at all?
When it comes to looking great at Burning Man, it's always best to go scantily clad. You'll get plenty of attention, but you'll also stay much cooler unburdened by clothes!
Life in the Sand
There are lots of people who post photos of themselves at Burning Man looking immaculately put together and fabulous. However, this photo is probably closer to the reality of living in the desert than any other.
Desert living is definitely very grimy and gritty with all that sand, but these two prove that you can still look fashionable and fabulous even if you're filthy from head to toe. It's Mad Max chic!
Burning Man is the perfect time to pull together some post-apocalyptic cosplay. Staying in the desert for a few days may not be as bad as the end of the world, but that doesn't mean you can't pretend you're roughing it in a savage land.
Face coverings out there aren't just a fashion choice, though. When the wind whips up out there, you can expect to get a mouthful (and an eyeful) of sand unless you've planned ahead! Just make sure you look great wearing it!
Shine Bright Like a Diamond
You can never have an outfit that's too sparkly at Burning Man. We're not saying that everyone out there loves pretty colors because of illicit substances, but that's also exactly what we're saying. This looks like a disco ball come to life!
However, shimmery, metallic colors might not actually be your best bet out in the desert. That whole place is basically like one giant oven, and you've just wrapped yourself in aluminum foil! We bet this costume gets mighty toasty during the midday heat.
Ladies in Red
You can make some seriously unique friends in strange places when you go to Burning Man. Everyone there might be just a little kooky, but the festival is also famous for its friendliness and community spirit. Living in life-threatening conditions can do that to a group of people!
Giant platform boots look great, but they're also perfect for getting a peek above the massive crowds. We're a big fan of this red light special look!
There is no shortage of bikes at Burning Man. Some people might bring transportation that's more substantial and creative, but for the most part, biking is the way to go if you want to get around the festival.
But why ride a bike when you could pose for a photo instead? She definitely looks great, but, once again, wearing metallics in the hot desert sun just doesn't seem like a good idea! You'll cook alive!
Glow in the Dark
Once the sun sets on Burning Man, that's when things get really interesting! In the cool of the night, the festival comes alive with partiers decked out in bright colors looking for a good time. These ladies are about to have a wild night.
An LED outfit might seem wild and crazy, and it is—but you'd be surprised at how many festival-goers deck themselves out with luminescent materials. It's not a very everyday look, but it definitely works at Burning Man!
Burning Man is not the time or the place to skimp out on the bling! Your outfit needs to be amped up all the way to 200% to even blend in at the festival. This particular festival-goer definitely did not disappoint in that respect!
While this outfit looks great, how much can something so delicate hold up in the harsh desert? If that were us, we'd snap a few great photos in the costume and then promptly ditch it for something much more comfortable!
Burning Man is the perfect time to try out that crazy hairstyle that you know would never fly back at home. Giant, fake multicolor braids might look great at a desert festival, but it's probably not something you want to rock at the office!
Her hair looks great, but we just don't get her outfit at all. A jacket with fur? In the desert? She's clearly cold-natured because heavy long sleeves have no place under the desert sun!
Take Me to Your Leader
If this is what our new alien overlords look like, we imagine that most people won't have a problem with an invasion! Whatever is in the background definitely looks like a UFO, but even if it was a real one, it probably wouldn't be the strangest thing you see at Burning Man.
Black and metal are pretty common fashion motifs at the festival, but not everyone sporting this look knows how to pose as well as this woman. Burning Man might be about more than the perfect selfie, but it never hurts to take a few!
A Rookie Mistake
That parasol might look cute and whimsical and oh-so Burning Man, but it's doing you exactly zero favors when it comes to protecting you from the harsh desert sun. This is definitely her first year at the festival—a veteran would never make that mistake!
While her outfit looks great, white is a very bold choice in the middle of the desert. We'd love to know just how long it actually stayed white before the sand and dirt claimed another fashion victim.
Dancing All Day
It's truly breathtaking the kinds of temporary structures that people manage to erect and then deconstruct at Burning Man. This one, however, is not one of them! There may be a ladder to the top, but you could not convince us to crawl up on that rickety-looking thing!
The ladies in front of this tragedy waiting to happen look great, though. Their little dance party has a very Midsommar hula vibe to it. Let's just hope they don't try to take the party upstairs!
How does a pagoda end up in the middle of the desert? The magic of Burning Man, of course! We're honestly amazed at what people do out there with unfavorable conditions and few resources. This has to be one of the coolest buildings we've seen.
Just like it wouldn't be Burning Man without all these impressive structures, it's also not Burning Man without tons of scantily clad women posing for photos. It's the desert way of life—you just wouldn't get it!
No judgment here, but a word of advice—if you're at Burning Man and you've ingested some not-technically-legal things, maybe stay away from the giant metal Medusa head. We're just trying to keep you from having a bad trip because that thing is terrifying!
This thing is a truly impressive creation, but we just can't get over how scary it looks too! Imagine trying to wander back to your tent at the end of the night only to stumble upon this nightmare fuel.
A Bicycle Built for Showing Off
Why just ride a bike when you can ride a bike and get a great picture of yourself? This woman has clearly asked herself the tough questions like that one.
That's a great outfit for showing off your butt, but not a particularly comfortable one for riding a bike. Sometimes you have to suffer for fashion!
There's nothing better to rough it in the desert than one of those sci-fi-looking yurts. It might not look like much (and it's not), but it's enough to protect you from the harsh hot days and chilly nights at Burning Man.
Those yurts are also not a bad place to snap a few photos showing off your festival outfits. A chain mail skirt doesn't sound terribly comfortable, but at least she's not going to take a sword to the thigh!
Rising from the Ashes
The big event at Burning Man is the burning of a giant human effigy on the final night of the festival. However, something tells me that this phoenix in the background is going to get torched at some point during the festival too.
And it's kind of a shame, honestly. It may just be a pile of lumber, but it seems to have been constructed beautifully and with a lot of care. At least she can ride away from the inferno in style on her dragon Segway!
Going for a Swing
Surviving in the desert isn't always child's play, but that doesn't mean there isn't any time to have fun at Burning Man. They think of everything out there—including a giant trapeze playground!
You've got lots of time to kill out there in the desert so why not spend it swinging the day away? Burning Man is basically one long recess for adults, isn't it?
The Magic School Bus
The magic bus has finally arrived, which means that the party can really get started! We wouldn't expect festival-goers to travel to Burning Man in anything less than a highly decorated party bus, and this one definitely fits the bill.
And while those wings look great on the side, something tells us the bus isn't going to be taking flight anytime soon. Although, people have done weirder things than that at Burning Man. It's time to take to the skies!
Glitter for Days
Glitter is never a bad idea at Burning Man. And as gross as it sounds, all that sweating in the desert is perfect for keeping it applied to your face! We're not sure what this lady is looking at, but it's apparently pretty interesting.
Body glitter is definitely a great option for festival-goers who want to get into the Burning Man spirit without donning an entire, elaborate costume. Sometimes less is more, even when you're at Burning Man!