enculturating las vegas into the next millennium... art, dance, film, music, poetry, theater, history, nature and everything else that enriches the lives of those who live and visit southern nevada... Since 2003...

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Premeditated Burn - A Burning Man Journey

Onnoleigh returns to bless us with another journey into the land of Burning Man which she is about to return to. Onna will be leaving this weekend for the annual Northern Nevada festival that celebrates nature, art, culture and humanity. So with this said we wish Onna safe travels and many happy returns!

For more information on burning man please visit - http://www.burningman.com/

Premeditated Burn
By Onnoleigh Sweetman

There are two times at Burning Man; Hot, and Dark. And it was fucking hot. I stumbled out of the med tent in a complete daze, dressed in a sun dress and pink pajama bottoms that I had slept in only hours before. I humbly walked through the dust, back pack in hand, with dried up blood covered on my chest, and bandages covering a good portion of my once perfectly contoured MAC made face. The I.V. of fluids that were administered just moments before didn't seem to make a difference as the blaring sun beat its unforgiving rays upon me as if to burn whatever remaining
Karma I had left this last day of Burning Man. There were no stitches to the somewhat open wounds on my throbbing face. That would come later in the night when a portion of the skin on my nose and forehead was thankfully glued back together with medical grade glue. So here it was. Radical Self Reliance. A principal I was experiencing with great fortitude and great universal force...

That was Sunday morning of Burning Man 2011. Every time since then, when I saw the faint scar on my face, I recalled a neighboring camp member, DJ Zak J saying to me “Tattoos are bought, Scars are earned”. And earned it was. That particular burn, my soul seemed to graduate to a wise presence that never existed before. When I looked back on the pictures, I could undoubtedly see the difference in my eyes. I had, after a decade a burning, so eloquently, earned my Rite of Passage as a Burner.

This year marks my 12th burn, if you count the ones in spirit. And with every pre-burn, chaos and high emotions seem to find its way with great fortitude into my immediate experience. As a burner we test our limits, we push beyond any boundaries we thought we might have had. We endure a harsh and sometimes unforgiving desert. Why? Because the reward is oh so sweet. Now it wouldn't be Burning Man if it wasn't. It oddly enough often provokes thoughts of my teenage years in Bible Study. “I never said it would be easy, I only said it would be worth it”…

And worth it, it is…

Burning Man has to be one of the only places that I have ever felt a true connection with the universe and existence. That reward itself is worth the scar on my face, the exhaustion, the dehydration, the drained bank accounts and any other adversity one might encounter to make it to the Black Rock Desert..My first experience of “oneness” is forever etched with fierceness in my soul. I stood at Soul System at 10.00 and Esplanade watching my first Sunday sunrise after the man burned. There were thousands of people gathering to the edge of the playa, dancing and welcoming the sun with such great joy and excitement. No need for words just a knowing, gratitude, a dance of celebration. I can only imagine that we, in our physical bodies were vibrating at a frequency that we experienced before we came to this earth. I cried with the knowing that I was home. This was it. What I had waited my whole life for... I didn't go to Burning Man and become a Burner. I was a burner searching my whole life, and I finally found Burning Man.

This year I will be attending the event as official Media. I’ll be documenting each day and every experience with as much authenticity and grace as my little writer heart can muster. More than a spectator, I’ll indulge, engage and contribute in every way possible.

Which leads us to this year’s Bucket List. First stop Media Mecca to sign in, tag cameras and get official. And along with being press comes some interesting perks. On Tuesday there is a Media-Only Tour; a guided tour with the artists to all Core Effigy projects, which great way to get an inside look from each region that created the projects.

On the music stand front, I’m very excited to announce my favorite Producer/DJ Neurodriver will be attending from the U.K. His mix from 2011 inspired my three month choreographic work of some of his best pieces. He slams the decks with a high energy mixture of psytrance, break beats and progressive house. He’ll be stationed at Camp Want It and I highly suggest anyone new to electronic music to take a trek to see him play. Desert Music at its absolute finest. Next up of course, my all time favorite Goddess of Music, my dear friend Tatiana Alvarez. Always a strong, reverent silence in her intense sets, Tatiana’s mysticism draws you in, wanting more. Included in the mix is the high energy electro-house interactive dance experience “The Dancetronauts”. I plan on performing with fellow Nytronix dancer Blaze, setting the stage on fire…And last but not least is The Temple of Whollyness. The sacred heart of the playa, I will be donating my time on Sunday’s temple burn working the burn perimeter. The only “silent” burn of the event, this is, in my opinion the highest calling of work at Burning man. “The Temple of Whollyness will offer Burning Man participants the space to reflect upon how to become more whole with themselves and the world. Its epic central pyramid – 87′ x 87′ at its base and 64′ in height – is designed with sacred mathematical proportions and constructed using innovative building techniques. Unbelievably, this majestic sanctuary is crafted completely out of geometric interlocking wood pieces that fit together without the use of nails, glue, or metal fasteners”.

With the force of the playa in my heart, and steadfastness to my soul, I now make my annual pilgrimage to the desert of dreams. I go with pure intentions to elevate the world through interaction, art, contribution, and my own personal Burning Man story.

“From the dust we came and to dust we shall return and emerge new beings of light”.


Brian Paco Alvarez enculturating Las Vegas into the millennium...

posted by Brian Paco Alvarez, Curator and Chronicler of Culture at


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