Burning Man

In 1995 some friends invited me to Burning Man. I thought it was an overnight rave, so I grabbed a backpack with a change of clothing and my Super8 camera. It wasn't until we entered Nevada that I realized I was going to a week-long festival in the desert. With no food or shelter, and minimal supplies, I lived off the kindness of friends and strangers.

We were a part of the Wicked Sound System dance community, bringing the first DJ sound system to the event. At that time, the music selection at Burning Man was very diverse with live bands (many acoustic) and performance artists dominating the entertainment. Following the first all-night Wicked party, we were asked to move our camp far away so people could sleep—a notion that seem ridiculous today. In 1995, less than 4000 people attended Burning Man, and the event was situated in the very center of Black Rock Desert, unlike today where it sits in the lower corner of the playa (desert). The general lack of rules and boundaries made for an interesting experiment in anarchy and unbounded freedom.

The film below is unedited—straight from the camera. I only brought two 3.5 minute rolls of film with me (one color and the other black and white), so I preserved film by capturing scenes with short recording—like moving photos. I cut out some under-exposed night footage, but the rest is how I shot it. The music is from a favorite 1995 chillout album by Subsurfing called Frozen Ants.