Berlin

Berlin’s Burners

Most feedback I get about Burning Man in Berlin is:

  • We have a lot of events and places to go inspired/similar to Burning Man
  • I’d really like to go but it’s very far and expensive
  • I go to the regional burns
  • I’ve never heard of it

I was dancing at Berghain the day the man burned and saw a nice young man with playa goggles on his head. As a Bay Area American I really try not to talk about Burning Man especially at festivals and clubs. I’ve found some friends to (rightfully) get defensive about their events because Americans celebrate the desert festival so hard not making much room for other conversations. But in this case, I couldn’t not ask the goggled man if he too was having a little playa moment.

Unfortunately he had no idea what I was talking about. I’m more surprised how far of the the desert art festival has spread in such subtle ways and yet still barely exists.

14202754_10107623628698839_8293225428987136743_n

I put in a lot of effort in several forums and groups to get a group of Burners together, but no bite. People who had been to the original playa in Nevada.

In the end I had three friends over from very different worlds. We wrote down our new year’s goals, desires, and things to burn away and kept them in our pockets. The wood temple we intended to Burn wasn’t possible so we built our own man from my art supply paper and took it behind the RAW warehouses. In front of a rock statue on a bed of wet sand I lit two incense sticks, dropped in our wishes, drank some red wine from the bottle, and sent up some flames. It was sweet, primal, and intimate.

When Burning Man does come up in Berlin conversations, and sometimes it does, I appreciate the criticism. “Isn’t San Francisco trying to shape the future? How can all those people spend all that money and ignore the homeless? Isn’t it horrible for the environment? Why does it cost so much? Is it a techie networking event? ” The list goes on.

None of these criticisms are new. But in Berlin the criticism stand on their own compared to at home when someone will quickly reaffirm that we should go anyway because it’s; fun. I’m not feeling drawn to return after two years of horrible weather. But this year looked so good. And one week my friends decide to take a vacation at the same time with only the right distractions is temping.

Nina Mehta is an Indian American writer and product designer in San Francisco. She started writing online in the 90s and began her career in journalism near sweet home Chicago. Nina has since lived and worked in Berlin, London, and Tokyo.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *