aNewDomain.net — One minute east of Interstate 280 lies the Dogpatch District of San Francisco, an industrial, hip area downtown. The Dogpatch — Indiana Street in particular — was particularly jammed this Sunday for the annual Burning Man Decompression event. Our Richard Hay was there.
First let’s keep our terms straight. Burning Man is the ever-growing festival, held in the desert that is around Black Rock City, Nevada. Burners, veterans of this event, are the ones who flocked to Dogpatch this weekend for some Burning Man decompression, San Francisco-style. Here’s my photo gallery.
The Burning Man concept, I should say, is firmly established in the mythology of Google, the company where I work. One of the first famous Google doodles ever pictured is the normal Google logo with a sketched “burning man” drawn into one of the O’s.
Silicon Valley and the Bay have always had a close relationship with the Burning Man event — the drawing you see below indicates the founders and web masters were heading for Nevada.
Image credit: Google
The decompression event gives burners, and people who simply love the spirit of Burning Man, a chance to attend an outdoor party with art pieces and interactive dance venues. Art like “story portals,” and “haiku stations,” and other interesting activities crowd the four blocks from 18th Street to 22nd Street, closed off for the fun.
One of the most-useful tips in attending this event is to make sure your appearance is, well, strange. Personally, I went with a fake-blue Mohawk wig. The key to looking the part here is to wear something elaborate. Blue Mohawk wig, you fit right in. Conventional Armani suit says you don’t belong.
I consider the above photo to be a quintessential picture capturing a lot of this San Francisco culture in a single picture. It is a pretty wild photo, I know. But really, it’s quite tame compared to some of the things seen at the Burning Man Decompression event — or Burning Man proper, for that matter.
Naked man is just so last year. Silver metallic painted naked man with goggles and a parasol — that is the new thing. Yes, for all those wondering, there were naked people walking the city streets. Men and women, which I expect was the case in Nevada as well.
That said there were art pieces and vehicles on display, too. Take the Anglerfish-inspired vehicle. Or the NorCal Art Car with a winged skull perched on the back.
There was the well-painted Nauty X Bus, a slinky bus with a nautical theme.
And then the simplicity of the VW van. Classic, reliable — a staple of the hippie life.
Of course there was more-traditional art like paintings and geometric abstracts.
Honestly, though, as much as any of the art cars, dragon motorcycles, or canvases were expressive, the people themselves were the most-artistic expressions. Red, gold, green, silver. Furry costumes. Viking helmets. A West Point jacket. Guys dressed in Navy dress whites who were clearly not in the Navy.
Google Glass even made an appearance.
And then there was the dancing. There were at least three bass-pumping mosh pits, which created the aura of an outdoor club at 3 p.m.
People spinning hula hoops.
There was even a guy with a flaming tuba.
The Decompression was quite a party in the streets of San Francisco. The event went from 12 noon to 10 p.m. at night. And I am sure it extended past 10 p.m., but that is when they started herding people off Indiana Street and into the nearest night clubs.
Burning Man always makes me think of the Texas Aggie bonfire, since both events end in a massive conflagration. It is definitely on my bucket list of things to do before I die. In the meantime the San Francisco after-party was just $15, a good deal less than a golden ticket to Black Rock City, and gave a great taste of the desert. It even had it’s own Man, man!
See you next year? (Black Rock or Dogpatch District.)
For aNewDomain.net, I’m Richard Hay.
Richard Hay is the senior science editor at aNewDomain.net. He’s a staff engineer in network testing at Google. Email him and let him know the sort of stuff you’d like him to cover here on aNewDomain.net. He’s Richard@aNewDomain.net and +Richard Hay on Google+.