My first Burning Man: Confessions of a conservative from Washington

One sculpture was the three-story “Embrace” – two upper torsos and heads facing each other. They took two years to create. Three weeks to assemble in the middle of nowhere. Maybe an hour to burn on Friday morning. This is hard work. Indeed, there is entirely too much work involved at Burning Man for lazy people to get to the Playa, nevermind build a camp or feed yourself.

You hear that Burning Man is full of less-than-fully-clad folks and off-label pharmaceuticals. But that’s like saying Bohemian Grove is about peeing on trees or that Chicago is Al Capone territory. Burning Man is cleaner and greener than a rally for solar power. It has more camaraderie and sense of community than a church social. And for a week in the desert, I witnessed more individual expression, alternative lifestyles and imaginative fashion than …. anywhere.

The demand for self-reliance at Burning Man toughens everyone up. There are few fools, and no malingerers. People give of themselves – small gifts like lip balm or tiny flashlights. I brought Cuban cigars. Edgy, but not as exciting as some “gifts” that would have interested the federal authorities.

I’m hoping to bring the kids next year.

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