It’s that time of year again. All the local arts and crafts stores are totally out of sequins, stick-on diamonds and feathers, Decathlon has sold out of goggles and Luciano and his Vagabundos are no longer kings of the top hats. Perhaps most noticeably, my Facebook feed is mysteriously quiet – no one upselling their lives, no forced trout pouting selfies, no ridiculous hashtags and no DJs spamming our walls with flyers promoting their Ibiza gigs. Only one thing can explain this freakish phenomenon, that occurs around this time each and every year. Burning Man has come around again. The festival that steals my friends and turns them into fancy-dress fetishists for a week before spitting them out of the desert and sending them back home to Ibiza, declaring their lives have been forever changed. I don’t doubt they’ve changed.
That amount of dust in your brain has got to do something! As you may have guessed, I’ve never been to Burning Man, not because it doesn’t interest me (I would LOVE to go!) but because for me, it falls at THE WORST POSSIBLE time of year in terms of workload. Plus I can’t bear the thought of missing such a big chunk of the Ibiza summer season. The thought of that plane journey, the traffic, a week on the playa, the decompression sessions – not to mention all the hours spent planning, shopping and gluing together Pocahontas style headdresses beforehand – and then another long journey home… just think of all the things I’d miss here! Oh, but you must come, say the ‘Burners’. OK sure – how about you take my place at work for three weeks? And pay my expenses? It will totally open your mind. It’s next level. My mind is pretty open. I’ve lived in Ibiza a v-e-r-y long time. There’s music everywhere, all your favourite DJs will be playing there somewhere.
Why would I travel halfway across the world to see those who I already see regularly here on the island? Give me something new! And the festival itself seems to shun Ibiza style advertising. ‘Burning Man doesn’t have ‘headliners,’ says a blog post on their website. ‘We pride ourselves on that. Burners don’t follow anyone else to Black Rock City, they go for themselves.’ So how do I know what music I’ll get to experience then? You’ll meet so many amazing characters. With 60,000 people on the ground in Black Rock City, I don’t doubt there are some interesting characters. I envision nerds and geeks surrounded by models and dancers, hippies and hipsters fusing wellness and hedonism, plus kooky, out-there OTT peeps who use the festival to unleash a different side of themselves in regular life. But we have all those characters here in Ibiza, you just have to dig a little deeper to find them, and digging is all part of the fun. You’ll have so many amazing experiences.
But the thing is, I like my creature comforts. I like running water and functioning toilets. I like being able to buy things as and when I want them. I don’t want to have my amazing experiences marred by un-amazing experiences. ‘Do not go to Burning Man ever expecting to get eight hours sleep,’ says the official website. What kind of a vacation is that? You’ll see the most amazing things. But I’ve already seen them all. Thanks YouTube, Facebook, Instagram and the live feed from the Burning Man website for spoiling the suprises. It will change your life. But here you are, back in Ibiza, year after year doing the same thing after your Burning Man buzz has worn off. You never know where each day is going to end up. But I like having a plan and sticking to it. Spontaneity is not my strong point. What happens on the playa, stays on the playa. So what can I brag about when I get back? Plus – and now, I don’t want to get into a ‘my playa is better than your playa’ scenario here BUT – on your playa, you can’t go barefoot for fear of ‘Playa foot’ (Google it – it’s a thing), a chemical burn due to the alkaline dust.
On my playa, it’s all about dancing with your feet in the sand. On your playa, it’s boiling hot and searing sunshine, but windy so you can’t sunbathe (‘The sun is not your friend on the Playa,’ says the Burning Man website) and then it’s freezing at night. On my playa, you get hot, you cool down in the sea, then you buy a beer or a frozen daiquiri! And this one is the killer. Ibiza will always be there, Burning Man is never the same. Don’t get me started. Of course, I must say right now, as the rain beats down outside (and is forecast to continue for the next week – it appears we are in the middle of Ibiza’s wet season), I do kind of sort of wish I was at Burning Man with everyone else I know. While our playas are soggy and flooded, Burning Man’s Playa is full of friends and folk from all over the world getting their freak – and fancy dress – on, meanwhile for me, watching the DVD of Mad Max Fury Road with a feather headband leftover from an old fashion shoot (pictured) is about as close as I’m going to get to the Burn. Perhaps next year the organisers will be more considerate and move the festival dates to some time in October?