Two hours of driving, 6 hours stuck in traffic in the dark desert, two hot nights and one very dusty day – if someone would have told me I’d have to go through all this to attend the Midburn festival, the chances of me attending would be zero – and then I’d miss one of the most unique experiences ever. Starting with the tough sleeping conditions in a tent, to dealing with even tougher hygiene conditions, to a feeling we’re on a different planet with amazing people and an atmosphere of freedom and generosity, it all was something else.
It’s a whole tent city, with 6,500 attendees this year. The city is built in a circle around the main circle, the Playa, divided to avenues and streets with numbers around the “clock” – my friends’ camp, for example, was at 6:45. Without this division, it would be easy to get lost there – which could be an unpleasant experience, in the hot, dusty, sandy desert climate. The arrangement, of course, is modeled after Burning Man, the famous Nevada festival, which started 30 years ago and brings together more than 70,000 people yearly. Our Midburn also attracted people from abroad, including my friend Avigail, an Israeli who lives in Europe and who brought me to the festival.
All of this – to spend time in a free atmosphere, no conventions or rules, and to express yourself in every possible way. People were dressed up, dancing day and night, climbing walls and swinging on swings like children, attending workshops and weddings of complete strangers. Art exhibits were opened to the public to enjoy, a temple was erected, where you could write lists of things you want to change/leave behind…if you were at one place, you automatically missed 30 more exciting events – but the comprehensive program, had you covered in case you wanted to plan ahead, explaining what happens when and for what ages. Yes, people come with their kids – and although I think it’s a bit odd, it’s surely an interesting bonding experience.
The festival’s peak was the stunning sight of the burning “man” – and then the burn of the temple with all the list of flaws and wishes we left there. I had to experience this through the eyes of my friends, since my participation was very spontaneous and I had to leave. I couldn’t change my plans, but it left me craving more!
I came back covered with dust and while proud of myself, all I wanted to do it get into the shower and not leave for two days. It’s amazing how you learn to appreciate the basic things you usually take for granted, and I see added value in that, and another special perk of the festival. If, like me, you’ll decide to go with the experience next year, prepare ahead – think how you wish to express yourself, buy costumes, unwind and have fun! And don’t forget the anti-dust goggles.