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The Burn

Burning Man 1998
The Burn

The Burn. We arrived and I set up at a perfect time. In only a few minutes, the wooden balls at the four compass points were lit. The burned with a lovely blue flame until they collapsed. It was only a few minutes after that that a lady climbed to the platform of the burning man with a torch. She performed with the flame for a few moments before a man in a flameproof suit joined her, and she lit him on fire. He then touched a leg of the Burning Man, and set it off. He ran down the stairs to a waiting group with a fireblanket, who were supposed to put him out, but they were almost hit by flying explosives and dashed off, with the guy in the fire suit trailing flames, probably yelling for them to put him out.
The Burning Man almost exploded as he went up, and it was impossible to see him for several minutes. Finally, as the flames died down a little, we could see the shape of him again, along with assorted flares, and a jet of flame from his heart. As he weakened at the ankles, a couple of the guys in full firesuits began tugging on the guy wires, causing him to topple in a wonderful gout of flame and swirling embers. This was the signal for everyone to surround the bonfire, walking in a crowded circle, and sacrificing things they'd brought with them. Like... sofas. Note: Don't burn plastics. I.e. sofas. Makes whole swaths of the playa unbreathable. Urk.

The Beginning.
The start. An enormous gout of flame from a vertical flamethrower that made the rounds.
The ball on fire.
The ball on fire. A good start, and a chance to check my light balances for the camera.
The ball collapsing.
The ball collapsing. A nice bit of a blue glow from whatever was inside is apparent in a few places.The person has been lit, and is standing under the Burning Man.
First salvo.
The Man beginning to go off. Notice also the person in the flameproof suit approaching the group of people to be put out.
The Man pretty much explodes at this point. Notice the group as something fiery bounces through or near to them.
Everybody run!
Everybody runs, the flameproof suit still on fire, as the Man is completely obscured in a lovely ball of white light.
The Man settles down
The Man settles down a little, and can be seen again. Notice the jet of flame where his heart is was.
Settling in.
He's settled into a nice steady burn at this point. I was wondering how much longer he'd last when the question was answered for me....
The Fall.
One of the firemen bounces on the guy wire and precipitates the fall of the Man.
A long way down.
Halfway through the fall, there's no going back here. I just had the motor drive running at this point.
Ka-RUNCH. He hits in a shower of sparks, and to a resounding cheer from the crowd. At this point there was a rush to form a rotating circle of humanity around the bonfire.
Shooting in the crowd, against the fire, it was hard to tell what I was going to get. I was trying to photograph the couch being tossed in, but ended up with this person instead.
The fireman.
A shot of one of the firemen. Making sure nobody gets too enthusastic and immoliates themselves I think.
Another grab shot.
Still trying to get a shot of the fireman, I was surrounded by another subcrowd of people, ending up with this rather Dantian photo.

Other Burning Pages:

The official Burning Man homepage!
Tugrik's page
The Fruit of the Lumen

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All images and designs are 1996-2000 Matthew Kiwala & Magic Ink.