Babs De Lay on Burning Man 

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This is Babs De Lay’s fourth year as a “burner” (pictured: De Lay at left, with a “manstress” from the Burning Man festival). From Aug. 31 to Sept. 7, she’ll converge with thousands of art-loving festival freaks in the dust of Black Rock City, meeting old pals at Surly Camp, where “talking shit is our art.”

How’d you find yourself at your first Burning Man festival?
The first time was an in-and-out “wow.” I was in the area and curious. The next time, I was asked to marry some friends on the playa, which I did after getting licensed in Nevada. Last year, I was in a larger theme camp and am going back to that camp this year.

What stands out in your mind about Burning Man?
Best moment(s) are the laughter and the constant unexpected visuals—the art, the people and the fire. The worst time was when I got lost in a white-out after having about half a gallon of martinis. I couldn’t see 10 feet ahead of me, and I stumbled around in a one-mile circle for two hours trying to get back to camp.

Run into many Utahns there?
There are a ton of Utah camps out there. Odd, everyone always says, “See you at Burning Man,” but I rarely run into folks. There were 50,000 people there last year, and we camp in a fairly noisy area that some peeps avoid. We all e-mail each other in advance and share our street assignments, so we know where we are, but hours turn into days into one long stream of experience. Sticking to any kind of plan/agenda like “Meet you Friday at 2 on the playa” is often just a hollow intent.

What’s the Burning Man represent?
BM represents more data, more experience, getting in touch with my core, release, loving old friends and making new friends. This year, he goes up in smoke just for me (so I think) and my 50,000 friends, cuz on Sept. 5 (the night he burns), I will be 55.

Do you bring stuff to barter with?
I’ve made stickers with our logo. People love Burning Man stickers made by different camps. There’s no “merch” tent at BM. You can’t buy a BM T-shirt, coffee mug or anything. We make the art ourselves. Our camp has an art car and, by the rule of BM, we must allow people to ride on it at any time. So, that’s another gift.

For more, read Babs De Lay’s “Ready to Burn”

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