Carry on at Kiwiburn

A fire display at Kiwiburn ©

I have always wanted to go to Burning Man, the large arts festival held in the Desert of Nevada. The idea appeals to me. You go to a place, inhabit it for a week and then leave, without any trace you were even there. So when I found out that the New Zealand version of Burning Man was being held while I was there, I was naturally very excited to go. It was not, however, the eye opening outsider art festival that I had imagined it to be…

We woke up extremely early on the day we were to go to Kiwiburn, so as to avoid the traffic out of Auckland and get there with enough time to make a decent campsite. It turned out it did not matter what time we woke up though, as the guy who we were driving with turned up a cool two hours late.

On the drive we were all holding high expectations for what Kiwiburn would entail. The little information we had gleaned from Facebook had only told us how much water we should bring (6 liters per person per day!), that we should bring some game or activity we could trade (there is no money at Kiwiburn), and that if we wanted to leave the festival, say to go and get more supplies, to get back in would cost $20 (so I guess there is money at Kiwiburn!).

Pulling up to the ticket booth of Kiwiburn we were greeted by a guy who checked to see if we had enough water (we did) and gave us some bright neon yellow bracelets. We were then ushered to a tent where we were told some things about Kiwiburn.

The tent had a small opening off to one side. This opening was the entrance to a tunnel that was constructed of sheets and towels. the instruction was to crawl though it. This was to signify our birth into the festival, and was made official by a guy who spanked us with a paddle.

It was strange but not as strange as what happened a few moments later when a half naked middle aged man decided that he would come over and give me a hug to welcome me. Trying to not be a square I hugged back (although was a bit hesitant as it was his front half that was naked) he introduced himself as ‘slave’ and gave us nicknames that we were to go by for the rest of the festival. Mine was ‘explorer’.

After that the festival sort of toned down. The art was lacking in both quantity and quality. Everyone was very cliquey and nothing really seemed to ever go on. I think I would still go to Burning Man, but I do not think that when I am in any other countries I will go to their “burning man festivals”. But then again, never say never!

Written by - Edited by Charlotte Amelines - Photo by

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