Three Dawns and a Dragon

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3 Dawns and a Dragon

title photo credit_by Scott London

text and video by Polkadot
photos by Scott London, Mckay Jaffe, Trey Ratcliff,

Galen Oakes, John K Goodman, Neil Girling, and Polkadot.


Not that I planned an all-nighter but Burning Man swept me up into a vast colorful seductive surprising hyper-stimulating night of dancing and drifting until uncounted hours past midnight I noticed off in the distance a particularly 

beckoning gathering of lights and music where none should be, out beyond the Man, beyond the Temple, beyond everything really, all the way to the Eastern perimeter fence, the closest-possible point to the eventually coming sun, but now that one far away spot in the dark empty desert had been transformed into an insiders, all-nighters, arms-in-the-air revel, forming one final spun-off galactic arm of us, the furthest extension of our raving tribe’s mobile never-ending party. 

photo by Mckay Jaffe_v3b




Seven Art Cars had gathered in a semi-random circle of music, lights, and lasers; luring me and many more with long-range low-frequency 74,000 watt subwoofers thumping over patterns of pulsing laser lights revealing we were thousands spilling across the desert seeking the very edge of the edgiest party of them all.

montage, photos by Trey Ratcliff and Neil Girling

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photo by Galen Oakes

At the epicenter was Robot Heart, that collective of doers and dreamers on a mission to bring beats and love to the

BM14_191_Trey Ratcliff - Burning Man (514 of 1086)-X3

world, their art car a giant 18-wheeled castle of state-of-the-art sound;  speaker towers, a DJ-platform-dance-floor and crowned by a giant illuminated Heart. Floating above, suspended in mid-air by a giant crane, yet another array of speakers,  a robot-face-decorated monolith of sound, pumping sand-shaking beats out into the desert night.


I surrendered to it. We all did. We danced. We connected.  Time vanished.  We were beyond happy.  The horizon started to glow.  The original light show. We danced facing east, longing to feel the golden crack of the actual dawn split the horizon.


We danced on, our pace slowing as the night dawdled, not yielding to the glow,  the dark not surrendering, unconcerned with me and how very, very weary I had become.  


I was tired. Ecstatic. Satiated. Dancing. Alone among thousands.

photo by Trey Ratcliff

That was the first Dawn.


x-x-x-x x-x-x-x )º( x-x-x-x x-x-x-x

The second dawn was on Abraxas, the Golden Dragon.


abraxas head
photo credit_by Scott London_v1

Abraxas: a school bus reborn as a artistic psychedelic art car fantasy, an intricate 7-level mobile celebration machine; with wet bar, dance floor, stripper pole, fire-belching flame-throwing mouth, 2-level 12-person over-stuffed couch, shade-sheltered chill space with upholstered benches, a graceful

golden tail high and behind and two golden dragon-paws that doubled as loveseats low and extended out in front. The whole rig was widened on 3 sides by walkways and stairways, allowing access and structure to hang bikes and packs and canteens plus high-up above it all, a sexy catwalk leading to the DJ deck with sound system and space for a small, live band.


Sweet golden Abraxas.

photo credit_by Scott London_v1

To join her pre-dawn

…..10…..White Wednesday cruise,

…..10…..…..10… salute the rising sun

on the playa, just beyond the Temple, it seemed legendary, worth abbreviating any night of adventures, marvelous though they may be…

photo above the slideshow:
Mayan Warrior art car, photo by Galen Oakes
slideshow photo credits:
lazer party, Mckay Jaffe,
Bliss Dance, a sculpture by Marco Cochrane, photo  by Scott London,
burn barrels,
tiger fire dancer, photo by John K Goodman,
joyous flaming art car, photo by John K Goodman,
El Pulpo Mecanico kinetic sculpture, photo by Scott London




… and so i ended my night early, at 3 am

     stumbling into my tent

               falling into my sleeping bag

                          to find sleeps sweet embrace waiting there …

Until …


photo by Mckay Jaffe


Somehow …

……….I am wake.  Still dark.  It is 5 am.

……………….. Only semi-conscious I dress quickly throwing on anything in arms reach layer upon layer with whatever white on top, a faux fur puffer vest and russian ushanka hat to michelin man my way to the quiet gathering of other white-wearing Abraxans. The night is bitterly cold.   Abraxas awakens with a cough of combustion and then purrs and sets off at 5 mph. The DJ enters an etherial drone zone of  ambient minimal beats. Knots of us gather, huddling close for warmth. The Dragon’s motion over the desert shakes me more awake, enough to check gear.

Dust mask – yes.

Goggles – yes.



And no canteen?   Was I not thinking?  Nor sun screen? And  – no hat?  No shade-giving hat for the coming day???



For a second I feel a quick twitch in my gut but no matter, it’s all good, 

photo by Scott London

abraxas tail


I am on board with a beautiful sleepy crew of adventurers in white and there is nothing to worry about except that then, exactly then, a rope snaps with a POP! and the railing of the catwalk above me gives way and falls and a white-fur-and-corset clad long-legged burner-beauty with triple-extra-long eyelashes loses her balance, falling off the catwalk with arms flailing yet somehow catches a short still-attached piece of rope and instead of some gruesome accident impaling herself she is no longer falling but swinging wildly in a tight fast arc, down and then up, right back up on to the catwalk again, returning to where she was – an emergency so fast it is over before she can even scream.  


Oh,  Burner Woman!


She laughs. We all laugh.  Danger is funny.  And now she screams.  In fun, not terror.  We are all awake now. 


She struts off, smiling like the fall was her plan all along.  A handsome Latino teen drifts over to check out the mess, climbs up to rig a repair, examining the ropes for a way to re attach them.

[/aesop_content] [/aesop_content] [/aesop_content] LINE BREAK HER

“Use a zip-tie?” I suggest.

“Have one?”

Amazingly, I do.  No water, yet stuffed in my pocket is the perfect jumbo size plastic zip-tie.   Handsome Latino Teen points where to loop it, a narrow hand-carved path-way underneath the wooden floor of the catwalk, exactly large enough for one jumbo zip-tie, obviously done countless times before; and now, me doing the same yet again, joining a lineage of mechanics, stoners, and psychedelic warriors over the years who have kept this art car running.


It works. For now. Handsome Latino Teen grunts in approval. I’ve become part of this honorable burner-lineage. 

I glow.

     … and Abraxis cruises on.


photo credit_by Scott London_v1


The DJ serves a nicely chilled plate of ambient downtempo beats and grooves.  I sink into the sound.


Night creeps toward day.


We move and sway,  low energy, what passes for dancing at this time before dawn.


We laugh. We all glow. The sun also rises.

Embrace, sculpture by The Pier Group:
Embrace #1-predawn, photo by Mckay Jaffe
Embrace #2-dawn
Embrace #3- dawn w/big sky,  photo by Trey Ratcliff
Embrace #4- on fire,  photo by Scott London

With the day comes the first ripple of the true desert heat, burning off the chill grooves, the mix rising, building, kicking thicker beats, waking and shaking us, more and more, we dance, we are the burning and burnt, sweating and happy, consumed by joy, momentarily able to forget the yellow beast burning hotter and hotter in the sky.

photo credit_photos by Scott London

Hours later,   

I collapse into my tent. I realize I am an idiot.  I  am dehydrated.   Seriously.  Pasty lips.  Nauseous.  Head throbbing.  I gulp most of an 8 oz water, grab and suck a whole apple juice-box, then finally slow for can of coconut water, s0 sweet, such medicine.  I steadily sip & breath and sip & breathe, doggedly determined to re-hydrate and recover until finally over-full, I stop.  It is up to my body now.  I don’t feel better.  My core temperature is stuck on hot, the overheating radiating from within me,  no matter how I sit or where I lie.  I am inescapably uncomfortable.  I try to sleep but fail.  I wobble between rest and too-uncomfortable-to-rest.  I am sun-burnt, not my skin but the whole of me, inside to out.


Wrecked by a single morning dancing in the hot sun?  I despise my wimpy self.  A beginner’s mistake, how dare i even call myself a Burner?


I lie about for hours, thinking:

“I am so tired.”

And “I am so miserable.”

And “I will never come back to Burning Man again.”


Then I wake up. It is late afternoon.  I have managed to sleep. The sun is low on the far side of the sky. The temperature is wobbling toward cooler, the ambient sound of over-heard music from a dozen camps nearby is somehow ceasing to annoy … and beginning to becken. I realize –  I’m okay. I am hydrated again. I feel … better, and ready. To go … Out. Again. With water. And sunscreen.   Out, into the rising tide of energy and night and adventure and the sense … that everything is possible.


That was my second dawn.


x-x-x-x     x-x-x-x     )º(     x-x-x-x     x-x-x-x


The third:

It’s dark. I wake from another 2 hour cat nap, a heart-of-the-night 3 a.m. – 5 a.m. doze. I’m groggy but tempted – just go out a little, take water, take gear, enjoy riding my bike in the cool of the new day, nothing strenuous, return before the heat. Don’t repeat yesterday’s mistake. Be ready.

And this time, take a camera.

I prepare carefully, filling my backpack with warmth clothes and gloves for the night, cooling and shade-giving hat and clothes for the day. Supplies: water, juice, snacks, fruit, and just as I close it’s zipper – I hear music – Abraxas herself! Something is beginning. Gentle bells and intertwining tones, a light tabla rhythm, stirring the soul just a little, inviting …

The Golden Dragon coughs and purrs – about to roll.


Abraxas, again! I step aboard, thinking only of the perfection of this coincidence, to join my friends right now, in the dark, exactly when I am ready, to ride the Golden Dragon together, feeling the music fill me and all of us heading out into the night, the dawn, the adventure, the wonder of it all.

Sunrise GW 5229_v2j

It is that beautiful predawn light.

It is the seam between night and day.

And me, with a camera in my hands.

We are all drunk with sleeplessness.

Fueled by music.

Overfilled with friendship

… a group surrender to happiness.

That is when I realize, oh yeah, I’ve left all my gear behind. Somewhere … no, still in my tent … at the camp …

Oh well! I would survive. I had so far.

I would enjoy as is. At least I had my camera.


I ask permission before i snap. Doctor Lobster? Photo? He nods – yes.Doctor Lobster pre dawn


The D.J – Alia – her goddess loving music so perfect – Photo? She nods. She raises her arms.









Abraxas cruises outwards, towards the deep playa.


A friend joins me with a hug, her smile huge and contagious. Her face is shining with happiness. I ask: Photo?


“Sure. Wait. Let me take off my shirt.”


Over her head she pulls off her long sleeve, mushroom patterned tie-dye shirt.   Revealing …

LBeehive tattoo 5223_v2INE BREAK HERE

Her beehive tattoo


“Send me that picture.”

“I will.” I promise.


She beams at me.. We hug. We stare at the horizon.

The problems of the world seem so very small at that moment.

The synchronicity of it all.

Among random and typical burners we.



Abraxas arrives at the Temple.

Slowly circles, settles.

We pour out to dance before her in the sand.

VIDEOg You can see forever 1 LINE BREAK

Others already at the temple, flock towards us,drawn by Alia’s music, two mobs of dawn-loving burners join, becoming one, our movements exaggerated in impossibly long shadows cast by a sun so low it still lingers as if in rest on the horizon.

VIDEOg Mistress of White, Willow arms LINE BREAK

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We dance a salute to the dawn.


We dance homage to Abraxas.


In every direction, so much beauty around me.


the people


their movements


their costumes

fabulous in every state of dress and semi-dress and all, enslaved to the music.


The sun climbs in tiny steps upwards into the sky.BM14_264_dawn girl profile_imustbedead

VIDEOg rand and shadows start LINE BREAK

Behind Abraxas, still in shadow, I notice Celeste dancing alone.


Celeste, a raven haired Belgian 20-something beauty, lithe and lean, quiet and graceful, her pale-skinned narrow face lost in meditative contemplation as she moves slowly in her rhythmic swaying, a friend from camp who I had met the day before, both of us on the decorating committee, she adding colored lines on intricate detail onto a psychedelic wall painting, me holding the ladder below her. A quiet and shy beauty, or so I thought until she danced in the water temple as a water maiden under the giant golden Lotus flower, where slow gentle water stream dripped delicately down to cool and transform each dancing maiden into a wet sensual wonder and she revealed a passion with-in her, dancing like one possessed, inspired, uninhibited.


BM14_265_dawn girl silhouette_imustbedead

photo by Mckay Jaffe,

Now alone behind the Golden Dragon, she twirls meditatively, delicately, shrugging off her nighttime little black dress, to wear her G-string only, unselfconsciously snaking her limbs with intent, seeking the music, dancing for herself or the dawn or no one, simply a haunting private moment amid the chaos of us all, and I, hardly breathing, not wanting to interrupt, not daring to dance beside her. Suddenly, a wave of camera awkwardness threatens me – responding to such beauty by wanting but not wanting to take a photo, fearful that my camera will intrude which in fact it has done already, 

ripping a camera size hole inside of my mood, a lump of technology separating me from the moment, how have i become trapped?  Am I a voyeur? A creepy-guy-watching, instead of joyous co-celebrant? Disgusted, I consider throwing the camera away, vengefully destroying it;


……… but at the exact moment of the camera in my hand to do so,


…………….. right below me … a commotion breaks my mood …


IMG_5331_v4 oval_spanish lovers

… an erotically inspired couple is literally humping their way up the stairs, dancing and thrusting and grinding, each step a new sexual suggestion. The handsome, chaps-wearing, goatee-faced dude uses the railings and steps to position and re-position his leather-bikini-top dark-haired lovely girl for their enthusiastic mutual pleasure. At one step he hoists her up, crotch to his face. On the next step she spreads her legs, he shrugs them over his shoulders and dives between her thighs to bury his face while she pushes back, grinding against his mouth, throws back her head back revealing her mouth in a wide O of pleasure.


He comes up for air, and catches my eye, sees the camera. Photo? He nods – yes,


Next step: he slides Leather-Bikini Girl off his shoulders, down his torso, her spread legs now locked around his waist, he thrusts up from below, she joyously rubbing and moaning, finally taking one step more to pass me by, swinging her to the side so she can still hump as they walk away from me and to my surprise he leans to me to whisper in his thick exotic Spanish accent, “I hope zat people everywhere are turned-on by zes pictures.”


The sun continues to climb.



As I dance, I notice something, a warming sensation, the temperature of my skin is heating up; an early, small warning of the brutal heat to come. Without conscious thought, my body recognizes the sensation. My stomach twitches, then knots, fearfully anticipating the possibility of dehydraion. I notice my breathing has become shallow – this is how panic begins – what should I do? I look around, seemingly only I have stopped dancing. Only I am getting caught in fear and I don’t want that and need to to something and just then, for no apparent reason, a thirty-ish Latino man, in normal default-world jeans and t-shirt, alone but dancing enthusiastically, dances over to me and with total burner transcendance simply says:


“There is no place on the planet I would rather be, than right here, right now.”

Burning Man 2014. Photo by Scott London (

And everything is different.

My dark mood is gone. His words destroy my panic like a pin popping a balloon.

I laugh. What was I thinking? He knows the truth of this moment.

What a message. What a lesson!

I think, Thank you my new friend.

I hug him. Everything is powerfully beautiful once again.


IMG_3227The Dawn. The Dragon. The Dancers. I will deal with the heat, it will be okay.

The joy he has just expressed, I feel the same, the exact same.

I am amazed.

I tell him, “This is one of the peak moments of my life.”

photo by Scott London

It sure feels that way.

We all dance on …



We are all so beautiful.

We are Burners.


Not the chosen people,

but the choosing people.

We are choosing to be here.

We have built the Dragon.


We have risen to celebrate the sun, the new day.


We dance.

photo credit_photos by Scott LondonLINE BREAK

Dancing with me now

…..10… Kat and her boyfriend, Carter.

……….20……….First time Burners

……………30…………… – two strikingly good looking people: Kat, a Marilyn Monroe blonde over 6’ tall, curvy and friendly, playful eyes, a ready laugh; Carter with male model good looks, a clean featured handsome quiet semi-preppy look, but his pale skin already dangerously red, sunburned – both so very pale. Their energy is up, awake, early-morning highly caffeinated. They must have slept, certainly more than me.

Kat suggests we take off, go somewhere else, find a camp serving pancake breakfast, eat something.LINE BREAK


I am still floating on a peak moment of life, too content to move on. Plus, Carter’s sunburn red-skin suggests … trouble.LINE BREAK

“Out into the sun, eh?” I ask, “Are you prepared? Water?”




Dust mask?



Ummm … well.


Wordlessly, I gesture and begin to dance for them, a let-me-give-you-a-gift-dance, a ritualistic pseudo-Egyptian priestly thing, both palms pressed together in prayer position, forearms and elbows parallel to the ground, sliding the whole gesture side to side, shoulders bouncing, thighs bent, culminating in a hands outstretched, opening, offering gesture of giving: a tube of sunscreen.

Yours.” I say to Kat.LINE BREAK

She doesn’t understand.LINE BREAK

I guide her hand to the sunblock, close her fingers around the tube and point at Carter.  Now she smiles. Sweetly she begins to apply a thin sheen of sunscreen to his face…LINE BREAK

“No.” I interrupt.  “The sun is a hammer. The sand is an anvil.’  I take the tube and apply the sunblock onto Carter with thick heavy white lines of zinc. He closes his eyes. I paint his cheeks nose and forehead in stipes like war paint.


He looks … Wild.  Preppy no more. Even more handsome looking. I turn to Kat.  “Blend.”


With a smile, she starts rubbing his face, her fingertips massaging, his face slackens with sensual surrender, muscles releasing at his girlfriends touch. She takes her time. It becomes a lovers face-massage, gently touching, rubbing, deepening, the two of them lost in their own pleasures, a moment of connection. I feel so pleased, more than just helping my new burner friends avoid sunburn, I am an erotic matchmaker, helping to create an intimate sensual, Burning Man moment, fingers to face, skin to skin, even maybe a peak moment of life for them too, a loving and sexual memory, theirs forever, to return to again and again for the rest of their lives.


It is sexy to me too, just watching, and I began to move, to dance, dancing with Kat while she massages Carter, moving close behind her, delicately up against her and yes, she leans slightly back into me in response, meeting my sway and softly pushing back, their twosome becomes a threesome, Beautiful Kat, my smiling, swaying Burner Marilyn Monroe, never stopping the face massage.LINE BREAK

“Yes!” says the smile on her face.LINE BREAK

Eventually, she turns to me and leans in close and softly says, “Your turn.”LINE BREAK

“Close your eyes,” she says.LINE BREAK

“Point your head toward the sun” she whispers.LINE BREAK

Everything blooms golden.LINE BREAK

Warmth floods my eyelids, my eyeballs, my retinas.LINE BREAK

Kat‘s fingertips on my cheeks. Now imy face muscles surrendering to her touch.LINE BREAK

I hear the words of Normal Clothes Latino replay in my head:LINE BREAK

“There is no where else I would rather be.”LINE BREAK

Then I have a vision, floating over the background of golden-red sun-washed closed eyelids, these words in black text in an ornate ancient-style font:LINE BREAK

This sacred moment.INE BREAK

Then, I have a powerful thought:LINE BREAK

“Right now I feel wholly loved.”LINE BREA

The vision transforms to these words:

Wholly loved

And then, I remember …

Years before, while visiting a healer, seeking relief from incapacitating back pain, the healer said, “Tell yourself that you love yourself.”

I told her I couldn’t do that.

“You can.”

“It is hard to say I love myself.” I told her.

“Yes. Say it.”

So I did. Then, I wept. It was a deep and moving moment.

photo by Trey Ratcliff

“Practice”, said the healer, “Practice for the rest of your life.”

“I love you” I say to myself silently.

My eyes moisten, tears roll, Kat continues massaging. No pulling away, if anything, more loving, more accepting. She does not wipe the tears away. Nor do I.

I am aware that Kat is a trained healer, part of Zendo, a camp whose purpose is to provide counseling burners – psychedelic counseling for bad trips, couples counseling, whatever.

Massage often releases powerful emotions.

Did I think that? Or did she say it?

BM14_164_Screen shot 2014-09-11 at 9.26.47 PMShe says: I see you have much love to give.

She says: You have to love yourself as much as you love others.

I think: I have to remember this. Love myself as much as I love others.

She says: You have to show yourself the same love you show others.

Show. Me. The same. Love.

I open my eyes.

The three of us hug, floating in contentment, restful in the wake of the emotional wave of that had just rolled thru us.

“Let’s get a drink.”


At the Abraxas bar, Devin my red-bearded skinny mechanic friend is bartending. He has an open one gallon water jug, and a watermelon, with a few dozen perfect mouth-sized pieces on a plate. I eat. I drink.

photo credit_by Scott London_v1


Burning Man 2014. Photo by Scott London ( retreat to Abraxas’s shady chill space area below the dance floor/DJ/double-decker couch, a small area where once there had to been eight rows of school-bus seats, now two long padded benches, invitingly good to lie down on, soft comfortable horizontal islands above a pile of random backpacks and gear jettisoned by now-dancing Abraxians.


One bench holds two sleeping lads in an affectionate embrace, wrapped around each other. On the other lies a sleeping playa princess, her delicate young face in blissful smiling pass-out, make-up smudged but princess feathered-headdress-tiara still in place, with a full length furry coat over her shoulders like a blanket, yet randomly askew to reveal a dusty white polka dot mini-dress and naked legs curled up tight.

I shrug off my own gear and settle in at her feet where there is just enough sitting room for me. I eat my remaining watermelon pieces desert style, chewing down to the rind and then sucking the that dry, absorbing every drop of sustenance.

photo by John K Goodman



My inner peace persists. I appreciate everything around me – rest, shelter, shade, sustanance – aware of my fatigue from too many dawns, but comforted by Abraxas surrounding me, the music flowing, the sweetness of the watermelon, the sleeping beauty beside me.

A quiet rest amid the swirl of everything.

This is perfect. That moment of panic – so needless and distant. The whole Golden Dragon is my shelter. Abraxas will deliver me safely home. I am. Calm. Still. This sacred moment.

I close my eyes.


I open my eyes.

I must have slept. A mist of sweet smelling coolness settles around me.

…5… “It’s rosewater,” says an full figured earth mother who sprays again – a cooling vapor fills the air, gently falling on us all: the sleeping lads, the playa princess, myself. Immediately, the air temperature lower by at least 10º. All of us awake, as if from a sleeping spell.

…5… “Rosewater.” explains the Earth mother, “Each of you is blossoming now.” 

Her energy is so nurturing, so healing. BREAK 2

…5… “Are you a nurse?” I ask.

…5… “Not a nurse. I’m a mother of two.”


Just at that moment, Elegant Ethan the driver slides into the driver’s seat, starts the engine and moves the Dragon 200 feet towards camp.


This is how a real Burner organizes an art car departure. There is no way to coordinate dozens of playa hipsters and celebrants, so when it somehow becomes ‘the Right Moment for an Art Car to Move On’ – the driver moves the vehicle a short distance and stops – a clearly visible fair warning. Past or future passengers have to be aware, and board ASAP or be left behind.


floating abraxasOn board already, I watch the long straggly line of exhausted beautiful all-night people in their marvelous burner costumes of desert finery, dreads and feathers and beads and bikinis and skin and psychedelic eyes, all pass by me happily, wearily, joyously take their place for the return Voyage.
“Ethan!” I ask, “Is there time for me to go upfront and ride in a Dragon-Claw before we take off?”

He nods.

I scamper to the front.2

Each claw is actually a two person love seat extending forward, in front of Abraxas and quite low to the ground.

Both are empty.

I get into the left claw, hopping over the non-functioning safety bar; a jenky arrangement of welded rebar that might, maybe, somehow prevent a drunk burner from falling out.

I climb over, onto the dusty cushions of the loveseat.

And then a guy in sunglasses kicks me out.I

“Hey,” says Sunglass Guy, “We need this seat for a girl on crutches who can’t get up the steps.”


Oh. Well, of course. Unless …


“What about the other one?” I ask, indicating the right claw, filled with burner gear: water bottles and jugs, packs, furs, jackets – but no people.


“Looks empty now.”


Sunglass Guy considers, then: “That will work.”LINE BREAK 2

I scamper over and create a space to sit among the pile of abandoned gear.

Sunglass Guy returns with his radient girlfriend, blond, fresh, not even dusty, hobbling on her crutches, smiling so big she looks like someone an Angel has kissed.

“I’m Dave, this is Ashley,” says Sunglass Guy.


The Golden Dragon takes off. 5 mph. Perfect. Awesome. It feels like flying, the love seats so low, no more than two feet above the desert sands.


Behind us, a huge rumble and weight –the vibrating Dragon engine.

In front, a vast airy openness, a 270º vista of perfectly flat desert sand populated by the infinitely creative, endless activity of Burning Man.LINE BREAK 2

People alone, in pairs, in groups; motionless and moving; sleeping, walking, bike riding, climbing on art, dancing, waving while Abraxas glides slowly by, our DJ performing still, a musical party in flight.

start video end video

Two bicyclists ride by faster than us, arms extended toward each other between their bikes to clasp their hands together palm to palm, a momentarily stable 4-wheeled-two-person-unit-of-prayer,a beautiful rolling ritualistic gesture of love.

And then …

over there!


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end EWS

Three Fifths Column

Beyond the claws of the Dragon … the temple … the artistic masterpiece so central to the emotional landscape of the burn, so precious to us all, so meaningful, so stunning in the morning light.

Once more, another wave of contentment – such a wonderous sight! I turn to Dave and Ashly

“This is one of the highlights of my life. This beautiful perfect moment.”

At my words, Dave’s face transforms. I watch as he connects to the same feeling, in his own heart, in his own way.

“Will you take our picture?” he asks, “And let me take yours. Right now. With the temple behind you.”

I had forgotten I was carrying a camera.

“Snap away,” he instructed, “Take many”.

They kiss. They smile. They embrace. They kiss again.

I say, “the only thing that would make this better is if my wife was here to share this with me. I love her so much. We have been together for 35 years. “LINE BREAK 2

Ashley beams at me. “That is so beautiful.”

I explain why my Cathy would not come to the playa. The dust, the heat, the crowds, the sleeplessness – not her thing.

Dave invites me to breakfast, “Come to our RV and have quail eggs with us. I will show you RV life. So nice, even your wife would like it.”

We watch the shadow of the dragon dance in the sand…

The drive could not have been more splendid.

All too soon we return to our camp,

A stream of contented hot tired dusty glorious people exit and disperse in all directions… except me.

Not yet.

I remain contentedly in the claw of the Dragon, not eager for the moment to end.

I feel no urgency to leave my new lady love, the gentle golden giant, Abraxas.

I make a slow circuit around Abraxas, to examine her in the day, to appreciate her from every angle. I re-board and contemplate the giant two level couch, now empty of people and things, quiet, stilled, waiting – empty but not sad.

I climb down. I linger beneath her tail, comfortable in her shade, enjoying her golden companionship, contemplating how happy I am.


Then suddenly, it is not just the Dragon and I. A dark-haired young lady in a zebra bikini bottom, see-thru lace hoodie, steampunk top hat, dust mask and goggles round her neck, and Camelback-water tube at the ready – a perky adventuress geared up for the day – runs up to me from across the street.INE BREAK 2

“Can I ask you a question?”LINE BREAK 2

“Yes. I know everything.”LINE BREAK 2

“When will the Dragon go out again?”LINE BREAK 2

“I know everything… But so do you.”LINE BREAK 2

She taken aback, visibly shifting from a normal-person-normal-question-moment into the infinite-possiblity-of-Burning-Man-transformational-reality.LINE BREAK 2

Perhaps no one in her life has ever told her that she knows everything.LINE BREAK 2

Burning Man 2015. Photo by Scott London ( she stills her whole body, fully entering the present moment, thinking intently. BREAK 2

“So the answer is already with in me?”


I watch her move from outward to inward. She settles. Breathes. Closes her eyes. Stays silently motionless for 6 heartbeats before opening her eyes to speak with a tone of modest clarity.


She says, “The Dragon has just come back. She will be here for at least a couple hours, if not all day, until the cooling afternoon. “LINE BREAK 2

“Yes, telepathic girl,” I say. “You did not need me at all.”INE BREAK 2

She smiles, pleased.LINE BREAK 2

“You are beautiful. May I kiss you on the cheek?”LINE BREAK 2

“No. Yes.”LINE BREAK 2

She offers me her cheek.LINE BREAK 2

I feel confused. A mixed message. I shyly give her offered cheek the smallest of kisses. She amplifies it with a sincere hug, confirming the full ‘yes’ after all.LINE BREAK 2

“Why did you call me telepathic girl?”LINE BREAK 2

photo by Scott London

“What you just did. Reading the future. What you just said.”INE BREAK 2

“What did I say?”LINE BREAK 2

“You don’t remember? Shall I quote you? Your own words back to you?”LINE BREAK 2

“No. Yes. Yes, please. I don’t know. I have a lot of confusing energy inside of me.”


She looked across the street where a group of 2 gals and 4 guys are waiting for her and then without preamble starts telling me her story, that she had been in a really yucky camp and didn’t really know anyone and was miserable but then got adopted sort of by this other camp, you know, those 4 guys over there who are camped right across the street from the water temple, from us, from Abraxas. “Now everything is so much better. I came to the water temple yesterday. I’m so glad to be your neighbor.”INE BREAK 2

“Perhaps I welcomed you. I perform as part of the water temple. I am the lowest of the priests of the water temple here and work the front door to welcome people.”LINE BREAK 2

“I think I remember you.”LINE BREAK 2

Across the street her friends look impatient to go, but she seems in no hurry to leave me and the shade.LINE BREAK 2

“I just wanted to ride on the Dragon if I could.”LINE BREAK 2

“And now you know everything.”LINE BREAK 2


One of the guys walks over, his vibe not so friendly. In a heavy Israeli accident he asks what she is doing and when they are leaving.LINE BREAK 2

“We’re leaving right now.” she says to him and turns to me, momentarily uncertain. Perhaps she is figuring out a goodbye, doesn’t know quite what to say. I help out and speak first.INE BREAK 2

“Go forth, Telepathic girl. Go and sin more.”LINE BREAK 2

She breaks into a big smile but glances round at the Israeli for just a fleeting blink of nervousness. I sense they are more than friends and it makes her uncertain towards me, but then sweetly and boldly turns back to kiss me on the cheek, fully, with another amplifying squeeze. Then runs off.


Oh, Burning Man.


Just when you think a moment can’t get better, a telepathic girl kisses you on the cheek.


That was the third dawn.


Burning Man 2014. Photo by Scott London (

Burning Man 2014. Photo by Scott London (


text and photos, mostly Burning Man 2014
video and more photos, Burning Man 2015
no tickets for polkadot, Burning Man 2016
link published in JRS 11/07/16

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