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Midnight at Burning Man


Fresh out of driving school I rented a car and somehow made it to the Playa almost at sunset.   It was 1993; I quickly pitched my little blue tent on a quiet spot less than a kilometer away from center camp.  I rode my mountain bike right back there to mix it up, meet people, and see what there was to see.  When time came for me to sleep, I just could not find my tent. There were no street signs and I had not noted in which direction I had set camp.   I was lost.

I found refuge in Crimson Rose camp, the Playa Fire Priestess.  Our paths had crossed years before as we danced together at the Sutter Theatre, San Francisco’s last burlesque house!   While Crimson lit the cauldron again this year, I did not make it to Black Rock City.

The essence of this forever growing community is to embody the power of love over the love of power.  

Nothing’s for sale and no one is judged: we cooperate to build a city, we celebrate all our creations for one week, we make art, we create rituals and then, we leave no trace of it.

I immediately got hooked by the experience of tribe and art.  I returned many times.  Each year the population of  Black Rock City grew larger, much larger.  Street signs and positions on the clock gave us a way to circulate, find amazing art camps, music, friends.  However, given my notoriously poor sense of direction, almost a decade later, in 2002, I got lost again!

It was a particularly dark night, my friend Eve Minax had offered to carry my backpack on our night prowl.  Somehow, we got separated.  I got cold.  My warm clothes, water, and flashlight were in that backpack and I was not sure where home was.  Standing at the entrance of a pulsating dance club, I felt I was 10 years old and needed my daddy!  A tall man appeared and said, “you look like you could use a hug.”  He was warm, confident and had a big heart.  I took in his sweet energy; his long embrace filled me.  He also gifted me with a big red woolen scarf and added,  pointed me in the right direction, “You said your camp is at 7 o’clock, so go this way, stop at every fire, ask for water, dance at every “disco,” and you will find your way home.”  Getting lost on the playa can open your heart to the kindness of strangers.

That was the year Fakir branded the man on many burners, including yours truly!

Fakir branding "The Man" at the Temple of Atonement, Black Rock City © Cléo Dubois

Fakir branding “The Man” at the Temple of Atonement, Black Rock City 2002
© Cléo Dubois

The SM theme camp, The Temple of Atonement, offered burners an opportunity nightly to confess their sins to the Judge and obtain forgiveness by happily submitting to floggings delivered by Dominant Kinksters in good roleplay fun.  They had asked if Fakir would brand the man on those wanting the kiss of fire.  But of course!~  and we came prepared.  By midnight, Fakir had branded more than 25!

This year I watched the Man burn online.  When asked what ritual was, the BRC Dj said, “The burn is a ritual and ritual is what ritual means to you.”

Tribe, trust, fire, art, ritual, kink, tolerance, compassion.  What a great trip it has all been and continues being.  It is my culture.  I  will return to the Playa.  Will you?

In kink with heart,

Cléo Dubois

Did you know I coach couples in the privacy of my dungeon and offer Erotic Dominance Intensives to small groups of 8 in San Francisco?  Whether you’re curious or eager to dive into this erotic pool, you can call or skype me about it!  

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