AFTERBURN REPORT 2001The Man
This year, a new team gathered around construction and destruction of the Burning Man. This team included the volunteer group responsible for building the Man-completed for the first time ever at the Work Ranch in the Nevada desert!
In addition, coordination encompassed a team of DPW workers dedicated to producing the Temple of Enlightenment (the Man's platform), a new pyrotechnic team, a new group that installed the Man's neon, and a combined team that assisted in the Man's installation by means of an 80-foot crane.
Spiral leads the efforts to build the Man at Black Rock Station. photo: Flynn
Dale Scott and a volunteer carefully craft the head of the Man. photo: Flynn
All involved dedicated themselves to improving on less-than-perfect burns that had occurred for two years running. The results of this new organization exceeded all expectations. The Man and Temple of Enlightenment loomed as the city's primary landmark as never before, and the burning of the figure left everyone involved delighted and amazed by the accomplishment.
In particular, improved fire cannons produced such a prodigious final blast of flame that everyone reeled at the effect-except their skilled and fire-suited operators. Art cars, many fashioned by the members of the Department of Public Works, paraded within the central circle, and members of the Fire Conclave, now numbering more than 300, danced, juggled, twirled, and generally played with fire along the entire perimeter.
As Burning Man's fire culture has spread, many more people are learning the art of fire spinning, and each of these groups was drawn from a different locality. Every element of the Man's burning ritual this year occurred as it was scripted and on time. A more organized chain of command and a commitment to disciplined rehearsal by every volunteer performer made this possible.
Still, perhaps the most moving element of the ritual was the inevitable touch of Nature, utterly unscripted, that has affected every Burn.
As flames roared through the giant chimney that supported Burning Man, everyone looked on amazed as, one by one, sixteen miniature tornadoes, called fire whirls by experienced fire fighters, spun out from the base-one for every year that Burning Man has burned.
When the figure finally fell, it plunged straight downward onto its fire shield, as engineers had predicted, leaving not a trace.