Here in beauteous Western Australia, we don’t often get The Things. Like, any of them. You know The Things, like, shopping, decent fucking hamburgers, happy hours, the ability to get to any other city over population 30,000 in under 7,000 bloody kilometers… I could go on, but I’ve kinda promised like 34,982 people I’d stop being such a fuckin’ whinger, so… Hence! I will today regale my loyal followers with a tale of the one world-renowned Thing we do have. The Burning Man. Except, of course, this being bass-akwards West Oz, it’s been christened The Blazing Swan. And it may just be the best damn thing on Earth.
So why is the Swan so awesome? Well, it’s just as cray-cray as the original (and I’m gonna assume y’all all know about the Burning Man at this point ’cause, oversaturation), but it’s also not too big (wtf, Black Rock City, I don’t think there’s 70,000 anyones on Earth I like that much, and also our swan is toooootally bigger than yoooooours…), and it’s not too small, it’s juuuuuust right. 1500 people max, art and installations and camps and flame-throwers and hand-made cars and mud bathing and nakedness and unnnnnnicorns! Plus it’s only been going for 2 years, so it’s still kinda a work in progress, as it were. But hey, ours hasn’t killed anyone (yet), so we’re winning!
But to really go on and prove my point, and also for those of y’all who can’t figure out why the fuck you’d drop $250 dollars on a fest that provides you with literally nothing, and also ’cause I have a small-to-medium-sized List Making Problem, following is a summary of, in no particular order:
Nina’s Top Ten Things That May Happen to You at The Blazing Swan
10) You Will be Well Fed.
So, the Burning Things are all about Radical Self-sufficiency. If you wanna eat, you bring your own shit. Ditto the water, alcohol, bedding, entertainment… So last year I brought enough food to kill a cow (mainly comprised of cow, clearly) and managed, in 7 days, to cook exactly… twice. Like it just didn’t happen, and why would it when perfect and perfectly lovely strangers went out of their way to feed me every time I was hungry? Occasionally, literally with a whole roast pig (massive shout out, Emu Export crew, y’all’re amazing!), occasionally with a shockingly tasty alcoholic bevvie served in a hand-hollowed pineapple (I love you, Outrigger Island!) or a perfect flat white from whoever the fuck dragged that espresso machine out to the bush (I love you, whoever you were!).
I will say the downside to this is that one asshole who offered me truffles, waited til I ate 1/2 of one, and then said,
AOT: “Yeahhhh, man, and they’re like, totally full of hash.”
Me: “Seriously? You didn’t want to mention that before I took a bite?” Fuck it, too late, eats other half…
So whatever, you might get drugged by a friendly hippie, but at least you won’t starve to death on the playa?
9) You will see things you may wish you hadn’t. Or not?
In no particular order, I have viewed, at the Blazing Swan, the following:
- A number of penises, some of them possibly belonging to my friends;
- A number of nipple-tassled boobs, some of them possibly belonging to my friends;
- A Cunt on a Rock. But like, Aussies really like the word ‘cunt’, so that’s way less offensive than it sounds??;
- A bald Italian man’s very white ass (I love you, Stefano!);
- A Naked Jog, which really just looked painful;
- Naked people covered in mud (it’s held on a dry salt lake, what?);
- A truly excessive amount of free hugs, some of them naked (that’s a lie. There’s no such thing as too many free hugs);
- Numerous bitches whinging that there weren’t enough naked people or hugs; and basically just all of this:
8) You Will Come Home a Hugger. Now, I have hated hugging pretty much since the day I was born. Fuck you, you dirty skeezy hippies I’ve never even met, do not you touch my adored person with your disgusting “hug / love / peace / joy” bullshit! Hiss! Aaaaaaand, then I went to the Swan, and now I’m a full-fledged, creepy-as, I’ve-hugged-strangers-on-the-street-back-in-Perth psycho-crazy-hugger. And all I’ve got by way of explanation is, every other human being who’s attended this event won’t shut up about how it “totally like, changed my life, maaaaan”, so why can’t I? Not good enough reasoning? You must need a hug!
7) You Will Befriend Acid Girl. In fact, you will befriend a whole lotta people you weren’t friends with before: Acid Girl (I love you, Acid Girl!), Unicorn Man (I love you, Oz!), the Naked Canook (I love you, Cleal!), the Dirtiest Man on Earth (seriously. And yes, yes, I did lick his foot. I love you, George!), the Axe-throwing Hitchiking Dutchman (I love you, Alex!), the Silent Disco Impresario (I love you, the Nam Lay!), and a billion other people you may now be friends / stuck with for life. And it will be good.
6) You Will Become a Pyro.
Haha, as if I wasn’t one before. But seriously, even if you haven’t gotten a bit too excited about burning shit since you were a wee child, you totally will be at the Swan. Again in no particular order, there was:
- The naked Easter ceremony at the Swanhenge (yes, we get a bit punny on the Swan names…) involving some fire-druids?;
- A fabulous man who actually built a trebuchet (yes, that’s a Middle Ages-esque catapult / siege engine), that he then proceeded to fling flaming balls of fire with (seriously, how did I get NO pics of that shit??);
- My buddy’s army car that he built specifically to throw flame;
- A flame-throwing canoe?;
- The aforementioned most fabulous Outrigger Island, who offer free fabulous shots to the accompaniment of more flamethrowers. Which they would NOT let me operate. Bitches;
- My stove. Accident. Kinda blew it up the first day. Fuck you, Bunnings, and your stupid fucking stoves you “recalled because sometimes they spontaneously combust”. And yes, everyone who arrived on Days 2-7 and were told at the gate about “that silly fuck-wit with the Silent Disco crew who blew her own stove up on Day 1”, yes, that was me. Whatever, just addin’ to the fires…
- And finally, the Swan itself. Which, might I mention again, is totally taller than most Burning Men. It’s ~20m, an absolutely gorgeous work of art, and after appreciating it for a week, what do we do with it? That’s right, we torch it in an orgy of fireworks / fire-dancers / explosions / whatever the fuck else you can easily chuck in.
5) You Will Attend a Unicorn Orgy.
‘Self-explanatory? Or just un-explainable? All I know is, apparently you don’t have to be a virgin to tame unicorns, but you can only see them if you take your top off at the door… Cause really, who would want to see a unicorn when they could see a unicorn orgy!
4) You Will Gift and Be Gifted, But Not By Nuns.
Now part of the point of a Blaze is to gift, like yeah I ate fuckin’ everybody’s free food and liquor, and enjoyed their music and partook in their art cars, bless all their lil’ hearts, but I also totally brought margaritas and my own fabulously entertaining self! And I made punch and bartended like twice! Yeah, I know, I really gotta step up my gifting game next year…
But my point being, The Swan is a time for generosity, gifting, acceptance and sharing the kindness of the human spirit. Ya know, all that feel-good, do-gooder shit that normally makes me puke on sight. And who’s really good at feel-good shit? Women of God, clearly.
Little known fact about Blazing Swan Inception (Year 1), but swear to Jesus true story. So the reason the Blazing Swan is held in Kulin (so nice! Lovely people, Kulin-ites 🙂 Plus they’re the amazeballs dudes who made me a roast pig!) is that apparently it was the replacement location, after the first fell through. The first being a nunnery. Sadly, when the nuns found out what type of disaster the organizers wanted to throw, they said they’d have to pray on it, bless their lil’ ole hearts too. And when the organizers showed back up for an answer, apparently, it seems, ‘God said No’. I mean, fair’s fair, God didn’t wanna trouble the lil’ ole ladies with the dirty-ass naked hippies, fair enough. And so the first theme camps were born, ’cause God might’ve Said No, but oh, Blazing Said Yes…
3) You Will also Attend a Naked Silent Disco
Apparently I’m now part of the Silent Disco / Couchsurfing crew, by far the hobo-i-est group at the Swan (I love you, all of you!), whose gift is, clearly, a Silent Disco. But this being the Swan, our Fearless Leader decided that Saturday night would be Naked Disco Night. And yes, clearly, this went down blindfolded. ‘Cause really, who wouldn’t want to get blind, deaf, and naked and then flail around dancing with their junk out? Well, clearly me, which is how I ended up bartending, but everyone else seemed to have a blast.
On the plus side, no ones junk had any accidents, all ended well, the lost 6-year-old we accidentally kidnapped was safely returned, and our Fearless Leader discovered this fact:
2) Your Friends Will Electrocute Their Balls
So the other nice thing about Kulin is the Tin Horse Highway. I haven’t really figured out what the shit’s up with Aussies and “Bush Art”, as I’m gonna henceforth name it. It’s like they go stir-crazy livin’ in these tiny-ass towns with nothing to do, and the one week a year they’re not passed out cold at the pub they decide to build excessively large, generally ridiculous, often adorable, but never logical, how shall we say, public sculptures? The Adorable Husband’s home town is particularly entertaining at this, as every Christmas they take their excess hay bales and makes Xmas sculptures out of them on their lawns? It’s for tourists? Maybe not.
Anywho, Kulin’s addition to this glorious tradition is the Tin Horse Highway. Wherein basically every farmer on a 20km stretch of road (that happens to be the road to the Swan) has taken some oil drums / scrap metal and created horse sculptures out of them? Including pretty entertaining ones, like the above horses water-skiing in a desiccated field. It’s actually totally awesome and funny, just beware, DO NOT ATTEMPT TO HOP FENCES AND PHOTOGRAPH THE TIN HORSES. And how do I know this?
Turk 1: “Hey, lets stop to pee.”
Me: Yeah, ’cause we haven’t done that 36,549 times on this supposedly 3 hour trip. Why in the ever-livin’ fuck did I volunteer to drive again? ” Yeah, totally, sure.”
Exit car, sounds of road peeing. Wander to other side, as generally prefer Tin Horse Gazing to Turk Pee Viewing.
Turk 2: “Ooooo, we should totally hop the fence and get a closer picture!”
Me: “Yeah, totally, sure.”
Me and Turk 2 approach sheep fence. Turk 2 lifts leg….
Me: sound of brain revving up ever so quickly… “Hey, wait, wouldn’t this fence be elec-”
Turk 2: “!!!!!!!!!!!” Sound of Turkish balls frying.
Me: “-trifed?” No further words possible, as am now consumed with uncontrollable chortling re: Turkish ball frying incident.
Enter Turk 1: “Hey, what’s wrong with Turk 2?”
It’s cool, he’s fine. He couldn’t speak for like 34 minutes, which I’d say is a record for Turk 2, but he says it was only the left ball, so I guess that’s good.
And, finally, y’all watch yourselves, ’cause,
1) You Will Accidentally Spend the Night with Hypothermia, Squatting in a Bowl Chair With a Pedophile.
True story, I swear to God. Those of you who attended the first Swan will remember the Great Flood of 2014 vividly, and those of you who didn’t, well, suck it and die. It was a fucking biblical disaster, likely sent by those pesky nuns we’d previously annoyed. Seriously, the Swan’s burning, all is well, no one is coherent, everyone’s euphoric and then… The skies opened. The heavens descended. At one point it was raining so hard I found myself shivering to death on the last tiny mud-hill inside a blacked-out tent (as every single generator at the fest had bit it by this point), filled with a magically appearing raging torrent of flood, with some shivering stranger dude, both of us too scared / wet / inebriated / poorly-clothed to run for it. Rain jacket, you say? Umbrella? Wellies even? Yeah, even had I been intelligent enough to bring any of that shit, which no, no I had not been, there’s no way in hell I could get through this biblical flood to my tent which, to judge from the hysterical screaming coming from down the hill, had probably washed away at this point.
I don’t really remember how I made it to the top of the hill, although I do remember a sprint turned face-plant in the mud, dressed only in a tank top and an absolutely saturated jean mini-skirt, but I swear I then found heaven. One remaining camp, roof intact, with a functional generator, and a bowl-chair with a duvet on it. Not thinking twice, I dove into said bowl chair and burrowed under said duvet to discover an equally absolutely saturated older gentleman, who I informed would have to share, as there was no way in mother-cunting hell I was exiting the only warm location in literally miles. So we shared. And then he shared. Oh, but he shared The Things. Turns out he’s up on pedophilia charges for fucking his daughter, I kid you not. But it’s cool, she’s only his adopted daughter (hahahahahaha SO SO SO not better), and it was like, “totally consensual, maaaaaan,” despite her being 18 and them having “dated” for the previous three years.
Oh my God, I’m going to die, saturated-wet, in a sketchy bowl chair, in the bush, with a pedo who won’t stop… wiggling. And I’m too fucking hypothermic to run…
Like seriously, I could hardly stop shaking from cold for long enough to comprehend what this criminal ass-hat was on about, until this bit penetrated my alcoholic freeze-haze:
CAH: “And like, I’m sure I’ll get outta the charges, it’s just… I’m so sad. ‘Cause she dumped me.”
Aaaaaand I’m officially out. Enough. Finished. Full Stop. So I passed out for like three hours, partly ’cause I couldn’t listen to that shit any longer and mainly ’cause I decided I was safe from CAH, what with me being literally twice the age of his preferred partners, and didn’t give a flying fuck in any case, I was so cold and tired.
On the plus side, it turns out my tent was flooded about half a foot deep, but I, being the uber-intelligent human I am (hahahahahaha), had left my sleeping bag on my massive air-mattress, which had basically turned into a floating water-bed. Winning!
P.S. Bonus Advice:
Do not lick unknown floor-drugs off a table to save them from the wind blowing them away. Or, if you’re gonna, do it before you accidentally stab a giant stick through your foot and fail to get the stupid, cuntish first-aid-lady to do anything but laugh at you and your utter filthiness (not that she didn’t have a point), not after. ‘Cause it’ll totally make that shit hurt less 🙂
P.P.S. Bonus Preview:
OMFG y’all, it’s only 112 days ’til it all goes down again!!!!!!!!!
2 thoughts on “Nina’s Travel Rule #51: Burning Man Says Keep Your Pants On”
Great write up Nina. There was also a flame throwing mini army tank! Built by two extraordinary gentlemen. But you didn’t know us then. I remember the flood well. Tying down our camp naked with a blanket wetly draped around myself like a blue toga before abandoning my failing tent with my newly found love to escape in a dash up the hill to her surviving and reasonably dry tent for a night of hot steamy sex as the world around us was destroyed and stories of narrow survival and camp destruction unfolded. A great time to be alive! xox
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