Swing City & Black Rock City

Questions & Answers

Q. So tell us about Burning Man. How did you get involved? How are you involved?

Well I grew up in New Mexico and we have this festival in Santa Fe which features this large man named Zozobra which gets burned. Many citizens of the city write letters and notes containing events, regrets, apologies, deaths, and loves of the past year and they are burned in the man. It is to me a very special ceremony and I loved it so much as a kid. I remember it having a huge impression on me.

Many years later I am living in Los Angeles and I have become a regular at the Original Muscle Beach. A couple of my friends Robert Chapin and Jessica Cail share with me their plan to bring the rings from Muscle Beach to Black Rock City Nevada. They want to build a structure on which we can hang rings and hammocks and shade and play much like we do in Santa Monica. They told me I was a born burner and asked me to come and be involved in making it happen. At first I said no way. I spent some time following the Grateful Dead in my youth and had spent many a moonlit night since dancing to some kind of hippy music in one desert or another. So I didn’t really have anything against such a thing per se. But I loved the warmth and sun and air of the beach and saw no reason to go to the desert. It seemed silly.

But Bob & Jess presented me with an offer I couldn’t refuse. They said I was needed and they couldn’t build it without me. Given a mission I relinquished and went ahead with the project. It was an amazing life changing experience. I could talk about this for hours.

How am I involved? Well I am the mayor of our camp. This means I am essentially a beneficent tyrant. I was give this role after the first year by Bob & Jess. They were so completely exhausted from all their projects that year that the thought of doing the Burning Man project again just killed them. So they made clear if the camp was to continue it would have to do so without them. That’s where I came in.

Essentially what I do is set the tone and work to ensure that the original mission of the camp, to bring the experience of the original muscle beach in Santa Monica California to Black Rock City, is adhered to. I work with a fine crew of people both from that first year and who have become family over the years. There are somewhere around 250 of us who are involved somehow. 80+ people make it on the playa with us. We have a crew of about 30-40 who consistently go above and beyond the call of duty to make the camp happen. And then we have a handful of us who have been here all along or who play a vital role in making sure the project succeeds. My role essentially means I manage who is in the camp and whether or not they are a good fit for our mission and I guide the group as a whole through the calendar of tasks we have to accomplish to pull off the camp. It’s an amazing job and I work with some amazing folks such as Hunter Ackerman & Monique DeAnda. The list could go on and on.

If you are interested in seeing photos of the camp or learning more about what we present publicly in social media go to our Swing City Burning Man facebook page. If you are interested in joining our camp you can create an account at our admin server Swingcity.la. Maybe someday you can join us out on playa or at one of our events in the default world.