First posted 04-13-13:
Discover Burning Girl this 4th of July. Here's how:
If you've been to Burning Man you know you can't do it all, but when you get back home and look at all the pictures you discover so many things you didn't see. It makes you wonder if you attended the same event. I call this the Tao effect - your Burning Man experience is defined by the path you take across the playa. There is always much to miss.
And the very same thing seems to happen in the local Burner community. Even though the Reno area only has a few thousand Burners I constantly get surprised by some local project or place I've never heard of before. This was the case last night when Melinda and Rick invited me to a BBQ at Rancho Rico, about 100 miles from Reno, and ten miles down a gravel road south of Yerington.
To be candid, I HAD heard of the event they host at the location called Burning Girl, but it was always in a Shangri la sort of way, kind of a myth about a paradise out on the Walker river somewhere. To my regret, I hadn't chased down the myth until now. But I'm getting ahead of myself. Let me first describe the venue.
Rancho Rico is indeed on the Walker river, or it would be more accurate to say, the Walker river winds it's way through Rancho Rico. Even though the property is only a quarter mile wide, the river manages to log nearly a mile of turns through the cottonwoods and river brush. I'm told it takes 25 minutes to float from one end to the other. But floating the river is just the beginning of Rancho Rico's Tao.
Having been to Burning Man, Rick and Melinda have created a personal space consistent with many of the principles of the larger event. They have "theme areas" all over the property, each supporting a different experience, each encouraging a different mood.
There's a log house which is their main vacation residence. Inside it's a beautiful open design but otherwise the most conventional structure on the property, which says a LOT about everything else.
There's also a large barn with a shop well populated with machine tools along one wall. It's decorated in such a fine / rustic manner, it's nicer than many living rooms I've encountered. It's so nice, it almost makes you NOT want to turn on the drill-press.
Above is a large open loft apartment with a view of the mountains. It sleeps 8 and again, it's decoration is another experience in western art. This barn also has one of the "exposed" showers in the main shop area. Sometimes you just get too dirty to be shy.
Near the barn is an adult sized swingset - not to be missed when the stars are out. And at the front of the barn is "Mustang Sally" who's lights create a whole different drama at night. There also are solar trail lights on most paths (or soon will be).
There are fire pits, both gas and conventional since fire has to be carefully controlled. There's just too much available stuff to burn, and the fire department is too far away. Glo-poi for spinning is a requirement here.
There is a shaded massage and meditation area next to the river. As a matter of fact, with it's winding nature, MOST of the areas are next to the river in one way or another. For instance, the tee-pee camping area is also river front and nicely isolated.
There are multiple outdoor (and indoor) hot and cold showers, one of which has a beautiful mosaic created by Melinda. I think it's of Burning Girl. Or is it a self-mosaic? Or both?
There's an RV area with 100 amp service as well as four or five other hidden camping areas along this mile of river bank, one of which would be excellent for an isolated sound camp.
Up a secret trail is access to the "nude beach" on a sandy turn of the river. Other areas are limited to topless or clothed to keep it family-friendly.
And of course there's a hot-tub next to the river to provide contrast with the surging snow melt. But that's only in the winter. In the summer this river is controlled and fed by the Bridgeport reservoir so it stays reasonably high (2-3 feet) and warm all summer long - just what you need to float along.
Away from the river is the marriage pit. It's an amphitheater where Ric and Melinda were married. It's also an excellent camping or performing area more remote from the other camps.
The center-piece on the river is a stage for the musicians. This is where over the years they've hosted live rock and roll, bluegrass, raggai, jazz, blues as well as country AND western - just about every music except for droning dubstep (save it for the remote sound camp?).
Going around the river bend and into the woods is a shaded trail that surprisingly leads to a full-size old west saloon complete with a whore's loft (and bed). There's also a poker table and very impressive bar with hand-holds (why haven't I seen this feature before?).
Across the river on Ric's telephone pole bridge is Money Hill where the generous drop coins for children to "discover" later on. It reminded me of the "penny toss" I attended as a kid.
At the top of Money Hill is Ric's "grave site", again consistent with the wild west theme and worth the climb for it's view of the mountains and river valley to the east.
The final concession to fire is the Burning Girl which is actually a 10-foot metal sculpture of a female in a fire-safe area. On the Saturday of the camp-out this girl is loaded with straw and wood then set ablaze, which gets us to the event Melinda and Ric have been hosting for the last five years:
Not having been to the event, I won't guess at the experience, but as you can imagine this venue seems like it would be a party all by itself - just add people. And when those people are participating artists, it seems that Rancho Richo would come alive with fun and wonder. My guess is, that's exactly what has happened each 4th of July for the last five years as Ric and Melinda invite their bay area friends out to the wilds of the Walker river.
But this year they want to mix it up a bit. They are looking for some local talent.
In the past the focus has been live music along with a kid-friendly family camp-out, and they plan to continue that. But this year in appreciation for the inspiration Burning Man has provided, Melinda and Ric would also like to extend the Burning Girl invitation to some of the Reno / Tahoe Burners. That will be their generous gift to our local Burner community.
I just returned from another organizational meeting and a few changes have been made. The event will be limited to 500 Burners for 2013. Also, only the dogs that have already been registered will be admitted. Finally, ATVs will only be allow for registered service work or art cars.
Here is a summary of the principles of Burning Girl:
If you'd like to be part of this wonderful event on the 4th of July, click the registration button below and fill in your contact info.
Any other questions, email:
First come, first on the invite list - limited to 500.
Facebook Event Page
Register for the event here:
Attend Burning Girl
07-10-13 A summary of the experience from Melinda:
Another amazing Burning Girl !! Thank you for all the good energy, hard work and creative minds. So many people contributed to make this a success. I think Phillip Romero from the VooDoo Lounge said it best, our two families finally got to meet each other. This will be the last email where I differentiate the Reno/Tahoe Burners in attendance, from the Burning Girl community. From now on, we are all the Burning Girl Community. We were married in Empress Rosa's Rose Palace, celebrated with a parade, and a sealed the deal when Todd Mauldin and Vision lit the Steel Girl on fire together.
Ric and I received so many special gifts and were astounded at the gratitude expressed to us at every turn. The spirit this year was joy, humor, playfulness, and creative expression. The costumes, art cars and Theme Camps were a delight, and I was so happy to see so many cool people, activities, and experiences. We kept it kid friendly, the camps were left spotless, the property was treated with respect, and there were no major injuries!
There are so many people to thank that I am afraid to list them for fear of forgetting someone. Ric and I actually had time to relax and have fun this year. We partied! And that was because of all the hard work put in by all the volunteers, musicians, stage hands, clubs, and lounges. Rod Coleman really helped launch this marriage with his organizational skills, networking, site visits, blog postings, and communication with me — for months. We were tackling a pretty big merging of different cultures and yet, we pulled it off better than could be imagined! Thank you, Rod. Todd Mauldin and Phillip and Laura Romero created the Voo Doo Lounge again this year and it was better than ever with constant cocktails and socializing. The organized events were a big hit. Anna Lafferty and Vision organized the greeters station, which was heaven sent and a must for next year. Marie Gilbert’s Kid Camp was deeply appreciated. I got some really good comments from parents whose kids enjoyed the activities. And I want to make a very heart felt thank you to Sprocket and Vision who lead the work crew preparing our camps in 106 degree heat. They came out a week before the event, and stayed until every last shred of evidence was put back in place. Beth Alison Klein took over the medical area, and Danielle Gann-Lind took over rangers — both areas much needed and extremely important. Tim Hunter put up the spectacular Club Neu with amazing visuals, energy and sound. We loved it and hope you return next year. Snake Rattle and Roll Camp helped through out the event with Saloon pick ups and after party clean up. Pig Man and Tuba Man were stellar in leading the parade, NOLA Camp dazzled us with the New Orleans shrimp boil, Bill Lantz brought the good stuff to the wine tasting event, actors costumed up in the heat for the movie shoot, Playa Magic entertained with magic, Bernie made us smile with his puppets, and Snapnt Sound ran the stage with sound equipment so the amazing bands could rock us all weekend long. And for all the camps, I realize the trouble it takes to haul your art cars, theme camps, costumes, and mechanisms for distributing your gifts, to a camping trip. I want to thank everyone for their hard work, optimism, and enthusiasm. It was amazing to see the ranch come alive like a carnival of talent, happy people, and energy.
My 21 year old daughter, Catalina, has been to all six Burning Girls and she said it was the best one yet! I also talked to many other BG alumni, and everyone I asked agreed with Catalina. Before the event some feared the unknown and didn’t want Burning Girl to change. But Burning Girl 6 had the same magic it has every year. We still had the amazing bands playing in front of the river while we soaked up the sun in inner tubes, creative projects and giving people — There was just more of it. — More cool people, more fun, laughter, playfulness, costumes, experience camps, and more wonderfulness. I can’t tell you how many said they felt like they made some sincere new friends and were inspired to make their camps more artistic with costumes, gifts, and art cars next year.
I also talked to many first timers and asked them what they thought of Burning Girl. The consensus seems to be that they were blown away by our Burning Girl community. I think they imagined we were simply a big camping festival with live music. But we are much more. They were pleasantly surprised by the creativity, hard workers, collaborative spirit, good moods, mind-blowing beauty of the land, and vast amounts of talent. We will obviously have some kinks to work out as we grow and improve so please send me your feedback. What worked for you in particular? What was your favorite part? What still needs some adjusting and how can we make it better. How would you sum up your experience this year? I’d really appreciate the feedback.
We also need every attendee’s email address to keep them in the loop. If you registered and brought friends, please send me your friend’s email and forward this email. I will need names for credits in the movie too. Many people participated in the movie and I need the spelling of their first and last names. I will edit the movie over the next month and set up a Youtube link to view it and share it on the BG website and Facebook page. Also, email me your photos so we can add them to the master photo link on the website and share photos.
This year’s theme was gifting, and in that vein, the musicians gifted their music. Next year we celebrate the artists! The theme for BG7 in 2014 is the “Year Of The Artist”! We are going to have a donation button on the website and start raising money early so we can accumulate enough money to support our incredible artists. If everyone who attended BG6 donated 20 dollars we could help create some powerful art!
If you want to be part of leadership for next year please let me know. A few leaders were overworked and we still need to stream line that aspect. I would like the leaders to be a mix of the new comers and the old timers. We want to have leaders for the different areas of the ranch as well as traditional leaders: We need DPW to clear the land, Parking and Placement, Greeters, Medical, Rangers, Leave No Trace, volunteer coordinators, heads of the parade, movie, club, lounge, art projects, and Burn. Next year we are going to ask people which area they want to volunteer and direct them to coordinate with that leader.
Many people have asked Ric and I why we do this party. It’s not for money, it’s not for sex or power, and it’s certainly not for rest and relaxation! Burning Girl is a giant art project for us. It is a palette and every part of the event is our canvas. So we do it because we are artist and the party is all about the art. Art inspires and heals, and Burning Girl inspires and heals. Burning Girl is not simply a music festival or a rave camping event, and we have to be careful so that it doesn’t become either. We all have to protect the very special magic we have at Burning Girl and we can do that by keeping it to ourselves, and only share with the friends that we trust. We don’t want the registration to grow exponentially now that 450 people have attended. We don’t want Burning Girl to grow big. We want it to grow special. Burning Girl is yours now, and it is your responsibility to protect it like your child. Next year we are only allowing 100 more than this year. That feels right to Ric and I. So please do not spread the word on the Internet. Do not tell random people about it, and do not give away the address.
Once we establish our leaders for next year we can begin figuring out details for registration, tickets, placement, and fund raising. So stay tuned through out the year for news and videos.
You are Burning Girl. I now pronounce you, Husband and wife!
Burning Girl Six on YouTube