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Cuddle Puddles! Still Joy in the Mud-Ville at Burning Man.

Time for spirulina snaps and costume convos at the tech festival in the, um, very wet sand.

Nellie Bowles

When the rains came to Burning Man last night and then this morning, the yurts were the hardest hit. Elaborate glittering octagons had sold for about $1,000, but turned into mud sinkholes. Heavy mattresses slid into muck. Pop-up clothes closets collapsed. Soggy tapestries sagged. The torn leather couch I had fallen asleep on was but a sponge.

Burning Man has begun, albeit a little slowly. The gate to the Black Rock City site in the Nevada desert is still closed to traffic — even the two private plane runways are closed! — meaning many thousands are stranded on the roads leading to the festival. But inside, the Burners, at least at my innovation-tech-themed Ideate camp, didn’t seem much to mind.

They took shelter in a large truck and formed what they call a “cuddle puddle,” drank Kombucha, ate spirulina snaps and talked about their costumes — Burners take great pride in their clothing, which hews to a fake-fur-and-fishnet aesthetic. So, this is probably what they would have done today, no matter what.

Logistics aside, the tech festival in the sand is under way. I spent the day at Clear Channel CEO and tech investor Bob Pittman’s camp in his new blow-up housing contraption that he hopes to deliver by drone to the next Burning Man (story forthcoming, of course).

Also on my schedule for the week: Tomorrow, there is a “tech and psychedelics” meet-up and an annual Burning Man Reddit gathering, as well as a “worthless currency exchange” at the Bitcoin Camp. Thursday, there is Tedx Black Rock City, and then that night there is “a turnkey invasion,” in which Burners are going to invade the now-famous fancy camps and see if they’re friendly.
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