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Aug 30th - Sept 6th


Beyond Belief



Burning Man 2003
Man atop the Great Temple

  • Blue neon
  • At nearly 100 feet wide at the base, the Great Temple was quite grand.
  • Along the base were niches occupied by participants posing as living icons.
  • Thematic venues and art filled the interior, and within all were sanctums housing altars dedicated to gifts and remembrances destined for passage with the fire.

The art and people of Burning Man 2003 by Lenny Jones and Claudia Rose.

Photo Evrim D. Cakir (AKA Madonna)

DPW - Where you swing out of bed at 6:00 am without even trying.
-Where dents and dirt, bruised cut and ripped shirt is the reward.
-A place where a 90 pound little fire cracker woman named DiMilitia runs a metal and welding shop.
-A place where a bashed out, doorless, windowless, ex-cop car, junker can be a chick magnet.
-A place where dust is served with every meal.
-A place where money is fake, and friendships are real.

I love my home on the range.

Coyote - Building Black Rock City 2003
Temple of Honor
by David Best

David's fourth temple on the playa was the evolution of an idea that began three years before with the Temple of the Mind, and was followed by The Temple of Tears and 2002’s Temple of Joy. An imposing multi-story temple made of densely patterned black and white paper over a cardboard and wood frame, the Temple was a place to honor each other, the earth, our families, ancestors and communities. The Temple of Honor also provided a space to address one's dishonor, a place to leave it, to release it and let it go. Just as we need a place to honor those things and people we hold most high, so too we need a space to deal with those people and ideals we have dishonored, including ourselves.
The first on playa Bunny March hops out of Bunnywood to Bunnify the Man!

The eplaya is launched. "our new PHP-based ePlaya community discussion board"

Sept 3, 2003 snapshot

  • Our users have posted a total of 910 articles
  • We have 640 registered users
  • The newest registered user is phlat part of a theme I titled Beyond Belief, Rod and I designed an enormous Pre-Columbian pyramid. A very hardworking army of highly skilled workers led by Andrew Sano constructed this edifice. The pyramid allowed participants to mount a monumental stairway that took them directly to the chamber beneath the Burning Man, and the building now featured a much higher viewing platform. But, more importantly, arranged around its base, we had created eight ceremonial niches — shrines within which any participant could sit contemplatively — our theme related to the immediacy of spiritual experience — and thus self-sanctify themselves. We put the word out in advance that folks should be ready to assume an "otherworldly" appearance in order to make their separation from the outside world dramatically compelling. Nambla the Clown, our friend Ggreg Taylor, heroically stepped in at the last moment to serve as a stage manager, and he and his assistants managed to cosmetically transform many people right on the spot.

Larry Harvey
Reno 911! goes to Burning Man in Season 1 when Episode 10 airs.

In the year 2003, our annual pilgrimage to the playa affected over thirty thousand souls. The Man greeted the weary travelers perched awesome and proud on an elaborate ziggurat-like pyramid as if saying, “I stand on this place of power as it has been from time immemorial. Welcome home. I will burn for You.”

As intended in this year’s theme, the way in which we experienced life that week was way Beyond Belief. Amid a kaleidoscope of colors, participants became living icons that breathed life to the pyramid from within rooms with windows framed on each side of the pyramid. The icons prayed, loved, played, and reached out from the pyramid niches to interact with other participants. In all their beauty, they mesmerized us, entertained us, touched us, and often took our breath away.

Also, the organization of the Burning Man Project showed signs of a new maturity. With this maturity came a broad base of participation across the globe, with new Regional events springing up, from New Zealand to Australia, from Hawaii to New York. Volunteer Regional Contacts, representing communities throughout the United States and in other countries, began joining us in this movement.

Burning Man, in fact, was increasingly taking on a double mission: In one way, it models what the world could be, and in another it embodies dedication to changing what the world is.

Read more in the 2003 Afterburn Report

Beginning with the dawn of human consciousness, mystics have sought out this realm of super-charged experience. They have retreated into caves, removed themselves to mountaintops, and disappeared into the solitude of desert space. They have relentlessly emptied themselves of our world; they have fasted, prayed, and kept vigils — all in a pursuit of that which cannot be compared to any other thing. What these pilgrims have encountered on their outward journeys into nothingness is matter for conjecture. The only proper answer of the faithful to the skeptic is that one must be there if one hopes to understand.

In the year 2003, we'll populate this world beyond our world with artworks that evoke such visions.

Theme: Beyond Belief

Mutant Vehicles

In 2003, we initiated mandatory pre-registration for mutant vehicles. This change simplified paperwork on the playa, and allowed us to set up an email list to distribute important information. We set specific hours for registration of vehicles with flame effects, which lessened the load for our inspection team and shortened the wait for those vehicles' owners.
  • Burning Man organizers successfully met the challenge of new stipulations in the event permitting processes in order to allow Black Rock City to become a reality once again.
  • The initial response to the ticket sales announcement far exceeded experience from previous years. We knew early on that we would see high enthusiasm and turnout.
  • The creation and launch of the Extranet in 2003 revolutionized the way volunteers and participants share and access information throughout the Burning Man community around the world.
  • The Regional Contacts program continued to expand, as new regional groups continued to organize and started to put on their own events and to communicate with each other. A Regional Summit was held on the playa, and the Regional Contacts were all brought together for the first time.
  • Black Rock City saw the addition of a new street and additional port-a-potties, as interest in the event continued to grow and population increased to the highest numbers ever.
  • Two new spire-lined walkways connected the 3 and 9 o'clock plazas with the Man. These avenues gave Black Rock City a new look, aided nighttime navigation, and created a new challenge for the Lamplighters, who are responsible for lighting the streets each night. This addition was the first major change to the Lamplighter workload since the addition of the walkway from the Man to David Best's Temple of Tears in 2001.
  • The city contained 504 theme camps in 2003, up from 487 in 2002. The space allotted to theme camps remained the same as previous years, while the population density of mapped areas grew immensely – 12,000 to 15,000 participants camped in mapped theme camps that comprised approximately 30% of the city.
  • For the second year in a row, we were blessed with beautiful weather, except for a small storm during set-up and a white-out storm on Sunday. For the first time in years, the clean-up crew was not lost in a several-day-long white-out storm.
  • At 12:15 p.m. on October 10, 2003, Burning Man passed the Bureau of Land Management's clean-up inspection with flying colors!
  • According to the Bureau of Land Management, Burning Man is the largest Leave No Trace event in the world.
  • The winter Town Hall meeting took place on December 14, 2003 after a year absence. Participants were invited to this open forum to ask questions about issues of interest. For the first time, the Town Hall session was accessible over the web, so Regional Contacts and others could view and participate in the event.
  • For the first time in 2003, dogs were not permitted to attend the event.
  • Recycle Camp collected more than 96,000 cans, then crushed them and donated them to Gerlach High School. The high school received $800 for the cans, which will help fund programs and projects at the school.
For the first year the "survey" is known as the "Census"

I'm a Clown AND I have a megaphone. Now what were you saying?
- Nambla the Clown

The Burning Man website is entirely redesigned, with a new back end, more features and a more dynamic home page.
The Center Camp Cafe by 2003 had well established traditions including elaborate decor, art exhibits, the painted benches and each year's stage backdrop.

Center Camp Cafe Stage acts included:
  • Fashion Show
  • Visitation by the Dalai Lobster
  • Rev. Billy
  • Ritual Night w/Rosin Coven & guests
  • Xtra Action Marching Band
  • Rik (sitar)
  • Dr. Reverend Howland Owll
  • Accordion Man