My dust covered cloak flies behind my bike. Just above the mountain-speckled horizon, hints of teal and pink begin to tint the sky. It’s nearly sunrise, which means on the playa, it’s also my favorite time for getting my feet on a dusty dance floor.
Burning Man is an adventure no matter who you are, or how you approach it, but knowing where to find the best sounds can help you maneuver through your week-long desert experience. Everyone knows about the Burning Man “headliners”, an oxymoronic title on its own, that play on the Robot Heart, and the massive sound camps that populate the Esplanade. However, I find my favorite places of bass and happiness lie in the undiscovered pockets. Here are a few to check out on through your soundscape explorations on the playa.
Ego Trip. This stage doesn’t often state who will be playing on the schedule, but whatever their party is, it’s almost always accompanied by an awesome DJ. It is tucked in a “keyhole” a few blocks from the playa so the crowds are smaller, but the musicians are great. Daytime, nighttime, this is an anytime bar really. If the scene looks a little small, saddle up at the bar and wait for the party to unfold. Definitely order one of their Pickle Backs, made with home made pickle juice, they spend all year brewing up this treat.
Bubbles and Bass. This is by far my favorite bar at Burning Man. That being said I do find a new “favorite bar” every year, however in the burn of 2016 finding Bubbles and Bass was like finding a home within a home. The theme? Champagne and bass music, at sunrise. To me that is heaven. If only there was a Bubbles and Bass in every city. With mattresses surrounding it, Bubbles and Bass is a particularly good place for a sunrise nap, only to awake with a cup of bubbly in your hand. I also have a certain kind of fondness for seeing the sunrise intersection of people stumbling on the dance floor, their dancing legs almost falling beneath them after a night of madness, accompanied by the early morning risers who are freshly gearing up for the day ahead.
Skinny Kitty Tea House. On the playa I often times find myself in a frenzy of horrible bass colliding from every direction straight through my eardrums and into my over saturated bass head. Nightfall is a time at Burning Man where I enjoy sneaking into the shadows. Finding the hidden camps and bars that lie inside the city. It’s a similar experience to the difference between hanging out in Time Square at night with all the tourists or going to your favorite bar in the Lower East Side. The Skinny Kitty is a perfectly lit dance floor with often times chill vibes for the kind of night time serenades I love to be wrapped in. So keep your lazer shows and Diplo/Skrillex sets, I’ll be off finding the magic where magic is to be found. And they serve tea!!
Pink Mammoth. I know generally District holds the record for best daytime parties. However, I’m particularly unimpressed by the onslaught of people who go there everyday to listen to monotone techno for hours. Pink Mammoth, an San Francisco based crew, puts on a more intimate, yet raucous daytime show with bouncy, fun house beats. They’ve got a stocked open bar that isn’t nearly as crowded as District’s, but don’t forget your I.D. In case you haven’t been home for a few years, they do now card at the Burn.
Funky Town. Known for their legendary Wednesday day party, this crew brings out some of the best. Their sound system rivals that of any other on the playa, and you’ll often find your hands full of some smoothie concoction camp members gift on the dance floor. Looking out and onto the playa, their location attracts the attention of many an art car, in which case the sound system grows exponentially with each set. This crew definitely stays true to their name and keeps it funky.
Art cars. Okay, not a camp but you can catch some of the best playa sounds on the move. I try to spend at least one night or day on the Playa art car. Each year there are brand new cars, but I do have a few favorites. The Dusty Rhino is seemingly small but packs a musical bass punch. The Rhino is always playing great sets and can be most often times found in deep playa. Although you never want to believe the trash fence rumors you might hear about Daft Punk playing, you can believe that the Rhino will be out there, and something spectacular will be coming out of it. If you feel brave enough to be at the center of a hyper crowd, the Robot Heart has become a favorite of everyone on the playa. However, for me it’s a bit too much of a “scene.” I’m always looking for the magic that happens in the unknown. My all time favorite art car to hop on is the Pirate Ship that does an art cruise on Sunday. While most the art has burned down by Sunday, the pieces that are left are still spectacular. Hop on this Pirate Ship if you can spot it on Sunday, it’s the BEST way to see the ever changing playa art pieces. Plus ending your week of debauchery on a pirate ship always feels very fitting to me. Good luck on your musical escapade – if all else fails put your ear to the dust, and follow the bass.