Our second quadrennial Best of Black Rock City
What self-respecting alternative newspaper doesn't put out an annual 'Best of' issue, huh? We did our first 'Best of Black Rock City' four years ago, in 1998, so admittedly, we haven't exactly been on the ball. Consider this our second quadrennial 'Best of' and let's just leave it at that.
This year, we actually got our shit together. We've been trolling the playa, searching for -- in our humble opinions -- the best this city has to offer. We hope you enjoy this highly-opinioned list.
Best proof that Burning Man isn't just a bunch of hippies and ravers
Death Guild Thunderdome
Esplanade & 120°
We can't tell you how excited we were when the Death Guild Thunderdome first appeared on the playa back in '99. Finally, an antidote to all the hippy-dippy peace and love bullshit! Black Rock City needed some aggro, dark energy, and Death Guild brought it.
Sick of hugs from strangers at rave camps? Can't stand another drum circle? Don't beat up a hippie! Instead, get your ass to the 'Dome, where you can get out your aggressions in a swinging, Mad Max-style battle. 'Two men enter, one man leaves!' If you're lucky, you might even get to hear Diva Marisa sing before the battles begin. Climb the dome for a better view of the fights, and pound your head to the blasting industrial music. As if that weren't enough, Thunderdome is also home to great art cars and bikes, hot gothic babes, and some excellent fireplay.
Best place to be a dickhead
within Fandango, Esplanade & 225°
Ever feel like you need an excuse to be a dickhead? No, we didn't think so. But if you did, trek on over to Camp Dickface and lend them a helping er... uh... See, they take photos of celebrities, comedians, and politicians that just aren't complete without the help of your member. Camp Dickface welcomes all shapes and sizes, real and not-so-real. They may even be able to provide you with a stand-in -- just be careful how you ask for it.
Best place to get your ass whipped
Temple of Atonement
Esplanade & 210°
This place has been Black Rock City's premiere BD/SM theme camp for as long as we can remember. Their St. Andrew's cross is a favorite of the Piss Clear editors, perfect for disciplining proofreaders who miss typos. Come before The Judge and offer yourself to be cleansed, or bring a friend who needs a little tough love. You may not walk away from the Temple of Atonement with a silly playa gift, but we can assure you this theme camp leaves its mark.
Best place to pick up a hookah
Hookahbar @ Hookahdome
Esplanade & Port 270°
You'll smell all kinds of aromas at the Hookahbar. Be sure to ask for your own personal nipple. One of the things we like about this bar is that they're all about sharing in the joys of hookahs. Besides a little flavored smoke on the hookah, they'll also serve you tea and entertain you with belly dancers. Inhale, exhale, ahhhhh.
Best place to share your tool
Black Rock City Hardware
180° Great Circle
BRC Hardware is the place to get down and dirty with your tool, or someone else's! Did you forget your toolbox? Or did your bike just bite it? Stop by BRC Hardware, they might just have what you need.
Best place to chill
within Disturbia, Esplanade & 290°
This year's sizzling hot temperatures make Antarctica quite the chilly treat. This refrigerated tractor trailer is the place to hang out and be cool, especially with Snowball (right) spinning chillin' grooves every day from 10 AM - 6 PM at her 40° dance party.
Best place to panhandle
Filthy Rich Camp
Bowsprit (2500') 285°
'Spare a dime?' 'Got an extra beer?' Nothing screams urban blight like people begging on the street, and if Black Rock City is going to pretend to be a city, well then damn it, we need panhandlers! And there's probably no better place for them than Filthy Rich Camp. Stop by see what you can get. And if you get a little extra, swing on by Piss Clear...
Best playa celebrity spotting
320° Center Camp
This year, as we rolled into Black Rock City close to midnight, frazzled from the long drive, noone made us feel more welcome than the bartenders at the StarLust Lounge. And seeing as that they're located practically in Larry Harvey's backyard, you never know who you're going to run into! Definitely the place to see and be seen.
Best way to see something shocking
Dr. Megavolt vs. The Mutaytor
Saturday night after the Burn
Island of Misfit Science, 200 feet from The Man
We haven't seen this Dr. Megavolt performance yet, but past experience tells us that this will no doubt be the most shocking thing on the playa. After the Burn, Dr. Megavolt will encounter the Mutaytor's tribal techno stage extravaganza. Be prepared to watch the mad doctor keep beat while we all shake our thang!
Best way to trip without LSD
Magic Glasses Camp
Esplanade & 165°
Grab some magic glasses and trip the light fantastic as you stroll through a myriad of twinkling and flashing lights. So simple, yet so effective. A Black Rock City institution! One question though: if you do this while on acid, do the visuals cancel each other out?
Best place to hear old-school electronica
Forecastle (2700') & 300°
Fuck two-step, fuck progressive trance, this is the place to kick it old-school, as DJs E.M.P. and Moth from the UK spin techno like mama used to make, every night at 11:11 PM. Club Verboten then turns into a nightclub called Late Night Kraftwerk, where you'll hear early electronica by bands such as Kraftwerk and Tangerine Dream. Last night they threw a fun party called Depeche Mode Nacht, which was just chock-full of New Wave. When you're tired of trance or funk, get your electro fix at Verboten.
Best place to be at the stroke of midnight
Camp New Day's Eve
Asylum @ Esplanade & 240°
Every night's a party at this camp and that's the way we like it! Champagne, noisemakers, party hats, this camp has everything you need to party like it's 1999. Okay, so you may need to bring your own bubbly if their supplies run short, but what you get is the excitement of celebrating a new day, every night! You can even make New Day's resolutions that you can actually keep, since you only need to stick to it for one day!
Best damned event to whore yourself out for a martini
Damnedsterdam is a little taste of Amsterdam's Red Light District, right here in Black Rock City! They have cocktails, music, and -- more importantly -- a brothel window for you to perform in. Yes, you. Throw some red on and check out the Damned Red Light Wingding this Friday evening. Damned martinis and people pretending to be whores -- you can't go wrong with that combination!
Best burn (besides you-know-who)
Temple of Joy
Looking for that pre-1997 Burning Man vibe? Well then stick around till Sunday night to watch the beautiful Temple of Joy go up in flames. The burning of the Man is so ... amateur night. For jaded old-timers like ourselves, it's all about Temple of Joy burn -- as close as we're going to get to the good ol' days of Burning Man. Less people, less drama, just a gorgeous, beautiful burn.
Best seat in the house
Esplanade & 240°
Never has an Esplanade theme camp gotten so far on so little. It's a camp with a chair that's shaped like an egg. And, well... that's pretty much about it. Gotta admit though, it's a great seat.
Best way to get a date
Delivering Piss Clear
Great Circle & Mainmast (2900')
Yes, believe it or not delivering Piss Clear is a great way to get a date. Every time we send out volunteers to help get our papers to the masses, they come back with stories of hot, throbbing love. There's nothing like going camp to camp, delivering BRC's sexiest and sassiest paper. Not only are you out meeting new folks by handing them Piss Clear, you also are showing them that you've got good taste!
Best way to get several dates
Forecastle (2700') & 210°
In the immortal words of Stephen Sondheim: 'One is fun, why not two? And if you like two, you might as well have four.' These people know how to be with the one they love and love the one they're with. If you have any curiosity about 'sharing the love,' stop on by PolyParadise - they're friendly and willing to answer your questions on polyamory.
Best playa celebrity
NAMBLA the Clown
Okay look, we love NAMBLA the Clown as much as the next guy. But the real reason he makes our 'Best Of' list is so we have a convenient excuse to run this obligatory photo of him. Otherwise, we'd never hear the end of it. Some people require drugs out here, but NAMBLA requires press, and plenty of it.
Best way to avoid campmate drama
The Solo Collective
Mainmast (2900') & 150°
'You mean she didn't bring enough water?' 'He didn't really tell the rave camp it was okay to camp next door, did he?' 'Don't tell me he thought participation meant that he could drink ALL of our beer!' Anyone that's camped with a group has probably encountered more than their fair share of camp drama. That's why we're giving the nod this year to the Solo Collective. It's the low-drama way to camp for those who want to do it alone, but together. It's about self-sufficiency and fun. But it's also a great place to find a date -- no baggage!
Best name for a theme camp
The Axis of Weebles
Bowsprit (2500') & 150°
We haven't even been to this camp, but ever since we saw them listed in the Theme Camp Guide, we've been cracking up ever since. Our sources tell us this camp has something to do with taking out your frustrations on Weebles, mostly with water pistols. But really, any Weeble torture method will do. Kick some Weeble ass!
Best substitute for toilet paper on the playa
Black Rock Gazette
Need we say more? I mean, really?
Best pricks on the playa
Forecastle (2700') & 225°
The only thing more fitting than a cactus in the desert is a prickly pear margarita in my hand. Cactus Ranch offers yummy prickly pear margaritas amid the lovely desert landscape of cacti. These people are from Arizona, so they live it baby! You don't hear them complaining about the heat!
Best place to grab a drink
Liquid Diet Lounge
Mainmast (2900') & 225°
These people keep up the age-old tradition of bonding through drinking. Good drinks and good company make this camp a place for playa boozehounds (like ourselves) not to miss.
Best reason to wear zebra, tease your hair, and shout at the devil
Eddie Camaro and Mr. B's
Buttrockin' Air Guitar Car Bar
Are you ready to rawk? Prove it on this rockin' car bar, a traveling cocktail beacon of anti-electronica. Earn some frozen yumminess by thrashing around in the Dance Cage or showing off your skillz on the air guitar. Rock on, dude! They leave from the Temple of Atonement each day, so catch a ride!
Best place to donate your excess drugs and alcohol
Great Circle & Mainmast (2900')
Can't finish your booze? Have a little extra stash? Win friends and favors by donating a little something special to the Piss Clear staff. We work hard to bring you the playa's best newspaper. And if you think we're above a little shameless plug, then you don't know us!
Best time of day
420 Tea Party Lounge
Forecastle (2700') & 75°
No one celebrates 4:20 like the 420 Tea Party Lounge. You can groove to the 420 music or if you'd rather chill, they also serve sun tea every day at 4:20. Now this is a high tea we just have to endorse! Bring your own cup and enjoy the friendly ambiance with a cup-o-homebrew.
Best place to avoid waiting for a cup-o-joe
Forecastle (2700') & 150°
Are the lines at the Center Camp Café too long? Of course they are. Avoid the maddening crowds and check out these these folks, who make a mean cup-o-joe. And tell Angelique, the cute coffee mistress, that Piss Clear sent ya!
Best dust mask
We're pretty sure the people who sell this awesome dust mask are gun nuts. But personal politics aside, we can't help but recommend this kick-ass and stylish dust mask. It looks just like a bandanna, but hidden inside is an activated carbon filtering system. A small soft nose clip allows you to bend the mask to stay on your nose without being uncomfortable, and an elastic strap pulls the RAP under your chin to prevent un-filtered air from being breathed. Plus, it's 100% cotton, ideal for Black Rock City's hot temperatures. You can't get one on the playa, so wait till you're home: http://www.mfiap.com/gs/rap.htm
Best place to change your look
Barbershop Roulette Camp
Esplanade & 225°
Sure, anyone can don a wig or paint themselves purple, but it takes someone with real cajones to come to this camp. Spin the wheel and it's an all-new you! Will it be a crewcut? A mohawk? Or how about the ever-popular mullet? This is the best place to get a new look that will last well beyond your time here on the playa.