This year’s Burning Man was a ‘life-enhancing experience’ – even though thousands of attendees were trapped in the desert for days due to heavy rain.
National College of Art and Design lecturer Brendon Deacy was part of the mass exodus from the festival this morning after heavy rainfall left some 73,000 people stranded in the northern Nevada desert.
The single road allowing attendees to enter and leave the festival had been closed to vehicles after more than 1.3cm of rain fell on Friday, causing flooding and foot-deep mud.
With limited access to the site, attendees were told to conserve food and water – and many festivalgoers documented the experience of the camp across social media.
On Newstalk Breakfast, Laois man Mr Deacy said many attendees said it was "the best" Burning Man they had ever attended.
"It was quite different from anything that anybody else had experienced previously," he said.
"It was kind of touch and go, a bit worrying on occasion, but overall, the spirit was just so incredibly high.
"It just goes to show how resourceful people can be when they're put under a little bit of pressure and totally unprepared for a situation like what we experienced."
When Mr Deacy arrived at the camp on Thursday, he said discussions had already begun around the "impending rainstorm" that was coming.
"Where we live, we're kind of quite used to rainstorms so we were just taking it as it came," he said.
"On Friday, it started to rain, and allegedly they got two to three months of rainfall in the space of 24 hours."
Mr Deacy said the mix of the rainfall and desert sand created a cement-like mixture.
"It's just got nowhere to go, so we were coming to trudging around," he said.
"It was just like walking around with a couple of cinder blocks attached to you.
"Everyone has got extremely strong muscles and we're all kind of aching a little bit."
Mr Deacy said leaving was "not even an option".
"It was impossible. There was a Black Rock City radio station dedicated to it, so everybody was kind of sat around radios and speakers listening to it," he said.
"They were constantly warning saying, 'The gates are closed, there's absolutely no point attempting to leave, you're just endangering yourself and endangering others'.
"Inevitably you'll get one or two people that [think they] know better.
"We would have seen them on the way out this morning – we left at 4:30 this morning – you can see abandoned vehicles left, right and centre stuck in the mud."
Mr Deacy said it was an "incredible adventure" and a "life-enhancing experience" for him and his four adult children.
"Within a matter of hours, shelters were erected, food was sort of rationed, water was rationed," he said.
"We all had little jobs to do and it's just that sense of commandery and pulling together was just so strong.
"Inevitably, it just turned into a big party, even though the rain had come in, we were all in shelters listening to music and drinking. What else are you gonna do?"
A 32-year-old man, Leon Reece, died at the festival – although his exact cause and manner of death are still pending.
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