Black Rock City

What is Black Rock City and What Does it Look Like?

Black Rock City is organized as a semi-circle enclosed in a pentagonal perimeter fence. There are city blocks defined by concentric streets in alphabetical order (their names are different each year, according to theme) and radial streets named for clock times (9:00 to 2:00).

The perimeter fence is there for a number of reasons, one of which is to stop wind-born MOOP from escaping the city. For that reason, it is most often referred to as the trash fence. It is far. Try to make a visit - especially if Daft Punk is playing a show there!

The term playa means a dry lake bed. Black Rock City is built on a playa. “Playa” is also used to refer material that makes up the lake bed - the ground or the dust. In terms of navigation though, if someone says “the playa” at Burning Man they generally mean the area of within the trash fence that is not within the city blocks. The playa is where most of the big (and some small) art is.

The Deep Playa refers to the part of the playa that is farther away from the city blocks. The Temple (see below) is generally thought of as deep playa. The closer you get to the trash fence, the deeper. The Deep Playa is a fun place to explore - there are generally fewer people out there and a lot of fun surprising art projects.

Major Black Rock City Landmarks

In the center of Black Rock City you'll find the eponymous Man. The Man looks different every year. The Man burns on Saturday night. Generally there is a lot of art and activity around the Man throughout the week. Many regional groups get together and create art projects to contribute to the area around the Man - if you're looking to connect to local Burners from your neck of the woods, check out the Man during the day.

The Temple is another piece of art that is very important to many Burners. Ask any Melon and they can tell you about their first experience at The Temple. It's impossible to describe the Temple, it’s meaning for people, or how folks interact with it. You will just have to experience it for yourself. The Temple burns on Sunday night and is generally a much more quiet and somber event. The Melons generally go to the Temple burn together after breaking down camp. Like the man, the Temple is different each year. 

Center Camp is a giant tent in the middle of city where you can find art, spoken word, performances and delicious hot and cold beverages. Center Camp is the only place at Burning Man where you can spend your default dollars on a hot or cold beverage. If you are ever looking for a place to get out of sun or dust, Center Camp is a great place to journey to.

Theme Camps And Villages

Theme camps are groups of folks who camp together and generally work together to contribute something to Black Rock City. They are highly varied! They might have 8 people or 80, they might build and run an art car, or be an art support group, or create a loungey space, or offer workshops, or have a bar, or host events. They might be Melons. Most theme camps will have (somewhat) clearly demarcated space that is private from what is more public. Some theme camps are “open” during certain hours or in certain places, but keep some times and places to campmates and friends only. If you aren’t sure about whether you should be wandering into some place- just ask! Chances are, a lot more will be welcoming and open to you than you might expect!

Villages are communities of camps integrated together. They generally house at least 30 people, and possibly many more. They are varied in the same way theme camps are. They may have more structure and even more demarcated public and private areas.