Opulent Temple: Rave at the Edge of the World

Opulent Temple at Burning Man 2009
Opulent Temple at Burning Man 2009. I think this was sponsored by Fiji Water.

Opulent Temple was one of the biggest raves at Burning Man this year. There were hundreds of them, in all shapes and sizes, going at all hours, from a massive techno rave in a geodesic dome — so loud the music felt like wind — to clubs built onto trucks that traveled around the city. This is not an experiment in sustainability.

What you see above is a side-stage view of Opulent Temple, shown from the left side (if you’re facing the stage). This offers a sense of the scale of the installation. The flame thrower, which would send out a burst of fire every few minutes, was about 20 feet in the air, near the deejay. (Who these deejays were is another story — I’m not into this scene, but some pretty famous ones were making the rounds from rave to rave. Someone gave me a list of names yesterday that included Bass Nactar from San Fran and Freq from LA.) The dance floor is about the size of a football field. The music that’s created is based on recorded samples, though a live performance is created. The mix playing at that moment is something new in the world.

The two light colored circles on the left and right sides of the stage are cloth screens serving as projection video monitors, about the size of trampolines. Easily 1,000 people could dance inside this thing, which had an observation deck at the back.

Opulent Temple was located at the far end of the Esplanade (the last street before the open playa on the interior of the city, a kind of boardwalk) at about 3:00. Adam, an osteopath from the Big Island of Hawaii who was driving me around Friday night in a Medic golf cart as he made his rounds, said it was about half the size of last year’s, which had two dance floors. I think this installation was sponsored by Fiji Water, though no advertisments were visible anywhere. There was just someone who handed us free bottles of water when we pulled around back of the thing to check out the scene.

5 thoughts on “Opulent Temple: Rave at the Edge of the World”

  1. I’ll question that lack of sustainability. (It’s all in my head, and body but,..) I’m countin’ a good 6 general categories regarding necessity, which invariably encompass sustainability: food, shelter, health, education, entertainment, and rest. Yes, entertainment. Life would totally suck, and be useless without it. And some cities really are insanely boring. And, some folk do live at all odd hours of the cosmic dial. So, if we had a continuous circuit of free-flowing entertainment… it could possibly be one of the most sustainable experiments we ever stumbled (danced) upon!…

    “In my world, books would be nothing but pictures.”- Alice

    Jennifer Lopez (No, just kidding)


  2. Mercury metrograde? But seriously, folks…

    Eric, thank you for your thousand-word pictures. Hope there are more. i’m struck by the quality of the photos taken at night, such detail and depth of field. The quality of reproduction here on Planet Waves is outstanding as well, so much energy coming through.

    Please accept gratitude from this little-traveled pilgrim.

  3. What struck me most, Eric, was your comment ‘This is not an experiment in sustainability’. There was an audible silence after reading it; food for thought… let’s hope that resonates as much as the music 🙂

Leave a Comment