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A Burner Lexicon: Esplanade

Posted in A Burner Lexicon, and Burning Man

Burners walk on part of the Esplanade at sunset. Black Rock CIty, 2009. Photo by jonandesign.

Esplanade, –proper noun, Classically, an esplanade is an area for walking or non-motorized transportation between a city and an open feature of the landscape such as a body of water. One example is the Esplanade de Espana in Alicante, Spain, on the Mediterranean. It is a place for a community to gather where they can see and be seen or connect with others.

Though the street names in Black Rock City change from year to year, the innermost road is traditionally Esplanade. It marks the border between the horseshoe-shaped encampment and a space of open desert with the The Man at its center. A ceremonial pathway leads from Center Camp, at the base of the horseshoe, to the effigy itself, but the Esplanade includes the area around its rim.

The Tribes of Burning Man quotes urban planner Gabriel Metcalf’s description: “[It’s] like being a protagonist in a movie when you arrive in the big city. The Esplanade is one of the great main streets in the world.” Placement along the Esplanade is among the most prestigious possible for a theme camp. Mutant vehicles gather there, along with many of the city’s participants, dressed in their finest costumes, day or night.

Mass gatherings of the city’s inhabitants occur on the Esplanade for example, the famous topless gathering Critical Tits, and its circus-arts cousin, Critical Stilts.

Thanks to Dusty Bacon of Dusty Couture for requesting this entry.

Other entries in A Burner Lexicon can be found at

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