Dave Seaman remembers Burning Man

Hot off the plane from Burning Man Festival, Dave Seaman regales Mike Boorman with what it was like to party on in Nevada's Black Rock Desert for the very first time.

Jimmy Coultas

Last updated: 4th Sep 2014

Dave Seaman has seen a lot of things in his time, but nothing quite like what he saw last week at Burning Man Festival. He was one of the main men at clubbing institution Renaissance, he toured the US with Cream when they were taking over the world, and more recently he has been conquering Beatport with his label Selador (check their latest release from Melokolektiv below), but this man was absolutely humbled by it all.

Hopefully he will have recovered in time for his appearance at EH1 Festival this weekend, but as Mike Boorman found when he spoke to him, he'll certainly never forget it...

So tell me Dave, from the top... Burning Man: discuss!

I arrived at Reno airport on Monday night to the news that it had all shut down on Monday because they had some rain, and everything grinds to a halt because the rain basically turns the sand and dust to concrete, so I had to stay in a hotel at the airport. I only actually got to the festival on Tuesday.

You know, I was just thinking about this before, when I knew we were gonna do this interview... 'how do you describe it?', but it's basically indescribable! It is like nothing else - it really is. No matter how many videos or pictures you've seen, nothing can prepare you for it.

I guess the best way I can describe it is if you can imagine taking the vibe and spirit of Glastonbury on the dance side of things, like Shangri-La and Block 9, mix it up with some day-time Ibiza partying, and then put all that on the moon! It really is that barren and desolate.


Then you're just surrounded by all these mad sights, like a lot of these art cars… it's like Mad Max crossed with Whacky Races! It's something I'll remember forever, and I'm already planning on going next year. I only really scratched the surface being there for two days.

It just sounds insane.

Bonkers, absolutely bonkers. You know, the day I arrived, I'd been there twenty minutes and I see Lee Burridge riding past me on a bike, wearing a pink tutu, with a flower and a headband on his head… you don't see that every day in London.

He's one of the kings of Burning Man isn't he? He's there every year.

Yeah, he is, and it was "tutu Tuesday" apparently! So I was playing White Ocean on Tuesday night and also I was playing Opulent Temple on Wednesday morning for the sun rise which was amazing.

It was one of those moments, raving outside at 8:30 in the morning in the desert, with loads of cool people… it felt like we were raving on the moon - it really did. And there was some great music out there as well - really inspirational music.

Then I went out to see Robot Heart which is one of the biggest floats there… the sight of 2,000 people dressed in all these crazy outfits… I felt pretty under dressed. I'll remember to bring my tutu next year!

Ooof, goodness me - that's an image. So where were you staying? Were you in a tent?

I was staying at White Ocean on a tour bus - they had a bit of hospitality in there. But there were a load of yurts as well, but they'd got really battered by the rain the day before, so there'd been quite a big rebuilding effort that morning.

So with that kind of thing did you sense the community spirit that we all hear about?

Absolutely. You go to Distrikt and they're just serving free drinks all day. I don't know where the money's coming from!
You do definitely feel that spirit.

I literally didn't buy anything the entire time I was there. I took some gifts for people and gave them out but no one expects anything back, it's not like 'I'll give you that, you give me this' - it's definitely an open thing with giving stuff away and not having to worry about that capitalist mentality that the world kind of revolves around 99.9% of the time.

It just sounds idyllic. I wrote an article on the story behind Carl Cox's camp this year, and it inspired me to try and get involved with it. A week of rave enlightenment in the desert with Carl Cox!

That's it! Nirvana! You'd have reached your peak!

Might as well retire after that! So the White Ocean camp you were playing for, were they paying the DJs?

No. Nearly everybody comes to Burning Man and plays for free. I didn't end up paying for my ticket but White Ocean covered the entrance fee. It's Paul Oakenfold plus investment who are responsible for it.

So was Oakey there all week?

He arrived on Tuesday night when I was playing. He was playing on Wednesday. It was a different music policy each night. Wednesday was more trancey. Thursday was more techno etc. They had a really strong group of DJs. With me there were people like Nick Warren and Hernan Cattaneo, with Oakey there was Above & Beyond etc. - a heck of a lot of people on.

And in terms of production, what was it like?

They built these huge fifty foot archways - just incredible. And near me was The Temple, where people would do all sorts. There were people scattering ashes there, crying, paying their respects… like this non-organised religion, spiritual thing they've got out there.

It just sounds mind-blowing. I think what says it all is how keen you are to go back, so you think you'll definitely end up playing there next year?

Yes, there are plenty of people to play for, like Distrikt, Carl Cox's Playground Experience, White Ocean, Root Society etc. The best thing I could say about it is that for some people it's such a mission to get there.

People were driving twenty hours from California to get there, Reno is the closest city and that's twelve hours to get there, and once you get to the outskirts of the camp you might be waiting four hours to get in. So for people to actually do all that and then say, 'right, I'll see you next year' - that says a lot.

And for me, there were eleven of us cramped together on a ten-seater tour bus with all the luggage all over us for five hours. But once you've done it, everyone was already planning next year. You wouldn't plan to go through all that again unless it was something out of this world!

You can get a small taste of the scale of the Festival on the above video showing a drone's eye view of Burning Man 2013. See Dave in action at a festival a bit closer to home this weekend, EH1 Festival. Tickets available here.

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