It springs up and then disappears like a mirage -- at least for those who only stay the week. For the volunteers who build, run and finally remove any trace of it, Black Rock is a study in city planning for the common good.
Black Rock City isn't a camp site. It's a designed, 940-acre temporary town with tens of thousands of inhabitants, all of whom arrive to find planned neighborhoods in which to build their temporary homes; an ice store to stock their temporary freezers; a café in which to meet; information, recycling, volunteering, medical and emergency stations; computerized message boards; shuttles to town for phone access and forgotten supplies; and a temple -- all arranged around the Man, where everyone can see him from everywhere in the city [source: Pisillo].
The city has laws, if only a few. Cars cannot drive on the inhabited groundsof the playa, a desert basin, unless authorized by the city, because Burning Man is a crowded event; and there can be no fires directly on the ground, which would leave burn scars and defy one of the festival's core principles: Leave No Trace.
There are 10 such principles, made official by Larry Harvey in 2004 [source: Burning Man]. They set the stage for the experimental society that is Burning Man, a festival that can feel something like a very long, unrehearsed piece of performance art ...