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 but this man was absolutely humbled by it all.
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. Feed all that through a Salvador Dali dream and you’re not even close!
Then you’re just surrounded by all these mad sights, like 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, he told me it was his favourite week of the year, and it was “Tutu Tuesday” apparently! That was his excuse anyway.
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.
Then I went out to see Robot Heart which is one of the most well known sound systems 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!
It was one of those moments, raving outside at 8:30 in the morning in the desert, with a really cool crowd… 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.
So where were you staying? Were you in a tent?
I was staying at the White Ocean camp on a tour bus – they had cool hospitality in there. They had 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. And also you go to somewhere like Distrikt and they’re just serving free drinks all day. I don’t know where the money’s coming from!
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. I think pretty much everybody comes to Burning Man and plays for free. I didn’t pay for my ticket, which a lot of DJs do and I was well looked after by the White Ocean camp but I DJ’ed for free and it was absolutely my pleasure.
And White Ocean was curated by Paul Oakenfold right? Was he 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 truancy. Saturday 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 & Marcus Schulz etc. Then there was a Techno night with Marco Bailey & Chris Leibing. They had a heck of a lot of people on.
And in terms of production, what was it like?
They built these huge fifty foot archways and had balls of fire Jerry Lee Lewis would have been proud of – just incredible. There was so much mind blowing art there. And near us was The Temple, where people would do all sorts. There were people scattering ashes there, crying, praying, paying their respects… It’s like a non-organised religion, spiritual rave church thing they’ve got going on there.
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, I’ll be back. Would love to play for White Ocean and Opulent Temple again, but also Distrikt, Carl Cox’s Playground Experience and Root Society too. I didn’t make my set this time at Root Society due to scheduling. I had to fly out early to make my gig in Colombia.
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 to Reno which is the closest city and it could take another twelve hours from there, and once you get to the outskirts of the camp you might be waiting four hours to get in depending on the size of the queue. So for people to actually do all that and then say, ‘right, I’ll see you next year’ – that says everything.
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 really out of this world!