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Forgotten Photos from the Black Rock Roller Disco (Burning Man 2014)!

I got a lovely surprise today.. an email from Schwabel Studio and a project called the Human Light Suit – Eric Schwabel took my photo at the Black Rock Roller Disco (Burning Man) 7 months ago and finally gifted it back to me it true Burner style! Heading to your first Burn this year? Read about a ‘virgin burner’s’ experience here.

Eric Schwabel Human Light Suit Burning Man Black Rock Roller Disco

Eric Schwabel at Black Rock Roller Disco Burning Man 2014




Whether you’re spending tonight taking candy from strangers, going out in your underwear and some form of animal ears or staying home to watch The Exorcist, spare a thought for the dead folk who make it all possible.

Across the world no matter what race or religion – we as people share a common desire to celebrate key periods of our existence from life to death. When our loved ones are gone we keep celebrating them, sometimes more than we do the living!

My Halloween treat is 5 of the world’s most interesting festivals of the dead:

1st – 2nd November 

Dia De Muertos - Day of the Dead Mexico - World Of The Dead, Happy Halloween on XSTATICWORLD

Mexico’s Day of the Dead comes from the Aztec belief that the dead are always lurking in Mitclan (a sort of waiting room for spirits) and they can return home any time they like. So on 1st – 2nd November each year (coinciding with All Saints Day and All Souls Day) people all over Mexico help the dead find their way home through offerings and colourful celebrations. Families build yellow arches for spirits to enter from the underworld, clean and decorate graves before all-night graveside vigils and erect altars piled high with offerings of flowers, ribbons, candles, fruit, sweets and of course water (as the spirits will be thirsty after the journey).

The first day, Dia de Angelitos – Day of Little Angels, is dedicated to children who have passed and the second day is dedicated to adults. Traditionally on children’s day toys and sweets are left at the altars and on adults day cigarettes and Mizcal shots.

The Sugar Skull –
In the 17th Century Mexico was abundant in sugar production and too poor for the expensive church decorations seen around Europe, and so they took to sugar art for their religious festivals. The sugar skull represents a departed soul, traditionally placed on a gravestone as an offering with the departed’s name written across the forehead.

During Dia De Muertos parades and parties fill the streets, markets fill with sugar skulls and edible miniature coffins, families gather and feasts are had –
all to honour, celebrate and welcome home those who have passed.

Fifteenth day of the seventh lunar month 

Hungry Ghost Festival, China - World Of The Dead, Happy Halloween on XSTATICWORLD

The Chinese believe that during the seventh lunar month the doors to the afterworld are thrown open for restless spirits to roam the earth – settling old scores, haunting the living and searching for food. This is a time of fear more than celebration – some people won’t leave the house after dark in fear of what ghosts might be lurking, won’t go near water in fear of being dragged under by the hungry dead, won’t whistle or tell ghost stories in fear of attracting passing spirits, and won’t hang washing out at night in case passing ghosts get tangled in their sheets.

Hungry Ghost Festival - World Of The Dead, Happy Halloween on XSTATICWORLD

On the fifteenth day opera performances, banquets, parties and parades are thrown to appease the spirits (don’t sit in an empty chair at a party, it’s probably reserved for a ghost). Hungry spirits are fed through offerings of food and drink, new shoes and money to be used in the underworld –
many take to the streets to burn clothing and bank notes (or “hell money”) as presents are believed to reach the underworld through fire.

Hungry Ghost Festival - World Of The Dead, Happy Halloween on XSTATICWORLD

Water lanterns and paper ships are floated on rivers to help the hungry spirits find their way back home until next time.

Hungry Ghost Festival - World Of The Dead, Happy Halloween on XSTATICWORLD

Every seven years from June to September

Turning of the Bones, Madagascar - World Of The Dead, Happy Halloween on XSTATICWORLD

During the ‘Turning of The Bones’ celebration families gather at their clan’s tomb to pay respect to deceased ancestors. They prise through stone and mud to greet the straw-wrapped bodies which are then passed above the heads of the dancing family before being sprayed with perfume and lovingly re-wrapped in special lambas (scarves).

Turning of the Bones - World Of The Dead, Happy Halloween on XSTATICWORLD

Before the bodies are laid to rest once again families take the chance to spend time with their deceased ancestors – lining up for family photos, sitting in contemplation and dancing together around the tombstone. The bodies are then returned to their resting place with offerings of money, alcohol and photographs. Unless there’s a family crisis the ritual won’t take place for another seven years.

29th July

This festival of the nearly-dead combines Christianity and Pagonism to celebrate the survival of those who have seen their lives flash before their eyes. Those who have had a recent near-death experience climb into coffins which are carried in procession through a cemetary and to Santa Marta de Ribarteme – the Church of Saint Martha. Saint Martha is said to have brought many men back from from the brink of death and those who have recently come close pay gratitude for their survival with a mass below her statue.

Family members carry the coffins of their loved ones and chant:
“Virgin Santa Marta, star of the North, we bring you those who saw death”.

Festival of the Near Death Experience - World Of The Dead, Happy Halloween on XSTATICWORLD

The ritual culminates in an outdoor festival throughout the entire village of Las Nieves – fireworks, brass bands, stories of brushes with death and traditional feasts of octopus cooked in copper cauldrons.

31st October

Halloween as we know it today is a time for celebrating the dead and the terrifying with costumes, parties, carving pumpkins, bobbing for apples, eating sweets and egging houses.

In Celtic Ireland around 2,000 years ago the end of harvest festival know as the Samhain marked the end of summer and the beginning of winter – the division between the two seasons. It was believed that at this time the division of the living world and the underworld was at its thinnest and so spirits could pass through easily.

Deceased ancestors were welcomed with celebration and the sacrifice of livestock – their bones cast into communal fires and food offerings made. The living wore costumes and masks to disguise themselves as evil spirits so they wouldn’t be bothered by the real ones – this ritual survived the test of time as we still wear Halloween costumes every 31st October
(although I doubt the “slutty cat” was a top choice back then).

Christianity incorporated the honouring of dead into the Christian calendar with All Saints Day and All Souls Day on November 1st and 2nd. The ‘Halloween’ that we know today comes from a combination of All Hallow’s Eve (the eve before All Saints and All Souls Day) and the Samhain (pronounced Sow-een).

When the Irish emigrated to America they took their Halloween traditions with them. It then became the huge holiday it is today and celebrated widely across most western countries. it’s also where pumpkin carving (originally an American harvest tradition) became one of Halloween’s most popular rituals.

Happy Halloween!

Do you have any traditions or rituals from your local area?
Get in touch in the comments below or on Twitter @XstaticWorld

Follow me on Instagram @XstaticGibbo
Email me at xstaticworld@gmail.com

Photos in this post are not my own. 
Descriptions based on various sources – may not always be completely accurate but as close as possible!


This week I returned from the Burning Man festival, and I’ve been racking my brains trying to figure out how to sum it up into words. No amount of survival guides, photos, videos or articles can prepare you for the moment you step out onto the playa and witness the Black Rock City skyline, or the first time you come face to face with The Man, or ride your first art car, or survive your first sandstorm, or rave your way through your first desert sunrise.

Pulse and Boom - Photo by Jim Urquhart. Burning Man. Art.
Pulse and Boom – Photo by Jim Urquhart.

I’ve heard a lot of negativity surrounding Burning Man recently, like “it’s just a bunch of hippies taking acid in the desert” or “it’s been taken over by the rich and privileged” or “it’s full of anti-establishment hypocrites.” Yep there are drugs, yep there are rich people with the luxury of WiFi and an unnecessarily large RV, and yep we’re all trying to say “fuck you” to “the man” in our own way. But whoever you are, wherever you come from, whatever your reason is for being there, it’s your burn. You can and will make it exactly what you want it to be. Nobody cares what you do or what you have in the default world. Money is nothing – you’re there in that moment and making whatever you want to out of the environment around you.

Insanity. Burning Man 2014. Art. Black Rock Desert. XSTATICWORLD.
Insanity – photo by XstaticWorld

You’re part of the environment, you’re creating every moment. From the second you receive your ticket that states ‘NO SPECTATORS’, it’s up to you to participate in the burn you want to have. Whether you want to take acid and rave until noon, do yoga as the sun rises over the temple, have an orgy, be naked all week, join the circus, make art, spin fire or just chill out with new people… you can. It’s your burn. It really is a city (I was told that on Saturday we were the 5th largest city in Nevada), and like any city there is something for everyone. We were all living our own burns alongside one another, and loving everyone along the way.

Love at Burning Man, Black Rock Desert. XSTATICWORLD.
Love – photo by XstaticWorld

What I found was a family, an appreciation for people and their stories, a love of the outdoors, a desire to create, a realisation of the things I’m capable of, 8 nights of raving and 8 days of adventure!

Burning Man 2014. Night. Rave. Fire.
The Castle – Photo by Jim Urquhart

My highlights:

Platybus and The Band
After just a couple of weeks’ preparation, leaving my job and buggering off alone, I finally touched down in Reno ready to start my journey. But the second I left the airport, saw the surrounding mountains, felt the blistering heat and spoke to the hoards of veteran burners who knew exactly what they were doing, this insane fear came over me. I’d never been more terrified in my life, and for the first time I thought “Amy, what the fuck are you doing here?” I went into a shell, and lost my ability to strike up a conversation with a stranger (generally unlike me!) But I was saved; I met Frog who told me I belonged at his camp, and so a couple of days later I arrived at Platybus and The Band. I told this new group of strangers my story, and the first thing they said was “Welcome home! Take or use whatever you want and DO NOT say thank you, because we are your family now.” And we were a family, all 120 of us from all over the world and all walks of life. We cooked and cleaned together, we got smashed together, we raved together, we jammed together, we laughed, we cried, we had a wedding (the best wedding I’ve ever been to, congratulations Felipe and Matita!). I can’t thank my Platybus family enough for their unbelievable generosity and for being the most amazing people I could have possibly found out in the desert!

Deep Playa Adventures
During the week I found a loyal adventure buddy! Stef and I set out daily on our bikes with no agenda whatsoever, just to explore. One day we ventured out to the deep playa, away from the city far out in the desert. The sand was thick in the air and we couldn’t see anything around us, until we noticed some movement off in the distance. We rode over to find an art car hosting a cheese and wine party for a small handful of burners, and after hours of riding this was the best possible thing in the world! A few minutes after we arrived, another art car showed up blasting Disney songs, and so we danced with silk to the sound of Pocahontas’s Colours of The Wind, swung on giant swings and drank wine with beautiful strangers. Riding home we saw the sun setting over the mountains, we felt the harsh winds ripping through our bikes and we smelt the dust as it covered us and everything around us. It was an unforgettable afternoon.

The First Sandstorm
We were out at Robot Heart, a sunrise rave that changed location every day and the only way to find it was to cycle the desert in search of a giant metal heart. Around 9am I was low on water so jumped on a mobile bar for a quick drink. Suddenly the bar started moving with me propped up against it. “Shit” I thought “my friends and my bike are over there.” Before I had a chance to get off the first sandstorm of the week hit – complete white-out. My only option was to ride it out on this Indian style moving bar that continued around the desert for at least an hour. I couldn’t see a few feet in front of me, all I could see was the faint outline of anonymous heads wearing dust masks and goggles opposite. One of the heads turned and handed me a bottle of JD, not a word spoken, just a silent nod and we carried on through the desert passing abandoned bikes and art sculptures not visible until we were nose to nose with them. It was an incredibly surreal experience, silently surviving the elements with faceless strangers.

The Temple –
I ventured alone to The Temple, an incredibly intricate structure built for burners to express problems or remember lost loved ones. The energy hits you as soon as you walk through the arches – I don’t think I’ve ever physically felt the emotions of other people like I did that day. Reading the messages written all over the walls and seeing the hundreds of people sitting and remembering in silence, I was completely overcome with emotion and overwhelming gratitude for my life and the people around me. On Sunday we burnt The Temple, and unlike the chaotic and animalistic party atmosphere of burning The Man on Saturday, 60 to 70 thousand people sat and were silent. Completely un-prompted nobody spoke a word, there was no music, just the sound of the temple and everything in it turning to ash. In its final moments it swiftly and silently twisted into itself and was gone, leaving nothing but a cloud of dust. Along with the thousands around me I gasped. It was like nothing I’ve ever seen before.

Gifting –
There is a common misconception that because no money is exchanged you need to bring something to trade. This isn’t the case – people genuinely want to make you happy, which in turn makes them happy, and the happiness just rolls on and on. I was given some really beautiful gifts by people who are now extremely special to me. I was also given things by people I’d never seen before and may never see again, but they were still so exceptional, and just knowing that someone genuinely wants you to have their handmade bracelet, their amazing green socks or their deep fried Oreo, is a beautiful feeling.

Likewise, the feeling of giving someone a gift with no expectation of getting something back is like watching your best friend open a Christmas present you’ve put all your effort into. Every bar, every food stall, every party, every workshop, every rave, every thing is a gift from someone else, and not once do you find yourself thinking “Oh score, free stuff.” Instead it’s “Wow, thank you for this gift”. And it’s not just things, sometimes your gift is just a great conversation, a hug, a smile or even your nudity. It may sound like a bunch of hippy nonsense to some – and yes, you do have to spend quite a lot of money to get there and enjoy it – but once you’re in it it makes so much sense.

A long-time Platybus camp mate called Bruce told me: “The best gift you can give is to carry this principle with you in the real world. Never stop gifting.”

Gifting at Burning Man - Photo by Xstatic World
Burning Man (Photo by Xstatic World)

Every minute of every day was a highlight – from the topless mimosa breakfast party to the naked foam party, the 300-person hug, dancing on a giant fire-breathing octopus, singing Bohemian Rhapsody a cappella at church while taking holy communion of whiskey and condoms, discussing my entire life with a complete stranger on board a giant shark for 3 hours before parting ways never to speak again, the Platybus Techno Tutu Tuesday rave, the 3D maze party, dancing in the thunderstorm, climbing on some of the best artwork in the world, watching The Man burn, the roller disco, climbing a mechanical beating heart, having a snowball fight in the middle of the desert, getting high and exploring, and every moment in between.

I love you burners, See you on the playa 2015.

With love, Teapot.

Burning Man

My love goes out to Alicia Cipicchio and her family following the tragic accident at this year’s event. You will be in our thoughts.

I want to hear about your burn, please tell me your stories in the comments below or on Twitter @XstaticWorld. For more photos follow me on Instagram @XstaticGibbo.

Get in touch at xstaticworld@gmail.com


This time next week I’ll be in the Black Rock Desert (Nevada, USA) ready for a week of community, art, self-reliance and radical self expression. It’s The Burning Man Festival!

I was lucky enough to acquire a ticket at the last minute and so I thought: “Bugger it, rinse out the penny pot and book that flight. I’ve got all the things I need for a festival.” How wrong I was! This is no ordinary festival, it’s a “utopian society” built on radical self-reliance, radical self expression, communal effort and participation. A 50,000 strong city built by artists and like-minded people that pops up annually in the middle of the desert, for many Burning Man is a lifestyle.


The Burning Man principles include: 

Radical self-reliance:
Burning Man encourages you to “discover, exercise and rely on your inner resources.”
Be completely prepared to take care of yourself physically and mentally.

Radical inclusion:
Anyone can be part of Burning Man – whoever you are, you’ll be welcomed and respected.

“Transformative change can occur only through the medium of deeply personal participation.” Everyone at Burning Man makes Burning Man. It’s not something to observe, it’s something to be part of – say “yes!”


“The principle of Gifting is unconditional and doesn’t constitute a return or exchange for something of equal value.” Burners give gifts because they want to, and it can be in any shape or form, from giving out food and beer to lending a hand at a camp or simply offering someone a hug.

Leave No Trace:
Burners respect their environment – they come and go with no trace of ever being there.
Everything that enters Black Rock City leaves Black Rock City.

The other principles include Decommodification, Communal Effort, Immediacy and
Civic Responsibility. These are principals to carry not only for the week but in life.


“The Black Rock Desert is trying its best to kill you” 

As a total Burning Man virgin I am in no way any kind of expert on preparing for the journey, but I’d like to list some of the survival essentials I’ve learned so far from veteran burners who’ve kindly shared their wisdom.

In the interest of radical self-reliance everyone must enter fully prepared to survive 7 days in the desert. Nothing can be bought at Burning Man (with the exception of ice and coffee) and so everything needs to come with you. You must come prepared to battle the elements: dry hot days at 4,000 feet above sea level, freezing cold nights and unpredictable weather.


Packing list essentials

1.5 gallons of water per day is the recommended amount. As I’m flying solo to Reno from the UK and catching the ‘Burner Express’ into Black Rock City, I’ll be buying 11-12 gallons of water in the city and transporting it all to the desert in a wheelie bin! I’ve also bought a Camelback backpack that holds 1.5 litres, so I won’t go thirsty miles away from camp.

Again, I’ll buy this in Reno: lots of dried fruit, nuts and energy bars as well as tinned food and salty snacks. The salty snacks help replace electrolytes that you lose sweating in the heat.

Goggles and Dust Masks:
Sandstorms or ‘white-outs’ are regular; the best thing to do is stick your goggles and dust mask on, sit down and wait for it all to blow over.


I’ve pre-ordered a tent for pick up in Reno as well as rebar stakes. Regular tent pegs have absolutely no use on the hardpan ground of the desert, and even if you could get them in the ground the high wind would just go ahead and blow your tent away.

Clothing (Cool/Warm) and Self Expression:
Temperatures are up to around 40 degrees (c) in the day, and plummet to under 5 degrees (c) at night. Sun hats and thermal underwear are both essential! This is a chance not for costume but for radical self-expression. The outfits I’ve bought and made for the festival are a reflection of me.


Lights Lights Lights:
It’s important to light up at night; you can easily get hit by a bike, art car or mutant vehicle if you don’t. I’ve bought hi-vis tape to cover my coat with (as well as my tent, so nobody falls into it), UV face paint, light-up finger beams, flashing EL wire to stitch into my clothes, a head torch, a hand torch, glow in the dark nail varnish and glowing eye lashes.

First Aid:
They have emergency services in Black Rock City but in the interest of radical self-reliance you should be able to look after yourself. I’ve got all the basics and have been for a spree at the pharmacy for every pill and potion I could possibly need.

The alkaline desert is drying you up and the harsh sun is burning you all day, so it’s really important to keep restoring your body’s moisture. I’ve got plenty of sunscreen, high-acid lotions, lip balm and eye drops.

For the full official Survival Guide and Personal Survival Checklist visit the
Burning Man website.


From what I’ve read this is a week of embracing life and opportunity, loving those around you and letting yourself go. I’m going alone and I plan to throw myself into anything and everything possible, not being afraid to be the best possible version of myself.

Click here for a sneaky peek at this year’s artwork or watch one of the videos below and, like me, get inspired to go!

The Fertile Desert

Oh The Places You’ll Go

Dear Virgin

Are you a virgin burner this year? Are you a veteran with some pearls of wisdom? Are you planning a burn next year? Let me know in the comments below or on Twitter: @XstaticWorld

Burning Man 2013: State of the Art

My burn experience coming soon!


Twenty Festivals to see in your lifetime.

Lights, colour, music, art, fire, mud, paint, tomatoes, elephants.. we’ve got it all.

 List and photos from Distractify,
visit http://news.distractify.com/people/legendary-festivals/ for full article.

What would you add to the list? Let me know in the comments below
or on Twitter @XstaticWorld