Every summer, tens of thousands of “burners” descend on the Black Rock Desert, toting survival supplies for the weeklong performance-art fantasia called Burning Man. Here, across more than 3,500 acres of sand under the relentless August sun, they build massive interactive art installations—a fractal meditation pod made from timber and climbing nets; a fire-breathing dragon that melts down aluminum cans for sculptures; a 21-foot-tall tetrahedron of baseball bats and softballs—and they erect hundreds of themed encampments. At the festival's apex, a 90-foot-tall effigy, The Man, is set ablaze. I've been attending for eight years. Out in the desert, there's no running water or electricity; we bring everything we need in and out: construction cranes, club-quality sound systems, and freezer trucks. Best of all, the whole place runs on a gift economy—no bartering, no buying, only giving—including the “restaurants.” I love to explore the culinary camps, where scrappy cooks whip up a bacchanalian spread—North African lamb stew, ice cream frozen on the spot with liquid nitrogen, sushi made from salmon flown to the desert. Festgoers set up countless makeshift cafes, bakeries, and supper clubs where you're free to go in and eat your fill.