Waking up after our last nap in Black Rock City, Ray and I told ourselves that we would ride the largest pirate ship on the playa. Whether or not it was gonna happen, who knew? We got ready, took our bikes to watch the man burn (glorious in all kinds of reasons), and then headed out to go club hopping. We passed by the fire octopus, named “El Pulpo”, vehicle that we fortunately saw from the night before. I grew an obsession with fire after watching the fire dancers perform before the burn. Plus, it kept me warm. I thought this octopus vehicle was the most ornate mutant vehicle I’ve seen, yet.


After biking around to a bunch of different clubs and dancing the night away, we saw crazy yellow lasers off into the distance. “Hey, that place looks bumpin, too! But it’s kinda far and our bikes are parked…somewhere.”

Before I knew it, the fire octopus inched its way towards us. I watched in amazement as everyone else zombie-walked towards the mutant vehicle like bugs fly towards a street lamp. I saw two people jump off the vehicle seats and waved thank you to the driver. I waited to see if anyone else was gonna hop on as I didn’t wanna take that experience away from anybody. The octopus started to drive off, and the empty seats were an opportunity I couldn’t believe was at my fingertips! I ran towards the driver and asked if we could get a ride. Where is it going? Who cares! I didn’t care where that thing was going to take us. I wanted to ride it, and that’s all that mattered. I lived for this moment, and this moment only.

I swear I must have looked like a little kid in a candy store when I saw her point to the two empty seats in front of me. My Asian eyes grew as big as they could, and my jaw dropped to the floor. I ran up to the seat, and Ray sat next to me as the octopus started driving off. Fire blasted from its tentacles, and the heat reassured me that the fire will keep me safe and comfortably cozy in the dark.

And then I hear bass…

Almost immediately, our hands went up into the air, and we started bumping to the music. Butterflies in my stomach, disbelief happiness in my brain…I was riding a steampunk, fire-blasting, mechanical octopus in the desert that plays dubstep proudly. The things that don’t make sense suddenly made perfect sense. Or did it?

At 5 miles per hour, a row of bikes rode next to us. I pointed my dancing hands and feet at them with the biggest smile on my face. For the whole ride (the best 2 minutes of my life), I felt like I owned this octopus extraordinaire. It was a gift the artist made for the city, so technically, I DID own this octopus. We rode and danced on it proudly like we were the king of Mardi Gras parading on the best float in town. I could only feel sorry for those who chased us on their bikes.

So where did this octopus take us? To the other side of the city where the yellow lasers played with the sky. Hey, wait a minute…this is where we wanted to be! I saw the people at this club stop and headed towards us, musing at the fire. We jumped off, and waved our “Thank you!” to the happy driver. It’s someone else’s turn to experience this vehicle.


What’s at this destination? A fire dancing circle where the dancers played with fire to the enchanting beat of slow dubstep. Why does fire and dubstep fit so well together? Who cares. We spent a lot of the night mesmerized by the dancing flames…

Take a step back for a second and realize…we rode a mechanical octopus that blasts fire from its tentacles towards lasers where the fire dancers played. Where else would this happen? Things that happily made sense at Burning Man wouldn’t make sense if you place real world stigma into it.

Lesson Learned: You might not get what you want, but you get what you need. And maybe what you need is better than what you wanted. No pirate ship? Steampunk Octopus, it is!

1 thought on “What’s Awesome, Gets Better: Burning Man Steampunk Octopus

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