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Why You Should Appreciate San Francisco During Burning Man

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So your friends are off to the playa, their requests off from work (if applicable) approved months in advance. It’s Burning Man and you’re “stuck at home” in one of the world’s most beautiful cities. What’s to appreciate about San Francisco while thousands of its residents are away?

Must be nice.

1. Reduced traffic.

If for some reason you own and drive a car in San Francisco, this is an excellent occasion to run any crosstown errands. Do you have an upright piano to pick up from your friend in the Outer Sunset? A body to unearth and relocate now that a condominium developer has purchased that tidal estuary? Now’s the time.

2. No lines—anywhere. Thanks, Burning Man!

Behold your favorite café unburdened at mid-day. Your order? Up in no time. Your preferred table? Totally available. Later at your neighborhood bar, the wait for a drink is minimal, almost non-existent. Even the laundromats seem less busy, the Church-and-Market Safeway slightly calmer. Is this earthquake weather?

3. Less crowded trains and buses! Where could everybody be?

You board an Antioch train at Embarcadero and find a seat right away. In the city, the MUNI metro lines aren’t sweltering with too many riders. You have a seat and, if you’re on for long enough, a pleasant, unobstructed view. Now it’s just you, some old folks, and that fragrant vagrant dressed in full-length wool. What joy! What rapture! Who knew public transit could be a pleasant experience?

4. Less crowded parks and beaches. You guessed it: Burning Man!

A heat wave’s coming up. San Francisco will sweat it out in the mid-eighties while inland cities like Concord and Livermore will bake at well above 100 degrees. Marshall’s Beach would typically be overrun. Not during Burning Man. Feel free to sun bathe in the nude with enough elbow room between you and your neighbor.

5. Quicker service at restaurants.

With fewer guests to manage, servers can expect less chaos at work this week. Aside from the heat, their biggest concern is recuperating lost tips. Be sure to appreciate your waitstaff more than usual this week. They wish they were out of town just as much as you do, if not more.

6. You remember why you love San Francisco.

This can be embarrassingly easy to forget, but at times like these, it’s easy to remember. Ultimately, when you get some room to breathe, the clarity that brings can be transformative. Soak up the specialness of having a patch of Ocean Beach to yourself. Savor the deliciousness of walking right up to the counter at Molinari’s. Drink in the VIP treatment at Zeitgeist. May it sweeten your friends’ September 5th return.

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Jake Warren

Jake Warren

A Potawatomi nonfiction writer and Tenderloin resident possessing an Indigenous perspective on sexuality and a fascination with etymological nuance. Queer decolonial leftist, cannabis industry affiliate, seasoned raver, and unofficial earthquake authority.