OGDEN -- The weather was just beginning to cool, and Micky Baker ducked into a large tent whose dark inside was outfitted with decorative balls and rows of purple glowing lights.
"Welcome to the black light lounge," he said.
As he reclined into a zebra-pattern seat, Baker explained why he had camped out for two days there, at Fort Buenaventura, with an estimated 800 others.
"It's about being in the moment," said Baker, who wore baggy chinos, sandals and a white jacket adorned with patches. "It's about being part of an experience larger than yourself."
The dual event, combining the 7th Bi-Annual Ogden Equinox Celebration and the Decompression, a regional Burning Man festival, was held from Friday at noon until this morning. Tents were unfurled throughout the park, and more than 60 live local bands and DJs dazzled on several stages as attendees roamed the expansive grounds.
Baker described the gathering as a gifting community, where self-reliance is paramount and money is not exchanged. Kind deeds are often returned in various ways, from helping to set up a tent to offering a shot of Irish cream liquor to pep up a morning coffee.
"I've found you get back tenfold what you put into it," said Baker, the public relations director for Element 11, the regional Burning Man offshoot that helped put on the event.
"People automatically assume it's hippies and anarchy but it's not. We have lawyers and businessmen with 401Ks, along with people who are unemployed. We have people from all walks of life."
Anne Simmons, Element 11's treasurer, who has shoulder-length purple-dyed hair and wore a flowing multi-color dress, has been coming to Burning Man events for five years.
At the main Element 11 event, held each year near Grantsville in July, she hosts a camp dedicated to homebrewing beer. People from around the country share brews they've made, and Simmons teaches people about the joys of craft beer.
"I just love to throw parties for people," she said, rap music blaring from a tent in the background. "I like having people be able to enjoy themselves."
Baker, who attended his first Burning Man -- the main week-long festival is held every summer in Nevada -- in 2009, said the temporary community the events create afford a place where people can express themselves freely, through myriad ways, including clothing, music and art. He even listed drugs as a form of expression some attendees use, though Element 11 works closely with local law enforcement when putting on events and doesn't condone illegal activity.
For Eben Lundberg, music was the draw. It was his first time at Fort Buenaventura, and he marveled at what it meant to play music for an audience of people comprising so many demographics and outside interests.
"If you build a stage, people will come," he said. "Plus, it's an opportunity to play music at sunrise. You don't get that at clubs."
As he wandered throughout the campground, Baker, who works at a consolidation firm in everyday life, stumbled upon familiar faces, as well as new acquaintances. He offered each a hug -- it is the preferred greeting at Burning Man events, and Baker says a stranger is just a friend you've never met -- which sheds light on one other reason Baker and so many others had gathered there.
"This," he said, 'is a wonderful group of people I'd never otherwise have the opportunity to overlap with."
Contact reporter Bubba Brown at 801-625-4221 or email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter at @BubbaBrownSE.