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All's quiet at Burning Man--for now

With three days to go before the famous arts festival's gates open, a lucky few are on hand to help build Black Rock City.

On Thursday night, three days before the gates open to Burning Man, the Man is up and looking fine atop his forest of wooden, sculpted trees, but is still roped off.
Daniel Terdiman/CNET

BLACK ROCK CITY, Nevada--It's Thursday night, three days before the gates officially open to Burning Man, but already a lot of people have arrived here for set-up. The arts festival is quickly taking shape.

On this night, it's oddly quiet on the Black Rock desert. Oddly because if you've ever been to Burning Man, you're used to nights being filled with noise of all kinds--music, explosions, screaming, laughing--coming from every direction. But because the only people here right now are helping to build things--art projects, theme camps, public infrastructure--people are plumb tuckered out.

But it was clearly worth a quick bike ride to see what's up already, and two of the most obvious pieces are the Man--the centerpiece of the festival, this year built atop a forest of wooden sculptures of trees--and the Raygun Gothic Rocket, a 1940s-era spaceship gracing the desert with its stylized presence.

From here on out, it will only get bigger, louder, and more outrageous. But tonight, amidst the vast emptiness of a Burning Man only partially pieced together, some beauty is quietly on display.

The Raygun Gothic Rocket ship, a 1940s-era spaceship, which has a planned launch a week from Friday at Burning Man. Daniel Terdiman/CNET