Part 2. Immersive dining experience

Night in the desert. Hundreds of illuminated bikes moving around. Here and there are art cars with loud music. I and my 2 friends just left the huge dancing crowd behind us as they decided “to go home”, meaning get back to our RV since it was a very long day, and they were still jetlagged.

In theory, this could be a Berlin or Barcelona nightlife experience: a group of friends coming back from a rave party…” Well, they just took it to the desert – ok, I should admit, this is interesting…” My thought process suddenly was interrupted by the smell of freshly brewed coffee and something delicious: waffles? Pancakes?

And then I saw THAT. It was a classic American diner with a retro-style “Dust city diner”  signboard. Of course, there was a small cue. There were about 10 high stools around the counter, all occupied, and we had to wait “to be seated”. My friends were too tired and the possibility to stand there waiting for some not very healthy food served by some dudes wearing wigs was not worth it – I saw it on their exhausted faces.

But for me, it was all about the experience, and the possibility of immersing yourself in this surrealism. Have you ever been to one of those 24/7 classic American diners after a good party? When you’ve danced the hell out of you, tired but happy, you’re starving, and greasy bad food is the best thing that can happen to you right now? Well, that was it. Just somewhere in the Nevada desert, not in West Hollywood.


Dust City Diner, iPhone photo

And the “waitresses” were guys “a little after 40” wearing pin-up style wigs and some of them had fake moles above their lips. They all looked ridiculously strange.  But that is exactly what made it so cool. Well, and also coffee from a ceramic cup with a saucer and goat cheese sandwiches at 2 in the morning.

I decided to stay as my friends left, and started chatting with the senior gentleman wearing a cylinder hat. He told me it was his 24th Burn, so he was just chilling, having his coffee from ceramic pair (again – somewhere in Deep playa) like it wasn’t a big deal and seems like had no FOMO at all.

As he shyly asked one of the “waitresses” if they had non-lactose milk, he got the brightest smile: “of cooooourse! And also, foie gras, caviar, champagne”… Honestly, the waitress (she?) was just living that character — I swear I could imagine a real waitress from 50’s diner replying that way. The gentleman in the hat just shrugged and focused on his sandwich and a pickle, trying to share it with me. At that point, I wasn’t even hungry anymore. I was just standing there as Alice in Wonderland and thinking: “This becomes curiouser and curiouser!”

On the other side of the table, someone was celebrating their birthday, and a couple on the right from me was all lovey-dovey chatting as if they had a date in a restaurant under the stars (well, they technically did –except it wasn’t a real restaurant), new people appeared next to me when the gentlemen in the hat left. It was so real, yet so not realistic. But those were real people and real connections in a sham(-ish?) environment.

It felt like I’m in some surrealistic dream or absurd movie, but the actors don’t play one scenario written by someone.  In this absurd theater, everybody is real, and they play the roles they created, they act as they want, and you never know in what role the person you’ll meet next.   Being inside that immersive experience, I absolutely couldn’t understand what exactly is going on, and what my role is, but it engaged all 5 of my senses and was absolutely awesome.




Featured photo: photo by Trey Ratcliff