What could I say about Burning Man that hasn’t already been said? Well I guess it depends on what you’ve already heard about it. If you’re anything like my parents then you’ve probably only heard one side. If your thoughts on burning man are like…. “Isn’t that place just about drugs and orgies?” then I’m so glad I get to share with you what it’s really all about. I mean, it is about drugs and orgies, but what isn’t? I kid. Not about the orgies. I definitely passed by that tent multiple times without an inkling of curiosity. That’s not true. I was curious about how bad it smelled, how often they changed the sheets, is it air-conditioned, what happens if they run out of condoms, what time does it open, is there a back door so none of my friends see me walk in, is it just the same old men that walk around naked or are their any cute ones? Why is it only old men that you see naked at nude beaches? One of the first thing my dad asked me when I got back from Burning Man was, “Did you see any Shirt Cockers?” (men who wear shirts and no pants. Also known as Donald Ducking)
I don’t know why the didn’t call it Whinny the Poohing…One can only guess.
Well back to my dad’s weird question. The answer is “Duck No.”
Anywho. Burning Man is about so much more. I promise. Mom, I promise. I’m going for the art… and stuff. Let me start with my previous thoughts on Burning Man. It is a huge festival. It is expensive and you have to know someone cool to get in. I’ve wanted to go for years. People I’ve met that have gone always talk about how amazing it is. They also say you have to join a camp. HAVE TO!! Like don’t even bother if you’re not in a camp. Then when I ask if I can just join their camp they say something like, “Oh everyone’s been there forever and we don’t let new people in. Sorry.” Or “Our camp is kinda exclusive. You have to be a member of our Satanic cult first.” So really what I heard was, “Omg it’s the best party ever, but it’s really too bad you’re not invited. I wish I could invite you, but you know it’s not at my house and the host only wants his super cool friends there. Maybe you could find another party. Like a smaller one for like people more like you. And you could work your way up. Good luck. I hope to see you there.”
So what I decided to do was date some “cool” guy. What makes a guy cool? What makes anyone cool? He was in a band. That’ll do. He got invited to go… by his bandmate. Soooo cool. Also, they were going to be apart of a band camp. Wait, that doesn’t sound cool at all. A musical camp. Nope. Oh well. A camp full of musicians. Soooo cool. Only problem. I wasn’t invited. Luckily, this cool guy I was kicking it with said he wouldn’t go without me. I know, right?! Cool and sweet. Well don’t wet yourselves yet, ladies. I said, “Will you not go without me?”.. and he said…. “uuuuuuugghhhhh, fine.” Totally not cool, but being cool is so overrated. That’s what I’ve heard. In my own head. Everyday.
Luckily, his bandmate wanted him to go enough that I got an afterthought invite. And I was definitely not too cool to turn it down. However, I did find my own ticket! I know what you’re thinking, “if you could easily find your own ticket then why the big fuss?” Well I HAD to be in a camp. Aren’t you paying attention?
So I’d got the golden ticket and I’m in a camp. I was stoked! Well that’s when everyone starts telling you all the shit you have to buy and everything you can’t do. Wait?! What?! There’s rules? I thought rules weren’t allowed. Like Neverland minus the pirates trying to kill you.
- Don’t wear a tank top two days in a row.
- You can only wear your hair in a ponytail once a week.
- On Wednesdays we wear pink.
- You can only wear jeans or track pants on Friday.
- Be effortlessly plastic.
Oops sorry. Wrong cool club.
Burning Man Style Guide:
- No Sequins
- No labels
- Where a Tutu on Tuesday
- Where White on Wednesday
I always thought the outfits I saw at Burning Man were amazing. And I love costumes. I coach kids and I have a lot of costumes from weekly theme days at summer camp. Yes, I came up with theme days. Yes, I always dress up. I was planning on being a different Disney character every day. However, I was told going as Disney characters isn’t apart of the Burner ethos, “Well Amy, there isn’t supposed to be any commercialism.”
What?! Luckily, my mom is a fashion guru and master thrift store huntress that provided me with some amazing outfits.
Me: “Mom don’t you think this is a little revealing? Half my butt is out.”
Mom: “No. Good thing you’ve been working out.”
Me: “Thanks?” (sets down bar of chocolate)
Also, my sister is a makeup artist and sent me some awesome hair dye and bright makeup glitter. “Oh sorry Amy, glitter isn’t allowed. It ruins the dust.” So many rules. I then recruited my fellow burner virgin to dye my hair using plastic bags on his hands as I then rubbed in the dye. So after I got the outfits down it was off to the real semi-important things… like food, water and whatever.
Here’s the Burning Man Guide. A long list of to-dos and not-to-dos.
Here are my favorite:
- DECOMMODIFICATION ” In order to preserve the spirit of giving, our community seeks to create social environments that are unmediated by commercial sponsorships, transactions, or advertising. We stand ready to protect our culture from such exploitation. We resist the substitution of consumption for participatory experience.
- RADICAL SELF-RELIANCE” Burning Man encourages the individual to discover, exercise, and rely on his or her inner resources.
- COMMUNAL EFFORT”! Our community values creative cooperation and collaboration. We strive to produce, promote, and protect social networks, public spaces, works of art, and methods of communication that support such interaction.
- RADICAL INCLUSION “! Anyone may be a part of Burning Man. We welcome and respect the stranger. No prerequisites exist for participation in our community.
- GIFTING “Burning Man is devoted to acts of gift-giving. The value of a gift is unconditional. Gifting does not contemplate a return or an exchange for something of equal value.
Here is my interpretation.
Everyone is included in Burning Man, but you should know someone to be in a camp and have enough money for the $500 ticket and able to take a week off of work. It’s all about community. However, you should be fully self-reliant so don’t come asking for help. Also, don’t bring trash, but try to give everyone a dumb useless gift. Also, you can’t sell or buy anything, but we can and it’s coffee and ice. How can anyone enjoy community and art without coffee and having to drink warm beer? We aren’t savages.
I know you’re wondering why anyone would want to go to this thing? Sounds like a big hassle. Well it is. But so is any vacation. Even though this doesn’t sound like your usual Hawaiian beach resort getaway… Oh damn that sounds nice. I should have done that. Burning Man is so foreign and unknown. You do all this research to prepare, but you have no idea what you’re getting yourself into. That is what makes it so exciting.
The week before we left we were getting all our equipment ready.
YOU MUST BRING:
- Your ticket or your photo ID (I’ve heard of people driving 12 hours and forgetting their ticket. Bummer)
- 1.5 gallons of water per person per day
- A reusable water bottle
- Food & beverages: Our Costco list: trail mix, protein food bars (Quest Bars are my fave), Canned chicken, jerky, apples, almond butter, crackers, prunes (don’t wanna get plugged up out in the desert), chai tea, Aussie bites (my mom made them!), lots of warm beer.
- An extensive first-aid kit
- Sunscreen/sunblock & sunglasses
- Warm clothing
- Particle/dust mask
- Goggles to protect eyes during dust storms
- Rope or tie-down straps
- Emergency toilet: bring a 5 gallon utility bucket with lid and garbage bag liners
- Hand sanitizer
- Garbage and recycling bags, and tools to clean up your camp
- Duct tape—you’ll find a need for it, guaranteed (We didn’t)
- Flashlights and spare batteries (headlamps are useful)
- Lights for your bike and your person for safe nighttime travel
- A good camp tent or other shelter and warm sleeping bags and bedding (Our tent barely fit our air mattress)
- Common sense, an open mind, a sense of humor and a positive attitude (Never had one.)
STRONGLY SUGGESTED YOU BRING
- Shade structures, umbrellas, parasols, sheets; something to break the midday sun (Luckily our camp provided shade)
- A wide brim hat (a chinstrap is useful in the wind)
- A cooking stove if you expect to heat food or liquid (our camp provided meals)
- A bicycle (mountain bikes or cruisers with balloon tires are best)
- A bike lock (tag your bike with name, playa address, email and/ or phone information)
- Bicycle tire repair kit, pump, spare parts and extra tubes
- Portable shower with a drain system to collect and manage greywater (I wish I had this!)
- Lotion, lip balm and earplugs (not everyone will want to sleep when you do!)
- Watertight protective bags (e.g., heavy zip-type) for cameras or electronic gear
- Costumes, musical instruments, props, decorations, and anything that might make the experience more fun for you and your playa neighbors
- A battery powered AM/ FM radio (Our camp ALWAYS played music. Super loud. At all times.)
- Camp marker
- 12” tent stakes (rebar is cheap and effective in high wind)
- Plastic bottles or tennis balls to top and protect dangerous rebar stakes (We are tennis pros and didn’t bring any used balls. We saw brand new cans opened for this use. What a waste.)
- Extra set of car keys (keys are easily lost and there is no locksmith in BRC!)
- A reusable travel coffee mug
- A five gallon bucket (I have no idea why this is listed. Didn’t get one or wish I had one)
And you thought the ticket was expensive? Still worth it? We’ll see.
So $1000 later I’m ready for Burning Man! You don’t even need to read about how my experience was. These before and after pictures explains it all.
Besides, you’ve already heard all about it before. Drugs and orgies.
But if you really wanna know I’ll fill you in. Coming soon to a blog near you.