Posts during March, 2012


March 30th, 2012  |  Filed under Culture (Art & Music), Participate!, Technology

A Blue Electric Thread

One year back in the last century, after our peculiar yet determined convoy made it to Black Rock City through gate, unpacked and set up enough of our tents and shade, we did what everyone does and found ourselves skipping off into the playa dust like giddy children and making our way out to see that year’s Man up close and personal. We walked up his hay bale steps and it was still early dark, just nightfall with a few people milling about and large red and black fireballs boiling up near center camp to faraway cheers.

the Man 1998 by Andrew Penn

The Man stood tall over us and I touched the steel support that held his leg and at that moment also accidentally touched my friend and shocked him. After a breath we slowly tried it again and realized that one of us could hold the Man’s leg and then just barely almost touch a finger tip with another and this tiny, delicate thread of light neon blue electricity would dance between our fingers. It was so beautiful and unexpected, like it came to visit us and wanted to play a while. We formed a chain of people almost touching out from the leg, adding one after the other until eventually the person at the end of the chain would say, “I don’t feel it.”

When that happened, we’d move that person to the front at the Man’s leg and another line of us would form and barely touch finger tips until this repeated and another person from the rear was sent to the leg. This went on for a time until some other sparkly thing distracted us and we set out with one purpose across the dusty playa to investigate, leaving our discovery for others to enjoy.

This, of course, was right before Burning Man was officially declared dead.
Read more »

March 27th, 2012  |  Filed under Participate!, The Ten Principles

Advanced Gifting: Why Not Adopt a Burning Man Virgin?

Ladies and gentlemen, let’s talk about being Jaded. Have you heard the following from anyone in your circle of Burner friends?
“Yeah, been there, done that. I’m just going to stay in camp.”
“Oh, I saw that last year.”
“Wasn’t the art better in 2005?”
“Ugh, I’m so over it.”

Photo by Brian Vincent

Maybe you’ve even been guilty of it yourself.

Perhaps the soft, smoky tendrils of a tendency towards snark and eye-rolling are starting to creep into your brain, strangling the wide-eyed enthusiasm and the knee-jerk joy.

Is your “yes, and” being slowly replaced with “NO”?

Do you spend entire days in camp, lying on a couch and reading comic books rather than going out to play?

There is a solution, my friends!

Adopt a Burning Man Virgin. It’s as simple as that. 100% guaranteed cure-all for the Jaded that ails you.

Find someone new to the event and take them under your wing, teach them your secrets, answer their questions, listen to them shout “EEEEEE!” with excitement. This process is extra-helpful when started before the event (see the bottom of this post for resources), but also grants great benefits when befriending a newbie on-playa. Read more »

March 19th, 2012  |  Filed under The Ten Principles

Turnkey Camping in Black Rock City

Photo by Lucas Swick

[6/25/12 UPDATE: We've changed the nomenclature for these types of camps from "Plug & Play" to "Turnkey" to better reflect the way they function.]

In the last few years, a new phenomenon emerged – an increase in “Turnkey” camping in Black Rock City. What is “Turnkey” camping? It’s a shorthand that has emerged around those camps where a group of people (it could be individuals, or a commercial outfit, we have learned) set up a camp not just for themselves, but in advance of the arrival for others to arrive in Black Rock City and have things ready to go for them. Depending on the camp, this could simply include camp infrastructure, or it could also include food preparation, or it could go so far as providing an art car, a decorated bike, or a schedule of activities, for instance. It’s most often for a fee, ranging from reasonably close-to-cost setups to high dollar luxury style RV camps.

Whichever way you look at it, it’s hard to precisely define Turnkey camping — because we ALL pool resources to survive on the playa, and we all have to take care of each other … so who is to say what someone should bring or how much they should or shouldn’t spend to experience Black Rock City? Paying someone to do your kitchen at the event isn’t new, for example; other camps collaborate on porta-potty rental or other efficiency services. And sometimes, it turns out, these camps are prearranging the setup of their living conditions so that they can focus other contributions -art projects, for example, or a wedding. Or, just having fun without all the sweat equity. Read more »

March 18th, 2012  |  Filed under Preparation

Hi, n00bs!

Hey, don’t flinch. It’s a term of endearment. We’re hot, dusty and prickly out here. A little ribbing helps keep the spirits up, that’s all. It’s all love.

So hi, n00bs.

It’s ridiculous how recently I was you.

Anyway, welcome to Burning Man, huh? Interesting times. Bet you weren’t expecting such radical inclusion. Don’t worry. It’s not always like this. Just recently.

So, you saw the Dr. Seuss video, I assume. Pretty cool, right? Yeah, it really is like that. Here’s the thing, though. Those awesome people in the video are you!

You see? One does not simply watch Burning Man. One burns. Like a burnerly Burner, bro. You know?

No. I’m saying you are going to have a camera in your face out there. Every Burner’s face is like a camera lens focused on the most cinematic scene she’s ever seen. And you are the star of the show.

Do you know your lines? No? Good. If you come prepared with lines, you’re gonna screw them up. Someone’s going to zoom in on you and ask, “Have you seen the liger?” And he’ll have this dead-serious look on his face like, “Dude, seriously, there is an 800-pound liger loose out here somewhere and I LOST HIM.”

What are you gonna tell that guy?

He’s scared. Are you? What are you scared of? Ligers? Or not knowing what to say?

You have to improvise at Burning Man. Contingencies come up. Your tent blew onto the roof of the neighbors’ RV. You forgot clean underwear. Somebody lost his liger.

But that doesn’t mean we don’t practice. Oh no. It takes years to get ready for Burning Man. My first burn was in 2008. I don’t know what the hell I’m doing. It’s a good thing I fell in with a rock solid camp of desperadoes who were nice enough to adopt me and my East Coast friends. It took us a few years, and some of us had to move Out West, but I’d say we’re part of the family now.

By the way, where are you camping?

Not sure yet? That’s okay. It’s hard to say this year, anyway. The whole city will be different. The ticket troubles this year affected lots of the big camps that are the landmarks out there. Burning Man going viral means there are a lot more n00bs than usual. That will change the tone.

So we’re going to need your help, n00bs. We need you to make this a great year. But that’s nothing new. Burning Man is made of your participation. We need you, not the other way around. We want you to wow us. Bring your bad selves to the playa and make Burning Man completely different.

Guides thrive out there, not tourists. Burners have a tendency to play tricks on tourists. We’ll give you crazy-ass directions that don’t take you anywhere near where you’re going. We’ll pretend we’re meditating and then leap up and scream bloody murder when you walk by. We’ll moon in your photographs and spike your oatmeal with absinthe.

And that might be the highlight of your week. That’s what we want. Roll with it. Be prepared to be surprised. Be open to it. You’re wonderful.

Your iPad will get playafied. Please don’t bring that!

And I’m assuming that you know about MOOP.

I’m just trying to help. I wouldn’t want you to be unprepared or have a bad time. Burning Man is the best thing I do. I want you to experience that. I just want to make sure you do. It’s not a YouTube video. Those Huffington Post people probably don’t even go.

Photos by the divinely inspired Scott London.