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.

There are hundreds of Burning Man-centric internet sites that Virgins can spend hours poring over, creating lists, getting overwhelmed, neglecting their other life duties. Nothing compares, however, to getting feedback from someone who’s been there and done that. Someone who will listen to an overly-excited newbie without sighing and saying “can we please talk about anything EXCEPT Burning Man?”

Take them thrift-store shopping. Give them goggle advice. Hand down that awesome costume you no longer wear. Look at tents together. Discuss the relative merits of different flavours of Tasty-Bites. Insist on good tent stakes and a bike lock. If you’ve adopted a Virgin that’s not local, settle in for some chatty emails and a pile of shopping links and gear review sites.

What’s in it for me, you might ask? What does my bitter, jaded, black cat on a dark night of a soul get out of acculturating a newbie? Once you’re on-playa with your Virgin, be it one that you’ve carefully nurtured before the event, or simply one adoped on-playa, spend time running around with them. See things through their eyes. Bounce on the trampoline. Practice saying “yes, and” rather than “no”. Heck, leave camp! It’s a big wide world out there.

Seeing a Virgin running into your camp, wigglingly excited for the 40 different events from the What, Where, When Guide that they’re going to do that day (reality: they’ll do none of them and get distracted by blinky things or bacon margarita happy hour instead), is the best way to start your day out right. That energy is infectious. It will cure you of your Jaded, your Bitter, your It Was Better Last Year.

You might have heard that there are going to be a lot of newbies this year. Instead of fearing for the integrity of our event, why not use this as an opportunity to acculturate one or three new Burners, while gaining these fabulous benefits for yourself? Gifting isn’t just about trinkets and booze. Gifting time, attention, knowledge and care is what will keep our community vibrant and thriving well into the future. Plus besides also, it’s fun.

Best places to adopt a Virgin or be adopted:
Burning Man Facebook group:

About the author: Brody

Brody is a native Californian and recovering shy person who enjoys hugs, snacks and increasing the amount of happiness in the world. She is slightly internet-famous for creating the Desaturated Santa costume for SantaCon, and is glad to be known for something that's not horribly embarrassing or illegal. Brody first attended Burning Man in 2004 and found out that she doesn't actually know how to relax for an entire week. A volunteer with Greeters since 2005, she now sneaks in Greeter shifts before or after her regular on-playa job, making magic happen behind the scenes at the ARTery. Year-round Brody can be found in the Art Department wrangling data, creating order from chaos, and feeding her co-workers homemade marshmallows.

86 thoughts on “Advanced Gifting: Why Not Adopt a Burning Man Virgin?

  • @Mystic Warrior

    Feather boas are a hit with the chicks. I give them out if women show me their tits. It’s a blast! Burning man is a great place to pick up on drunk babes and babes totally tripping. I told one chick that I founded Burning Man and she totally made out with me. You’re gonna have a great time!

    Report comment

  • I’m a noob. Byrgin. I want to go to experience the art and wonderful weirdness that I have heard about since 2004. These stories from the veterans about flaky, crazy virgins and jaded veterans make me sad. it’s like I’ve come too late.

    Report comment

  • @ Mystic Warrior and all

    First welcome…Burners do fur, not feathers. Feathers become relentless MOOP (matter out of place) and are hard to clean up. Burning Man is a party, but if you are just comming to party, sell all your tickets and hang out at the local frat row. Black Rock City is a sacred place where amazing things happen. Whatever you think it is, it’s more than that and you have to come with an open mind ready to participate and contribute…or don’t come. If your friend suggested he did fine by living off of other Burners, he was deluding himself. The people who helped him thought he was a useless sparkle-pony and hope he doesn’t come back or learns to fend for himself. Your duty as a virgin is to learn everything you can about survival on the playa. If you show up unprepared, yes Burners will probably help you, but they won’t like it. It’s one thing to be naive, but to deliberatly be a burden is very uncool. If you are attractive and show up unprepared, you will find help, but you are risking becomming the toy of some creeps. Radical self-reliance is a core value. It’s character building and real Burners want to help those who have at least attempted to be prepared. If you come unprepared with the idea this is just a party and you can live off the kindness of others, you will not experience Burning Man and you will not have a good time. We party, but we pay for the party with hard work. If hard work in an environment that is constantly trying to kill you doesn’t sound fun, don’t come. If you’re up for it, we welcome you with open arms. If your post was fake, no matter, the idea is what matters.

    Report comment

  • @King Cobra: That sounds super awesome. I love beautiful crunk babes. Party on!

    @Pearce: Don’t worry, man. I’m not a jerk and I’ll make sure I’ll bury my trash and clean up after my dog so that I don’t make a mess.


    Report comment

  • I’ve had a great [if occasionally trying] time bringing *known* first-years before.
    I’ve also encountered the “just there for the party and to mooch” type–two guys showed up at our theme camp in 2007 or 2008, asked if they could come in, and proceeded to go through our chair-pockets, take swag, and stare at my bikini-clad chest. SO not fun.
    “This isn’t a bar” and “this is a working camp” became necessary phrases.

    Report comment

  • Wow, Desert Dave I didn’t see you in our camp last year so there must have been more than one of these sparkle ponies running around. The few of us that have tickets have decided not to adopt any more virgins as well since the two we had last year managed to suck all the joy out the burn for those of us that feel responcible for those we bring to Burning Man. And with the huge influx of virgins the Burn will be having this year I invision a really busy time for the camps that welcome all under thier tents. I would suggest an essay contest for all noobs that want to join up with a camp just to demonstrate that they know the ten princibles of burning man, I.E. you do understand what this is about, right?

    Report comment

  • Our camp is called Orphan/Endorphin camp, in 2011 it was actually a group of 3 camps at 5:15 and Istanbul.
    Orphan camp accepts absolutely everybody who doesn’t have a Playa family, virgin or not. There’s no cover.
    It’s been a blast for two years in a row.
    Closer to August we will post to eplaya and will accept 2012 orphans.

    Report comment

  • It was really cool to read this article, but discouraging to read the comments. It sucks to hear so many of you have been hurt by virgins, but all this negative energy is a real bummer.

    I’m a virgin this year, going with a friend who is also a virgin. We want to participate in Burning Man because we have heard so much about the incredible people, life changing experience, radical inclusion, art, and love. None of our veteran friends got tickets, which was super disappointing. We have hoped, despite this ticket fiasco, that burning man will be still be amazing.

    My friend and I are both outdoorsy folk who understand, to a reasonable degree, what we need to survive in the desert. I’m sure we will come across unexpected challenges but we plan to be entirely self-sufficient and not mooch off of anybody. We are already preparing gifts and hoping to join a theme camp so we can volunteer our time, energy, and talents. We are both people-loving, earth-loving, and art-loving folks. We try to practice radical inclusion in our own city, every day. We are NOT coming to burning man to do a bunch of drugs and get laid.

    After all the negative energy that has been going around about burning man this year, especially towards virgins, I’m questioning whether or not I want to go. I am afraid people will be rude to me just because I am new. Is that what you all are hoping to achieve? Are you trying to convince virgins to sell their tickets?

    I have already had several would-be-virgin friends, who are beautiful souls that would embrace burning man’s values and share their gifts, give up their tickets because of all of this hate that had been spread all over the internet.

    I worry that the negative energy towards virgins is going to have the opposite effect people are hoping for. The virgins who are suited to burning man, who love others and embrace burning man’s values, will give up their tickets because they don’t want to be part of something negative. Those who hold onto their tickets will be the virgins you are all hoping to avoid, because they don’t care. Burning man might lose some very special people.

    I haven’t decided if I will participate in Burning Man this year. My friend is convinced that once we get on the playa, everyone will forget about this ticket crap and accept us with open arms. I hope he is right!

    Report comment

  • @Irish
    I was working the DPW collection 24 hours a day for the 4 days it was in place. I think we closed down sometime on Tuesday. You where not at the DPW collection station if you where arrested. That would not stand there. Not sure where you where but it was not there.

    With that said,
    I have been inspired by this blog and ll the stories above and as the only greeter/DPW member I am going to set up the DPW adopt a sparkle pony program. If you come a cross a obnoxious sparkle pony that need to be re-principled, just drop them off at any of the DPW approved camps list below.

    Junkyard (They prefer boy ponies)
    Heavy Equipmet
    Plumbers Crack
    Power Camp (ask for Toad)

    Power Camp had a very successful sparkle pony adoption last year.

    I hope all have a great time this year and remember, “play nice”


    Report comment

  • @Weldboy.

    I second that proposal. The Sparkle Pony Adoption Principles Program (SPAPP) is the only sensible option for proper re-education of wayward spectating ponies. A detailed regimen of Ceralyte consumption, pork products, MoopStick training, morning meetings, and Doing the Wrong Sh*t Right is currently being developed and will be in place for Fertility 2.0.

    Trash fence corrals will be used to house the wayward ponies during the necessary re-education period. Upon completion of a short internment, SPAPP will produce participative ponies with a rabid distaste for MOOP and amplified electronic music.

    SPAPP: Training your useless pretty things that Burningdude is much much more than furry leg warmers and DJ Skrillnectar.

    Report comment

  • Reincarnation and Penance Camp welcomes virgins with these rules:
    *You must supply your own ticket.
    *You must have a great, fun attitude and strong work ethic in adverse challenging conditions. Pain in the asses will be ejected.
    *You must be 18 or over.
    We will reincarnate black rock playans by having them confess their sins, do a penance/punishment/dare and then crawl through a giant vagina to be reborn.
    We will also do parkour (running, climbing and jumping over, around and crawling under obstacles), body painting, a bike race, a playa patrol dispensing alcohol first aid and costume parties: any historical
    theme, pirate, clown, santa, zombie and non politically correct costumes.
    Our first meeting is in Los Angeles April 10. Our other base is in Dallas.
    We’ll also be at Elysium in CA and Burning Flipside in TX.
    For more info email your travel/camping/burning man experience if any, what skills you have and why you would be a valuable adoptee to playapatrol at gmail dot com

    Report comment

  • After 7 burns, I’m going to re-virginate myself this year! I’m going to meet all my neighbors, read the who what where guide with a sharpie in my hand, smile at everyone, not complain about noise, trash, or unlighted bikes (instead, enjoy the music, pick up trash, and gift glow stuff to dark people). I’ve never lost my enthusiasm for B Man, but I realize after reading these posts that I’ve allowed a bit of cynicism to creep in.
    When I read the post about the newbie looking out in awe on the Esplanade at night in full LED glory, it reminded me of taking my sister to B Man her first time. We were crawling through traffic on the highway between Gerlach and the playa when we came to a spot where you could see BRC in the distance. My sister got tears in her eyes.
    She said, “I’m so happy that people built this. That it’s really real.”
    It’s really real. I’m gonna be really real too.
    Love to you all–I’ll be the one smiling at you . . .

    Report comment

  • @Greentea

    Your friend is right. Don’t worry about the negative comments on this blog. Those aren’t real Burners anyway and you probably wouldn’t want to hang out with them. As long as you come prepared having read, digested, and followed the guide, and as long as you are willing to work for your fun, you will be welcomed and supported. You said something in your blog about understanding to a “reasonable degree” about survival in the desert. You should know there is nothing reasonable about this. You need to be prepared to a radical level. Don’t worry about gifts or gifting first. If you show up with no gifts, but are prepared to survive and participate you will happier, and the Burners you meet will be happier, than if you had lots of gifts but were otherwise unprepared. This is a great place where the environment is trying to kill you at every moment. If you are ready for that, we welcome you with open arms. See you on the playa.

    Report comment

  • Hello All!
    I’m going to be a burning man virgin this year, and unfortunately a lot of my friends we’re unable to get tickets. I want to have the full on burning man experience. I’m looking forward to meeting a bunch of friendly faces, and helping out wherever possible! It would be wonderful to have a few people show me the ropes :)

    love, light & blessings <3

    Report comment

  • Though I’m not DPW, I’ve been involved in developing a Sparkle Pony halter-training program. But it’s good to know where to send the hard cases to, especially the jaded veteran sparkle-ponies, who are too old and tough to make bacon out of (you were wondering where all that bacon came from, weren’t you? :)

    Report comment

  • @Peace

    “This is a great place where the environment is trying to kill you at every moment.”

    If that makes you feel like you’re engaged in some kind of dangerous camping adventure, that’s fine. The reality is that it’s not very difficult to survive whatever the playa throws at you. The whole event is basically fool-proof. The worst you’re going to run into is a dust storm that causes you to lose your direction for a little while.

    Probably the most dangerous element are drunken gate crew and DPW who have zero regard for participants. These people will actually steal your stuff and assault you.

    Report comment

  • Greetings Brody.
    Last year,coincidentally, we, the ChainsawMargaritaGuys hosted our daily happy hour
    and one day, just to liven things up, we had chainsaw margarita happy hour and bacon strip. Our margarita senorita’s passed out strips of bacon if you stripped. We would like to know if this was the bacon happy hour that you speak of? Did you happen to enjoy one of our frothy chainsawmargaritas on the Playa last year?
    Dr. Cuervo and Chainsawmargaritaguy.
    (last year’s address 7:15 B street.)

    Report comment

  • I’m a virgin (have been trying to lose my virginity for 10 years and finally this is the year, hells yeah!) It is possible that a friend or maybe two come with me if they get tickets (they’d be virgins too), but so far it seems that it is only going to be me. I don’t mind being adopted. I’m not crazy, like the stories I’ve read. I’ve tried pot and shrooms before, but in all my life I’d say no more than ten times all together. Drinking I do, but socially and if I get drunk I only get funny (or so I think). I guess I’m a pretty safe virgin–I can’t afford to get too crazy and end up in trouble cos of my career (therapist). I also wouldn’t end up with crazy veterans. I just want to get the most out of this experience, especially since I have been wanting to go for 10 years and finally I get to this year.

    I feel like I’m in a job interview.

    I’m from Chicago and I’m planning to drive there. I figured that if I can’t get together with anyone, I’ll wonder all day long, trying to get to know as much as I can. I’m looking into the guide for newbies, so I’m hoping to come as prepared as possible.

    Well, any advice? Suggestions? Comments? :-)

    Report comment

  • Hey to all vetz and virgz!! I just so happen to be turning 18 on the eve of burning man (august 26). WHAT LUCK! Ive been looking forward to this for many years! I plan to come as prepared as possible, but i know there is goin to be many unknowns i just cant prepare for. Im coming all the way from alabama to experience the great manifestation known as burning man. Since alabama is a huge part of the bible belt, not many people here are free minded and open hearted as i am (honestly i dont technically plan on returning, if i find a better alternative such as a commune, band tour, or some other psychedelic scene). If anyone wants to give me any tips, share a story, or even adopt this virgin (hell, you can even criticize me for all i care) through me a line at godfather9 here: godfather9 (at)

    Iggy P

    Report comment


    May all beings have fresh, clean water to drink.

    May all beings have food to eat.

    May all beings have a home.

    May all beings have someone to share love with.

    May all beings know their true purpose.

    May all beings be well and happy.

    May all beings be free from suffering.

    Today I shall do what I can to make this so.

    Report comment

  • This will be my first year at BM. It’s harsh to hear negative stories, but there are idiots anywhere you go these days. Avoid them. If someone gives you bad vibes or doesn’t feel right cut them off. It seems many habitual burners have become jaded and have closed minds after a negative experience. I really hope there are not too many negative people on the playa this year. To the people that have been burned, I hope you were able to reflect on what went wrong and how it could be avoided in the future. I also hope that everyone strives to have an open mind as well. I have always believed BM to be about having an open mind. Open to new people, experiences, friendships and life changing memories that will last forever. That noob that you may have colored incorrectly and turned away may have changed your life, but you may never know now. As far as people coming unprepared, that’s unacceptable. Perhaps everyone coming into the gate should be checked for enough water and food for everyone in their party and refused entry if they do not have provisions. Enough for now, I look forward to the experience that is Burning Man and sharing that experience with anyone who will allow it with an open mind.


    Report comment

  • @ Dr. Cuervo- I was at the Bacon Strip that loverly day, and enjoyed a tasty strawberry margarita and stripped for my bacon with caramel sauce. Thank you for the gifts and for imploring me to try caramel bacon!

    @ nikOpeaches- LOL. We met deep in the French Quarter one night last year when I was carousing with Formica and Igneouss and you gave me a hug and a shot of something that resembled whiskey *shudder at the strong stuff*. I would like to volunteer for the SPAPP staff this year in educating sparkle ponies on how to burn properly and embrace the 10 principles. Don’t just stand there– participate, biatches!

    @mutant vehicle owners of America: I absolutely love this beautiful and poignant prayer.

    @the birgins: Welcome! Please do yourselves and the rest of the playa a huge favor: start reading everything you can RIGHT NOW about preparation, the ten principles, etc and talking to vets about playa tips. The first timer’s guide is required reading (there WILL be a quiz later!). While Burning Man is a huge party, it is really not a party at all, and the work that goes into making this party happen comes from a community of people who are dedicated to hard work and the shared experience. Get involved at your local level if possible to see what it takes to make a small event come together and stretch your burning muscles before the big burn. Come prepared and be ready to contribute, however you are able. Otherwise you’ll be branded as a sparkle pony and sent to the corrals.

    @everyone else- I’m not jaded. I’ve already adopted my virgin for the year, and they’re going to be fantastic at burning. We are currently in training. Just be highly aware of who you’re throwing your lot in with so as not to get burned. I say welcome home to the birgins and the veteran burners alike! We were all virgins once, and though I was well prepared and totally self-reliant my first time out, the vets who took me under their wings nurtured me and sent me back from the dust completely transformed into an exemplary burner. There are some things about the playa the vets teach while in burn that you just can’t learn from reading blogs or JRS. I now have the responsibility of mirroring those lessons learned and sharing them with our new dust brothers and sisters. Much love to you all. Can’t wait to see you at home. <3

    Report comment

  • Creeping Jenny,

    Thank you for noticing. That entitles you to unlimited transportation on the playa. Look for the Wonder Wagon @ 4:30 & J. – Driver

    Report comment

  • I guess I am baffled on this… everytime I go to Burning Man (this year will be my 5th year) I feel like a Virgin as soon as I get there because everything is different. Once in a great while I might see an art car I saw the year before, and I see some of my friends because we all camp in the same place each year, but other than that, it is always fresh, new and magical to me…..I can’t imagine a time when I would ever feel any different…. I am a typical “Born Again Burner”.

    Report comment

  • Being a burner means that you are on PROBATION this year thanks to the Borg. BLM has put the event on probation because of too many burners at the 2011 burn. How did that happen? The management team for the Borg can’t count or are just greedy and let the overpopulation happen and damn the consequences. You just can’t fix stupid……

    You can read the article in this Sunday’s online edition of the Reno Gazette/journal

    Report comment

  • Lalov et al., Don’t be worried about camping alone or without an organized camp. You will meet some of the nicest and most amazing people at Burning Man. My virgin year (2005), I arrived in BRC alone in the middle of a disorienting dust storm. I was immediately adopted by the couple camping beside me. We cooperated with camp duties, meals, exploration, and conversation and they offered aid and advice without in any way being overbearing. It was an amazing experience. My second year I brought one friend who was a virgin. Again, the camp besides us opened up and adopted us. You will have a great time. This past year I joined up with a larger camp and helped with building the dome and the art and again had an amazing experience.

    Report comment

  • I have an abusive relationship with the playa. No matter how bad she kicks may ass I keep coming back to her. I am the lead in a theme camp and I bring in as many virgins as I can. I do my best to screen out sparkle ponies and frat boys. I have yet to have a bad experience with virgins that are part of my camp. I repeat over and over again the misconceptions about law enforcement drugs and under age actives. I email out stories I have collected over the years about what could be the ramification of your illegal actions. I have found that responsible minions are responsible people if they take the time fill out an application and at least pay something towards the shared cost of the camp they seem to make good camp mates. I specialize in out of the county burners and I have made many lifelong friends. The problems I have is with squatters that need a place to camp. If I have room I hate to see it go to waste so if someone ask and seems chill I am good, but some feel they are entitled any empty space. I think what they don’t understand ultimately, as the camp lead, I will be held accountable for actions of everyone in the camp and could be held liable for the actions of others and I really don’t want someone in the camp who is going to cause drama I feel a certain responsibility to make sure everyone has a safe comfortable space to return to. It has been my experience that squatters are roll of the dice about a 50% chance that they will cause some kind of drama in your camp. So I guess what I am saying is screen the people you let into your space virgins or not you could make a new friend or if you feel uncomfortable cut them loose but be tactful about it smile be polite if they get dramatic don’t respond just get a ranger and explain the situation to them. That said the virgins in our camp makes every burn like the first. I love to see the default world melt away and watch them float above the playa. We love virgins mmmm yum!

    Dr. Baron von Realz Esq.

    “The playa is like a beautiful heartless lover”
    – Dr.Baron von Realz Esq.

    Report comment

  • Leave a Reply