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.

About the author: Jon Mitchell

I'm the managing editor at Burning Man. I wrote this book and this record. I co-wrote a big story about spending 24 hours at the Temple of Juno in 2012, which lives at templestories.com. I've been a Burner since 2008.

62 thoughts on “Hi, n00bs!

  • I just got the news from BLM out here in the Black Rock Desert.
    They say that BRC is in a probationary status at this time due to the large miscount from last years pop. cap.
    They can only get a one year permit till they appeal results are in. They may submit one however it may not be considered at the present time.
    Only if they win the appeal can BRC submit a 5 year application only.
    So things are in flux folks so hang on for the ride this could be the last burn..
    I would hang on to my tickets folks if BRC loses the appeal. Tickets will be very pricy and may be the last time
    Happy Trails
    Dog Rancher

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  • No disrespect to Mr. Dog Rancher, but just so we don’t have any pandemonium or rampant ticket speculation, I have it on good authority that this man who cried “last Burning Man ever” is playing a trick.

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  • @Thermal: I love your humour, but I am worried that people will believe you… Can you imagine a Burning Man without cute animals everywhere?! You underestimate how gullible people are.

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  • @Dr.Help: Seriously dude, now you are pissing me off. Tell people to do whatever to their own bodies: BUT LEAVE THE ANIMALS OUT OF YOUR JOKES. One year that I went I found out someone brought their damn cat which nearly died. It ain’t no laughing matter, and this is making you sound like a goddamn psychopath who enjoys animals suffering.

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  • @Thermal: I know that you are only saying this because it is April Fool’s Day. It’s pretty funny, but you need to remember that many people don’t get that kind of humour. In all seriousness though, are you bringing your dog this year? If you are, it would be cool to meet up down there and throw the frisbee around.

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  • So lots of changes on the horizon for Burning Man it seems. This will be my first. I’m really looking forward to meeting the kind of people that have made Burning Man what it is most celebrated for and am looking forward to giving what I can to continue this amazing tradition. See you on the Playa. :-D

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  • Yes I am a first time Burner. Would someone like to define “Burner” for me? Do I need to have a particular haircut? Does the fact that someone has gone to BM for 10 years or more make them cool? Or a nice person? Maybe I suppose. But I suspect the truth is that there are plenty of long time “burners” who are complete douche bags. Burning Man has grown at incredible rates since it’s inception. There are huge numbers of NOOBs every year at BM. Some of em are great fantastic dynamic wonderful people, some of them are assholes. Such is life. I have wanted to go to BM for 10 hrs and yet just never really decided to make the commitment. I guess I feel a little scared and disappointed that my first year is the year of the giant ticket debacle. Are you “Burners” going to welcome me with open arms or will I be resented by you because I am there with a ticket that one of your friends did not get to have? As for Purposely messing with my head because it just so happens to be my first year here, well go ahead. It’s not my problem that in a desert full of awesome things too do and see that you cannot find anything better to do than mess with someones head. I guess I’m just the sort of person who wouldn’t intentionally give someone wrong directions anywhere. In any city. We should all be doing our best to be helping everyone around us thrive and be well. Physically and mentally. But that’s just my opinion and what the hell do I know? I’ve never been to Burning Man.

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  • I posted this in the comment of “Adopt a Virgin”, but I want to post it here, too…

    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!

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  • Note to self: Tell anyone who asks that I have been to Burning Man no less than 10 times and that yes I can tell them exactly how to get where they are going.

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