Advice for Virgins (Halcyon’s Tips #11)

First time heading Home? Here are some unofficial, non-sanctioned tips for Playa Virgins:
1) How to Look like Burner, 2) Being Sexy, 3) Regionals, 4) Volunteer, 5) Carry A Cup, 6) Hands-Free, 7) “Party Favors” Safety, 8) Don’t be a Darkwad, 9) MOOP & 10) a Gifting primer.

**NOTE: I AM NOT AN OFFICIAL REPRESENTATIVE OF BURNING MAN. I am merely a Participant with a passion for the event, people, and principles of Burning Man. Half-baked ideas & views expressed aren’t necessarily those of the Burning Man organization.” **

About the author: John "Halcyon" Styn

Halcyon is a 17-year Burning Man participant and founder of Pink Heart camp. He is author of "Love more. Fear less." and producer of the Burning Man short film, "The Pink Path." He's won Webby awards for his over-the-top personal site CockyBastard.com & his "Love On Demand" video podcast HugNation.com. He hosted the defunct NBC.com web series "Fears. Regrets. Desires." and frequently speaks about Gratitude & Gifting. In 2010, Halcyon co-founded the San Diego based "1st Saturdays" homeless outreach program based on Burning Man Principles and the idea of "Service Without Sacrifice." You can find his digital home at www.JohnStyn.com.

28 thoughts on “Advice for Virgins (Halcyon’s Tips #11)

  • Lose a limb in the Portos? Wow.

    Love the comment about costumes vs. outfits. When people ask me about Burning Man I always tell them it’s a festival of Radical self expression, a place where you can be what ever you want to be.

    The better part is when you take that truer self back to the default world.

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  • “how to look like a burner”? You have got to be kidding me. Um, why don’t you just try to look like yourself? That’s right, what a novel idea, figure out who you are, instead of playing dress up per some else’s recipe.

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  • I wear cargo shorts and a t-shirt all week. That’s how I look like a burner….all this mumbo jumbo about being your ‘truer self’ while wearing faux fur, shiny hot pants, and moon boots gets on my nerves. I’m comfortable in who I am 365 and I have the exact same persona on playa as off. I think that’s being more my ‘truer self’ then dressing up like a superhero one week out of the year.

    I’ve seen Halcyon say in the past that it’s “rude” to not dress up. I’d like to formally lodge a protest against this attitude and state in counterpoint that actually it’s rude to judge other for not conforming to your non-conformist fashion sense.

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  • @Papatua – I’m not sure I ever used the term “dress-up.” What I’ve tried to convey is that ideally The Playa is a place that should not anchor us to the default world. In the same way that advertising and corporate logos should be avoided, so too should default world attire like logo-t-shirts or today’s fashions be avoided. There are so many subtle status quo expectations of us on a daily basis, why not work to be free of those when we are in Black Rock City?
    If your t-shirts are blank, then I think that is a fine style and sorry if I implied it was rude. If you are sporting a “Billibong” or “Old Navy” logo on your shirt, that is kinda lame IMHO. But as you said, judging others is far ruder, still.

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  • @Janice & Thermal – Isn’t Black Rock City the perfect training ground to let go of the fear and start to figure out who you are? That can be a trial and error – or “fake it till you make it” process for some. I know I didn’t go from zero to “finding myself” overnight.

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  • Why are we always so self-involved?

    “Dressing up”, putting on a “costume”, or whatever it’s called, is best done when it’s done for other people. Your participation is a gift to the community.

    And besides, there is a lot in this video that’s very helpful advice. It’s a party so dangerous that sometimes people go home afterwards, quit their job, get a divorce, and start doing art. My advice to birgins is always the same: “Plan, but don’t study.”

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  • @Halcyon
    “Isn’t Black Rock City the perfect training ground to let go of the fear and start to figure out who you are?”

    Not at all. By the time you show up at BRC, you already know who you are, unless you’re under 10 years old.

    In BRC terms, either you’re a friend of Smiley, or a friend of Larry. One knows that intuitively whether you’ve consciously intellectualized it, or not.

    The problem occurs when friends of Larry dress up like, and try to adopt the the lifestyle of friends of Smiley. This creates a conflict. However, it is very profitable and is that’s why it continues.

    It’s a hardwired mechanism, and one will only ever be a friend of Smiley or a friend of Larry. They don’t change sides – EVER.

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  • @Janice – “Not at all. By the time you show up at BRC, you already know who you are, unless you’re under 10 years old.”
    You think so? That certainly was not the case for me. BRC was instrumental in helping me question my conditioned patterns and figure out which parts of myself were truly “me.”
    But I may be confused. I’m not sure what a friend of Smiley is.

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  • Im not saying that people shouldn’t be expressive, far from it. But:
    its who you are not what you wear, and what you wear should come naturally from who are. It can’t be forced or categorized or generalized.
    The most creative people I met on the playa were those who were doing something creative. they were in the act of doing and building, and weren’t wearing anything special at all (khakis, nondescript shirt). But they stand foremost in my memory for what they were creatively doing (the guy playing a full drum set out on the open playa, the guy playing wonderfully with his propane flame thrower, the guys building LaContessa back in the day, my neighbor with the most amazing 2-person art car, etc).

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  • Yep, once you’re covered in dust! hahaha I keep bugging my sweet hubby about what he might want to wear there…… I’ve been buying bits and pieces and building outfits for a very long time….well, he has finally come around and is putting together some outfits that I would never have thought he’d be interested in! What a great and wondrous surpirse! Halcyon, thank you so much for putting out information that is helpful to us all….. whether we choose to use it or not.

    This n00 burner comes already ready to gift, volunteer, participate, share, and enjoy! We were raised to never leave a trace of MOOP, and I’m plugged into our regional CORE project…. I’ve been looking into what other ways I can volunteer, and I can barely wait to roll around on the play!

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  • Sweet. Fun talk and so animated. Your enthusiasm is a gift in itself. So dude, what is that viral green plant over your right shoulder? Looks like it is going to explode with life.

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  • I decorated a trash stick that I bought at my local Super Home Wal Box Mart and brought it to the playa. Not only was it turned into functional art, it sure saved me alot of bending over as I walked around the playa on moop patrol. Buy the sticks with the squeezable handle and functioning jaws, they work the best. Tie a bag to your waist with the opening of your bag held open with a cirular shaped coat hanger taped to the inside (the bag opening will twist closed when you walk otherwise).Use your imagination as you decorate it up and I encourage everyone to do this; creativity and company make mooping alot of fun plus it is a great way to meet people! Oh yea before I forget, LEAVE THE FEATHERS AT HOME!!! They are a bitch to clean off the playa…

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  • RE: Costumes, Being Oneself, and The Hostility That Sometimes Ensues When Discussing These Topics

    Although I would LOVE to wear lingerie, furry boots, and massive false eyelashes in the “Default World” they’re extremely inconvenient while chasing my four young children and actually inappropriate for teaching my music classes. Civilian clothes in no way stop my freak flag from flying wide and high, but Black Rock City is the place where my dreams come alive. Part of that translates to wearing very little clothing, dancing my ass off round the clock, and loving (in word or deed) as many people as humanly possible. If cargo shorts and tee shirts were part of making my dreams a reality, that’s what I’d wear. If clothes meant nothing to me, I might walk around naked. The spirit of the burn is not dictated or dependent on outfits or costumes, but there is only ONE Black Rock City and the dress code there is Where What You Wish. Better to pave the way with love and kindness not sarcasm and intolerance, especially with so many virgins on board. We were all young once. Fucking play nice already.

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  • We love you Halcyon. I normally am not interested in video streaming and prefer to read text, but I have actually found your podcasts quite helpful. You have information that is useful for both virgins and experienced Burners.

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  • Thank you Halcyon. Eloquent, from the heart, honest, supremely helpful.
    Best live expression of the Burning Man spirit I’ve heard. I ended up, I have
    no idea why, with tears in my eyes.

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