An Abrupt Climax


by Nettles

Like it or not, this is the most prominent experience of the 2012 event for me.

The Dust was magnificent and just what I always hoped for! I wasn’t even bothered by the unbelievably long will call lines that I was helping my friend to navigate in her virgin year. I had secured childcare with the grandmas for an extended stay so that I could rock clean up crew with my dear friend and had arranged for the rest of our camp to leave us behind during Exodus with a bare bones camp.

Last year was my virgin year and found myself able to break out of the timid state of nearly catatonic awe I experienced that was only punctuated by seemingly catastrophic strife and euphoric joy. This year, I attended with only friends and no lover purposefully to gain a more independent view of the community and with the intent to participate more fully. I made a few very intense connections and had oddly synchronistic conversations and experiences and ventured to the wonder of deep playa often. I realize I’m being vague. It is due to the extremely intense experience that unfortunately colored my entire week and emotionally derailed my intended and planned commitments for post event clean up.

I arrived early to the Man burn to secure a front row spot for a fire dance troupe that I know from Oregon. I watched and beamed with love for my comrades and then viewed and felt one of the most amazing explosions I may ever see. Feeling deeply pulled and nudged by the waves of heat bursting out I intertwined deeply with the cyclical nature of the fire. The man fell and the rangers could not hold the crowd. I ran for the center to be in the fire. There, at the edge of the embers I found part of my tribe and joined them, to in essence, be one with the fire. Barebacked to the immenseness of that heat I had a deeply profound internal experience.

When it came time to separate myself and go off on my own, I decided I needed to remind my lover or my affection for him before I wanted to go back to camp and meditate on my experience. I headed to the satellite phone near 2 o’clock and esplanade. The phone conversation quickly became stressful as I am told that my dog has been hit by either a large truck or a tractor and the phone of course cuts out as there is a 3 minute time limit.

As I’m waiting for my turn on the phone again, I’m approached by a group of five large (highly intoxicated) men and a woman that I did not see initially. The largest man tries to talk to me and steps on my foot as I’m trying to back away. I try to convey that I am not having the best time right now and that i’d like some personal space. The man doesn’t move and moves his face uncomfortably close to mine, still trying to talk to me while i’m still trying to back up and he advances more. Finally, exacerbated by the gross infringement on my space, I tell him to fuck off and leave me alone.

After what seems like forever, it’s my turn in the booth, and I dodge away from the larg man hovering over me and into the booth. All of the sudden a very large and seemingly drunk female appears in the doorway and grabs me, throws me to the ground by my hair. Jumps on my back and begins to brutally assault me while her male companions crowd in, laughing, in what I can only assume is to protect what she’s doing from view. I hear the faint sounds of passersby exclaiming at the sight but, not doing anything. The phone hanging with my lover helplessly screaming “what’s happening?” on the other end.

Finally a woman yells, and the males drag the female off somewhere. People stand around me as I’m huddled in a ball confused and not knowing what to do. After a while of trying to reconcile in my mind whats going on, I asked someone to call my ranger friend who was on duty. I was taken to rampart and treated for my injuries by well meaning staff who reported the incident to the local authorities. Luckily my ranger friend was able to help me fill out the paper work because the girl broke my glasses and I’m pretty much blind without them. So much for driving my self home or spotting moop that’s smaller than a foot in diameter.

The rangers where unbelievably accommodating and helpful but it was difficult to process what had just happened and I found myself experiencing bizarre emotions and feeling extremely paranoind and then confused about what all of this meant. My ranger friend found a place to store my bike and gave us a ride back to camp. She cared for me and checked on me. I only left camp to use the lavatory after that until we left early monday morning.

My friend that I had planned to stay behind with decided he would leave early with me…I couldn’t drive my own vehicle anymore anyway. I just wanted to be as far away from black rock desert as I could. Well, more accurately I didn’t want to ever potentially run into the person that had assaulted me again. I packed up camp and sat in my tent during the temple burn drinking gifted liqueur and cuddling with a friend that elected to stay with me.

So now, today, I’m left with this sense of …what now? I had this wonderfully freeing experience that is almost completely overshadowed and replaced in my memory by three minutes of my life and the hours following. What does the mean about Burning Man? What does this mean about Burning Man for me? Should I return? What do I tell people about me experience? Most importantly what do I tell myself about my experience?

Yeah maybe I shouldn’t have told the guy to “fuck off,” but how long do you tolerate someone in your space forcing you to stay in close proximity to them before you become more assertive? What does this say about burning man culture? What about the people who stood around not helping me, just watching? One person had the balls and compassion to initiate the end of me being beating and my face being repeatedly slammed into the ground. I don’t know what to do with this knowledge. From another perspective, compared to many others my experience was mild….what was it something like 3-4 sexual assaults A DAY reported this year..that’s the reported ones. two missing minors. From what I’ve gathered from long time rangers, this is a dramatic increase just this year.

I’d be interested in hearing the stories of others that had an unexpected negative experience and how they are dealing with that. I hope I will return and create a redeeming experience for myself. I hope the influx of amazing installations will continue and that that energy will foster the unmitigated exemplification of the principles. Though perhaps “Radical inclusion” is something that needs to be redefined, hopefully it will take care of itself as the energy redirects back into the fiery flow of creativity and community.

About the author: Tales From The Playa

Tales From The Playa are dreams and memories of events that took place at Burning Man, as told by its participants.

37 thoughts on “An Abrupt Climax

  • That sounds like a horrifying experience and I hope you seek counseling to get back to being a healthy, loving person. I feel fortunate that you decided to share this with us all. And I feel fortunate to feel the deep pain from hearing it.

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  • Knowing these elements are out there, knowing they are at the burn, knowing they are inflicting pain on others…
    it is a side of human nature that so many of us know is there, and so many have experienced.
    it is frustrating, angering, troubling… there are so many words.

    But that nobody stepped up? This is what happens in the default world. This is not what burners do. This would not, could not have occurred at any of the regionals I’ve been to, the people who go to them would step up. Our community is here to be there for one-another, to protect each other.

    Or am I just being hopeful? Is this an idyllic world that I want, that doesn’t exist?

    I had hoped this didn’t happen. I’m hurt that our community has allowed it.
    Reading stories like these should be mandatory for entrance. They should be told and retold as both warnings and calls for action.

    Thank you so much for opening up, for sharing such a painful experience, perhaps just in the telling it will cause someone else to be protected, to create a community of protectors.

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  • hey yeah thanks for sharing….its hard to imagine but yeah burning man is not perfect. i still keep going back year after year. one year i was almost assaulted…definately verbaly asaulted for writing on the man with a market. if i had stood up to the guy there would have been a fist fight at the top of the man. i think we idealize this place called burning man and that suxs for us that we need to to that in order to find the motivation to go elsewhere. i always keep my vehile locked if there r valuables in them, i never get too intoxicated to care for myself, and i definately avoid strange vibes or aggressize people. that being said i would have probably said fuck off. the truth is this is a fucked up world with many kinda of people in it. all those kinds can go to burning man if they want. i think what most people forget is that burning man started with firearms around and dogs….i wonder if that would have happened if people were walking around with guns and u had ur dog with u cux it was allowed. Ima try to go to 4th of ju playa….let me know if u want to join…we can bring the doggies too! by the way i hope ur dog was ok. im not surprised ive been five times. BRING BACK GUNS TO THE PLAYA> i just always wondered who would sexually assault a woman if she could be packing heat or her friend next to her. people forget that burning man came from true radical self reliance and self defense not from new agey “everything is perfect” philosophy…..hope ur beter thanks for sharing. might be the reason i stop going and strt doing 4th of ju playa…no rules…no walls…no problems..or at least different ones

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  • I am so sorry this happened to you. I will keep you in my thoughts and hope you recover.

    Maybe the people who got so drunk and aggressive were weeklong burners who on the night of the burn forgot why they were there but I don’t think I am going out on a limb here to say, most likely they were weekenders.

    Please consider closing the gates on Thursday night/ Friday Morning to New Incoming!!

    Every year the whole city changes on Friday night. The dance camps are more aggressive, the drugs are more open, Night becomes less wonderful and awe filled and scarier. Maybe it is people excited by the Man burn but it seems more like folks there to rave not to burn (I have nothing against raving, I’m talking about the folks who show up for two days to go crazy and don’t respect the playa or the other people there). Saturday there are tons of people in regular clothes walking around with drinks, not participating but spectating.

    Last Saturday night I was approached by undercover cops twice, I was not even on anything much less giving it to people, but I was dancing and had a backpack so I guess that was enough. After two guys started fighting on an art car I went back to my camp with a buddy. For the first time all week I did not feel comfortable.

    I know in a city as large as BRC there will always be “Those doushbags” but we can really limit them and get tickets to those who want to be there for a week if the gates were closed on Thursday. Please think about it!!

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  • I saw this on the front page and left a message there, but will paste here as well.

    This sickens me. When did radical self-reliance become synonymous with having to stay in small groups for protection? When did BRC become the Serengeti? How did we move from a society that supports an builds up one another with inclusivity and become one of over-indulgent, self-centered, hyena type behavior? Burning man may not be perfect, but if we allow this type of thing to happen, then we are just another music event, and I just don’t want to believe that is the case.

    I am so disappointed even though its “just one incident” and yet it DID touch the lives of those who saw what was happening. That makes it an incident shared by many. In their neglect to aid someone in need, they embraced its happening. Those with the capability have a responsibility. In this environment, where the week is set aside for people to relax, experience, and explore this forceful oppression of one person taints the event for everyone. I am saddened and disappointed, and now, wordless.

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  • It is devastating that you had to endure what you did. I hope that exposing abominable incidents such as this to the light of day will result in the community redoubling efforts to fight back. To fight back when we see something like this happening in real time, and to fight back in a cultural sense to do what we can to reduce the likelihood of it happening in the first place. Thank you, Nettles, for sharing you story.

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  • This is a bit tangential, borderline off topic, and is the product of a personal opinion.

    Years ago, while discussing the stringent law enforcement in BRC with a long time Burner. He lamented that the cops had so discouraged cannabis and other counterculture drugs, that the result was tipping the whole BRC scene towards the sloppy, rowdy, stupid, aggressiveness that alcohol tends to facilitate.

    Any long timers care to comment? Is this a valid perspective?

    Nettles, I am not sure I could return to BRC if that was my experience.
    Very unsettling story, I am wishing it was untrue.

    Can’t help but ponder why there was such a sudden increase in assaults in 2012. Hoping it was an anomalous statistical clump.

    Sad

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  • Thank you for sharing, Nettles, though I know it wasn’t easy. I think it’s important to highlight this kind of story on Tales From The Playa, so I encourage anyone who feels ready to speak out to submit them to reflections here: reflections (at) burningman.com . The fact that stories like yours surprise people just shows how necessary they are. Our community needs to awaken to the fact that things like this happen if we’re ever going to pull together to stop it.

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  • I wonder if some of the increase in this type of behavior (if there really was an increase, I have no statistics to back that up) was due to the large number of free/extremely cheap tickets available just before and during the event this year. Perhaps there were more weekenders than most years because it was so easy to get a cheap ticket on Wednesday or Thursday in relatively nearby cities. I’ve never understood why someone would want to pay $300- $400 to party for just 1 or 2 nights in the desert. But for $100 or for free it makes a lot more sense. I definitely agree with the poster above who suggested gates closing after Thursday night. Especially with the new (supposed) problem of too many people wanting the limited number of tickets. Why not limit the demand a bit by stopping entry after Thursday, then the tickets that would otherwise go to weekenders can go to more of those who are active participants.

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  • I think people tend to idealize Burning Man and Burners and while many if not most Burners are awesome people there are always going to be bad apples, just like in the default world. I think one still has to be careful, especially around drunk people and the sexual expectations people have of Burning Man. You told the guy to fuck off which is fine. Another option would have been to yell for help, a ranger, or to walk or run away to safety. Knowing how to physically defend yourself is always a good idea. To me it is a part of self-reliance to know how to avoid danger in the first place or deal with it when it can’t be avoided.

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  • Thank you Jon for deciding to post it. I appreciate, very much the well wishing from everyone. Really the most disturbing thing to me was that people were around and after a couple minutes of this happening one person saw and did something. She was very kind and accompanied me to Rampart and gave a report to the police, gave me her camp address and offered anything i might need. I feel bad that I never went back over there but I was in the center of the city and felt uncomfortable going to the port-o’s. Normally in default world I feel very confident about being able to avoid situations. I also carry a knife on my belt at all times, not for self defense really but because I live in the country and there’s lots of roadkill that don’t need their skins anymore. But still it’s probably a deterrent. I decided to leave it in my car during the burn, ultimately I think it may have turned out worse since I was basically ambushed by someone I didn’t know was there, and she was accompanied by 5 huge dudes facilitating her actions. If I would have fought back It probably would have been worse for me honestly. I didn’t run or scream for help because I honestly didn’t think the guy would do anything to me. I thought he just couldn’t get the hint that I wasn’t interested in his advances. I just couldn’t handle this big drunk dude in mardi gras beads and plain clothes all over me and snapped a bit due to the stress of not knowing if my dog that I rescued as this tiny emaciated puppy had died while I’m off in the desert.

    to eric stokell: I do like the fourthajuplya vibe and I plan on returning. though not with the dog that was hit, she’s okay now…700 bucks later…thank the universe for animal “humanitarian” groups ….because my partner didn’t have enough money to pay for the vet while i was gone. anyhow she’s to much of an…athlete to take out there. she’ll run until she can’t anymore and probably get struck. I might bring her sister who is more of the “i’m your guardian” type of dog who never leaves my side if I let her. I WILL be taking advantage of the shooting range. See you there friend. I’ll be as close to razorback as I can get on the edge of the dunes.

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  • “Yeah maybe I shouldn’t have told the guy to “fuck off,””

    yes, you bitched out like a typical entitled female, and karma was a big bitch stomping you as karma typically does.

    this is not your father’s burning man.

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  • Great! Stop! Look! Tingle-bunny blamed the victim right here on the Burning Man website! Does everybody see the victim-blaming tingle-bunny did?

    Good.

    That right there is the surest sign we’ve got so far that there’s a great sickness in our culture. It’s not tingle-bunny’s father’s Burning Man anymore, that’s for sure (whatever that means). There is a gaping hole in some of our participants where compassion and support should be. That’s not good.

    Everyone reading this, do you see why it’s so important that we have people among us brave enough to tell awful stories like this, like Nettles has done? Because we, like any other city, have people amongst us who won’t do anything to stop violence from degrading us.

    And we all want to be better humans than we are by default, right? That’s why we do this Burning Man thing. So reminders like the one Nettles wrote and and the one tingle-bunny wrote are necessary to keep us on track. We’re still broken. We’ve got to fix us. We have to air out the shitty things about ourselves in order to do that.

    Let me be abundantly clear: Tales From The Playa is a safe space. You can send me whatever story you want told, and I will help you bring it to the community. Dick-heads like tingle-bunny are going to comment on them, and they’re going to make you feel badly because they’re little, tiny people with nothing better to do. It’s okay. The rest of us are here with you. That’s what this site is for. That’s what our whole community is for.

    Tingle-bunny, do you see what you did? Do you see that you told Nettles that she is not entitled to defend herself from being attacked in a phone booth? Do you see how that makes you complicit with her attackers?

    Good.

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  • thanks for noticing.

    this is female on female violence. no one is addressing the victimhood of the female attacker. she is a victim by virtue of her gender (as all women are) and she can’t be blamed for stomping our princess into the dirt. that would be blaming the victim.

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  • you’re right tingle bunny..I should have got down on my knees right there and begged him to suck his cock. He was completely entitled to that. And, that girl (that I had no idea was there) would have been much more pleased knowing that since he solicited, I, the woman, keeper of sandwiches and cold beers on demand, was doing my rightful duty. I see the light now. You are so wise and I thank you dutifully for your comments.

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  • Tingle, let me tell you the same story I just told you over on burners.met, a story about the monkeys. One day, monkey 1 did something to piss off monkey two. Monkey two, being a believer in violent, reactionary lesson-teaching, beats up monkey 1. Monkey 3 comes along, and having their own self-righteous, self-justified reasons, steps in and beats up monkey 3 in response.
    Extrapolate this mother fucker out a few million years and you have a bunch of evolved monkeys conducting endless war, terrorism, gang violence, etc, etc, because these monkeys still believe ramming the message home with violence is acceptable and valid.
    Unfortunately, this story is real, and some of those monkeys still control most of the world’s tools of violence. Your logic is completely bunk and is the at the core of so much of what’s wrong with the world of humans. And you think that it is valid at the mecca of community, spiritual development, good times, and positive intent. Wow. (Well, I suppose it is, with consent, in the Thunderdome)
    I hope the next time you piss someone off, they aren’t the type to follow your model, because I wouldn’t wish violence on anyone.
    Also, your concept of karma is deeply flawed. You’ve just described the barbaric “eye for an eye” policy that most of the civilized world has rejected at this state in our intellectual and social development.
    Say, is your playa name Monkey?

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  • I shouldn’t have made the “Is your Playa name monkey?” comment, I hope it doesn’t distract you from what I’m trying to communicate. Let us instead, in the immortal words of Bill & Ted, be excellent to each other.

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  • telling someone to ‘fuck off!’ is unwise at best. it’s confrontational. he was being rude to the woman and the woman was rude back. that’s a wash.

    the man tells his female friend what happened (as would be expected), and the female friend chose to take actions into her own hands. now this becomes a related, but entirely separate incident. women are blameless in society because all women are victims of male oppression.

    so when two women have a physical confrontation, neither one can be blamed because both are ultimately victims who by definition have diminished capacity due to the emotional trauma.

    burners love the victimhood mentality because it allows them to share sympathy amongst each other. this sharing, or outpouring of sympathy helps to define the boundaries of the community. in some extreme cases, sympathy sharing becomes the foundation for certain communities.

    this is different than your typical pity fest.

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  • You’re just making up facts now, tingle-bunny. You don’t know what one attacker said to the other. And now you’re taking away both women’s agency because they have “diminished capacity?” It’s not even hard to ignore you now.

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  • “And now you’re taking away both women’s agency”

    That makes sense. Since I’m male, my natural instinct is to oppress women. It’s the only way to have a reasonable assurance of paternity.

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  • Nettles- Im so sorry to hear about this. Sounds like a friday night in Downtown Drunken Douchebag Frat-ville USA, not at all like BRC.

    I totally agree with Bromance’s early comment about closing the gates on Thursday-ish. I noticed a huge and disgusting change in the atmosphere out on playa on friday and saturday, as the weekend “tourists” flowed in.
    Those who only show up for the weekend likely arent contributing much to the event anyway. Spectators go away.

    oh yeah, and by the way the words “fuck you” (or any others conveying a clear message to stop) are indeed an appropriate response to repeated unwelcomed incursions into one’s personal space, regardless of gender.

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  • I ran into so many confused people this last year and not all were virgins. I think some people just lost their way and when this happens it can become dark. I saw two cases where people were beating each other up. One was a very drunk woman who was told that her hair was bad. The other someone had gotten a little too touchy. These things happen but hopefully it is more the exception than the norm. I really really try to make sure I respect other peoples boundries just because I know what happens when we have taken in too much alcohol or other substances. Believe me, I have awoke the next day and regretted something I had done or simply didn”t remember what I had done. In any case people need to watch our for each other and it is sad when some ( lady or not) has this done to her and others just watch or fail to respond to another persons need for help. We each need to take responsibility for our own actions and at the same time help out people on the playa when it looks like they are in need as well. If you are afraid then go find a ranger and bring them into the situation!

    I hope you will come back and give BM another chance. I tend to think that this was exception to the norm but you never know. Each year is different and if things got worse this year then hopefully BMORG will figure out how to make it better for next year.

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  • I need to calm the fuck down before I can even respond to this story. I am a bit frightened by my anger at this moment. I wish I fucking wish I had been there. I wish I had been there. I consider this a personal failure on my part. I need to calm the fuck down. Thank you for sharing this story though. Please give me a minute…

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  • Obviously this situation shouldn’t have occurred and a passerby should have helped you out by stopping the fight. That said, I want to offer some pragmatic advice to you and anyone else out there:

    Burning man is a place everyone should feel safe and be able to count on the people around them. However, that doesn’t mean you should be naive to the negative things that happen at burning man, because they do happen. Don’t walk around by yourself at night (especially on burn night when most everyone is out of their gourds boozing or otherwise). Exercise some common sense and keep yourself safe, just like you would in any other city. There is no excuse for their actions but there’s also no excuse for you putting yourself at risk. Be responsible and take responsibility for yourself and your safety. Never rely on a stranger to do something you weren’t willing to do yourself.

    Thank you. Sparkle on.

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  • I got goosebumps when reading your story. I can feel the pain in your words and am truely sorry that you had this experience happen to you.
    No one should have to go through this and sometimes human nature is not kind.
    It’s very unfortunate…I do hope you go to counselling for the trauma these people inflicted. You said in one part of your story…”maybe i shouldn’t have said fuck off.” Please don’t think in any way that this was your doing. You had every right to do so when you weren’t feeling comfortable and needed space.
    I sincerly hope that this experience does not stop you from returning to Burning Man this year or even sometime in the future. The bad outweighs the good, and thank god for that. This is definitely a reminder though that sometimes people come to BM with the wrong intentions and we need to make sure we are safe and paying attention.
    I also would like to apologize on behalf of any true loving burners for the people who passed and did not come to you when you were in distress. We need to look out for one another and I am sorry for these awful people who did not help you and the ones who harmed you.
    You are brave, you are strong, you are beautiful, you are a wonderfully kind soul and i hope that someday you return to BM and that you’re faith in humanity is restored.
    *Sending you good thoughts, love, and dusty hugs*
    Miranda the Panda

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  • The most disturbing aspect of this story is the lack of action by bystanders. Yet, this is exactly what one might expect in default…and like it or not we have been raised there. Like BARK, I’m outraged and wish I could have been there. I too have called for help, in agony, only to have bystanders gawk. When I was young I played the part of gawking bystander myself. Now I know, from being tested, that I’m no longer that sort of bystander and wish I could have been there…

    Folks, tingle-bunny is being heartless and his words are sarcasm intended to provoke. Yet, he is onto something important. The last five fights I’ve seen have all been female-instigated. What the fuck is going on there?

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  • I can see by this and other events against the souls that attend Burning Man that you have no way of addressing the problems that arise. The fact thereare problems is one thing but not addressing them is a huge reason why I won’t be attending. For one, nothing was even posted about who the assholes were. On another page someone was raped. By WHO? Why no mention of the rapist? At least post a photo so the rest of the community can ward against the asshole.

    I won’t be going if the DEFAULT life exists there too. I live on the east coast of USA. Why would I travel thousands of miles to be in the SAME fucked up environment where there is no control. If BM is lacking in control then I would reserve the right to kick the living shit out of anyone that was just like they are in the DEFAULT world.

    See you in the next world . . . please be late or better yet . . . don’t come at all

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  • We had a similar experience but without injury, to us at least, and it ruined our final day at BRC.
    I talked my gf and my brother into taking a final walk around
    The playa before we departed in the morning. Was walking around enjoying ourselves and the sights and lights. I very drunken frat boy type guy and his friend stumbled into my gf nearly knocking her over. He asked for a cigarette. I had some but was not feeling particularly generous after his behavior. We dismissed him after several attempts, and carried on our walk. Literally less than two minutes later the same guy, stumbled back into her asking now for a lighter. He was extremely belligerent and at one point pushed her. We asked him and his friend at least 15 times to leve us alone. After many “fuck you”s and verbal barrages of hateful language he then pushed my gf from behind and said “fuck you dirty ass burners!” I turned around
    and smacked him in the face once on each side with the right hand and he fell on his ass. I have a strong law enforcement background and chose to hit him open hand without injuring him. it would have made sense for this to end the encounter. But within about 15 seconds this guy had stood back up and was approaching us again, now threatening. This guy was so drunk I doubt he could have kicked his own ass. I didn’t want to hurt him, I didn’t want anything to do with him!
    It was just blind luck that a very large group of people had seen what was going on and stopped him and flagged down a nearby Ranger.
    I didn’t go to BM to get in fights. I felt bad about hitting him but if I hadn’t physically stopped him from continuing, he would not stop.
    All of us felt like crap and ended up leaving that night.
    It’s not a similar story except that it involved unwelcome violence due to alcohol. And made our trip less enjoyable.
    Other than this experience, BM was a wonderful time for me. My point is, don’t let one or two imbeciles ruin your spirit, or turn you off to the whole place.
    I’m glad you weren’t seriously hurt.
    -Nick

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  • I’d like to defend Nettles by stating, the “default world” exists everywhere. And if you assume that all of the bystanders were non-violent members of the non”default” world, then what would you have them do against several drunk men and one violent drunken female. It should be the instinct of bystanders to stop to assault in a non-violent way. Do you think a non-violent way would have worked in her case? It wouldn’t in mine. We walked over 50 yards with a drunken violent idiot right on our tails the entire time while he followed. I’ve heard these types referred to as weekenders. Guys who come out to the playa to get laid and get drunk. I’m not claiming to be any kind of tough guy, I haven’t been in a non LE altercation since my teens but I could have chosen to obliterate this guy. I train law enforcement officers for a living. But I chose as a member of the BRC community to do as little as humanly possible to stop his assault without injury. Do you guys think that if a group of bystanders had walked up to these alcohol influenced thugs and in a peaceful way asked them to stop that they Swould have. Is it not also possible there would have been other victims of violence? The default world is everywhere, I brought that mindset with me when I arrived, but when a bad person acted upon a good person in a violent fashion, I acted to protect her, decency, morality and the greater good. This person would not have stopped attempting to harm others if not physically restrained. I did that. If not for the fact that he was half knocked out and extremely drunk I doubt the girls who intervened would have been able to stop him. Yes in our case bystanders intervened but it was very late at night and this person was already halfway incapacitated. This girl is talking about an entire group of violent people. Show me a person who is ready to take that on in the heat of day, without organization or guaranteed support. They probably would have had their asses kicked too. Unless it was a large group, in which case you ate now talking about a gang fight…..
    I think she is brave and courageous.
    Good on you Nettles! :-)

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  • Nettles, I am sorry for the physical attack against you. It was absolutely wrong. Sometimes I wonder if when we have a spiritual epiphany like you did at the man’s fire, then we get hit hard physically with something that tries to take our focus off the positive and onto the negative. Please come back to burning man. You will be a little wiser in ” street sense” but you can still have your eyes wide open to experience the magic of spirituality that is all around the playa. If strangers can fight against us, then family can stand together and protect ourselves. Sending blessings to you for healing and strength.

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  • I have been a burner for over 10 years. I am 63 my daughter has been a burner since 1989 my Son since 91. We attend burning man as a family, (over 20) of us. and as family we take care of one another. we also step up and take care of the people around our camp. We visit other camps with respect. We have had people come into our camp and right out ask who want’s to fuck them. We have with dignity asked them to leave. I would have ventured and had ventured out on my own 7 years ago, I never venture out on my own (at night) in the past four years.. and I don’t believe anyone of my camp family would either. I volunteer at centre cafe and have experienced all of the nuts that inhabit the playa when the sun goes down. like vermon some of them. Some of them come there looking for the answer to their lives. Party you say?. No boundaries? All the sex and drugs you can handle? Really??? . Of course their are boundaries!! It is a city the one we call home. Our home for a little over a week. We help build it. When we say welcome home! that is what it is” our home”. we want to feel safe. I am sorry this happened to you. No wonder we need rangers now. I don’t think it is going to get better. It isn’t the place I used to know. I don’t feel safe or welcome there anymore.

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  • What a sad and unfortunate story. I have seen bad things happen on the playa before, and there are those who come to the burn to prey upon others. I agree we must be more proactive as a group to step up and and intervene if we see someone being abused – physically, sexually or emotionally. On the playa and in the default world we must protect ourselves from people who would do us and our loved ones harm. I learned at an early age not to trust people from my own experiences with abuse. I learned to keep people at arms length, to always defend myself. By the age of 23 I was so emotionally closed off and segregated from society that it was like being dead inside. I could not connect with anyone, I was scared of most people and I felt so alone. Then I came to Burning Man. I spent the first 3 days of my first burn being extremely suspicious of everyone. When a stranger would approach me for a conversation I would wonder, is this guy hitting on me? What does this person want from me? It made for some very awkward exchanges and left me feeling totally alienated in a crowd of 40,000 people. Halfway through the week I had an awakening, I realized that many of the people I had been suspicious of meant me no harm and were just trying to connect with me. That some of those people were probably trustworthy enough to let inside my walls. Since that awakening I have transformed into a person who can open up, who can let people in and trust them. HOWEVER, you have to be able to tell if a person is worthy of trust. I think some people at Burning Man (not necessarily Nettles) are a bit too trusting. My rule of thumb: If someone gives you bad vibes avoid them like the plague, if you can’t tell how you feel about someone keep them at a distance. Be a little bit wary just like you would in the default world. With that in mind, you can’t go too far or you will end up shutting out many beautiful people and experiences like I did for many years. I hope we can come together as a community and rally when we see bad things happening in the streets of BRC. I hope that you are able to shed the bad experience of what those people did to you Nettles, because there are many other Burners who would love to be kind to you and the playa will be missing the unique gifts that you bring to the table if you never return. Also, Jean Walker I feel sad that you don’t feel safe or welcome at Burning Man anymore. I would strongly urge those that are feeling the way Nettles and Jean Walker do to try a change of scenery next year. Try camping in a different area of the city where there isn’t as much partying. I camp with VW Bus Camp, we are always placed near Kidsville because we are so low key. That area of the city seems calmer, safer, less chaotic and full of helpful, loving, creative and protective family type camps. I will sign off by saying that I will be praying that next year will be more peaceful and positive with less abusive douchebags roaming the streets of our fair city.

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