The line in the sand has been getting more and more blurry over the years.
While there is no commerce on Playa, obviously we need to buy goods and services for our trips. As a community, we are still working out how corporations can work with Burners in a healthy way.
For example, many rental companies have had an “illicit affair” model in place where lying was a part of the process. “Don’t come back with hickies, lipstick on your collar, or dust in the engine…and whatever you do, don’t tell us you are taking it to Burning Man!”
But check out U-Haul’s olive branch offering to Burners renting trucks: A video showing how to cover logos (and honor the Decommodification Principle) without damaging the truck. Plus they share a list of clean up tips and local resources.
U Haul would have scored 100% except for the cutesy use of “Barter Supplies” as a header at the bottom instead of just “Supplies.” (Gifting is NOT Barter.)
Now, if this video is a part of a marketing push, I may change my tune. But for now I’m giving big dusty props to U-Haul for addressing the reality of the situation without pandering or exploiting the community.
NOTE: I am a 17 year Burner with a passion for the event, the principles and our community. Like the vast majority of writers in this space, I am not a representative of the BMORG. This is not an endorsement of U-Haul by myself and especially not by Burning Man. It is simply an (interesting to me) data point in the ever-evolving integration between the default world and Burning Man.
This is a video reply to an email question I was sent:
“I’m heading home for my third burn this year and I am wondering what advice you’d give me… I don’t know if shy is the right word but it’s the word I’m going to use. I’m shy. And one of the ways this affects me in BRC is that I don’t feel like walking into camps. Even camps I know are there for everyone, I just feel like I’m an outsider, or like I don’t belong or am intruding on everyone’s happy time together. So let’s say I came by Pink Heart and saw you and wanted to come over and say hi. I’d feel like I would be interrupting whatever conversation you were having or I’d stand there awkwardly not wanting to bother you but wanting to say hi and I just don’t know how to not feel like I’m bothering people or like I’m a random stranger and not one of them. Or even just going in to the camp and… just hanging out or flopping on a couch or whatnot. It all feels so… I’m not sure. Like I shouldn’t because I’m not part of something/the camp/the friendships.
To Burners coming to Black Rock City for the first time in a romantic relationship,
You already know that Burning Man is a harsh environment — it’s hot as hell, there’s little natural life to be found, and a bad dust storm can wipe you out. But perhaps less known is that Burning Man is tough on relationships, in particular the romantic kind. In fact, the Burning Man website takes this seriously enough to offer a Relationship Survival Guide. But never fear — there are ways you can prepare yourself and your partner to make sure Burning Man is the best possible experience for each of you, your relationship, and for whatever group you are camping with.
Burning Man is like traveling to a different country (even for Americans) — you’re there for a limited time, and you will want to get the full experience, and you might even feel resentment at missing out on the things you want to do. There are many personal experiences to be had on the playa, and journeying alone can be equally as rewarding as exploring together.
We all go to Burning Man with certain expectations. The best thing you can do is share these with your partner honestly and thoroughly. “I want to feel free and go on unscheduled adventures” or “I want to look at lots of art and talk about it with you” needs to be said before you go. One approach is to designate which days you and your partner will meander together and which days you will do your own thing.
As you know, you and your partner are different people, and your desires inevitably conflict at certain times. Being on the same page before you get to the Burn is crucial. This means open, honest conversation beforehand about your needs from each other. Telling your partner “I need you to help me cook a meal every day” or “I need you to help me socialize with this new camp” will go a long way once you get to the Burn.
If you have any anxiety about the Burn, share it. Maybe you are nervous about the gravity of intoxicated people sucking you in, or the hundreds of hot, sweaty Burners biking across the playa. Just tell your partner so they know to be sensitive when certain situations arise.
(Photo by Jonathan Clark)
If you are camping with a large camp, you are entering an intimate, emotionally sensitive community of people. Camps often cook, eat, party and go out together, and this experience creates intense bonds. In camp, your tents will be right next to each other. Everyone is able to hear everything in each other’s tents above a small whisper (this includes overhearing exciting sexcapades!). The camp trusts everyone else to bring conscientious, generous, and fun people into their close quarters, and difficult campmates have a really negative effect on the camp.
If you and your partner are fighting, in consistently bad moods, or have tension between you, it will keep you from connecting with campmates, it will detract from everyone’s experience, and it will reflect poorly on you and whoever brought you into the camp. It’s an intense environment, so if you do feel a squabble arising, keep it super quiet, go your separate ways to cool off, or have your full blown fight away from humanity in deep playa.
You both have to physically, mentally and emotionally plan ahead for the Burn. Make sure you can come together on common expectations and be okay with different needs and desires. You can have a fun, amazing time together if you come in with the right mindset, generous intentions, and with open hearts.
Ariel Root Wolpe is an artist, musician and rabbinical student living in Los Angeles, California. Her first Burn was in 2013.
The days are getting warmer, tickets are showing up in the mail and the trolls are spreading mistruths online. Yes, it is that time of year again:Pre-Burn Season!
This is also the time of year that first timers start to ask for advice from their veteran Burner friends. I first send them to the fantastic survival guide, then to my tips & tricks videos (starting with the ones for Virgins). Then I pat their head, tell them it is all going to be okay, and share some version of the message below. In addition to bringing the right gear, it is important to bring the right attitude.
*This video was requested from participants of this year’s Midburn. It is worded in a way that applies to people heading to any event where Radical Self Expression and Gifting is embraced.
**If, after watching, you don’t feel drawn to attend this year, please sell your ticket back through official channels. There are many eager and well deserving people waiting for your ticket in the STEP program.
Back when Black Rock City’s population would barely overwhelm an In ‘n’ Out drive-thru, let alone the two-lane highways leading to the Black Rock Desert, the Burning Man Rideshare board was just a handy way for people to catch a ride to the playa.
But with our burgeoning population — and hopes of burgeoning it yet more — ridesharing has become a necessity to ensure the long-term survival of the Burning Man event in Black Rock City (we say “in Black Rock City” because there are 60+ Burning Man events around the world … but let’s not get ahead of ourselves here). The environmental impact aside, the reality is our favorite two-laners to nowhere just can’t take the traffic. So the Rideshare board? Very important.
The board was getting seriously long in the tooth and creaky at the knees, so we sent in our crack tech team to beef, clean, and pretty it up, and then add flight sharing into the Black Rock City Airport (or any other airport for that matter … but there we go getting ahead of ourselves again) and other cool features to help you find the ideal seat for your butt.
OK so here’s the really cool part: we’re making our Rideshare board available to any Burning Man Regional event to manage their own carpooling efforts. That’s right, we’re taking our sustainability efforts global. Any of the 60+ Burning Man Regional events around the world will be able to facilitate carpooling and flight-sharing using this system (whether they do or not is up to them).
Wait, flight-sharing what? Yes, that’s right. If you’ve got an extra seat to share on your plane, we got that covered too — whichever airport you’re using.
Cool huh? OK so say it with us: More Butts, Fewer Seats!
PedalBump is a fantastic theme camp that’s been hosting interactive madness on the Esplanade in Black Rock City since 2013. They welcome Burning Man participants to enjoy (as in, smash the shit out of each other in) custom built pedal-powered bumper cars on a circular track beneath a big top circus tent. Hell. Yes.
And that’s all well and good, of course, but they’ve taken it a step further — they help teach other Burners what it takes to run an interactive theme camp at Burning Man. The result? Everybody wins.
Here’s their recap from this last year, check it out if you’re prone to the oh so foolish idea of running an interactive theme camp on playa (we kid, it’s awesome):
We wanted to let you know that our endeavor to teach some folks about running an interactive installation was a smashing success! We will have slots open again this year for some intrepid groups to learn how to run an interactive installation, including joining in our build process, so stay tuned for our 2015 press release! Meanwhile, here is a quick 2014 RECAP of the Guest Hosting crew endeavors.
At the start of the 2104 Burn, the first time that we handed over the PedalBumps under the big top circus tent to a guest hosting crew, our founding group walked away and looked at it from afar with a broader perspective. It was like handing over our baby. We spent every single day and night running it last year and rarely had the chance to step back and watch the show.
It was hard in a way to entrust it to others. Giving up control over something you’ve created with a tight knit group is never easy. The installation encompasses our heart’s work and each bumper car was fabricated to have an individual personality. The host crews needed to step up to wrangle and entertain several hundred people on the Esplanade, while caring for a truckload of equipment during each shift of the public races. But we knew that having these host crews totally take over was definitely the best way for them to learn the ins and outs of an interactive installation of this scale. As a group they had to figure out how to divvy up jobs, support each other, communicate in a chaotic environment, keep the party going, troubleshoot on the fly and close up shop when done.
The crews we interviewed and selected for this awesome opportunity showed up in full force, ready to go and gave us peace of mind to let the mayhem roll. It was well worth it to share this knowledge in a completely experiential fashion. They all created new styles and wacky traditions we may have never thought of for PedalBump. We gave each hosting crew a bunch of pre-instructions via email and all our tips and tricks in person on playa to running this crazy installation. At the start of each shift, we got them started going over all the details but once we stepped away they were fully in charge. By all reports they had a blast. The number one comment they all made was how exhausted they were creating a massive spectacle for four hours straight and that they would do it again in a heartbeat! Here’s a quick rundown of what went on when the 2014 host crews took over.
Steampunk Saloon: It was a lovely, music oriented evening at the races with these beautiful DJ’s and magic-makers. Their witty, polite announcers got the crowds to play lightly with a bump and run style that had riders giggling and showing off. The cameras were out in force. It was a primping and posing night on the track reminiscent of the Preakness. They emphasized delight and the vibe carried into a dance party under the tent after the races ended. The next day we found all the PadalBumps in near perfect condition. The track and surrounding environs were spotless. People came again the next day to show off and pose with the bumper cars.
Gate Crew: This crew came in HARD! They amped up with some growling music and immediately began verbally heckling riders and spectators. They brought their own orange cones to set up lanes within the track (ala the lines at gate) and spun riders around for complete directional mayhem. They created duststorms by slamming giant pillows on the ground and then incessantly hurling these massive dusty bombs at the riders—who loved it! Their pit crew searched and harassed riders and constantly ran them off the road and caught rides on the bumpers. Impeded by cones, pit crew and dust bombs, riders could not even get enough speed to make it around the track more than a few times before collapsing and rolling off the cars to practically crawl off the track in sheer hysterics.
Kids Day: The kids showed up hours before their scheduled slot waiting impatiently to run the races before most of our camp was even awake. You know kids…. Our original crew helped them set up, got them used to the microphones to announce and showed them how to manage the line. The small-fry got both kids and adults racing for hours and our mechanics helped a few learn how to turn some wrenches to fix a few loose screws and flat tires left over from Gate crew the night before. At first glance, you’d think that adults are going to overpower kids on these things but it is exactly the opposite. The kids have boundless, endless energy and clear lungs for the crazy cardio that pedaling requires and can out maneuver almost any adult within one lap.
Mystikal Misfits: This talented performance group took the demolition derby aspect of PedalBump to new heights. The next day after these Misfits ran it, all our cars were so smashed and bashed we needed to re-weld over half of them and two of the older models were damaged beyond repair. They invented a new tradition called stilt cocking at the races where a naked stilter walks over the racers before they take off from the starting line.
The Eds: A small but energized group from our own camp took over Friday afternoon. They were new to the whole performance aspect of running the races, but they did have a real life fireman on crew so we trusted everyone was in good hands. By Friday day, word was out that PedalBump is a blast so they had a steady stream of happy people to entertain. The shady tent became a fun oasis for their races. They put on a great show, cracking tons of jokes in matching PedalBump Pit Crew T-shirts and their sheer enthusiasm kept everyone smiling like crazy.
Camp Absofuckinlutionists: They were Canadian and they make awesome homebrewed beer. At first, they were so timid and polite that the spectators were out of control, cutting in line, jumping on cars and climbing the tent! We gave them some coaching and some whiskey and emphasized that they were in charge and had the right to kick out any assholes. Soon enough they were heckling everyone within earshot and ordering people around like pros.
A special shout out goes out to several individual volunteers, especially Viking, who showed up to help at random times and jumped in to announce, wrangle and fix the cars! They brought a zing of new energy and had a blast! A few of the crews did not make it to their scheduled slots due to the rainstorm and entry delays at the beginning of the week. But those that missed out will be on the roster this year if they want to try again.
We’re sure our 2014 guest crews and volunteers will take their first-hand knowledge to creating more interactive art at their own camps this year!
Watching from afar confirmed our commitment to bringing in new crews to host the races and gave us new energy to improving PedalBump for its 3rd year! We’ll be having some build days and pre-playa races in L.A. this summer for anyone who wants to get involved in advance and we’ll be taking applications once again for hosting crews and volunteers to jump in at the Burn in 2015. Again, stay tuned for details.
Dave Marr was Burning Man’s web team project manager back in the day (think late 90s – early aughts), and he now makes a spectacle of himself volunteering for Media Mecca. And well, he’s hopped on the solar bandwagon, and (like every good hippy) now he wants to share the gospel with YOU. Here’s Dave:
“O’ is my power to capture the sun and control the lighting!”
Since 1998, I’ve camped in Black Rock City every way imaginable. I’ve slept in tents, in the back of trucks, in RVs old and new, and even atop of a hay bale on burn night — at a close but safe distance from the fiery embers.
I’ve been a member of small camps and large villages on The Esplanade, on the Center Camp grid, deep within street-sign-required territories, and even once went rogue and guerrilla on the back-side, aka the outer ring, also affectionately referred to as The Assplande.
In all of my adventures, I’ve learned the greatest comfort of all on the playa is, without a doubt, not cigarettes or aged whisky, but having electricity. That mysterious life-feeding juice required by lights, music, A/C, air-pumps, electronics, cameras, batteries, etc. In short, everything annoying, addictive and unholy in our modern world. Apologies to those from Darktardia Village. You live in a world I do not understand.
For me, each year is another opportunity for a new experience or personal journey. This year I decided to go solar by participating in the inaugural RASPA (Radically Affordable Solar for Playa Artists) program provided by those industrious non-profit do-goers at Black Rock Solar. $50 per panel rental, from Aug 18 to Sept 2. Not bad. Not bad at all.
This was my setup:
(1) 235w Solar Panel (1) 750a Deep Cycle Marine Battery (1) 500w Inverter (1) Solar Charge Controller
The panel gathers the energy, the charge controller moderates and monitors the energy flow, the battery stores the electricity, and the inverter is what you plug devices into. Basically it’s less than a milk-crate of gear not including the panel. With this I created my own personal electrical grid to power a handful of LED lights, Bluetooth speakers, iPod, iPad, phone, my MacBook Pro and bevy of camera batteries. I was working on a 20-day documentary project. So I needed power every day, all day, and without fail.
The upside of individual solar: it’s basically plug ‘n’ play, totally quiet (no obnoxious generator sound!), and best of all it’s self-sustaining with no gasoline to buy, refill or spill. No clogged air filters either.
The downside: you have to maintain your deep cycle battery, i.e. continuously use it or put it on a trickle charger year round to keep its integrity. Personally, I consider this a good reason to set up a string of LED lights on a timer in my backyard.
In honesty, I did have one major hiccup … I didn’t properly plug my solar panel into the charge control at the start. For four days I watched (via the charge controller) as my battery level slipped from green to red until it went dead. There aren’t many things that can go wrong with solar but I found an important one. Hook your shit up right foo! When I corrected the wiring mistake it took (no lie) ONE afternoon of sunlight to fully recharge my battery.
One. Afternoon. Bitches. Then, my battery stayed in the green until I packed it out. Oh, and the cost of my solar setup was less than a ticket to the event.
Our friends over at iBurn have released their Version 5.0.1 of iBurn for your enjoyment. Each year they gift this app to the community and it can come in handy when you’re out on the playa looking for art or trying to hook up with friend or try to beat “playa time” and actually make it to an event “on time”. It is self contained and doesn’t require 4G or internet to work.
iBurn has a map of Black Rock City featuring listed Art projects, Themecamps and Events with a filter ability to sort on types of events. It also has a favorites functionality where you can add your friends or favorite camps and Art. Full descriptions with other data like emails. locations, Home towns, etc are also available.
The folks over there are not affiliated with Burning Man and they gift this useful piece of technology for you. If you’re up for it, go check them out on the web at http://www.iburnapp.com/
The information in iBurn is locked until you reach Black Rock City.