The camp fell together by happy accident. At a dinner in 2003, I seated my brother the construction guy next to my BFF the drag a capella singer, hoping their shared love of Burning Man would get them through a meal. Over that meal they conjured The Vault of Hivin’, a bewinged VW beetle towing chalkboards for a spelling bee, and a sound system that blasted the Bee-gees, the B-52’s, and Sting. They decided to collaborate on this vision and camp together, reasoning that the construction gearheads needed artistic vision, and the drag queens needed a ratchet up with implementation. After a decade of sticking together, we are truly a ragtag, multigenerational family of folks who love our annual reinvention fest. Having campmates with wildly diverse skills is a gift – somebody has to remember how to put up the shade structure, and somebody else has to make it blingy but not moopy.
Our best theme was probably Miajuana! which combined Lucha Libre Mexican wrestling with a Titty Tequila bar festooned with a whole laundry line of the largest and smallest bras we could scavenge (until the big bras all got appropriated as costumes.) Our construction wizards built a regulation-size wrestling ring on two trailers, surrounded by a two-story viewing platform and a repurposed tiki bar. The drag queens pumped lavender mist water on the shockingly large crowds who came, while the gearheads offered goopy-cheese nachos, and tang-and-tequila margaritas; we had colorful ringside commentary and interactive NSFW “burro rides” during intermission. We poured through gallons of booze and bales of chips, but the canned ‘cheez’ and pickled jalapenos never seemed to run out. Wrestlers of both genders showed up with their own multicolored masks. When it rained, it deteriorated into clothing-optional mud wrestling which ended when we all stopped to watch the double rainbow. It took us eight months to develop amnesia over that one. (more…)
You know how every year when you leave Burning Man after partying your butt off, interacting with amazing art, seeing your friends and making new ones, and wandering around an amazing city unlike any you’ve ever encountered that magically rises up out of a prehistoric lakebed; you go home and take a shower and maybe have a beer and think about how great that was? Well, there are people still out in those dust storms and that searing heat making sure everything is torn down, stowed and shipped and any little bits of trash you possibly, accidentally were inconsiderate about not taking home with you are being all picked up so we can throw this little event again next year.
I was talking with DA who runs the Playa Restoration (or Resto) Crew and he told me how when the event is over they spend weeks tearing down Black Rock City’s structures and then walking miles each day in the sun over grids, making sure to pick up every last bit of trash that may have made it to the playa floor. The goal is to leave the playa as clean as it was before the event and it is hard, grueling work. They start early in the morning and DA tells me that around 3:15 in the afternoon someone will invariably yell “Morale!” and the crew will stop, go to the shade and drink a couple cold beers and eat some snacks. This makes the remaining two hours go by faster.
That beer and snacks are donated by you, kind citizen of Black Rock City.
[Guest blogger Jennifer Scribner is a lazy foodie and enthusiastic Burner since 2006. As a Nutritional Therapist and the founder of Body Wisdom Nutrition, she specializes in helping people learn to prepare delicious whole foods to heal illnesses by healing digestive problems first. She wows her campmates and neighbors with seemingly gourmet meals that are actually based on minimal effort in the default world.]
The only vegetables I brought to my first few Burns were small packages of baby carrots. Anything other than that seemed like too big of a hassle. Why take time to fool with veggies on the playa when I want to be out participating? Plus, won’t they just go bad in a couple of days? I’ll stick to my string cheese and goldfish crackers, thanks.
By my fourth Burn I thought, “If eating veggies in my daily life makes me feel awesome, why would I give them up for the week when my body is exposed to extreme conditions?” I became determined to figure out how I could make eating veggies at Burning Man easy and convenient. That’s when I stumbled upon the secret: chop all your veggies before you leave for the Burn, then seal them up in plastic containers or Ziploc bags and pack them in your cooler. (more…)
Burning Man was built on freedom of expression, and participants shouldn’t have to worry that photos or videos of their on-playa activities might appear online (or elsewhere) without their permission.
Going way back (pre-2000), Burning Man has requested that participants intending to record video on playa sign a Personal Use Agreement (PUA) to protect participants’ privacy in Black Rock City. In fact, it was this policy that allowed us to stop Voyeur Video from broadcasting illicit videos they’d recorded of unwitting Burning Man participants in 2002.
Burning Man’s photo policy is spelled out in the online terms and conditions applicable to all tickets: any participant is free to disseminate photos for personal use only, and cannot use them for any other purpose without the written permission of Burning Man. The PUA simply provides another mechanism to make participants aware of the limitations on photo use, and the distribution of the PUA at Playa Info also assists in this process.
Of course, technology is evolving quickly. Back when video cameras were big and bulky and rare, we asked that each be tagged so people could identify the person taking their picture. Flash forward to 2012, and now just about everybody has a video camera on their person in the form of a smart phone or handheld video camera — so while collecting PUAs has become more logistically challenging, protecting the privacy of our participants is more important than ever. (more…)
[Judes has been a Burner since 1999 and an advocate for playa families. She first brought her son Dexter to BRC when he was 16-months-old, who has 8 Burns under his belt. For 4 years, Judes hosted Hot Monkey Sox, a popular sock monkey workshop camp in Kidsville. In 2010, she founded the Black Rock Scouts program so kids could attend playa-cational events, volunteer with BRC Departments and learn to give back to the BRC community.]
Bringing your kids along to this year’s Burn? There are some great resources and programs for Burner Families that we want you to know about. Kidsville, Black Rock Scouts and the new FUN Child ID Program run by Black Rock Rangers are here to support every burning family, including yours! (more…)
Pop quiz: what makes for a solid playa conditions? Answer: A winter season full of precipitation, which compacts and solidifies the playa surface.
Well, folks, due to one of the most anemic winters the west coast has seen since 1977, this promises to be one of the dustiest years ever in Black Rock City. If 2011 was your first year, YOU WERE BLESSED BY UNBELIEVABLY GOOD WEATHER AND PLAYA CONDITIONS. It was an anomaly at best, and it won’t be like that this year, no siree. Veteran Burners will tell you that dust is always an integral part of the experience, and it’s so very true … but as much as we revel in and love its alkaline awesomeness, it’s much less fun when you’re not prepared for it. (more…)
I’m just another Burner like you, but I’ve done this a few times. After a couple years, you start to hash out a game plan for getting in and out of Black Rock City. Arriving and leaving always rank among the hardest things about the trip. That’s true for emotional reasons as well as practical ones.
As far as the feelings go, that’s all you. But here’s what you need to know about the down-to-earth part of going to and coming from Burning Man.
Our man Dave X, who manages the Fire Art Safety Team (FAST) and all the awesome pyro stuff you see on playa (yay fireworks) wrote up a great post about taking care of the playa, and what you can do to help … a lot of stuff you are likely not aware of that makes a big difference. Take it to heart, and your planning process! Dave X says:
When I first came to the Black Rock Desert (in 1992) for Burning Man I was amazed at the place. ”NOTHING” in any direction: no plants, no rocks, no people and no rules. The place seemed indestructible and the perfect place for all kinds of jack-assery.
Well, over the years (as I returned over and over) I started to notice (when I got there early before anyone else) that I could find here and there old Burning Man trash: a piece of firework cardboard, some odd, burned gravel, or something shiny…
I also learned that a slow leak of RV juice or fuel made small spots on the Playa that can, like the tip of an iceberg, represent a huge area that is soaked just below the surface and that is hard to dig out. (more…)