[Jennifer Raiser is an avid long-time Burner, Burning Man Project board member, theme camp leader, and Black Rock Ranger. Her writing has appeared in the Huffington Post, San Francisco Chronicle, Nob Hill Gazette and most often for her publication, SFWire.]
“How was Burning Man?” they inquire as I ascend the shallow red-carpeted stairs leading up to the Opera House. It is five days after Exodus, and I am reluctantly back in San Francisco, Center Camp of the default domain. I am here to mark the festive highlight of another tribe, the ninetieth annual Opening Night at the Opera. To some, this happy occasion commands the same kind of importance that we associate with Burn night. Tonight’s task is to write about the grand gesture of opera and the people who are its patrons. I am charged with distilling and interpreting the evening into an article to be read by those who attend, and those who do not. The dual role as enthusiast and observer is familiar. On playa, I am a passionate participant, a Ranger, a theme camp leader, a volunteer and an author; here, I am a friendly alien who comes from that arid planet near Gerlach and happens to pen a social column.
Acquaintances here are polite and prodding about the desert. They indulgently inquire about Burning Man in the same way you might bring up a shared alma mater, or a mutual love of licorice, knowing it is a certain conversation starter. Some truly want to know, some want me to know that they know, or think they know, about my annual retreat to my happiest (and saddest, and most demanding) place on earth. I try to disarm their suspicion with the comparisons between tonight and the burning of the Man. In both places, I remind them, like-minded spirits gather to share a communal dinner, enthusiastic dancing, and well-stocked bars openly coursing with goodwill. We are corseted and costumed in ensembles carefully curated for the occasion. We mark this artistic triumph with the biggest party of the year. Read more »
Tales From The Playa are dreams and memories of events that took place at Burning Man, as told by its participants.
I have a friend named Party Radar and I have known her for over 10 years in the Burning Man community. We have been on volunteer teams together, I have seen her dance on a bar (one of those things you see in movies but don’t really ever expect to see real people doing unless they are getting paid), and she sometimes lives in the world as a bunny. She sent me a little story the other day and asked if there were a way to get it posted on the Burning Blog. Well, who can say no to a bunny.
Once when I was at Burning Man I was working at my job at Volunteer Resources. This is when it was still behind Center Camp. This older gentleman comes up. He looked like this kind of nutty engineering type guy. He was wearing a plain white t-shirt that was horribly unfancy so I decided to help him. I took my sparkly t-shirt paint and wrote “Kiss Me” on his shirt. I told him that now not only does he look a lot better but now people will want to kiss him. He said something like ‘Yeah, now all I have to do is find someone to kiss me’, as if that would NEVER happen. No sooner had those words passed his lips but some sassy little lady around his age turned to her right and said “I’ll kiss you” and she planted one right on him (a good one too) then they took off together. It was MAGIC.
Ladies and gentlemen, let’s talk about being Jaded. Have you heard the following from anyone in your circle of Burner friends?
“Yeah, been there, done that. I’m just going to stay in camp.”
“Oh, I saw that last year.”
“Wasn’t the art better in 2005?”
“Ugh, I’m so over it.”
Photo by Brian Vincent
Maybe you’ve even been guilty of it yourself.
Perhaps the soft, smoky tendrils of a tendency towards snark and eye-rolling are starting to creep into your brain, strangling the wide-eyed enthusiasm and the knee-jerk joy.
Is your “yes, and” being slowly replaced with “NO”?
Do you spend entire days in camp, lying on a couch and reading comic books rather than going out to play?
There is a solution, my friends!
Adopt a Burning Man Virgin. It’s as simple as that. 100% guaranteed cure-all for the Jaded that ails you.
Find someone new to the event and take them under your wing, teach them your secrets, answer their questions, listen to them shout “EEEEEE!” with excitement. This process is extra-helpful when started before the event (see the bottom of this post for resources), but also grants great benefits when befriending a newbie on-playa. Read more »