worst/best from your 1st burn + where does quality matter?

Questions, answers, tips & tricks for newbies and veterans alike
Post Reply
User avatar
halfshadows
Posts: 19
Joined: Wed Aug 17, 2005 9:51 pm
Location: Rockville, MD
Contact:

worst/best from your 1st burn + where does quality matter?

Post by halfshadows » Thu Aug 18, 2005 1:06 pm

this goes out to experienced participants for all the other newbies like myself who are scouring this board for all the extra nuggets of helpful advice...

first part:

what was the the best preparation you took for your 1st burn?
what were you least prepared for (or else what preparation effort ended up being the least helpful)?

second part:

i've duly noted that for many, many things, the cheap one is the one recommended as best for the event (bikes, tents, cameras, sunglasses). but where does it really matter to invest and bring something of good quality? shoes? cooler? what did you bring of the cheap variety last time that you wish you had bought of better quality?

-
julia

panda
Posts: 14
Joined: Wed Jul 07, 2004 4:18 pm
Location: South Pasadena, CA
Contact:

Post by panda » Thu Aug 18, 2005 1:33 pm

For my first burn ('99), I was literally told about two months in advance what Burning Man even was by a friend in CA. I flew out from Maine with *no clue* even really what the event was. Since it was my friend's first year too, we both kinda went in not knowing anything.

I think the thing that we were least prepared for was the temperature. '99 was VERY COLD at night, and I think I only had something like one long sleeved shirt and one sweatshirt. So, I've learned over the years that you never know how the weather will end up, so you want to be able to stay warm *and* stay cool.

I think (as far as being "very prepared") it actually worked to my advantage to go in not knowing a lot about the event. (This is more of an emotional preparedness, I guess.) I didn't know what to expect, so I had no expectations. Many people say over and over "don't go with expectations" and I have to agree. Being new, just make sure you have your camp shit in order, and go. Don't worry too much about being super prepared and having everything. You never know what type of camper you'll be out there anyway until you've been.

User avatar
safetythird
Posts: 187
Joined: Wed Jun 23, 2004 1:10 pm
Location: Grover Beach, CA
Contact:

Post by safetythird » Thu Aug 18, 2005 1:35 pm

Last year was our first burn and the one thing that immediately comes to mind is our lack of warm costumes. Plenty of daytime weirdness but we were either freezing in our costumes or covering them up with vanilla looking jackets at night. Layering is good too.

Think mixers as gifts to bars. We had plenty of booze we took home because no one wanted it. They all needed mixers.

Most everything else is subjective. We put a high priority on good tasting food while many people are happy with hard tack. It just depends on what makes you happy.

Enjoy your first burn. As long as you have the essentials you'll be fine, just make a list of "ooh-gotta-bring-that-to-BM" things for next year.

S3

User avatar
phil
Posts: 2936
Joined: Fri Jun 10, 2005 2:10 pm
Location: Codgerville

Re: worst/best from your 1st burn + where does quality matte

Post by phil » Thu Aug 18, 2005 1:40 pm

halfshadows wrote:>SNIP<
what was the the best preparation you took for your 1st burn?
what were you least prepared for (or else what preparation effort ended up being the least helpful)?
I'm going to be unhelpful here: That's a question that you can get lots of answers on, then when you go you'll find that none of them was right for you. Burning Man is totally, completely personal. My best and worst preparation have no relevance to yours.

I don't mean this in a hostile way, I'm just opining. I'll be interested in seeing what the answers are, and I'm confident none of them will have applied to my first burn.

Nothing you do is going to prepare you for Burning Man. You'll think you're prepared, but you will find out you were wrong. In a most delightful way.
i've duly noted that for many, many things, the cheap one is the one recommended as best for the event (bikes, tents, cameras, sunglasses). but where does it really matter to invest and bring something of good quality? shoes? cooler? what did you bring of the cheap variety last time that you wish you had bought of better quality?
Everything you bring will be powder-coated in playa dust. Some of that stuff will suffer from it, some will shrug it off. Some will suffer from the winds. Think about whether your gear will suffer - cameras, bikes, coolers, tents. Some will, some won't. Does that mean you need to spend more and get better or spend less and get crap? (Crap is fine for many things.)

Keeping in mind my first answer, I choose to spend my quality on shelter -- shade and tent. All the rest I can do without or borrow or share from someone else. I do want my own personal shade and my own personal tent, though.

User avatar
halfshadows
Posts: 19
Joined: Wed Aug 17, 2005 9:51 pm
Location: Rockville, MD
Contact:

Post by halfshadows » Thu Aug 18, 2005 1:54 pm

panda wrote:...Don't worry too much about being super prepared and having everything. You never know what type of camper you'll be out there anyway until you've been.
if only i could. virgo + ocd + project manager...ugh....the wierd thing is, even if i am *ahem* a little psycho before a hard deadline, once things are out of my control, i'm a regular kitten.

i'm determined to have a great time no matter what. but still, i'd love to hear what anyone whose been before has to say about these questions.

User avatar
phil
Posts: 2936
Joined: Fri Jun 10, 2005 2:10 pm
Location: Codgerville

Post by phil » Thu Aug 18, 2005 2:00 pm

halfshadows wrote:i'm determined to have a great time no matter what. but still, i'd love to hear what anyone whose been before has to say about these questions.
Okay, if you're _determined_ --

Guide for first timers:
http://www.cieux.com/bm/BriefGuide.html

Guide for second timers:
http://www.cieux.com/bm/2dTime.html

Guide for dorks:
http://www.cieux.com/bm/dorksGuide.html

Things you didn't know you'd need:
http://www.cieux.com/bm/things.html

User avatar
halfshadows
Posts: 19
Joined: Wed Aug 17, 2005 9:51 pm
Location: Rockville, MD
Contact:

Post by halfshadows » Thu Aug 18, 2005 2:20 pm

thanks! actually, i have already read, printed, highlighted, tattooed and storyboarded versions of all these great checklists...i just wanted to get a little more informal and personal picture of people's experiences...

5x5
Posts: 91
Joined: Fri Jan 07, 2005 1:06 pm
Location: NJ

Post by 5x5 » Thu Aug 18, 2005 2:29 pm

hey halfshadows! i think we have some similar issues... (i'm a control freak unless someone else is in control then i can sit back. i also am a planner and checklist and overpacker gal!)

yeah, i'm starting to freak on just the packing part. like i said i tend to OVERPACK. so i want to have enough but not too much. and i'm not sure how it will all fit in my bags.... yipes.

one of my big questions is shoes: is one pair of merrell shoes, sports sandals (like teva), and flipflops for around camp enough? i also have one decorative pair of shoes but since they aren't that comfy i'm not sure i'll pack them because they take up a lot of space....

once i get there i can let go and relax, but i'm freaking over the packing and getting there!

User avatar
dinosaurwilly
Posts: 53
Joined: Fri Apr 29, 2005 12:16 pm
Location: San Francisco
Contact:

Post by dinosaurwilly » Thu Aug 18, 2005 2:34 pm

Least Prepared:
1) Costumes. Bring something fun that makes you feel fun!
2) warm clothing: Long underwear can go a LONG way
3) my own utensils (plate, fork, cup): always carry your cup with you :)
4) Personal light for toilets at night! (ie very small flashlight etc)
5) dont forget to bring lotion and sun tan lotion.

Over-prepared:
1) Brought too much food and it all spoiled,
2) Brought too much "street" clothes and just pushed it around all week. I wound up wearing the same shirt and shorts the whole week (but, you should bring LOTS of socks and underwear and change everyday)!

User avatar
geekster
Posts: 4867
Joined: Wed Sep 08, 2004 2:53 pm
Location: Hospice For The Terminally Breathing
Contact:

Post by geekster » Thu Aug 18, 2005 4:40 pm

I was least prepared for the cold at night and I didn't even think about lip balm. Bring it, it's important.

I would suggest that you don't worry too much about "getting it right" the first year. If you have experiance in camping, bring enough shit to camp for a week with plus maybe a little extra to share if someone is in a jam.

Use your first year to figure it all out for yourself. Start working on next year's project as soon as you get back, assuming you had a good experiance and want to repeat it.

Make sure you have a way to carry drinking water with you and make sure you bring enough of it. The blackrock desert is a plain as a blank canvas. Bring lots of ziplock bags too.
Pabst Blue Ribbon - The beer that made Gerlach famous.

jbelson
Posts: 312
Joined: Wed Sep 03, 2003 4:41 pm
Location: lost Angeles

Post by jbelson » Thu Aug 18, 2005 4:43 pm

Dont go cheap on shade, like those crumby patio type ones. The wind will shred them. An easy up is okay, especially if you get sidewalls. As the sun moves, you find you actually have very little shade with them. I like putting my things in storage bins with lids on the, keeps your stuff better protected. I put a bunch of stuff in milk crates last year and everything was burried in dust.
Bring sa bunch of socks that you can just throw out.
My $65 mtn. bike from target worked just fine. Also get a headlamp for the bike and your head there, no reason to pay twice as much at a specialty store. Also, get a combo lock there that you can program. Always lock your bike up. And go for the hydration pack that they sell, not the camel back. Camelbacks are twice as much, and it's gonna get thrashed. Target also has large ziplock bags, good way to keep stuff undusty.
If you buy a tent for the event, dont go too cheap as it might not stand the wind, and watch out for the mesh tops, they let in a ton of dust.
Cooking is sometimes a pain, so the easier it is to prepare things, the better. I brought a bunch of fruit and didn't touch it at all last year. Bacon is a pain to clean also.
I haven't had any problems with my digital camera out there. To save battery life, I dont turn the screen on to take pics, I look thru the viewfinder. Also, flash at night doesn't work, you see a bunch of specs.
Dont do the styrofoam cooler either, too cheap. It'll get thrashed.
You dont have to go expensive, but get one that has a tray to keep stuff from floating in icey water.
"I gotta have more cowbell"
Bruce dickenson, legendary rock producer

User avatar
icebox
Posts: 17
Joined: Thu Sep 09, 2004 5:08 pm

Post by icebox » Thu Aug 18, 2005 6:17 pm

according to the link provided above:
http://www.cieux.com/bm/things.html
• Gifts. Bring lots of cheap toys to give away.
Please do not bring cheap "gifts" to the playa. Stuff from Oriental Trading Company is just crap and ends up as moop. This subject has been touched on in other threads as well. Something from your heart and made by your own hands would be much more appreciated, even if it is as simple as lending a hand to someone else's project or putting on a simple performance.

User avatar
Das Bus
Posts: 396
Joined: Wed Sep 03, 2003 1:17 am
Location: Bullhead City, AZ.

Re: worst/best from your 1st burn + where does quality matte

Post by Das Bus » Thu Aug 18, 2005 6:18 pm

For my first Burn, we were best prepared for building camps. I think we brought enough tools, wood, supplies to BUILD a house out on the playa! LOL!

There were two things, however, that I wasn't prepared for: 1 - Assholes on the playa. For some reason, I thought everyone would be nice, happy, loving, etc... But I found out very quickly, that people are people no matter where you go. I also learned, though, that if you're not having a good time, the problem may not be with other people, but within youself. 2 - Nighttime whiteouts! I consider my self a very experienced desert camper. However, I was not in the least prepared for being caught in a whiteout at night on the open playa. Instead of doing the 'smart' thing and staying put, I spent 45 minutes wandering around in circles. It was a very scary experience!

As for the second part:

Go cheap on cameras but not on coolers. Get yourself a couple of the Coleman extreme coolers.

Also, don't skimp on your food/beverages. Bring at least one of your favorites, and save it for later in the week. It'll taste even better on the playa! : )
Medicated and Motivated!

User avatar
geekster
Posts: 4867
Joined: Wed Sep 08, 2004 2:53 pm
Location: Hospice For The Terminally Breathing
Contact:

Post by geekster » Thu Aug 18, 2005 8:48 pm

Bacon is a pain to clean also.
I don't find it so. If you simply have one pan that you use only for BACON several times a day. Just pour the grease out into a can. Wipe out the inside with a paper towel that you toss into the burn barrel and set the pan aside. There is no reason to wash it with water. In fact, one of those old black spider skillets works just great for BACON.
Pabst Blue Ribbon - The beer that made Gerlach famous.

User avatar
gladeye
Posts: 104
Joined: Mon Sep 01, 2003 2:48 pm
Location: 90048

Post by gladeye » Thu Aug 18, 2005 9:01 pm

I'm surprised no one mentioned drugs yet. IF that's your thing (and for a lot of people at Burning Man it is), don't assume you'll easily score mushrooms, ecstasy, or acid on the playa. Hallucinagens are in hot demand in Black Rock City and there ARE undercover cops around.

I'm not speaking so much from my own firsthand experience, but I've seen so many people get exasperated and frustrated because they couldn't procure drugs. Like anything, if you want to be sure to have it, bring it yourself (Noting of course that Burning Man in no way condones or endorses the use of illicit drugs - unless they are of a very high quality).
"Madness is the first sign of dandruff" - Dr. Winston O'Boogie

User avatar
dr.placebo
Posts: 980
Joined: Mon Sep 13, 2004 3:03 pm
Burning Since: 1999
Camp Name: Cleu Camp
Location: Volcano, HI
Contact:

Post by dr.placebo » Thu Aug 18, 2005 10:20 pm

My first year ('99) was wonderful. I mostly pretended I was car camping, so I had plenty of water, clothes, food, and gear.

I was least prepared for the wind and the need for a sturdy shade structure. Luckily, I camped next to folks who helped out. Mostly we merged our stuff and had a great time.

The other thing I wished I had done more of the first time I went was to volunteer for stuff. There's nothing that more quickly fosters a sense of belonging.

User avatar
AntiM
Moderator
Posts: 20123
Joined: Wed Mar 24, 2004 5:23 am
Burning Since: 2001
Camp Name: Anti M's Home for Wayward Art
Location: Wild, Wild West
Contact:

Post by AntiM » Fri Aug 19, 2005 5:33 am

We were remarkably prepared our first year; larry is an uber-boy scout and I think we could have survived nuclear winter.

Most unlikely, and now best ever, item we haul to the playa: the shave ice machine. A cast iron handcrank Japanese semi-antique, this baby whips out mounds of snowy shave ice from block ice in a matter of minutes, and it is fun to operate too. Added bonus: since it is more like snow than it is like crushed ice, you can make snowballs. Hehehehe. We just have to remember the bowl and ice pick.

One year my newbies forgot sunblock. Yikes! Four people had to make do with one bottle, and they slathered it on, which is good, but didn't think about how to make it last the week. Now I highly recommend the spray-on type, I am far more likely to use it repeatedly than the heavy lotions.

robotland
Posts: 3778
Joined: Tue Sep 09, 2003 8:29 am
Location: Kalamazoo

Post by robotland » Fri Aug 19, 2005 5:45 am

Hand/body lotion to rehydrate mummified paws...I do a lot of hand work with metal and tools during the event, and the first year my fingers were getting painful splits from the dry dustiness. Some comfortable gloves to wear while setting your structure up help, too. Wash yer paws and apply lotion before bed- Front AND back paws- And they'll bark less.
And I seventh the motion about warm gear- I had made an entire space suit to wear last year, and left the heavy coveralls at home because I thought I'd die of heatstroke in the damned things...Woulda been PERFECT in the 30-degree nights! (At least I had the helmet- Worked GREAT in whiteouts!)
Howdy From Kalamazoo

User avatar
theCryptofishist
Posts: 40313
Joined: Mon Feb 23, 2004 9:28 am
Burning Since: 2017
Location: In Exile

Post by theCryptofishist » Fri Aug 19, 2005 8:20 am

jbelson wrote:My $65 mtn. bike from target worked just fine. Also get a headlamp for the bike and your head there, no reason to pay twice as much at a specialty store.
I'll say that if your specialty is localy owned and operated that's a good reason. The money will stay in your community and you'll probably be able to get better service when you buy and on any return trips. That being said, I too often go for the cheap route myself.
The Lady with a Lamprey

"The powerful are exploiting people, art and ideas, and this leads to us plebes debating how to best ration ice.
Man, no wonder they always win....." Lonesomebri

bdeywoo
Posts: 159
Joined: Wed Jul 13, 2005 1:19 pm
Location: Biggest Little City

Post by bdeywoo » Fri Aug 19, 2005 9:26 am

Well last year was my first and I can say with out a doubt that the one thing I did wrong was spent too much time thinking and planning for what i was going to wear, act, give, etc. I completely neglected preparring my emotions for the event. I imagine for everyone its different but for me the morning after the man burned I was an emotional basket case placed on a roller coaster, something i am not normally used to being. It was like a void was there because i knew the event was ending and life would turn back to civilization, but at the same time the enevitable excitement that in only 364 days I would get to experience it again. Very strange.

I think the best investment you can make, monetarily, is shelter. Just have enough to make you comfortable, a large shade structure and tent is not needed but you have to have one place you can go back to that you dont mind calling home for a week. Make it comfy (shade helps), bring an open mind and leave your expectations at home and pace yourself.

User avatar
phil
Posts: 2936
Joined: Fri Jun 10, 2005 2:10 pm
Location: Codgerville

Post by phil » Fri Aug 19, 2005 9:44 am

bdeywoo wrote:Well last year was my first and I can say with out a doubt that the one thing I did wrong was spent too much time thinking and planning for what i was going to wear, act, give, etc. I completely neglected preparring my emotions for the event. I imagine for everyone its different but for me the morning after the man burned I was an emotional basket case placed on a roller coaster, something i am not normally used to being. It was like a void was there because i knew the event was ending and life would turn back to civilization, but at the same time the enevitable excitement that in only 364 days I would get to experience it again.
>SNIP<
Very nice reminder of what it's about. Thank you.

User avatar
phil
Posts: 2936
Joined: Fri Jun 10, 2005 2:10 pm
Location: Codgerville

Post by phil » Fri Aug 19, 2005 10:08 am

icebox wrote: Please do not bring cheap "gifts" to the playa. Stuff from Oriental Trading Company is just crap and ends up as moop
>SNIP<
Happily that's not the case. The AfterBurn reports list what was found on the playa as MOOP, and cheap toys from Oriental Trading Post is not on the list. :->

So feel free to bring all the cheap toys you want without fear of them being tossed on the ground. People who want your gift will accept; those that don't, won't. I do suggest bringing toys that relate to Burning Man, and I'll change my page to say that. Thanks for the heads up, icebox.

waltsnipe
Posts: 197
Joined: Tue Sep 09, 2003 4:43 pm

comfortable shoes!

Post by waltsnipe » Fri Aug 19, 2005 10:30 am

My first year was '99, and I'd only found out about the event a month and a half earlier. I flew out alone from Austin and rented a Geo and putted on out to BRC. I found that the Survival Guide got me remarkably prepared for the playa. The big thing I did wrong, and it really hampered me during the week (having flown in and not having a bike) was bring the wrong shoes. I had an idea that desert camping equalled hiking boots. Boy was I wrong. After running gleefully all over the playa in the Monday night 100 mph gusts (saw a whole row of Porta Potties go down, except for the one in the middle with a big guy in it), my feet were a bloody, blistered mess the next day. I walked like Fred Sanford the rest of the week, and it was very difficult to get around.

Now, I tell newbies to pick the same shoes for the playa that they'd use if they were directing traffic in the Astrodome parking lot all day in August. They may not look great, but white socks with broken-in tennis shoes are what have kept my feet in fine shape from '00 to this day. Using baby powerder and lotion in the socks work even better still.

Take care of your feet on the playa (no boots, sandals), and you will be very glad you did!

Other than that, just prepare to be amazed :-)

robotland
Posts: 3778
Joined: Tue Sep 09, 2003 8:29 am
Location: Kalamazoo

Re: comfortable shoes!

Post by robotland » Fri Aug 19, 2005 10:40 am

waltsnipe wrote:Now, I tell newbies to pick the same shoes for the playa that they'd use if they were directing traffic in the Astrodome parking lot all day in August. They may not look great, but white socks with broken-in tennis shoes are what have kept my feet in fine shape from '00 to this day. Using baby powerder and lotion in the socks work even better still.

:-)
You said it, bruthuh! It's more like pavement pounding than sand slogging! My SECOND year I brought a pack of brand new socks, one pair for every day. Makes a HUGE difference!
Howdy From Kalamazoo

User avatar
DancesWithElves
Posts: 116
Joined: Wed Sep 03, 2003 8:43 am
Burning Since: 2001
Camp Name: Distrikt
Location: Reno, NV
Contact:

Participate!!

Post by DancesWithElves » Fri Aug 19, 2005 11:14 am

One of the best recommendations made to me before my first burn in 2001 was to find something that calls to you and volunteer. It's a bit late for the groups that have signups for shifts (greeters, Arctica, etc.), but they always have holes in the schedule at odd times, and many people miss their shifts - so if you find yourself in the vicinity of a volunteer group, dive on in!

The lamplighters are ALWAYS looking for help with lamps around 5:00pm every day, and it takes over 100 people to get the job done.

Volunteering gave the two of us an instant playa family the first year - camped in the lamplighter village, had access to the great community facilities they'd set up, while feeling very involved.

Interestingly enough, I'd done SO much homework on the web site and related links, and we were so ready both physically and in need of BM psychologically, that we had no real issues or problems that first year. In years since most of our issues have been due to drama within our growing group.
She who must be obeyed

User avatar
phil
Posts: 2936
Joined: Fri Jun 10, 2005 2:10 pm
Location: Codgerville

Post by phil » Fri Aug 19, 2005 11:18 am

geekster wrote:
Bacon is a pain to clean also.
I don't find it so. If you simply have one pan that you use only for BACON several times a day. Just pour the grease out into a can. Wipe out the inside with a paper towel that you toss into the burn barrel and set the pan aside. There is no reason to wash it with water. In fact, one of those old black spider skillets works just great for BACON.
MMMMMM .... BACON:
http://www.cult45.fsbusiness.co.uk/featuresjackie.html

I cook it in a black widow griddle, then leave the grease in for the rest of what I'm frying. NOTHING goes to waste (just to waist :->).

completely unrelated rant:
Louise and I go in a commercial van. We have plenty o' room for our trash, so if we choose to bring all our food in the original packaging, tons of glassware, and generate hundreds of kilos of garbage, that's our responsibility. We take out all that we take in. We don't burn our food waste nor do we burn paper towels that we've used to clean up. We put it in our garbage bag and take it to the Reno Transfer Station and watch the huge bulldozer crush it into the maw of the darkness.
Image
Ahhhhhhh.
end of rant.

User avatar
HughMungus
Posts: 1813
Joined: Thu Sep 09, 2004 10:17 am
Location: Dallas, TX

Post by HughMungus » Fri Aug 19, 2005 12:40 pm

bdeywoo wrote:Well last year was my first and I can say with out a doubt that the one thing I did wrong was spent too much time thinking and planning for what i was going to wear, act, give, etc. I completely neglected preparring my emotions for the event. I imagine for everyone its different but for me the morning after the man burned I was an emotional basket case placed on a roller coaster, something i am not normally used to being. It was like a void was there because i knew the event was ending and life would turn back to civilization, but at the same time the enevitable excitement that in only 364 days I would get to experience it again. Very strange.
This used to affect me, too. It doesn't anymore because I don't think of Burning Man as an event unto itself anymore; it's the culmination of 364 days a year of living it -- not only preparation and regionals but bringing that spirit into your daily life.

chinaski
Posts: 2
Joined: Fri Aug 19, 2005 12:34 pm

Re: worst/best from your 1st burn + where does quality matte

Post by chinaski » Fri Aug 19, 2005 1:26 pm

"what was the the best preparation you took for your 1st burn?
what were you least prepared for (or else what preparation effort ended up being the least helpful)?"

My best preparation was sturdy shade and a comfortable chair. You can't be out and about all the time; a body needs to sit and rest and recoup.

I was least prepared for the return to civilization. I've "been to the rodeo", but nothing prepared me for this. I don't know what to tell you, other than not to schedule a key presentation at work on the day you return.

User avatar
halfshadows
Posts: 19
Joined: Wed Aug 17, 2005 9:51 pm
Location: Rockville, MD
Contact:

Post by halfshadows » Fri Aug 19, 2005 2:27 pm

being the kind of person who, when they get hungover it lasts for two or three days, i scheduled *two* weeks off work...

great advice so far! thanks everyone!

jbelson
Posts: 312
Joined: Wed Sep 03, 2003 4:41 pm
Location: lost Angeles

Post by jbelson » Fri Aug 19, 2005 5:10 pm

Oh yeah, I like the portable chairs where you could put your feet up. It's so much more relaxing when your feet are elevated.
"I gotta have more cowbell"
Bruce dickenson, legendary rock producer

Post Reply

Return to “Q & A Tips and Tricks”