Misconceptions about Burningman

Questions, answers, tips & tricks for newbies and veterans alike
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diode
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Post by diode » Fri May 07, 2004 6:22 pm

zapatista wrote:This will be my first burn, I guess the main thought that I have formed about it... (what it will be like) is that, there will be too many people there.. and to much stuff going on.. and I'll be totally lost. My roomie who is going with me swears that everyone will be running around naked doing drugs. :roll: I just hope I come well enough prepared.. haha
Just watch out for playa weasels. Once they get ahold of a limb, they never leg go.

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ZenRascal
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Post by ZenRascal » Sat May 08, 2004 5:43 am

For my first BM last year, I only had a general & vague idea from reading & hearing things over the years. I didn't have in-depth info 'cause I didn't know any burners.

The attitude I adopted was much like that I was going to a (friendly) foreign country or another planet. I expected just about anything & everything, i.e. very little in the way of particular expectations.

And that's pretty much what my experience was like. I was completely zapped, every day, in a zillion different ways. The free, "be yourself" playa spirit captivated me almost immediately. I think I was radiating that, because my encounters were with friendly, happy, open folks everywhere.

Post-BM, I've gotten to know quite a crowd of burners of varying experience and have encountered something I didn't see on the playa, just 'cause of the circumstances of how & where I roamed & hung out. I've learned there are quite a few burners, mostly veterans, with cliqueish and in-crowd attitudes, many of them tied to the larger camps & villages. I now have an expectation that there are a number of these folks at BM and I'll pretty much steer clear of them.

The biggest surprise for me, something I didn't really expect to happen, was that attending BM really did change my life and outlook in profound ways. I guess I was ready for that and BM was the right catalyst at the right time.

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Blonde Iguana
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Post by Blonde Iguana » Sat May 08, 2004 11:11 am

I'll be a first-time burner too, and have participated in only a couple burner "gatherings" in my area. Most of the burners here seem to be youngish and/or single, with few or no family obligations and lots of time to party, so right away that "separates" me from them. I have found my so-far very limited exposure to the local burners to be a mixture of extremely friendly helpful kind people who welcomed me, the tentative newb, immediately and showered me with more silliness and information than I could possible handle in one wine-soaked evening; and a few burnier-than-thou cliquish clusters of the tragically hip, who seemed much too cool to acknowledge the existence of an unseasoned dork like me. I don't know - maybe they were just shy...

So yes, I guess just like in "real life" you steer clear of people around whom you don't feel so good about yourself, and spend time with the many more who are caring, compassionate, and friendly. I may be wrong but I have a feeling that the Playa is a bit of an equalizer, with so much going on exteriorly that there are fewer opportunities for wallowing in one's own amazing superiority.
How we live each day is, of course, how we live our lives.

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diode
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Post by diode » Sat May 08, 2004 1:25 pm

Biggest mistake I ever made was actually talking to the little man behind the curtain.

Fucker ate my dreams and gave me knicksknacks in return. Keep your illusions, stay away from reality.

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notthat1
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Post by notthat1 » Sat May 08, 2004 2:54 pm

Blonde Iguana wrote: I have found my so-far very limited exposure to the local burners to be a mixture of extremely friendly helpful kind people who welcomed me, the tentative newb, immediately and showered me with more silliness and information than I could possible handle in one wine-soaked evening; and a few burnier-than-thou cliquish clusters of the tragically hip, who seemed much too cool to acknowledge the existence of an unseasoned dork like me.
.

I liked what you said there, and is true for *most* new groups you join. In my short time as a Burner i've found it both frustrating, and challenging. The clique thing is right, but there are those who seem open to letting "newbies" in, i just hav'nt found that group yet. I'm hopfull that once i'm on the Playa maybe i'll connect with some people up here, and make same *real* friends. We'll see ...
Everyone has the opportunity for greatness, not fame, but greatness, for greatness only requires service--Martin Luther King Jr

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Tuatha
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My thoughts on my frist burn

Post by Tuatha » Sun May 09, 2004 10:28 pm

Its going to be my first burn this year and we'll be making our way all the way from New Zealand.
I've been told a lot of things, To which my thoughts were along these lines

"There is naked people everywhere" Cool I might join them
"There is drugs everywhere people will be out of control" Sweet as life is to short to take it seriously
"Its Crazy, Hot and Uncomfortable" Well I don't suffer from insanity I enjoy every min of it.. Change is good, to survive something like that it can only be good for you

When it comes down to it anything people put this much creative effort into cant be bad, hell 26,000 people attend it every year it must be good especially with the diverse walks of life they seem to come from,

No Expectations, a open mind and a desire to jump in and get my hands dirty, are what ill be bringing to burning man (hopefully some water too I hear that helps...)

When the man burns and I walk away saying good by to many new friends I hope to say "I've never experienced anything like this before in my life, and I may never again, but ill be back next year"
....Word Eater was Here.....

Kyte
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Post by Kyte » Fri May 21, 2004 6:27 am

My first burn (01) I went with my then-boyfriend who had been before, and I had absolutely NO idea what Burning Man was, I was expecting something like Woodstock but less frat-boys and more hippies. We got to the playa in the middle of the night in a horrible dust storm and I remember thinking :shock: "Oh my God, where the hell am I, and how do I get out of here quickly?" I spent at least my first 48 hrs plotting to get out of there. It totally blew my mind and I was miserable. Sometime mid-week, everything started to sink in and I realized what was really going on, and I found myself racing down the street throwing my clothes over my shoulder trying to catch a water truck...pole dancing on pirate ships and other such debauchery, I've never been the same since. I missed 03 but I'm coming this year (already have my ticket!!!) I can't wait to get back home.

Kyte
You just never know...

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Ranger Genius
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Post by Ranger Genius » Fri May 21, 2004 7:05 am

I've got a couple of burns under my belt, and before I went the first time, I had read quite a bit about the history and culture of Burning Man. I must admit that the nature of burning man sort of lends itself to the likelihood of an "in-crowd" clique--and such a group definitely does exist. I think the expression "burner-than-thou" pretty much sums it up. I've encountered a few of these individuals, and the experience rather, er--harshed my mellow.

But here's the great thing: many of those people have either stopped attending (because "Burning Man has been ruined," by their choice of scapegoat..the org, the themes, the newbies, the yahoos, whatever.) Or they're staying in camp with their fellow elitists, bitching about how "last year was better." For the most part, these are not people who are out there trying to interact with their fellow participants, so you don't run into them all that much. Generally, if you meet someone, it's because they were trying to meet you. Sort of like a positive feedback system. Don't worry too much about having your burn ruined by a condescending prick. Odds are you won't run into very many.
“We cross our bridges when we come to them and burn them behind us, with nothing to show for our progress except a memory of the smell of smoke, and a presumption that once our eyes watered.”

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stuart
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Post by stuart » Fri May 21, 2004 11:23 am

last year was better
I am making up several t-shirts that say this.


re:'01 man that year was dusty. The dust storms were both overwhelming and fabulous to me. Gave me a hankerin to see at least a couple of those a year.

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Ranger Genius
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Post by Ranger Genius » Fri May 21, 2004 11:36 am

plus, if you have at least one serious storm a year, it keeps the yahoos from coming back.
“We cross our bridges when we come to them and burn them behind us, with nothing to show for our progress except a memory of the smell of smoke, and a presumption that once our eyes watered.”

XS
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Leave all expectations at home.

Post by XS » Sat Jun 05, 2004 1:59 pm

I'm a sophomore Burner at 41! Last year, my first, was an unbelievable experience I think mostly because I tried not to have too many expectations of sex, drugs, rock'n'roll, and dust. As a result I was always in the moment and gained an instant appreciation for "playa time" What time is it? It is now. Go with that in mind. A don't worry, there's plenty of dust for everyone.

I have experienced the "burner than thou" vibe from veterans and especially from the "L.A. jaded, fashion-burner set." I'm sorry to say that, although from L.A. myself, it was initially these folks who excited me and encouraged me to attend the burn. But the more I hung around these folks, I learned the emphasis was on them and their scene rather than what the experience would be for me.

I didn't camp with them because I wanted my own experience. Truthfully, I'm glad I did my own thing because I hooked up with other virgin burners and instead of complaints, we all reveled in how cool, and amazing the whole scene is. We'll be camping together again this year.

The most amazing part of my experience was receiving genuine love and respect from people I barely knew, who accepted me for me and embraced me with friendship, and welcomed me into their lives. That just doesn't happen in the real world, except for bribes and grift.

Expect nothing, experience everything.

Be well, Be yourself, do your own thing, just like everyone else.
Too much is never enough.

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pokiedot
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Post by pokiedot » Sat Jun 05, 2004 3:50 pm

my very first exposure to burning man was at art college. on our very first day of one fall semester, two friends of mine arrived for their first classes directly from the playa. i thought they were disgusting. they had dazed looks on their faces from lack of sleep and they were head to tow the epitome of 'filthy hippies' as far as i was concerned. but they looked very very content and had an almost spooky 'i know something you don't know' air to them. i assumed it was some kind of hippie cult and wanted nothing to do with it.

for the next few years i occupied my time being a spooky death rock/goth chick, and the idea of 'hot' and 'dust' and 'happy' were all pretty offensive to me. like, omigod, my eyeliner would so melt out there.

then spooky goth types started going! my world was shattered. i worked coat check for a goth/industrial club and every year more and more people would tell me i should go and i would gawk.

then, year after year, my boyfriends started going without me. they'd come back with these amazing stories of amazing art and costuming, good parties, bonding with friends, beautiful sunsets, fire, magic, and feeling part of a community that made sense to them. they had this whistful nostalgic enthusiasm for the event that still kinda spooked me but was starting to seem more real, and less 'cultish'.

so basically, i just kept hearing all this great stuff coming from people i respected, and even though i still thought it a little crazy i started to think about going. but i too was scared that it would be a bunch of dream diary readers (stuart, you are so right on) and feared that there'd be a couple having sex on every 30 sq feet of playa, and that frat guys would corner me and make me 'show them my tits' for mardi gras beads.

so, while all of this is going on i'd also found myself in an artistic crisis. art school burned me, bad. i hated the idea of the 'art scene' and was sick of trying to make 'deep, meaningful art'. all my work was totally tainted by the snooty audiences i was supposed to be catering to. i missed having FUN with art.

two friends of mine and i joked around about an environment entirely made of panties. the more we joked the more we loved it, and decided that burning man was the only place where our 'panty camp' could exist in earnest.

we read every fucking inch of the burning man website and did everything it said. we were pretty freaked out by the 'survival' aspect of it and totally over-prepared. not a bad thing, really. and it really is a harsh environment, and it was really hard, especially our first year, but it was sooo worth it.

even through all the intense preparation we'd done for our first year, the reality of burning man didn't hit me until we drove around that bend in the rode where you can see it from a distance. it was night time and i thought we'd missed the turn off, because clearly we were approaching another city. 'no', said one of our car's passengers, 'that's burning man'. ahhh.. now i get it. it's a city.

and once we were in that city i kept thinking to myself, 'it's like the city i always hoped could exist somewhere, and here it is, i've found my home town'.

looking back on it, i know think that we were absolute rockstars for pulling off a theme camp our very first year, but for us it think it was necessary. we really saw how our self-expression could fit into a community. and it did! people loved us and we loved burning man. we fit. yay. this is my 4th year and really do feel like i've found my community.

wow. i've said a lot! i try to make it a personal policy not to ramble, but i guess i have.. but it was fun reliving all of that. i want to get to the playa! NOW!

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pokiedot
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Post by pokiedot » Sat Jun 05, 2004 4:03 pm

Blonde Iguana wrote:I'll be a first-time burner too, and have participated in only a couple burner "gatherings" in my area. Most of the burners here seem to be youngish and/or single, with few or no family obligations and lots of time to party, so right away that "separates" me from them.
i've noticed this about a lot of burner events, too, and i really don't think it's an acurate representation of the playa population. i think that burner events are like this mainly because that's the cross section of the population who has time to party off the playa. i still very connected to my burning man friends, but not in a very public way. so, for example, our cross-section wouldn't be very visible at most burner parties.

i always tell people that almost anyone can find their clan out there. you'll find your peeps. there are lots of people with families, etc out there.

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Captain Goddammit
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Post by Captain Goddammit » Sat Jun 05, 2004 5:50 pm

pokiedot wrote:wow. i've said a lot! i try to make it a personal policy not to ramble, but i guess i have.. but it was fun reliving all of that. i want to get to the playa! NOW!
Enjoyed every word of it!

And me, too.
GreyCoyote: "At this rate it wont be long before he is Admiral Fukkit."

rumajo
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Post by rumajo » Sun Jun 06, 2004 5:25 pm

I was also a bit nervous that I wouldn't be considered "cool" enough
but when I saw that anything goes and you are free to be you/someone else/make anything up/trick people then I loosened up and got free. Everyone who knows nothing about BRC thinks everyone is naked - well there are various stages of undress and that is a very fun part of the playa, so feel free to show a little or a lot. You'll almost never be alone in your choices wierdly enough.
'03 - Faith & 430; '04 - Mars & 530; '05 - Fetish & 420; '06 - 430 Keyhole; '08 - The Wheel & 630; '11 - Gnome & 250...

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Magnificent Penis
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magnificent magnificent

Post by Magnificent Penis » Sun Jun 06, 2004 5:54 pm

You don't have to be naked to be magnificent!

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Angel Ben
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Post by Angel Ben » Mon Jun 07, 2004 10:43 am

Nor must you be magnificent to be naked ;)

But it's a moot point, as most everyone in Black Rock City is.

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Lilly Flower
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Post by Lilly Flower » Mon Jun 07, 2004 10:53 am

Oh my,

How dare you say everyone at BRC is moot.


Dear me, oh. :o
You are watching too much TV.

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stuart
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Post by stuart » Mon Jun 07, 2004 10:54 am

i want to get to the playa! NOW!

fucking fuck!

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TommyTheCat
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Post by TommyTheCat » Mon Jun 07, 2004 10:56 pm

Im a first time Burner(dont have my ticket, still saving, but there is NO way im missing out on this.) My view on it so far is:

Lots of awsome people, with a lack of sleep, amazing art,sand and dust.

My main thing as a first time burner is, if I say run out of food or water, will there be people willing to help me out?...as stupid as that sounds. I dont exactly have lots of money, but I am doing what i can.

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pokiedot
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Post by pokiedot » Tue Jun 08, 2004 10:18 am

TommyTheCat wrote:Im a first time Burner(dont have my ticket, still saving, but there is NO way im missing out on this.) My view on it so far is:

Lots of awsome people, with a lack of sleep, amazing art,sand and dust.

My main thing as a first time burner is, if I say run out of food or water, will there be people willing to help me out?...as stupid as that sounds. I dont exactly have lots of money, but I am doing what i can.
that's a fairly good speculation to go to burning man with, minus the sand. no sand, only playa, which isn't really sandy. think talcum powder... everywhere.

and as far as running out of food: yes, there will be people to bail you out, because out of 30,000 burners you're likeley to find some kind ones, but please please PLEASE bring enough food and water for yourself. self-sufficiency is a huge part of burning man, and, on some level, it's what keeps the event going. if too many of us become dependent on the community then we're just begging for commerce to enter the picture.

think of it this way: if we are all self-reliant out there, then what we do offer to each-other is a gift. a true gift has no strings attached, and causes no negative consequences for the giver (i.e. if you're giving away your water you may eventually find yourself with not enough). as you'll see when you get out there, experiencing what everyone else has gifted to the playa *is* the magic of burning man.

there are plenty of us experienced burners that can help you with ideas to keep your burning man budget low. let us know if you'd like some low-budget meal ideas or need suggestions about how to do it on the cheap, while still participating in way that will help sustain the event.

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PetsUntilEaten
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i know

Post by PetsUntilEaten » Tue Jun 08, 2004 10:58 am

I know I shouldn't say this but . . .

The well kept secret is - - -

Their not only are there food related camps, but many many people are overstocked with food, sometimes joyfully giving away & offering food. If just a small group & not the entire community brought some food and enough water (water is the only thing I wouldn't ever short on) - it would be fine.

I cook & give away tons of food. Over the years I've been trying to move away from being overprepared & just bring enough. I always have tons of food & alcohol to give to the clean up crew when I go.

Being over prepared is a common sickness & having random people to provide for can be a blessing. In fact so many people want to be generous & helpful - to prove their generousity & readiness - that personally I think it'd be tradgic if everyone's food and other gifts were deflected because every single person was overprepared.

Also I should say that people who seem lazy, obnoxious, and parasidic do not get offered or allowed so many gifts of food and help.

Self-reliance is a strong value there - but you really need only to appear self reliant / or be a self-reliant person with an unforseen problem who needs help / or being willing to offer what services, skills or items you can in trade - to get what you need.

Plus - people don't eat at much as they think they will.

My opinion - I'm sure many will disaggree with the idea of telling someone to try to scrape by on a limited amount of food supplies - but there's too much god damn food on the playa - I never ever saw anyone go hungry.

But water - I just wouldn't understock water - even though you'd probably be fine.

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DancingTofu
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Re: i know

Post by DancingTofu » Wed Jun 09, 2004 2:59 am

PetsUntilEaten wrote: - but you really need only to appear self reliant / or be a self-reliant person with an unforseen problem who needs help...
So long as you've got your towel...
--manda, Daughter of the Cantaloupes

latke
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my number one misconception

Post by latke » Mon Jun 14, 2004 9:01 am

Sitting in my camp's chill-space on my first night on the playa, I literally said the following:

"I had no idea there were going to be drugs here."

Boy, was I wrong. And happy about it.

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