Why I Probably Won't Go Again

Share your pictures and video. Tell us about the sights, sounds, and scents, as well as the rumors and truths found at Burning Man.
RagnaRoss
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Why I Probably Won't Go Again

Post by RagnaRoss » Tue Oct 18, 2005 4:03 am

This is going to take a while, you'd better get some snacks.

On many occasions over the course of the past year I found myself defending BM to non-fans with every last ounce of wit and passion I had. "Oh but aren't they greedy bastards with that ticket price." And of course "They're a bunch of Nazis with that border patrol!" I ran across people who accused BM of being "commercial" and even "Babylonian."

I told them all the same thing; "I wanted to go since I was 14, last year ('04) I went at 19 and I was still blown away."

As much was true, but this year was not so fun.

I really realized how much I hate Nevada. I don't mind the desert, I love the desert, it's the vibes that man hath placed upon the land. Coming up from Arizona I passed through Vegas and a lot of very sickly looking small towns. Don't get me wrong, I have no moral qualms with gambling or even prostitution, but the feeling that I get from being surrounded by gaudy casinos (especially in what could be quite charming small towns) is really BAD. The lights and signs of casinos even in the day seem to carry a predatory empty promise, a black hole that could swallow up the brightest hopes and dreams in a matter of hours, or even minutes. A presence that is both seductive and parasitic. And the people I came across didn't seem too happy to see a young guy with long hair either. And I don't have any tattoos or piercings, just shoulder length, natural blond hair. Say what you will about how I'll "find that anywhere" but I come from New Mexico where you can find white cowboys, latino catholics, and hippies all happily dining in the same restaurant. Even in the Fallon Wal-Mart, it wasn't just the locals that gave me the evil eye (as I stood in line a cowboy moved behind me from a line of the same length and shot me a "no funny business" intimidating smile to try and make sure I wouldn't stab the cashier or something), the checker lady wouldn't even smile at me or tell me to have a nice day! In Wal-Mart! Wal-Mart, where you can easily get fired for not smiling enough!

And when I got to Black Rock... Well...

Since leaving the Playa last year I had done my best to sow the spirit of BM everywhere I went. Gifting, radical inclusion, immediacy and spontaniety to all the people I met everywhere I went I tried to get people to lighten up, be more expressive, more open, etc. After a very draining summer I had the thought in my head that when I got to BM it would be my turn to recieve. Now I was still feeling happy to give, (though I was down to nothing financially and materially) I wasn't trying to grab all I could with both hands, but I felt like maybe it was time for me to lay back a bit and let good things flow my way.

Instead I felt like anything that came my way was something that I had stolen. I'd roll up to a theme camp and feel as though I was back in the 5th grade trying to sit at the same table as the popular kids at lunch. I'd try to talk to people and they wouldn't be interested in me. I would just be trying to make casual conversation with women (who wouldn't like to talk to a beautiful woman?) and they would often time wander off, make some kind of exit or vanish when I had my back turned. I might have wanted to get laid but I respect boudries! I felt like Dicky must have felt last year. I couldn't connect with anyone. I wandered through crowds of beautiful people in sexy costumes, holding hands, holding each other dancing togather... I wanted to die. I would've been happy just to be laughing it up with some bros in a circle of lwan chairs but I couldn't seem to find even that. I had come with high hopes and an open heart, energy and inspiration and felt like some guy at the prom who was dumb enough to spend the cash to rent a tux and show up just so he could sit in a chair by the puchbowl and watch his crush dance with some handsome guy.

It wasn't until after I had a similar experience at the SF Decompression that I realized it can be problematic to go to some event that takes a lot of your cash and you hope to have a good time. It was a lot for me to go to Decompression and I had a shitty time and realized that it's hard to have fun when you feel pressured to have a good time because of how much you spent to go to an event. I didn't give it a second thought as I bought my ticket and made the trip this year but BM was, for me, financially crippling. My first year was 100% worth it, and I think the same would ring true for anyone, but now I don't feel like I can risk a few hundred dollars on possibly having a crappy week-long camping trip. I still believe in BM and the spirit that it carries, I myself would like to start my own festival, one that would do it's best not to become larger than a couple hundred people and not a city where someone could feel lost, lonely and alienated.

I know this has probably happens to eveyone, until this last burn I thought I would be going every year, but I really don't want to put so much time and evergy toward something that's so variable and volatile.
Here we go into the sea of meaninglessness in the persuit of truth.

robotland
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Re: Why I Probably Won't Go Again

Post by robotland » Tue Oct 18, 2005 5:40 am

RagnaRoss wrote:I know this has probably happens to eveyone, until this last burn I thought I would be going every year, but I really don't want to put so much time and evergy toward something that's so variable and volatile.
Maybe it was the Party Animal t-shirt....

Sorry that you had such an uncomfortable week. I was kind of nervous the first year, too, but came with two friends and stayed in a very hospitable village. (Hushville.) It can be really difficult to just relax and enjoy sometimes, especially when you're on your own- Sometimes I still wince when I remember the snotty Burnier-Than-Thou girl that called me a "tourist" because I was photographing Best's temple. (NOT her!) I've had many interactions in BRC that were unsatisfying, but few that I can really, looking back, attribute to or blame on myself. People get high, get drunk, are tired or crabby, or just distracted.
This was my third year, and each has gotten VASTLY more fun and satisfying because I've finally started to figure out how to connect with the people that are going to help make it a fun time for me. There are several folks that I'd only known online that playing with in the desert was as much fun as anything I'd done before in my life. I even reconnected with an old friend, that I hadn't known was a regular BRC citizen. And contributing to Hushville was very satisfying too.
If you DO decide to try it again, I urge you to make connections like these before you go...Join a camp. Volunteer. It can make ALL the difference, believe me.
Can't do anything about the casinos, though.... And just between you and me, I kinda like 'em....When you cross the Great Salt Lake and enter Wendover, and see the gaudy neon, it's almost like a preview of that first magical glimpse of the Man from 447.....If you need an antidote for Electric Blight, stop at Pyramid Lake or Thunder Mountain on the way.
Howdy From Kalamazoo

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AntiM
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Post by AntiM » Tue Oct 18, 2005 8:17 am

I'm shy. Really, really shy. (really I am) This year I met a wonderful man (and promptly forgot his name, I do that) who'd roar up to people, "Hi, you freak! What the hell are you doing out in the desert?!" and give them big hugs. Better yet, he'd catch a name and act like you were a long-lost friend and enthusiactilly reunite with you. I tried it a bit at the meetngreet, and it got me a chance to talk to people, otherwise, I'd end up on the edges being quiet and not having a good time. From now on, everyone os goping top be a long lost friend, and if they don't want to talk to me, well then, that's going to be alright too.


I've felt left out and ignored at Burning Man, disappointed in myself when I couldn't stay up late to dance and party. But I enjoy the other moments so much, the chance encounters, the interactions with so many folks, the wandering out on the playa early in the morning by myself, that I don't really have to have a party hard be cool agenda anymore. I've given it up. I may be dull, but I'm fat and mostly happy. I am my own fun.

Yep, robotland is right, volunteer, join a camp, get some art going.

The casinos are lessons in illusion, just look at the pretty lights and move on.

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Post by theCryptofishist » Tue Oct 18, 2005 8:56 am

Go or not. I understand about the money--and I make a much shorter trip from San Francisco. Start your own event if you like--just remember that 4 out of 5 religions fail in the first year. (Homer Simpson got that direct from god, so it must be true.) Try the regionals. Do what works for you.

After 4 years I'm still sitting on the fence about the damn event. Just once I'd like not to be involved in a medical emergency on one level or another.

Or start "Dicky Box Village" where everyone lives in a bubble--that would be pretty funny.

This is a big world. One little festival doesn't have to be you be all and end all.
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Man, no wonder they always win....." Lonesomebri

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Post by CagedKitty » Tue Oct 18, 2005 9:29 am

Sometimes if I'm at a place where no one is seeing me, I pretend to be invisible. Then I have no pressure to have a good time. I'm simply observing. If someone does look at me it seems like a huge connection because they saw me and I thought I was invisible and we share a little secret. If no one notices me the whole time it's ok because they didn't know I was there, but I got to experience it.

I brought my brother this time and he didn't like it and went home after 2 days. I spent his last day trying to get him to have a good time and everything seemed less than what I wanted it to be. I don't know if it was the way he looked or the vibes he was sending out or my expectations. I really think burningman isn't all inclusive if the people there can't accept someone who looks straight or even like a cop. I couldn't tell my brother to look different to be included could I? Would he feel included then? It probably had more to do with his behavior and attitude and maybe his feeling uncomfortable. There were probably lots of people around you feeling the same way you were, or maybe worse, but you weren't noticing them either. I think next time I go with someone new I'll tell them how much they'll hate it there.

It's funny how I can shaperone at a kids dance now, and have fun watching them dance because I have no pressure that I'm supposed to be asked to dance, or have a good time or even meet someone within 25 years of my age who's looking for a date. It's enough to see others having a good time, or sit on the sidelines with anyone who's not having a good time.

I was probably part of one of the couples you saw having fun. That's who I was some of the time and it wasn't to make you feel bad, I hope you have that sometimes too. Other times I was by myself. I even sat on a couch one time in center camp and had a guy sit down next to me, start to say something, and jump up in horror and left when he realized I wasn't who he thought I was.

You don't have to go to burningman, but there are a lot of amazing things to see there and you should go if you like those kinds of things. It's good to realize you are invisible to a lot of people no matter where you go and there are a lot of people who are invisible to you.
Where have I been all my life?

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Post by skygod » Tue Oct 18, 2005 10:05 am

BM is a casino of the mind. You may already be a weiner!
"It will seem difficult in the beginning. But everything seems difficult in the beginning."- Musashi

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Post by Lassen Forge » Tue Oct 18, 2005 10:31 am

Kinda long, touching various issues...

See, I also happen to like the stark contrasts in Nevada... Maybe it's because I used to live in one of those "very sickly looking small towns" mentioned above, and to me it was a *very* real sense of community that is missing in the "big cities"... I dunno. But the absolute meglomania of the gaming industry there to the desert mornings reveling in the hush of the morning right before the sun crests over the hill to the wastelands of the guv'ment sites to the fields of alfalfa growing out there in the middle of nowhere to the alkali lakebeds to the scent of sage... Then you go into town (which is a big deal) and it's glitzy and flashy and lit up and there are stores and malls and yes, Casinos too, but it's so different than Mina, population 35.

The people are, well, Nevadans. At least the ones who have lived there a while. No, it's not California, nor New Mexico, nor Arizona, nor Oregon... There's a mindset there that is just... well... you know. The poster above alluded to it a bit, it's not that you were a "long haired male", it was that you weren't one of the locals. If no one knows you expect to be stared at until you're part of the community. Remember - Nevada is a conglomerate of small towns. People there have a small town attitude. You see a stranger, you ask yourself - Is this person decent, is this person a ripoff or con artist, is this person real or phony? It has nothing to do with hair length (I know enough guys in Nevada with long hair to know better - some even out in "cowboy country"...), and everything to do with community. REAL community... like your grandparents knew (and would feel comfirtable in)...

About BRC? Actually, like it's residents, it's a transplanted community, however... It has a lot of the same sense of community as most Nevada towns (just hella bigger!). Put it this way - you see a fellow BRC citizen on the street (like I did yesterday!) and you have this connection and this bond that says "We are from THERE". It makes a difference - and is *very* Nevada.

And about the money? I have a strange way of looking at that, tho not really... It's not a ticket, it's my receipt that I paid my taxes for the city for the year. Just like local taxes in the other towns I live in. Pays for municipal services (maintains the roads, provides fire and ambulance and even security (think police) protection. It even pays the mayor's and aldermens (alderwomens?) stipends for the duties they do. I still have to pay for my lodging and water and groceries and whatnot (like out here in Defaultland) but I have paid my dues to be a resident of the city of Black Rock. And compared t my other property taxes, these are CHEAP for what we get!!

My couple cents... thanks for listening!

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Post by philosopher » Tue Oct 18, 2005 12:13 pm

Disconnected? Volunteer or join a camp that feels like your kind of thing and then (a) find a way to contribute interestingly or meaningfully and (b) stay with it long enough.

At a stage in life where solitude is oppressive? Get really serious about bringing someone along. Start planning early. (It took the friend who convinced me to go about 6 months to get the message to sink in that I really could experience Burning Man--and I'd been wanting to go for several years already.)

Two years ago, I had a somewhat disconnected experience and it really took me by surprise. Not that it was terrible or boring, but it just wasn't the synchronistic fireworks display I had come to expect from previous years. What to do? The freedom of Burning Man encourages us to invent hypostatic selves that can relate in new ways. Don't like how it went for this version of you? Try creating a new one. It's what we're here for anyway.

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Post by blyslv » Tue Oct 18, 2005 12:16 pm

Wow, Ross you're on-line persona is much different from your "real life" persona!

And it only took 2 years for you to be a grumpy fart, that's gotta be some sort of record.

You wrote: "I had the thought in my head that when I got to BM it would be my turn to recieve."

Expectations can be dangerous to how any expereince is perceived. They lead you down the path, but they often don't deliver. FWIW, this was my fourth year and it was the best year ever. I almost didn't go, even as we were pulling out the driveway for the 2 day drive I was thinking "what the fuck are we doing? This is stooopid!" So I had low expecations. In many ways I wasn't dissapointed, but it also made me relax and open up and connect with good people. So I don't know. YMMV.

But hey, we're planning a big assed party here in November. The email you sent in answer to mine bounced, so try again, ya big lug!
Fight for the fifth freedom!

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Post by theCryptofishist » Tue Oct 18, 2005 12:22 pm

blyslv wrote:And it only took 2 years for you to be a grumpy fart, that's gotta be some sort of record.
Isn't this where the BigT sez "The Force is Strong in This One"?
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Post by Hotspur » Tue Oct 18, 2005 6:55 pm

RangaRoss,

I am very sympathetic. Certainly my first year I had a great time but couldn't shake the feeling that others were having a better time.

And it is hard to feel like you HAVE to have a good time.

But I think your concerns about how impersonal the event can sometimes feel are part of why villages are so popular. Getting involved in an organized theme camp gives you a "family" on the playa - people who are going to be excited to see you, who will be around to hang out with if you're struggling to find other people to hang out with.

A big part of the improvement in my experience from my first year to my second and my second to my third was my greater and greater involvement with a larger and more organized theme camp.

It's also important to be aware of the subconscious vibes you're sending out. Most burners are friendly, open people ... but not all of them. And even the most friendly, open ones are a little more inclined to steer clear of a guy who's full of negative energy. They're protecting their own burn. It's only human nature.

The only other question I'll ask is if you were in civillian clothes or not. In my experience, dressing "Playa" - whatever that means to you - drastically decreases the odds of somebody being less than perfectly friendly.

And try not to hold it against somebody who's - at the moment - not as into talking to you as you are to her. There are a lot of people on the playa, and if you're open and expansive and friendly, you will find people who want to talk to you!

I'm saddened when anyone decides not to burn again, so obviously I hope you'll reconsider. But don't force it - you have to do what makes you happy, whether in BRC or elsewhere.

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Re: Why I Probably Won't Go Again

Post by HughMungus » Tue Oct 18, 2005 7:15 pm

Just because Burning Man is supposed to be radically inclusive and all that doesn't mean that people will be (especially to a lone, single male). I don't think I would ever go to Burning Man again unless I was either with a girlfriend/wife, doing my own camp (where people come to ME), with someone else's project or camp, or with a group of friends. I had two years where I felt REALLY disconnected and lonely and realized a few years later that it was my own fault because I went alone and wasn't really involved with anything (camps, projects, volunteering, etc.; I met some girls and some cool people, etc., but nothing that really lasted which is all that matters to me).

I think one thing that happens is that since Burning Man is only a week, people who go choose very carefully who they're going to spend that time with. So they already have their friend groups in place and don't want to throw off the balance with an unknown factor (someone who, since they are an unknown, could potentially ruin their night/week). I'm like you -- I think of myself as a nice guy who cares about people. Often that's simply not enough to get others to want to include you (and no one in a pre-existing group wants to be the person who invited the weirdo to hang out). They might let you in their camp to hang out or whatever but you really can't expect much more than that. I don't anymore. Sometimes I get much more, though... And really I don't blame people for that. I picked up a hitchhiker one year and once we got in the gate I got the feeling that he wanted to camp with us and I had to say, "I would love for you to camp with us but we don't know you."

This past year I was at a friend's camp and this guy came in and he unloaded on us (you know: sat down, started talking, told us his life story and his woes without us even asking, etc.). He was having the same problem as you -- had a hard time getting people to talk to him, etc. I said, "You need to get involved." That's probably the best advice I can give. Get involved locally wherever you are. Make friends locally so that when you go out there you're either going with others or you have others to camp with and/or others to go visit and do things with. Either start your own public camp (it can be nothing more than a place for people to cool their heels) or get involved with someone else's camp. Some people even volunteer to help with camps that are based on the other side of the country and kick ass when it's time to work on the camp on the playa. You don't even have to have any skills to be able to help.

Anyway, pardon my ramble. I can really sympathize with you because I've been in your shoes. Best of luck, brother.
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Post by Kinetic IV » Tue Oct 18, 2005 7:36 pm

RagnaRoss...
I agree with every single thing you said. Without exception.
And you're not the only one doing some serious soul searching about the event.
I like some of the ideas being proposed but I find myself going back to the comment about trying to sit with the popular kids at lunch. Online drama excluded not everyone of those 35000 people out there has run into me here. But this year it felt so cliquish....to tell the truth if it wasn't for Das Bus being there for me I'd have packed my stuff and left by Thursday. I was miserable. Yeah I had some fun....and I had on playa dress and knew some people. But I could have been on Mars the way it felt.

When it reaches the point where the drive out and back is truly more pleasurable than the event itself...it's a sign that it's time to make some changes.
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Post by HughMungus » Tue Oct 18, 2005 9:28 pm

Kinetic IV wrote:RagnaRoss...
I agree with every single thing you said. Without exception.
And you're not the only one doing some serious soul searching about the event.
I like some of the ideas being proposed but I find myself going back to the comment about trying to sit with the popular kids at lunch. Online drama excluded not everyone of those 35000 people out there has run into me here. But this year it felt so cliquish....to tell the truth if it wasn't for Das Bus being there for me I'd have packed my stuff and left by Thursday. I was miserable. Yeah I had some fun....and I had on playa dress and knew some people. But I could have been on Mars the way it felt.

When it reaches the point where the drive out and back is truly more pleasurable than the event itself...it's a sign that it's time to make some changes.
Were you alone?

One thing I've realized about having done two public camps now (one at Burning Man and one at a regional) is that if you're doing a public camp and if you are comfortable with people coming in and hanging out, it's REALLY important that you let your visitors know that they are TRULY welcome to hang out. I've been to a few camps where I came in and hung out and I thought, "Am I welcome here or are they just tolerating me?" (Some might read that as insecurity; I like to think of it more as being hyper-considerate and not wanting to wear out my welcome.) So now I know that when people come to MY camp, that I need to make them feel VERY welcome (and, when it's time for them to go -- something I had to deal with at the regional -- let them know it's time to go). One thing that's always kinda bugged me about Burning Man is not knowing which camps are public and which are private. Bars are pretty obviously public but a with a lot of other camps it's hard to tell if I should be poking my head in or not.
It's what you make it.

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Post by Kinetic IV » Tue Oct 18, 2005 10:08 pm

Yes I was alone and you hit on another longstanding concern I've had. I really didn't know for sure what camps were open or closed. And the last thing you want to do is barge in, nobody wants to be an ass. And so unless it's blatantly obvious that the camp is public....or has a public event going on I stay out. And that contributes to some of the negative feelings I keep coming back with. And it's also why I seem to miss out on some of the cool stuff that people talk about. I have fun out there don't get me wrong but I feel like I'm not getting the full experience.
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Chowaa

Post by RagnaRoss » Wed Oct 19, 2005 12:54 am

At the risk of sounding like some idealistic drama queen i had the notion that BRC was a place where you DIDN"T have to come with a group of friends to have a good time. I thought that was a big chunk of what made the thing so special.[/i]
Here we go into the sea of meaninglessness in the persuit of truth.

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Post by HughMungus » Wed Oct 19, 2005 10:03 am

Kinetic IV wrote:Yes I was alone and you hit on another longstanding concern I've had. I really didn't know for sure what camps were open or closed. And the last thing you want to do is barge in, nobody wants to be an ass. And so unless it's blatantly obvious that the camp is public....or has a public event going on I stay out. And that contributes to some of the negative feelings I keep coming back with. And it's also why I seem to miss out on some of the cool stuff that people talk about. I have fun out there don't get me wrong but I feel like I'm not getting the full experience.
Well, when we get closer to the event next year, I'm definitely going to be advocating (and posting about) that very point -- if you want people in your camp, make it obvious because often it's not obvious (especially at night). Hell, we were yelling at passersby to come in to our camp this year. It felt great to make people feel welcome and wanted because I know what it's like to wander around not feeling welcome and wanted. The flipside is that if you're running a camp and you want people to leave, you have to be able to tell people to leave. I think I mentioned earlier that I've had to do that and I don't feel bad about it one bit.

Was there no Costco this year? If I went by myself I'd definitely head over there to get someone to run around with. And aren't there other projects setup to help people find someone to hang out with? I seem to remember hearing about that. Hm. Maybe I should set that up, too...it would be an easy addition...

RagnaRoss, I'm reading a book about Burning Man right now ("This is Burning Man" -- an incredibly well-written narrative). I'm getting the impression that even back "in the day" (pre-1996) people would be radically inclusive but only to a point. It's not like Burning Man has lost something. It's simply hard to get people to include you the way you want them to sometimes (for various reasons). That's human nature.

This past year I was headed from one side of the playa to the other past where the man was. I met a beautiful woman and her boyfriend and they said, "Come with us" so I did. We hung out most of the night, talked, ran around, etc. and clicked immediately, probably because we were about the same age and all in the same state of mind. I was lucky that I wasn't really looking for that (I'd been on my way to see some other friends) but I got it and it was great. So it does happen. But after they went to bed I was still wide awake and wandered around alone and kind of lonely. I didn't want to try to attach myself to anyone else's party because I knew that it's hard for others to take in a stranger. I thought, "Next time I'll be more prepared."

If you go to Burning Man without food or water, you'll most likely not die because you can get it from others. You might not be able to eat at their table every night but people will share what they can spare with you (I know because I've helps others that way). Same with companionship. If you don't bring any companions, you *might* get some while there but you might not. Now I know that if I want companionship while out there *when I want it*, that I really have to bring my own just like I have to bring my own food and water.

Burning Man in '04 mostly sucked for me. It happens. Keep trying. I'll repeat what I said earlier: Get involved. It's what you make it.
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Post by Isotopia » Wed Oct 19, 2005 11:31 am

If you go to Burning Man without food or water, you'll most likely not die because you can get it from others. You might not be able to eat at their table every night but people will share what they can spare with you (I know because I've helps others that way).
That's a naive summary at best and one I'd argue doesn't represent the majority of folks I know at BM. Sure, it's one thing to be asked to sit and break bread with a stranger who is doing a walkabout and quite another thing for the relatively few cluetards to walk into a camp and assume that because they chose to come unprepared that someone else is going to carry their lame ass by feeding them. Unfortunately those numbers don't seem to be going down at all.

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Post by ZaphodBurner » Wed Oct 19, 2005 11:50 am

DallasPlaya wrote:
Kinetic IV wrote:Yes I was alone and you hit on another longstanding concern I've had. I really didn't know for sure what camps were open or closed. And the last thing you want to do is barge in, nobody wants to be an ass....
Well, when we get closer to the event next year, I'm definitely going to be advocating (and posting about) that very point -- if you want people in your camp, make it obvious because often it's not obvious (especially at night).
Two good comments in a row. This was my second burn and I still missed a lot due to my own insecurity about walking into people's camps and introducing myself. For example, I only introduced myself to one of my neighbors; the rest introduced themselves to us for various reasons. I regret that.

Rewatched the Malcolm episode at a Burner friend's the other night and had a strange deja vu watching the older kid meeting the guy in the hat; in 2004 I was marvelling at the StarWheel and wondering if I could ride it, and some random older guy (in a cowboy hat, no less) said "At Burning Man, unless there's something telling you no, the answer is probably yes."

So this year at 3:30 in the morning we wandered into some groovy-looking camp with a unique pyramid structure, illuminated but dark, like maybe an art piece still activated. Actually, it projected images of Judea and other religious symbols down onto the playa.

"Holy shit, we're in a Synagogue!" one of us blurted. "Let's leave these people alone." We apologized quietly in case anybody in their camp had been awakened and crept out as fast as we could.

We left safety lighting on the StarCastle and rolled the bar into an enclosed space when we were closed to the public, getting ready to go out or something, and if we were all leaving camp we just shut everything off.

Otherwise, I recognize an empty chair blocking the camp entrance as the universal Black Rock symbol for "Stay out."

-c
"The Red Baron is smart.. He never spends the whole night dancing and drinking root beer.. "-The WWI Flying Ace

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Post by HughMungus » Wed Oct 19, 2005 12:17 pm

Isotopia wrote:
If you go to Burning Man without food or water, you'll most likely not die because you can get it from others. You might not be able to eat at their table every night but people will share what they can spare with you (I know because I've helps others that way).
That's a naive summary at best and one I'd argue doesn't represent the majority of folks I know at BM. Sure, it's one thing to be asked to sit and break bread with a stranger who is doing a walkabout and quite another thing for the relatively few cluetards to walk into a camp and assume that because they chose to come unprepared that someone else is going to carry their lame ass by feeding them. Unfortunately those numbers don't seem to be going down at all.
It was an analogy and it's apt. No one has ever died of starvation at Burning Man and no one ever will. Yes, there are cluetards. That wasn't my point.
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Post by HughMungus » Wed Oct 19, 2005 12:37 pm

ZaphodBurner wrote:We left safety lighting on the StarCastle and rolled the bar into an enclosed space when we were closed to the public, getting ready to go out or something, and if we were all leaving camp we just shut everything off.
Yeah, one thing I regretted this year was not having more lights at night so that people could see that we were there and open to having people in. That'll be corrected in '06.
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Post by slvrnmph » Wed Oct 19, 2005 1:05 pm

This was my first year at Burning Man, and it started off to problems. One of the people going with us almost couldn't go, due to a possible death in the family, and then we had fights on the drive up due to some people wanting to stop and sleep, and others wanting to push forward. And finally we got through the gate and met the greeters and I was so happy to be there. But as we started looking for a place to camp we kept getting pushed out of open areas because the people were saving it for friends that wouldn't be arriving until later in the week. And while I can understand wanting to camp next to your buds, after everything I had heard about the spirit of Burning Man, it was a huge downer to me. We had a small RV and there's enough space for 15 large RVs, and we can't camp at the edge? It depressed me. And then everyone I'm with is tired and irritable from lack of sleep. So, after camp was setup, and our neighbors delivered us some pizza, helping me get in the burning man spirit, everyone went to sleep, and I went to explore the playa. I wasn't really in Burning Man clothes, and as I am about to head back to camp from biking around, this guy calls me over by shout "what are you doing in the desert, you freak?" He introduced himself as Cadiliac and talked to me about Burning Man. And gave me a bottle of water, because being the foolish person I was I thought since I'd only be out for a little while I didn't need to bring one - I got a big lecture about that. He told me how the first couple of days he was out there he was misirable, because Burning Man was what you make of it, among many other things. He chose to change his outlook, and once he'd decided on that, he was having a great burn. I took that to heart. The first two days I was there, I ahd tons of fun, but I also kept getting pissed off because it took my campmates two hours or more to leave camp, and I didn't want to be at camp. I wanted to be out experiencing things. So after two days, I ran away from camp and did my own things. I came back to change twice a day, and twice I came back to sleep. I found someone in the same mindset at me who's camp was on the other side of the playa and we were inseperable. And I had a much better time then I am sure I would have at camp.

So, to summerize this long story. I could have had a horrible time at Burning Man. I started off by coming across people I didn't think were in the spirit and were downers to my mood. But I chose to do the things that made my Burn great.
( \_/)
(O.o)
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Post by Lassen Forge » Wed Oct 19, 2005 1:20 pm

For a first post to the ePlaya that was awesome! (And BTW, welcome to the insanity... don't worry... it gets worse from here!!)...

I found that when I wasn't having a good time I was trying to follow someone elses expectations of what my burn should be like (given enough time, someone will always tell you, overtly or covertly, how you should be and act and alla that crap!) or someone was shoving their shit (or expectations) on me. When I threw all that stuff away and made the burn my own, it really freaking rocked!

Few things I did pick up last year... Prolly the most important one being GET INVOLVED with a bunch of psychotic insomniac insane fellow burners and throw a camp together... or lacking that, get involved in one, bring your insanity and gear the gig up! But get involved!!! Another being do NOT let someone else tell you how your burn is gonna be or (more importantly) get involved in their drama (people become drama queens out there for some strange reason). Three is if something is going bad, and it's beyond your facility to help, get a Ranger to stick their nose in the middle of it - I gained a whole new huge respect for them Khaki-Klad guys. And four was remember the self reliant part - I put a lot of weight on someone camping with me, and he fell short of my expectations, and had I taken charge of me and did it "my" way from the git I woulda been a lot happier.

All 4 now,
bb

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Post by skygod » Wed Oct 19, 2005 2:10 pm

BM doesnt exist in a vacuum. I think the same things (strategies, attitude, mindset, philosphy, whatever) the same things that make you happy outside, will also make you happy at BM.
I been thinking about this since i was so sad to have to leave BM this year, my second burn. The actual week in the desert is really just the tip of the iceberg. The rest of the iceberg is how it affects my life all year. It's a "I can't see the forest because of all the trees" situation. Bm just gives me the chance to see those things I'm already doing in my life from a different perspective. A HUGELY different perspective.
Next year I'm going to be like Cadillac!
"It will seem difficult in the beginning. But everything seems difficult in the beginning."- Musashi

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Post by HughMungus » Wed Oct 19, 2005 2:18 pm

slvrnmph wrote:So, to summerize this long story. I could have had a horrible time at Burning Man. I started off by coming across people I didn't think were in the spirit and were downers to my mood. But I chose to do the things that made my Burn great.
Great story.

We didn't start looking for a place to camp until Wednesday but after much talking to neighbors and negotiating the details, we found a spot. I'm of the mindset that if someone doesn't want you to camp near them, fine. Their reasons might not even be true or valid but I don't care -- I'm not going to have bad relations with my neighbors at all even if I have to spend hours looking for a good spot.

[off topic]The part about fighting with your campmates made me think. I had great campmates this year but because I was a veteran bringing 4 virgins and since I'd basically planned the whole trip for all of us, I was ultimately "in charge" (for the logistical stuff such as transportation, structure, etc.; once the "work" was done they could do whatever they wanted). Most of our decisions were reached by consensus but when a decision had to be made, they were looking at me (and I think they might have been consciously humoring my control freakiness). I think it's good sometimes to have someone say, "This is how it's going to be." Maybe that's why so many camps divide up the responsibilities somewhat formally (food, cleaning, structure, etc.) so that all the decisions aren't a debate or argument. Next year will be interesting for me because the virgins I brought this past year are already starting to make plans for next year and I *won't* be in charge as much. That'll be interesting...[/off topic]
It's what you make it.

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Post by Eric » Wed Oct 19, 2005 2:40 pm

I agree with Sue- if your Burn isn't living up to what you think it should be- you need to look at what you're expecting out of it.

If you start getting into a "bad space" about what's going on around you, it can really effect your interactions with other people- not by what you say or do, but just by the energy you're putting out. I think almost everyone hits a point like that at BRC- I know I do, and I'm known as a bouncy happy party boy who is rarely cranky. Every year there's been a point where I need to go off by myself to get out of a bad space. Usually only happens once- but I know going into BRC that not everything is going to be perfect. I also realize that when I'm in that space that everything I experience will be colored by it, so it's in my best interest to get out of it as soon as possible. Have low expectations about what will happen, and you'll probably have a blast; have high expectations and you are almost guarenteed to be disappointed.

Example: This year everything at first pointed to a bad burn- our illustrious publisher got hit with a nasty flu on the way up and was at half-power until Weds, when we arrived at 10pm on Monday night our placement looked like Bmorg had stuck us in the Center Camp Industrial Pits (between Recycling & BRC Hardware, across from Bike Repair). There are tents & cars in our assigned site, we don't have the power we were promised for our lap-tops (yes, we have backup) and while we're stumbling around in the dark and wind trying to set up camp without our camp leader, clueless people keep stepping in the middle of the area we're working asking if the paper is out yet or would we like to play a game, and getting bitchy when we tell them to come back on Tuesday when we're functional.
All not good signs.

Guess what- most of us had a great year! Our neighbors all turned out to be fantastic, our location turned out to have nice traffic flow, Adrian got to experience the burn in a new light (sober- how novel!), we all made new friends.

Lesson learned? Go with the flow, let what happens happen. If we had let the stress of the first day color our whole outlook, Piss Clear would have been even snarkier than usual this year. Cranky, even.

How does this effect anyone else? It doesn't. Advice isn't worth the space it fills with type. All I can do is let you know how we got through a bad spot, and let you decide how you want to get through yours. If you feel you need to take a break from the burn, by all means do so. We will welcome you back if and when you're ready.

One other point: just like in the real world, please realize that people who seem to be in a "clique" in one part of BRC are nobodies in another. There are exceptions, but very few people are universally known out there. If you come to Piss Clear's camp and I'm running around playing greeter, I might come off as one of those clique-ish people. You put me on my bike at, say 3:30 and what-ever back street, I'm just as nervous as you about whether-or-not that's a public bar, or if people will talk to me. Welcome to life.

*whew*
Wordy thread.
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Post by ZaphodBurner » Wed Oct 19, 2005 3:17 pm

slvrnmph wrote:The first two days I was there, I ahd tons of fun, but I also kept getting pissed off because it took my campmates two hours or more to leave camp...

...But I chose to do the things that made my Burn great.
LOL! I told our (dozen) virgins that herding burners is like herding cats, and that except for camp duties there's no schedule, and not to expect to wait on anybody or be waited for. I told my friends I wouldn't take it personally if I didn't see them for days on end. No expectations, just take care, have fun and come home amazed.

We hung out for breakfast most days and actually managed to go out as a camp a couple of times, more or less, but that is a testament to the unity of our group more than a realistic expectation for camp behavior.

-c
"The Red Baron is smart.. He never spends the whole night dancing and drinking root beer.. "-The WWI Flying Ace

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Post by The Bass » Wed Oct 19, 2005 3:27 pm

one thing about that feeling of rejection by the cool kids...

it helps if you can explain not only who you are but what you're DOING at BRC -- like, i'm a lamplighter, or i built this weird sculpture, or i spin fire, or i'm volunteering in the medic tent, or i'm doing henna tattoos -- you know, some kind of contribution to the city that you're part of.

breaks all the ice there is, usually.

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yeah, well

Post by RagnaRoss » Wed Oct 19, 2005 4:40 pm

while i know this makes me sound like a total bitch;

if i need to bring my own friends,have shit planned out, if i need to be able to tell people i have some kind of occupation, and be careful not to go in some places because when in doubt i'm not welcome... i can sure as fuck do all that shit without spending $500!
Here we go into the sea of meaninglessness in the persuit of truth.

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Re: yeah, well

Post by Eric » Wed Oct 19, 2005 5:44 pm

RagnaRoss wrote:while i know this makes me sound like a total bitch;

if i need to bring my own friends,have shit planned out, if i need to be able to tell people i have some kind of occupation, and be careful not to go in some places because when in doubt i'm not welcome... i can sure as fuck do all that shit without spending $500!
you got there from New Mexico for $500????

you lucky bastard. :)

You don't have to do anything. Really. Everyone seems to have just been giving you suggestions that might help if you decide to go again. As I said in my post- Advice isn't worth the space it fills with type. That means we can offer you advice until we grow bushy squirrel tails but it's up to you to decide what is or isn't worthwhile for yourself.

While I do come with a camp, that's about as far as my planning goes (other than the basic survival stuff, of course). I make no plans to do anything out there, personally only mention who I'm with on a case-by-case basis (and never for "access"), and go places I want to go.
Do I get nervous at some places? Of course. Does it keep me from exploring? Not a chance. I've met some amazing people just wandering around.

And if you want an easy way to break the ice without having to do much of anything- come to our camp, grab a stack of Piss Clears, go where you want and hand them out. You wouldn't believe the great people you meet doing that- and you don't even have to put up with the loud drunks (like me) who occupy the Piss Clear shade structure.

Again- advice. *shrug*
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