Experiences in Center Camp

Share your pictures and video. Tell us about the sights, sounds, and scents, as well as the rumors and truths found at Burning Man.
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Hoopes
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Experiences in Center Camp

Post by Hoopes » Thu Sep 04, 2003 9:19 pm

Center Camp is usually a very beautiful place, but it was also there that we had our ONLY negative interpersonal encounter EVER at Burning Man. Respect for one's elders is one of the oldest and most universal values on this planet, but on Friday night a guy with close-cropped yellow-and-black hair working the left-hand side of the coffee bar felt compelled to scream at the top of his lungs at a senior female burner who had not heard him when he first spoke to her. She was appalled, as were we. This dude then proceeded to berate my wife when she asked innocently (and on my behalf, because I had only gotten about five hours of sleep in the previous 48 and really wanted to sit down, chill out, and relax before heading to bed) whether there was any decaf. "Decaf!" the guy screamed as if she were mad, "What's the point?". He took obvious delight in attempting to publicly humiliate the woman with whom I've spent the past 25 years (probably longer that he has been alive). Having dissed her he then proceeded to totally ignore her. My wife wrote it off to immaturity. I wanted to do nothing more than punch his lights out, but I took a deep breath and worked on converting my anger into pity and then compassion. I realize that serving coffee in Center Camp is probably not the most rewarding thing one can do at Burning Man and I'm appreciative that someone is there to do it. However, we had trouble enjoying our presence in Center Camp after this incident and spent $0.00 on beverages there this year. I hope the misguided server reads this and learns about his bad karma before it catches up with him.

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diggum
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Post by diggum » Fri Sep 05, 2003 11:01 am

Happily, we also spent $0 in center camp this year, even AFTER discovering our coffee bag had opened up in the cooler and was saturated with ice water.

My wife and I went into Center Camp only once, on our way to try to find some friends camp, and after the most uncomfortable 5 minutes I had the whole week, found them as we were trying to leave. So it was a nice playa moment in that respect, but otherwise I just never have a good time in Center Camp. It's so crowded, no one goes there anymore.

one or two years ago, we sat down for a breather at a table and watched this ridiculous tard in a backwards baseball cap and last years Abercrombie wear asking anyone who sat next to him if they had some ecstacy for him. When told no, he would then move on to food and water requests, as he hadn't brought any, didn't have $$ to buy any before coming out, but wasn't going to let a little thing like complete lack of basic supplies stop him from coming to burning man. makes me sad, but i seriously hoped to find this guy dried up like an apple in a dehydrator somewhere. harsh lesson, but even crows don't like being around dead crows.

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Isotopia
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Post by Isotopia » Fri Sep 05, 2003 11:57 am

Was totally bummed that on my first trip to the coffee (Monday) bar was a worker who asked "What do you have for me?"

He was serious.

I answered "Contempt." I left and didn't return.

Was also bummed that the first pre-playa edition of the Black Rock Gazette suggested that the 'volunteers' be tipped because so many of them were just barely able to get to the playa and needed the tip money to recoup their efforts to get out there. It pretty much put a damper on what for me turned out to be my most depressing, mediocre experience on the playa to date.

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Catblack
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Post by Catblack » Fri Sep 05, 2003 12:33 pm

I didn't spend a single dollar in center camp this year, either. Last year I got serious attitude from someone working there and this year wanted no part of that commercial scene.

(On a related note, one of my worst experiences 2 years ago was when Camp Artica was out of ICE on Saturday afternoon. Instead of telling people, they used bullhorns to line people up and take them in one by one to whisper it in their ears. Imagine waiting 15 minutes in the sun, with no one answering the simple question "do they have any ice left?" On Saturday afternoon when one could be doing a million other things rather then making an ice run. And then to be forced into someone's idea of participation. It was cruel and unusual folks, make no doubt.)

That all said, I do have mad props to the Center Camp music crew, who did an amazing job. And especially to Bass Clef, who I caught on 2 mornings just after dawn this year. Man, your improvisations were a joy to my tired body and wired mind. Wish I'd been more awake or I'd have said hi. (I left you a note but don't expect it got to you... )

And the art this year was nicer then I've seen it in center camp. I even enjoyed the "Ask Quatar' booth.

Also, because it must be mentioned, center camp was very well built this year, or at least that was my perception. Props to the DPW! (One of these years I'll come early and help build it!)

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PJ
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Post by PJ » Fri Sep 05, 2003 12:40 pm

If Center Camp went away, I wouldn't miss it. I have yet to spend a dime there.

Saw some good dancing monkeys in the Cafe once, not that they wouldn't have been just as good anyplace else. Ditto the world's worst puppet show I saw there one year.

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nymphgonebad
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Post by nymphgonebad » Fri Sep 05, 2003 12:43 pm

center camp is chaos i i've learned to avoid it at all costs. i can make my own damn coffe, and if i'm going to tip someone, i'd rather give to the dpw or the greeters. i gifted our greeter with a cold bottle of white wine and on the way out i gave some bud ( the green kind, we were all out of beer ) to the dpw. both seemed grateful and amazed ( are we not gifting these guys enuf? ). if i want attitude, i can go to my local starbucks :evil:


hrh - the princess

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Lydia Love
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Post by Lydia Love » Fri Sep 05, 2003 12:46 pm

I spent maybe 20 min total in the center camp cafe but had one of the most short and intense interactions there that I've ever had at burning man.

I was feeling - oh all sorts of crap on sunday and sitting there trying to sort it all out when i looked up to see a truly lovely young woman very very slowly walking by. Each footstep was slowly and carefully placed like she was feeling particularly delicate and any bump or jostle could break her. It took minutes for her to traverse a few feet.

As she passed me she stopped and looked me directly in the eyes. She slowly bent down until our eyes were level and she stopped and just looked into my eyes. Her eyes were beautiful.

I reached up and brushed the hair from her face, kissed my fingers and touched her forehead. She stood straight again and slowly walked away.

I burst into tears and had to leave quickly because I didn't want to have to try to explain why I was crying.

I hope I gave her what she was looking for.

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Ivy
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Post by Ivy » Fri Sep 05, 2003 12:49 pm

Isotopia wrote:
Was also bummed that the first pre-playa edition of the Black Rock Gazette suggested that the 'volunteers' be tipped because so many of them were just barely able to get to the playa and needed the tip money to recoup their efforts to get out there.
I'm recruiting volunteers (yes, for an actual non-paying position) for next year's tip-liberation squad...

precipitate
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Post by precipitate » Fri Sep 05, 2003 12:53 pm

> I realize that serving coffee in Center Camp is probably not
> the most rewarding thing one can do at Burning Man

Quite the opposite, in fact. Didn't you see munney's post that
s/he got a free ticket plus $100 for "volunteering" in the Cafe? I'd venture
to say it's the most financially lucrative non-job you can get at Burning
Man.

Halo Joe
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Post by Halo Joe » Fri Sep 05, 2003 12:54 pm

Count me in, Ivy. Tips seem a bit antithetical to the whole event. (If someone volunteers at Center Cafe, why do they need monetary tips? Since the drinks are about all that can be purchased legally with cash, shouldn't volunteers just get free coffee? Makes more sense to me...)

Hey, maybe we can schedule some Tip-Liberation Squad practice sessions before next year's burn. (Wait, out here, that'd be theft. Never mind ...)

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Ivy
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Post by Ivy » Fri Sep 05, 2003 1:07 pm

Yeah, baby! This is gonna be awesome. Halo Joe, I'd be honroed to have you as part of the squad.

Please note: this is tip LIBERATION, not theft. My plan is to redistribute the tips. I know there's not real "fair" way to do this (it'd be impossible to track down everyone and return their money). So far, the best plan I've come up with is just to pass out the tips to random people around center camp.

I'm also interested not just in making the statement about redistributiong tips, but also as to what will happen to someone who attempts this...Rangers? LEO? I mean, to me, it's an artisitc political statement. TO the cafe workers, it's likely percieved as theft. I'm really intrigued to see what will happen.

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Niveque Storm
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Center Camp

Post by Niveque Storm » Fri Sep 05, 2003 1:09 pm

This was myself and my wifes first year at burning man. We brought enough coffee for the whole time but found it to be a fun daily social event to go to center camp and grab a cup of joe. The atmosphere at center camp was like no other on earth and we always took a few moments to absorb it before leaving again. Every time we purchased coffee we were treated well and fairly quickley by the staff. I am glad center camp exsists and of course those that aren't can just walk on by easily enough.

No complaints here.

The Storms
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Captain Storm

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debkakes
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"center" camp just not

Post by debkakes » Fri Sep 05, 2003 1:21 pm

it is not a camp. it is not a center, except for commerce and a brand of strangeness i myself prefer to avoid. spent a minimum of time there last year, couple hours maybe, very early in the week (sunday or monday). there was some good quiet music, and comfy places to rest weary bones. we didn't bother with purchasing anything, so no interaction with coffee bar staff (which only afterwards i heard could be unpleasant). went back later in the week, and promptly turned on my heel and left. too crowdy, too rowdy. back to wholly other, me; and my own camp was my center.

didn't even approach this year, except to ride around it on my way elsewhere. Yes, it's so crowded, no one goes there anymore. It apparently provides something for some folks, but if it disappeared, it wouldn't matter to my radar.
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ubu
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Post by ubu » Fri Sep 05, 2003 1:23 pm

it's theft pure and simpe Ivy and you'll probably be ticketed by LEOs or arrested. If people want to tip the cafe staff that is their gesture. if you don't want to tip, then don't.

I see posters here chastising pot smokers for doing illegal shit that harms no one but themselves and doing it in their own tents, then i see these same posters applauding assault, a serious and violent crime. and now you want to steal as an "art project"? that is really rich.

MonkeyBoy did a fabulous job building the cafe this year. I got a couple of cold lemonades in the middle of the daytime and I gladly tipped the cafe staff. why? because I felt like it.

the chai guy who gave out free chai was a riot and was very subversive without being obnoxious, ivy. you might try an art project like that that gives away what people charge for in the cafe. that would be cool. or you could just give away your own money. (you can paypal me right now if you like) but you can't steal and give away other people's money.

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Ivy
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Post by Ivy » Fri Sep 05, 2003 1:34 pm

Robin Hood was a thief, too.

I never said it wasn't theft.

You think pot smoking is right (although it is illegal), so you do it anyway. I feel the same about liberating the cafe tips.

I ahve no problem with anyone who built the cafe. I think they did a fab job. It's a nice place, if too crowded for me. I don't wish to abolish the cafe.
I don't have a problem with VOLUNTARY tipping, either. If you want to tip, cool.
What I have a problem with is VOLUNTEERS working in the cafe SOLICITING tips becuase they RELY upon that INCOME to make their way there/home.

If you enjoyed your lemonade and got great service, awesome. Say "thank you." Give your server a hug. Give 'em a tasty snack or invite them over to your camp for a drink. If money is that importnant to you, perhaps you might give THAT PERSON a small tip, directly to them, if fiat is your cuppa.

But there is absolutely no reason whatsoever that volunteer staff should be hassling people for tip money.

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Isotopia
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Post by Isotopia » Fri Sep 05, 2003 1:42 pm

I'm recruiting volunteers (yes, for an actual non-paying position) for next year's tip-liberation squad...
I said a few times before leaving for the playa that a truly 'Beyond Belief' gesture would have been seeing Larry - The Hatted One(TM) - walk into Center Camp dressed like Jesus and smashing all the tip jars just like JC in the Temple.

That might have made my day.

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III
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Post by III » Fri Sep 05, 2003 1:48 pm

i *love* that idea. but you forgot the jesus christ superstar soundtrack...
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jaywalker
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Post by jaywalker » Fri Sep 05, 2003 2:02 pm

I usually like just wandering through center camp in the middle of the night on the way back home. Usually some cracked out folks, or other folks meandering about.

This year I broke an dbought some coffee. It was the worst coffee I had. I volunteered there before in previous years, and I don't remember it being that bad. I would rather hang back in my camp or around a fire than center camp. Though the orgasmic pinball machine was funny for the 1st couple o minutes.

The folks seemed appreciative for my trading card at the counter, and I guess at 5am they just weren't too up to being smart asses.

The best parts were going with Precipitate one night to meet Zane, and looking at the drum circle kooks keep coming over to his camp, and the BRCPO.

Oops, off to get my hand wrapped finally

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Ivy
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Post by Ivy » Fri Sep 05, 2003 2:09 pm

III wrote:i *love* that idea. but you forgot the jesus christ superstar soundtrack...
Didn't we have this discussion on the "old" e-playa...
Or am I having strange deja vu.

I love JCS. I'ma have to bust out my Mary Magdalene bellydance routine to "Everything's Alright..."











(I mean, if it ain't obnoxious, where's the fun? )

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nameles
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Center Camp trash --- rant rave .....

Post by nameles » Fri Sep 05, 2003 2:35 pm

If BM is 'Leave no Trace', then why would so many ppl. leave there coffee cups laying around. I would spend most of my time in Center Camp picking up the damn things, and do ppl not read the signs 'paper only','glass','cans','trash' for disposing thier trash....

I guess having to paid with green backs means 'leave trash for the money ppl to pick up'

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III
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Post by III » Fri Sep 05, 2003 2:39 pm

money lets you buy a lack of personal responsibility.

it's the real reason ticket prices have gone up so much.
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olivia
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i love center camp and cafe!

Post by olivia » Fri Sep 05, 2003 3:17 pm

i had nothing but good experiences in center camp this year or any other year. i went on average twice a day and bought the coffee that kept me from caffeine withdrawls out there. i suppose i could have purchased, hauled out, and powered an expensive espresso machine to satisfy the hardcore survivalists, but i just did not feel the need.

for me, center camp was a great place to hang out in the heat of the day, ventilated and interesting and filled with good vibes. the people there were excited and friendly, or chill and relaxed. lots of fun things were going on in the circle in the middle. in fact, one of my best moments happened there when a group of hula-hoopers took the space over and spun their stuff to james brown.

the people serving coffee were nothing but friendly and funny. no one asked me for anything except to take a photograph of me or have me take a photograph of them.

i can see no reason why center camp is so evil and bad. i could live without buying coffee from there, buying coffee didn't make me less self-reliant. center camp fills a need, and that is demonstrated by the hundreds or thousands of people that went in and out of there every day.

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Post by Halo Joe » Fri Sep 05, 2003 3:24 pm

Ivy wrote:But there is absolutely no reason whatsoever that volunteer staff should be hassling people for tip money.
That was kinda my point, too. Seeing actual (not "art") tip jars in BRC is like building the Man and not burning it -- seems contary to the whole concept.

(Oh, and I visited Center Cafe three times this year, and I purchased no coffee. Russ and Sam at The Glom had my java fix every day. Danke, gentlemen!)

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Zane5100
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Post by Zane5100 » Fri Sep 05, 2003 3:25 pm

Having a camp with a burn barrel right outside the main Center Camp structure, I can tell you what the commerce and trash pick up means--fuckwits thinking that the burn barrel was another trash can.

Burnable trash wasn't really a problem, but people throwing away things that were not burnable. When confronted, they were usually stunned that they would be called on behavior that they thought was okay.

Some of these confrontations became *colorful*.

Since the org is using the coffee sales for propping up other parts of the infrastructure, getting them to stop selling is like asking a junkie to kill his dealer. It ain't going to happen.

I feel that it is a clear step down the slope of commercialising the event and I wish they would just raise the ticket prices and get rid of the coffee bar.
middle-aged, wannabe-hipster, dilettante

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III
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Post by III » Fri Sep 05, 2003 3:27 pm

>using the coffee sales for propping up other parts of the infrastructure

if you look at the published budget, you'll see that it actually costs them to run the cafe. getting rid of it would improve cashflow.
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chloe_dancer
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Post by chloe_dancer » Fri Sep 05, 2003 3:28 pm

but chai tea is sooo good. maybe there should be a rule that u have to have your own real mug or cup (not glass though) that cuts down on the trash
i feel there is an angel in me whom i am constantly shocking

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Ivy
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Post by Ivy » Fri Sep 05, 2003 3:28 pm

>Since the org is using the coffee sales for propping up other parts of the infrastructure,

According the the article in the gate edition of the BRG, the cafe operates at a loss.
Dunno where the author got that info, though.

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Zane5100
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Post by Zane5100 » Fri Sep 05, 2003 3:28 pm

III wrote:>using the coffee sales for propping up other parts of the infrastructure

if you look at the published budget, you'll see that it actually costs them to run the cafe. getting rid of it would improve cashflow.
ahhhhh... I'm such a fuckwit.

All the more reason to get rid of it.
middle-aged, wannabe-hipster, dilettante

Halo Joe
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Post by Halo Joe » Fri Sep 05, 2003 3:32 pm

OK, that settles it. Next year, Center Camp can stay for the sake of community shade, centralized crash space and freak-ogling on those late-night stumbles home. But we ax the cafe, and everyone can just come by my place for coffee, chai, hot chocolate and lemonade. Agreed?

Oh, and I'll set a tip jar out front so Ivy can have something to liberate/steal.

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Catblack
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Post by Catblack » Fri Sep 05, 2003 3:47 pm

Lydia Love wrote:I was feeling - oh all sorts of crap on sunday and sitting there trying to sort it all out when i looked up to see a truly lovely young woman very very slowly walking by. Each footstep was slowly and carefully placed like she was feeling particularly delicate and any bump or jostle could break her. It took minutes for her to traverse a few feet.
I reached up and brushed the hair from her face, kissed my fingers and touched her forehead. She stood straight again and slowly walked away.
I had a similar experience 2 years ago in center camp, on sunday afternoon. I was leaving it, and saw a dancer, topless and made up like a china doll. She moved only a couple of feet per minute, and over the course of an hour, she crossed through centercamp. She had a 40' length of rope across her torso that she was trailing. She would collapse to the ground every now and then, and slowly rise, dancing that slow, languid way. She was white from the Playa. Made me cry, too.

You try to explain something like this to someone and they just stare at you. It went beyond beauty, beyond a dance. You could see it in how people stopped and made way for her.

I'm not saying we saw the same woman, only a similar experience. Thanks for sharing yours.

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