Was I wrong about BM? Newbie struggles w/ disappointment

Share your pictures and video. Tell us about the sights, sounds, and scents, as well as the rumors and truths found at Burning Man.
User avatar
paillette
Posts: 17
Joined: Mon Aug 16, 2004 4:38 pm

Was I wrong about BM? Newbie struggles w/ disappointment

Post by paillette » Fri Sep 10, 2004 10:07 am

Perhaps someone out there can help me. I was one of the "newbies" out there this year, and I was disappointed in BM. I very much wanted to love BM... in fact I still do, which is why I am turning to all of you for help. Please, please help me believe that BM can be what I thought it was.

I can hear you all thinking: "Oh, she's a newbie, she was unprepared, a yahoo, an idiot who only wanted to take, take, take and not give in return." This is a recurring theme on e-playa, is it not? Well, I know that many of you will never be convinced that anyone new ought to be allowed into BM, but for the record, I was reasonably well prepared (could've used better goggles & shade structure), picked up my own and others' moop, didn't throw gross stuff into the potties, stayed from Monday through Sunday rather than just coming for the burn, read the survival guide and a lot of e-playa Q & A before coming, brought individual gifts plus more general stuff like bottles for the bars, and so forth. As a first-timer, I didn't participate in any major theme camp gifting endeavors, it's true, but neither did I approach the experience as a tourist.

I was awestruck at the temple, loved the art cars, and appreciated the vast time and effort that went into many of the gifts people provided on the playa --- from the two guys with the fish taco stand, to the great music at the Golden Cafe, to some of the wonderful spaces like Winking Lotus.

My disappointment with the event stems from my completely-dashed expectations about the social atmosphere. There were some warning signs: people on eplaya who frequently express the desire to "beat others senseless" for any perceived transgression; the hostility on one thread toward an individual of limited means (the tone of that discussion reminded me of Ronald Reagan on "welfare queens.") But I chose to focus on themes of inclusivity, generosity, acceptance. In short: I expected an atmosphere that embodied a radical rethinking of the social, commercial, artistic, and sexual predicates of modern US society.

Yet I found much of the atmosphere to be socially retrograde, particularly as regards gender and sexuality. I thought this place was about unleashing creative fantasies, but most of the fantasies I saw were rather banal and mainstream. What's sexy in NYC & LA? The answer is very narrowly defined: a young woman shaped like Jessica Rabbit wearing a negligee, fishnets, and high heels. What's sexy on the playa? The exact same thing!

But what REALLY disappointed me --- here's the key point --- is the degree to which this single-minded singles-bar mentality on the playa overwhelmed most other possible social interactions. I am not sexually available, and because of this I experienced a lot of brush-offs from people who apparently felt that the only social transaction worth their time was one that had the potential to end in getting laid. Thoughtful conversation, generous smiles, genuine curiosity about other people... these things were woefully absent. Instead it all seemed to come down to: Is this person fuckable or not?

Please, help me to see the "other" Burning Man I expected.

jlpc4004
Posts: 36
Joined: Sun Mar 28, 2004 6:53 pm
Location: cali

Post by jlpc4004 » Fri Sep 10, 2004 10:24 am

Instead it all seemed to come down to: Is this person fuckable or not?

You are pretty much correct in your observations of this year's event. But you also forgot the pursuit, obtaining of and inducing of the ever popular "e". This was my 3rd year, of course my first was best. A friend of mine went this year as his 1st time and he said he would not be back. I'll be skipping next year or until I hear that it will be more geared to the art and community thing and less of the rave thing. I DO love a good party, but I also wish to leave inspired till next year as I did the last 2 previous years...didnt feel that this year. :(

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

Post by theCryptofishist » Fri Sep 10, 2004 10:29 am

Dang--I've never really had any problems with the singlesbar set. I don't think I've ever been to a bar on the playa, either.

Were you camping alone? I probably hang out at my camp too much, but it is a place for a different sort of conversation--good ole shootin' the breeze. At least try and find a couple of buddies to do BRC with, then not looking "uncoupled" you might not be perceived that way, and be subject to that sort of energy. Maybe try exploring in the day and hit the craft camps. Do the yogas and dream groups. Sure, cruising goes on their too, but not only cruising.

YMMV

User avatar
Lydia Love
Posts: 1567
Joined: Mon Sep 01, 2003 8:01 pm
Location: Seattle

Post by Lydia Love » Fri Sep 10, 2004 10:31 am

I'd bet anything you've seen the warnings on the eplaya to throw out your expectations.

And as far as sexy on the playa goes, maybe you didn't see me go gaga over the big guy in a bunny suit, or the pleasingly plump chick dressed all in dryer hose... but maybe your expectations got in the way of you seeing that other vibe.

It's true that social interaction on the playa often gets boiled down to a pretty shallow level. I had a lot of those interactions too and the pervasive lonliness that accompanies all that. But for every 10 people I only interacted with on that shallow plain there was one lovely lovely deep conversation.

So, despite what you saw on the eplaya you expected there to be no negativity on the playa, and despite hearing the meme "form no expectations" you did. And you ask for help with one side of your mouth while being somewhat insulting with the other.

What can I say here? The stuff you were looking for was there, I'd bet anything, cause I find all that stuff every year. But you have to not look for it where you'd expect to find it. You have to let it come to you, *be what you want to attract* at all times. Have an open heart and not carry around the expectation you'll be spat upon and if someone spits ignore that fucker. You have to understand that the people on the playa aren't really different than the people in the rest of the world. They have bad days, are occaisionally cranky muthahfuckers *AND* this year there were record numbers of people who were there for the first time who weren't necesarily looking for the social interactions you were.

Really darlin, expect nothing and you get the world.
It's all about the squirrels.

Bill Boyd
Posts: 1
Joined: Thu Sep 09, 2004 8:59 am
Location: Oakland, CA
Contact:

Post by Bill Boyd » Fri Sep 10, 2004 10:38 am

I am saddened to hear about what appears to be the erosion of the very things that made Burning Man worth attending. I have not attended since 2000 and it may be that you just missed out. This year sounds like it was uncharacteristically bad from the many posts on ePlaya. There was certainly a strong community feeling and magic in the air in the BRCs of the late 90's. Sure, there were spectators then too, but it sounds like things have changed a lot.

Everything you have heard is true, but it is based on past years and it doesn't sound like it applied this year. I'm sorry you were disappointed. Let's hope that things are different in 2005 and beyond.

User avatar
Ugly Dougly
Posts: 17175
Joined: Wed Sep 10, 2003 9:31 am
Burning Since: 1996
Location: เชียงใหม่

Post by Ugly Dougly » Fri Sep 10, 2004 10:41 am

Takes more than hot weather to transform society. :roll:

User avatar
paillette
Posts: 17
Joined: Mon Aug 16, 2004 4:38 pm

Post by paillette » Fri Sep 10, 2004 11:03 am

Lydia, I really appreciated your Q & A column on eplaya, and I thank you for your thoughtful post. But in response, I have to ask, is it possible to plan a trip like this without any expectations? Why would anyone spend several weeks planning to drive hundreds of miles to camp in an extremely desolate place just for the hell of it? I think I'm as open to the unforeseen as anyone, but surely no one expends the considerable effort it takes to attend BM without expectations.

User avatar
Princess Dammitt
Posts: 12
Joined: Thu Jul 15, 2004 9:09 pm
Location: San Francisco

Post by Princess Dammitt » Fri Sep 10, 2004 11:08 am

My first Burn was in 2000 and I couldn't make it back again until this year. I felt that in 2000 it was definately more geared towards art and social interaction then than it was this year, but I am not going to let that deter me from attending again next year. It actually has inspired me to find ways to interact with the community more. (First step, do not severely twist ankle on the first day and render me immobile for most of the week.)
I kind of view attending the first year as a test run of what Burningman is about. Yes, you should interact, but this is an opportunity for you to gather ideas for what you would like to contribute for next year.
putty, monkey, zamboni, weasels.....check!

User avatar
Ivy
Posts: 979
Joined: Tue Sep 02, 2003 8:20 pm
Location: Long Beach, CA
Contact:

Post by Ivy » Fri Sep 10, 2004 11:13 am

Re: expectations

I can totally understand you POV. However, i read somewhere else (maybe on tribe, i think?) to have "goals" not "expectations." I wish i could find it again; the way he worded it was great.

Anyway, it's not goals for the "event," either: it's goals for yourself. Do you want to met more people? Walk around naked for the first time? Build something artistic? Just as with goals in the default world, the first goals we make for ourselves are not to build the empire State Building or climb Mt. Everest: we have to start somewhere, like building a scale skyscraper model or climbing a rock wall.

So many people, every year, I have heard come back saying "Everyone says BM is some huge life-changing experience." And I don't disagree with that statement. what i disagree with is people's notions of "huge" and people's expectation (drat, there;s that word again) that a life-changing experience is always positive.
If BM did nothing for for you, or anyone, thean tell them they don't like it and don't want to return, then that's life-changing, isn't it? Didn't you learn something about yourself?
I understand how there might be so much pressure to "expect" certain things about the event: the challenge in each one of us, the newbies and the vets, is to set that aside, every time, year after year, even day to day, on the playa, while we're there.


IMHO.

Rian Jackson
Posts: 3903
Joined: Fri Sep 19, 2003 4:30 pm
Location: In Rob's Head

Post by Rian Jackson » Fri Sep 10, 2004 11:30 am

Lydia Love wrote: And as far as sexy on the playa goes, maybe you didn't see me go gaga over the big guy in a bunny suit.
quit crushing my husband.

ok, so seriously, i have to say that this year was the opposite for me - amazing, meaningful friendships, not a lot of people prowling me for sex (or if so they weren't so obnoxious that most couldn't be ignored.) I think it's cause i hung out with my local family, in the Ghetto. The caliber of my interactions - most of them within Seattle groups or eplayans - was through the fuckin roof.

Who did you go with? Where did you camp? What were your behavioural patterns?

At the end of the day, the people who were the most 'beautiful' looked different - my new ranger friend who has several decades on me and an impish smile, my camp mate throwing words into my soul that made me cry for hours, our 13 year old camp mate as he ran a greeter shift in the middle of the night, my new dancing buddy who i have no plans of fucking... i could go on. somehow i don't think that i'm alone in this, that those who have integrity are the beautiful ones, the ones i want to take into my presence and become engrossed in. Learn to see through the bullshit. Learn to see who and what you want. Make your own decisions.
surlier than thou

User avatar
mars
Posts: 556
Joined: Mon Oct 06, 2003 3:51 pm
Location: Santa Cruz, CA

Were you wrong? Yes and no.

Post by mars » Fri Sep 10, 2004 12:12 pm

Having been to hundreds of Grateful Dead shows, I have to say that every show, like every burn, is different and is different for each individual. Some people think these things rise, peak and fall and are sad because they think Burning Man is falling. My experience says that next year could easily be another rise, a peak or a falling, all depending both on group and individual factors. I'm game to go again and find out.

I didn't have your experience regarding the meat market stuff, only one interaction in hundreds was like that for me. It seems to me that each year we experience but a sliver of the Burning Man pie. Sounds like you got a sour piece. But there are literally thousands of other slices existing there and it might be useful to wonder curiously about why you got that particular slice.

I can't wait to go back and experience another slice. I found myself more bold this year. My goal was to participate more and I did that by stopping into more camps and putting myself out to meet more random people, bringing more of my creativity into my own camp and costumes, and participating in more of the activities offered by my fellow burners, including the camps in the outlying areas that don't get as much foot traffic. I also took new burners under my wing and got them to push their own limits out by going to camps they wouldn't have gone to on their own.

Each year I get less afraid, and ready to let go of more fear. I hope to be ready to have my breasts painted next year and ride in the Critical Tits ride. That would be a real stretch for me, and, I'm sure, life-changing, as i haven't been able to get myself to do that yet. So even if there are less art cars or more meat shoppers, less participators and more negativity, I know that BM will be a meaningful experience for me--and that's just one example.

I appreciate your questions and ponderings.

Hotspur
Posts: 67
Joined: Tue Sep 02, 2003 6:40 pm

Post by Hotspur » Fri Sep 10, 2004 12:25 pm

It's important to remember that, at BM, your social interaction is what you make it.

Particularly if you arrive early in the week, it's very easy to find interesting, loving communities on the playa that don't feel exploitative or sexually retrograde.

But if you arrive later in the week, and/or don't make an effort to actually meet people, then, yeah, you'll definitely feel like a lot of the event is creepy guys taking unwanted pictures of hot girls. That vibe does come to dominate some of the public spaces, unfortunately.

The thing is, however, that YOU have the power to change this. YOU can not be a spectator! YOU can make the effort to get involved with the people you meet.

Yes, this gets harder as the week goes on, no question. It also helps to be part of a larger camp and/or a villiage, which facilitates more interaction among a medium-sized group (I think, in fact, this is part of why villiages started happening).

Maybe some time in the mythic past this wasn't an issue (although I don't really believe it, not from what my friends who were going in the early 90s were saying at the time) but the important thing is to not get fixated on what other people are doing, and rather to figure out what you can do to get the Burning Man experience you want & deserve.

User avatar
paillette
Posts: 17
Joined: Mon Aug 16, 2004 4:38 pm

Post by paillette » Fri Sep 10, 2004 2:10 pm

Thank you all for your generosity in helping me think through some of these things. I'm still trying to make sense of BM and your comments are helping me.

To Ivy, who suggested that BM can be life-changing in small ways: One thing I certainly think was great about BM is that I'm still turning it over in my mind so much. Good or bad, if something makes me think then I usually am in favor of it. Intellectual stimulation is my drug of choice.

To Hotspur, Mars, Lydia, and Cryptofishist, who suggested that the experience is what I make of it, and that the people I meet are a function of the vibe I put out: you are right, of course. For example, I was aware that my attitudes and body language became more negative by the end of the week, but that was a response to some of the experiences I had been having. The more times I met someone only interested in fuckability, the more alienated I felt AND the more forbidding I looked... and the less chance I had of turning things around.

And although I initiated this thread in order to try to purge some of my negative feelings about BM, there were things I loved: the jazz tent, carcass wash, my camp neighbors, the little red "chasing" lights buried in the playa.... I don't want to leave the impression that I had no positive moments.

User avatar
Lydia Love
Posts: 1567
Joined: Mon Sep 01, 2003 8:01 pm
Location: Seattle

Post by Lydia Love » Fri Sep 10, 2004 2:24 pm

But in response, I have to ask, is it possible to plan a trip like this without any expectations? Why would anyone spend several weeks planning to drive hundreds of miles to camp in an extremely desolate place just for the hell of it?
Yup, that's the stumper, ain't it? I swear it just takes practice.

My first year I had NO CLUE what I was getting myself into. I read the survival guide, listened to some stories and just didn't get it ("how bad could a little dust and heat be?") I had major surgery mere weeks before. I was as about a lost little kitten out there that you can imagine. I didn't know what to expect, so I didn't. I just got my ass out there.

Changed my fucken life.

Second year I had all kinds of expectations. I expected the heat... coldest year I've seen in 7 and I didn't pack a coat (dumbass! dumbass!) Friendships fell completely apart. Caravaning with friends was *not* the fun I expected it to be. I discovered that I cannot, in fact, sleep in a hammock at night. A friend went CRAAAZY. And worst of all, that big cathartic, bursting at the seams life changing sensation was never delivered unto me. Despite all that I had relationships strengthened by adversity, I fell in love, totally in love with the artistic spirit. I couldn't not return the next year. I became enamoured with fire.

Year after year whatever I expected has been completely dashed on the rocks of the harsh reality of playa life. Wanna know the ONE thing my lovely little desert structure could be completely fuckered by? Dust storms. It stood up to the wind just fine but the dust made it completely uninhabitable... I expected to have a very emotional temple burn. Nope. I had all those emotions well up and near kill me while having breakfast every fucking morning at camp.

Every year I manage to more and more abandon the very idea of expectatoins. The only one that has served me well is to expect that I will be tested in some way by the environment or by relationships... maybe even just by the porta potties. I'll be tested and we'll just have to see if some year I don't hold up under it.

I've learned, instead, to replace those expectations with a small pocket full of hopes - which are very different from expectations. I hoped to get some time with friends... every moment with them was a blessing. I'd hoped the weather would be kind to my little hut... um... *mostly* it did fine. I had hoped to heal some part of my heart. I had some expectations of how that might come about, mind you, and was totally, idiotically wrong. But the hope was fulfilled in some small way that I can't even put my finger on yet.

Every year I've come back knowing that I had, in fact, needed to be there. The time may be coming when the event itself doesn't have anything more for me to learn (betcha the regionals will though...). But I'm different in a way that I ultimately consider good and I can track those changes back through the years I've gone. It's had fuckall to do with what I ever expected, though.
It's all about the squirrels.

Layne
Posts: 51
Joined: Tue Sep 02, 2003 12:11 pm
Contact:

Post by Layne » Fri Sep 10, 2004 3:03 pm

that I ultimately consider good and I can track those changes back through the years I've gone. It's had fuckall to do with what I ever expected
spot fuckin' on - I'm the king of over expectations and it's kicked me hard.

I like the idea of taking a lot of little hopes - positivity stretches forward, whilst negativity pulls you AND everyone around you backward.
Distrikt DJ
Camp Houligan

User avatar
Hoodie
Posts: 6
Joined: Wed Sep 03, 2003 9:39 am
Location: San Francisco
Contact:

Post by Hoodie » Fri Sep 10, 2004 3:16 pm

Sorry to hear your burn wasn't a knock-you-off-your-feet experience.
Burning Man can be hard like that sometimes.

I think it's an absolutely magical place, but where does that magic come from? It comes from a lot of different people with different thoughts who are going on different trips.

The thing I re-realized last year (when I wasn't having the greatest time in the world) is how *big* Burning Man is. And how you could never really explore every part of the city, much less every moment of every part in the city. There is so much going on, so many people to interact with, so many ways to participate, that anytime something isn't magical enough to *make* me want to stay, I know I should go. Because more likely than not, there is a better place for me at that point in time somewhere else in BRC.

One of my best memories is getting dehydrated my first year. I was tripping, and the last place I wanted to be was the medic tent. But the people we met there and conversations we had were absolute highlights of the trip. Who the hell wants to hang out in the medic tent?

And all that time, there was so much else going on. And I would have had a great time doing many of those other things. And I would have had a crappy time if I subjected myself to many of the others.

A lot of people have given good reasons why this burn was crappy, but it ws the best of my 4 burns because the thread of experiences I followed through my time at Burning Man was great for me this year. I'm sure I'll hit crappy times as well. But it's worth it for me to keep trying.

cheers,
Hoodie

User avatar
_tears_
Posts: 381
Joined: Tue Sep 02, 2003 1:17 pm
Location: Fairfield Ca
Contact:

Post by _tears_ » Fri Sep 10, 2004 3:19 pm

I have been reading and also speaking with many people about the 2004 Burn. There are many dissappointments and negative experiances. FAR more than in 2003.

2003 was my first burn and surely out of the two, the best, even for me 2004 was an odd burn, I do not want to use the term "bad" it was just.. odd

I believe i will be taking this year (2005) off from Burning Man and exploring something new. There is a 3 day event in London called The Big Chill i may attend, or maybe I will go to Burning Flipside in Texas, just something different from Burning man.

There are a million events all over the world, and while I love Burning Man, and while i do want to go back, I also dont want to miss out on the other things out there.

Depending on what I hear about the event in 2005, I may return in 2006

(although who knows, the 2005 burn is a LONG way away, maybe i will end up breaking down and attending the event due to my longing and love for the open playa)
[size=84][color=red]
Tears 2003, 2004
[/color][/size]
[size=100][color=darkred]
The Ties That Bind Me Hold My Soul
[/color][/size]

MissNev
Posts: 284
Joined: Wed Sep 03, 2003 10:58 am
Location: Sparks, NV

Post by MissNev » Fri Sep 10, 2004 3:31 pm

I've been reading so many posts regarding negative experiences this year. This was my 8th year, and I had an amazingly wonderful time. I am convinced now more than ever that our camp, and my campmates, are the best. In a way, I'm glad that people have difficult times and choose not to return (I wish the event were smaller). On the other hand, I want others to see this event as I do. For those of you that are left with a bad feeling but are still willing to give it a chance, please find your way over to our camp next year. We have never had anyone visit us and have anything but good things to say. Seriously, sometimes it only takes a very positive experience to make the entire experience positive.

User avatar
_tears_
Posts: 381
Joined: Tue Sep 02, 2003 1:17 pm
Location: Fairfield Ca
Contact:

Post by _tears_ » Fri Sep 10, 2004 3:37 pm

MissNev wrote:I've been reading so many posts regarding negative experiences this year. This was my 8th year, and I had an amazingly wonderful time. I am convinced now more than ever that our camp, and my campmates, are the best. In a way, I'm glad that people have difficult times and choose not to return (I wish the event were smaller). On the other hand, I want others to see this event as I do. For those of you that are left with a bad feeling but are still willing to give it a chance, please find your way over to our camp next year. We have never had anyone visit us and have anything but good things to say. Seriously, sometimes it only takes a very positive experience to make the entire experience positive.
I totally understand and agree with what you are saying, but on the other hand...

It is not that i didnt have a good time, or that I didnt love my camp/campmates, it is more along the lines of feelings a strange vibe, viewing less art, which is why I attend. I may not be an "artist" in the eyes of most, but my art is my dance, and it went unnoticed this year, as did MANY other art (what little art there was for that matter).

Some of us ( not all of us but some of us ) feel it is just losing its touch, that it is over populated and too political. For many, it is not that we didnt have a good time, its just changed and many people do not like the "new" change.

I am the first to admit that everything in life changes, and I am also one of the first to admit i typically flow with change, however, this may or may not be what I am looking for. While in 2003 I felt a slight lack of art and more party party, it was FAR more profound in 2004.

Believe me, I had a wonderful time over all, I met so many wonderful people, I took a few eye opening class's, It was great, but the over all FEEL of the event was off, it didnt settle right....

As I said, I may or may not take next year off, it is so far away, I am undecided. I may go to Burning Flipside, or maybe to London to The Big Chill, there are a million things in the world i want to explore *shrugs* who knows what will happen.

Many Blessings to all

Much Playa Love & Hugs,
Tears
[size=84][color=red]
Tears 2003, 2004
[/color][/size]
[size=100][color=darkred]
The Ties That Bind Me Hold My Soul
[/color][/size]

User avatar
Hoodie
Posts: 6
Joined: Wed Sep 03, 2003 9:39 am
Location: San Francisco
Contact:

Post by Hoodie » Fri Sep 10, 2004 3:46 pm

Miss Nev is so right about one awesome experience completely making a Burn. Last year the awesome vibe at Jazz camp helped to really turn around what felt like a crappy burn into a really good experience. That's part of the reason I'm really trying to rally my peeps into making a great theme camp next year (we've always done smaller camps).

It only takes a few groups of people to make a few more cool pieces of art and make a few more cool places to hang. If enough people react to what they percieve as weaknesses of the event, next year will be more kick ass than ever. BM hasn't changed *that* much in a year -- the foundation of awesomeness is there and hopefully we can all tap into that.

User avatar
_tears_
Posts: 381
Joined: Tue Sep 02, 2003 1:17 pm
Location: Fairfield Ca
Contact:

Post by _tears_ » Fri Sep 10, 2004 3:52 pm

Hoodie wrote: BM hasn't changed *that* much in a year -- the foundation of awesomeness is there and hopefully we can all tap into that.
As *I* preceive it this has not been over the course of just one year, it has been long comming, however it is simply more profound and noticed by a larger group this year.
[size=84][color=red]
Tears 2003, 2004
[/color][/size]
[size=100][color=darkred]
The Ties That Bind Me Hold My Soul
[/color][/size]

User avatar
Hoodie
Posts: 6
Joined: Wed Sep 03, 2003 9:39 am
Location: San Francisco
Contact:

Post by Hoodie » Fri Sep 10, 2004 4:02 pm

then hopefully this will be the year we all "needed" to snap out of it. in any case, I had a great year and am looking forward to a better year next year; new problems will inevitably arise, or smaller ones will get bigger, but I'd like to think the community is proactive enough to address the percieved bigger problems creatively.

User avatar
YerNotDaBossOMe
Posts: 51
Joined: Wed Aug 18, 2004 1:04 pm
Location: North Hollywood, CA
Contact:

Post by YerNotDaBossOMe » Fri Sep 10, 2004 4:07 pm

I must say that I expected the citizens of BRC to be friendlier. Don't get me wrong, I met a lot of friendly people. But I also met many who were decidedly unfriendly. The later really surprised me. I'm pretty outgoing, and I was all over the playa. I just expected folks to be...nice. I expected the shared experience to create much more of a sense of community. But it never felt like community to me - just a bunch of people in one spot.

I realize that it's a city of 35,000 with a variety of personalities. And I tried to heed the advice of not having expectations. But I guess I did expect folks to be nicer in general. There were many times when I found BRC to be a lonely place. I'm sure part of it was my situation. I camped with folks I had not met before Burning Man, so I didn't really know anybody very well. And I spent so much time checking everything out that I was not in one place very long. Next time I will be sure to bring at least one close friend and slow my roll a bit.

My vote for the friendliest camp would go to Costco Soulmate Exchange. Those guys were great allways.
There...I said it and I'm glad!

Splashy
Posts: 2
Joined: Fri Sep 10, 2004 8:12 am
Location: Federal Way, WA

Post by Splashy » Fri Sep 10, 2004 4:15 pm

As a first-timer I too was a little taken aback by what I perceived as not so much unfriendliness as coolness and an unapproachable kind of demeanor to some folk. However, maybe that's just my own insecurity speaking...maybe if I had made more of an effort to reach out to these people instead of fearing rejection and shyly waiting for them to extend a hand to me, I would have been richly rewarded with a new interpersonal connection.

I was also blown away by the connections and contacts I DID make in spite of my wallflower ways, and with the incredible, beautiful moments created by other human beings that I will carry with me and cherish always always always.

User avatar
bartolah
Posts: 20
Joined: Tue Sep 07, 2004 10:55 am
Burning Since: 2004
Camp Name: Disco Snowman Inferno
Location: Oakland
Contact:

An Idea...

Post by bartolah » Fri Sep 10, 2004 4:40 pm

So, this issue about how to deal with so many newcomers and how to keep the "spirit" of burning man alive clearly touches a nerve... So...an idea...

This was my first Burn and I went with a camp of other newbies w/o any old-timers among us. So it was up to us to "get it," to find a way to participate. We had scoured the forums beforehand, spoken to friends, and did a bunch of research, but what would have really helped is a docent or guide.

On one hand, you'd think - we don't need that. This is an open community - everyone's a guide. Go meet your neighbor or your friend walking down the street - say hey, ask for help, whatever...

But to someone who's new, even if they've read that this is "ok," coming from the real world it's a damn daunting task to approach a stranger, to begin to interact, to know that that's ok, that that's the spirit...

For all of the wisdom behind Burning Man, it's fascinating to me that no one has coordinated volunteers to do the one thing it seems to so desperatly need - help orient the newbies, help them understand what it's all about. I mean hell, I'd love to do this next year.

Some good and bad ways this could be done:
- Imagine having the greeters at the gate hand out a special packet for newbies that includes a sticker or something that they wear that says "I'm new" - ok this might scare them...
- the packet could include a map of special "newbie" posts where you should first go when you get there
- the schedule could include daily newbie orientations - highly recommended fun and interesting ways to get down home fast.
- roaming volunteers - with some common symbol, like the Rangers only less formal, who greet newcomers and show them around or are walking around and have this obvious visual cue which newcomers will know to go up to...

The point is that it's hard for people to get it on their own and until we, those who have been, take the effort to help them participate it's just going to, well, suck. We wouldn't be able to solve all of the discontent and convert all of the onlookers, but dammit we can make a dent!

(an idea for a theme camp?)

Thoughts?
...third star to the right, and straight on till the man burns...

M-Files
Posts: 81
Joined: Fri Sep 10, 2004 7:36 am

Expect the unexpected

Post by M-Files » Fri Sep 10, 2004 5:06 pm

There is something that I wish somebody had told me before my virgin burn, and it is this: 90% of playa folk are just like you, i.e. they want to have fun and help you enjoy your playa experience.

But ONLY 90% - and even that number is being generous.

The other 10% are people that you do not ever want to meet. They are not there for anybody's benefit or enjoyment other than their own and will make your burn miserable if you let them.

Unfortunately, you simply cannot cut Burning Man out of the real world. That 90-10 split will be there in some form in any sizable group.

Playa virgins have a certain "lost in awe" look about them - and that 10% creep population is very good at picking up on that.

So what can you do about it? Well, you know about it now, so you'll be better prepared for next year.

Expectations? Absolutely - expectations are essential and you must have them. The key is - you must have expectations of bad as well as of good, and Burning Man is absolutely no exception.

Understand that for some people, Burning Man is all about getting laid. That may not make them your type of burners, but it doesn't necessarily make them bad burners. You need to accept their expectations as much as you expect them to accept your expectations..

File under "Lessons Learned" and start planning for BM 05!

M-Files

User avatar
paillette
Posts: 17
Joined: Mon Aug 16, 2004 4:38 pm

Post by paillette » Fri Sep 10, 2004 5:41 pm

M-files: I'm totally cool with people looking to get laid -- part of my expectations was to meet many such people, in fact. What I'm not cool with, and what I didn't expect, was the large number of people who ONLY want to get laid, who regard all non-fuckables as a waste of their precious time. I went as 1/2 of a couple, and that basically made me part of the wallpaper for a lot of people.

In short, my problem is not that I wanted to avoid these folks, but in fact that I wanted to interact with lots of different people. I understood this to be part of the ethos of BM: be friendly, exchange with others, get to know someone coming from a totally different place/background, with diverse skills/insights... but like Splashy and YerNotdaBossOMe, I encountered way more coolness than I was prepared for. I chalked it up to the nonfuckable factor, but it could be something else...

Bartolah may be right that some sort of newby guidance would be helpful. In a sort of wierd way, that's one reason I started this thread. I think if I had read something like this before I went, I might have been more prepared for the 90/10 proportion you speak of --- though I would say that 90 is generous.

M-Files
Posts: 81
Joined: Fri Sep 10, 2004 7:36 am

singles and couples meets virgins and creeps

Post by M-Files » Fri Sep 10, 2004 6:05 pm

If you went as 1/2 of a couple, then count yourself as extremely fortunate. I went to my virgin burn as a single female and I've continued as a veteran burner as a single female.

If you felt rejected because you were unfuckable as 1/2 of a couple, then try to imagine facing what you did but without being able to fall back upon being 1/2 of a couple.

Being a single female doesn't mean I'm fuckable. You may understand that, but that 10% creep factor does not.

Count yourself as extremely, immeasurably lucky. You and your partner can start planning for your next burn and at the same time, begin educating virgins of that 90/10 factor.

M-Files

User avatar
_tears_
Posts: 381
Joined: Tue Sep 02, 2003 1:17 pm
Location: Fairfield Ca
Contact:

Post by _tears_ » Fri Sep 10, 2004 6:05 pm

I just dont agree with people going to Burning Man *purely* to get fucked.. or druged up, and to party... it changes the whole course of the event.

Of course there will be some of that going on, even between us die hard artists, but that is not the SOUL reason we are there.
[size=84][color=red]
Tears 2003, 2004
[/color][/size]
[size=100][color=darkred]
The Ties That Bind Me Hold My Soul
[/color][/size]

User avatar
AntiM
Moderator
Posts: 20203
Joined: Wed Mar 24, 2004 5:23 am
Burning Since: 2001
Camp Name: Anti M's Home for Wayward Art
Location: Wild, Wild West
Contact:

Post by AntiM » Fri Sep 10, 2004 6:26 pm

The meanest person I interacted with was the tipsy bitch who was deciding who could get a (mass produced in China) Alien Love Nest pendant for entertaining the crowd. Brought me to tears, her rejection was so cruel and thoughtless. I got over it by going to the Center Cafe the next day and handing out every single one of my personally handmade glass and stone wire wrap pendants to each person who walked by who wanted to have one. No trained monkey act, no gift in return, no drinks, no good looks or cool costume required; I just gave gifts to folks who were there and being themselves. That was my best day.

Although the tie for meanest person could well be the crazy lady who jumped in line during Exodus and then bumped me repeatedly with her SUV when I stood in front of her to let the folks who had been waiting patiently go around. That's an entirely other story. Her:Scary. Me:Stupid.
Ranger:Genius!

I had a great fucking burn. The alternative was unthinkable.

Post Reply

Return to “Stories”