So, Burning Man. Hmm. How was it, you ask?
Honestly. I can’t even really tell you yet, and it’s been three weeks. But I’ll try. As a virgin burner no more, here are a few things I learned at Black Rock City in 2016. And what YOU should remember if you’re going.
There are NEVER enough wet wipes
So you went to Walmart. You bought everything on your list, from your planet-friendly organic vegan shampoo, to the tennis ball for propping your bike on in the dust (aren’t you clever), to the crossword puzzle book you might want to look at when you get bored. (One of those was a lie). But did you get enough wet wipes? Like fuck you did. You’ll be needing more wet wipes than a newborn baby with diarrhoea, and probably more after that. You’ll need wet wipes for your hands five minutes after you’ve washed them; for your privates, now apparently funnelling sand backwards (this could also be the drugs); for your nostrils, to banish those playa-dust boogers. For wiping the final dregs of your dignity away, after the Orgy Dome. You think you won’t need them. But you will. Buy more wet wipes.
The weirdest thing you can imagine, will get weirder
So you got caught in a sandstorm, took shelter in a giant teapot, started snuggling with a man in a fur coat who was basically the lovechild of Big Foot and The Cookie Monster, and then you had your Akashic records read by an Aussie who called you ‘a trapped woodland elf’, and… by the way… you’re still in the teapot. You climbed down and had your butt spanked as you stuck your face in a glory hole, then sat pointlessly in a tiny box of mirrors on your own, as a lady shook you to the point of passing out. You attended a workshop on the importance of female empowerment, in which EVERYONE cried and hit grown men about the face… and by the way… is it only 10am? Do you still have any concept of time? No? (This could also be the drugs).
You will fall in love
You think you won’t, but you will. You will fall in love at Burning Man, either with your camp and the way everyone is ‘the family you always wanted’, or with the man you met five minutes ago who ‘just sees into your soul’, or with yourself. Fuck, you will love yourself SO much at Burning Man. Because you are being you. You are being crazy, and filthy, and wild, and free, and childlike and honest and kind. (This too, could be the drugs). You are picking up shit from the floor with the kind of pride reserved for diamond hunters in the darkest depths of Australian mines because you CARE ABOUT THE WORLD. And you are now reborn.
Cuddle puddles are EVERYTHING
Now, if you don’t know what a cuddle puddle is, let me tell you, it’s the thing you’ve been missing in your sad, miserable, furry-cushion-free life. Imagine the biggest, most glorious hug you’ve never had and never knew you needed. It’s soft and giggly and squishy and fuzzy and strokey and all kinds of scrumptiousness and there are usually lots of people involved. And as your limbs all tangle in a sea of delicious wantedness (I’m making that a word) you feel all that’s wrong with the world suddenly shrink to nothingness. (This could also be the drugs).
You should never be a darktard
A darktard is a stupid burner. I’m reluctant to say there are stupid burners, because the playa is perfection – a lunar landscape of loveliness on which the people can do no wrong. (This could also be the drugs). But a darktard is a burner who fails to adhere to the rules when it comes to glowing at night. At night you should sparkle and shine like a nocturnal rainbow intent on waking up the world to your glory. You should flicker, flash and damn-near blind people as you blaze across the desert like a star. Otherwise, you WILL be steamrolled by an art car.
You will get lost and find yourself
I met a guy on my first day who’d been separated from his friends the night before and could not for the life of him remember where the FUCK he set up camp. He was tired and dusty, sipping on free coffee in a Turkish camp run by an Israeli man who looked like George Clooney (this was not the drugs). Two days later I saw him again, at our camp’s party. He was even more tired and even more dusty. He had still not found his camp. Or friends. I gave him toothpaste and wet wipes, poured him some water, and as we headed back to the party he bumped into his friends. What were the odds? Pretty strong actually; the playa provides. The point is, at Burning Man, you will get lost. But you will find yourself. Or something like that. Maybe the point is, remember where the fuck you set up your camp, OK?
There are so many more things I could say. But I’ll leave it here for now. Oh, but I did write this article recently for GQ on the topic, which I’ll admit was written the day after I got back to San Fransisco. It doesn’t quite cover it (I was still high).
Check out this video too. Every year a crew asks Burners to wear a red nose for a new video, and I made it into this one – huzzah! (Still no idea ‘why the nose’). Can anyone enlighten me?
If you’re going to Black Rock City next year, please let me know. I have many more useful tips. If you care.