So you think you’d like to go to Burning Man? Well, I want to ask, and I’d like you to actively ask yourself... Why? I understand that you may have heard about it from a friend, or relative, or seen it on a social media feed or otherwise. I’m not asking how you heard about Burning Man. I am wanting to really understand what is driving you to make such a challenging pilgrimage.
If you aren’t yet convinced or are completely unaware of what a pilgrimage this experience is, hopefully we can orient you in the interim toward a less startling reaction and one more of astonishment. The import of the question of why you want to participate will bear heavier as the months progress, preparations are made, relationships solidify, and the veterans among us/you begin to offer the metaphorical candles that will help you light the way into this most rich endeavor. The answer to the above question will increase in complexity as you begin to entertain your honest internal answer, or perhaps you will come to question it entirely (which is OK and all-too-common).
That said, we at Gallavant welcome you for starts, and have a wonderful collection of seasoned Burners who are eager and interested in helping you have the best experience a virgin can have.
Now that that is out of the way, I will introduce myself as your Camp Acculturation Officer and friend in wait; Jestage (/Cuddle Puddles).
Now, I would like to voice that you should let your excitement go wild from now until you step out of the vehicle at the gate, then whatever adjective you can grasp as a descriptor to your experience, go for it (and good luck with that).
-The first recommendation I give is to hone that excitement. In other words, and to be more direct - do not go reaching to create a picture of what Burning Man is or supposed to be. I may be reaching you far too late in the game for this to apply to you personally, but hopefully not.
What I mean by this is to limit your curiosities to that which is given or suggested you by friends or camp members. Crucial to how you will look at/into the event, I have found it best (though not a must) to refrain from searching through all of the videos of burning man, blog posts, and the like. The suggestion comes out of a place that would have you eliminate the prevalence of expectation, and increase the intrinsic value of your experience by bolstering the aspect of subjective anticipation.
IN SHORT. ~The less we build and construct a story of what Burning Man is, the more colorful the palette will be when we arrive and begin to paint the picture of the reality of our own individual experience.
For pertinent information, see
10 Principles (+1)
This is no small matter or short discussion, but I will do my best to make this as concise and succinct as possible.
[Keep in mind they are interpreted by each person individually, and there are no principle sheriffs. Strongly suggested and softly enforced!]
You will encounter over and over again the significance of ten themes by which the culture of Burning Man sustains it’s profundity and impact on each person, and thus the world at large. If you’ve come this far, it is my hope that you’ve already encountered them in some fashion. One of the most important things that is often left unsaid or through the excitement around certain other of the principles is this: Each of the principles is just as detrimental to cultivating the life changing experience that keeps us going back as any other. >That is, no 1 principle supersedes another; they’re all on a level playing field. A particular principle, or set of principles, may be more or less relevant in any given situation while on playa, but they all are equal when considering them at large. So the list given is not in a top down or bottom up representation. Think of them like a Yahtzee shuffle, and you could confront the importance of any one, or several, at any time. The list is just for referential purposes, and many principles you may find to be inherently interconnected. Lastly before over-viewing the principles, I’d like to simply say that the adherence to them is not meant to be dogmatic or strictly religious in nature, but more as a constant reminder or sort of metronome that rings lightly in the back of ones mind to make for the most incredible Burn.
**Participation: There are no spectators at Burning Man. Each person plays a vital role in what they add to the (literally) blank canvas that is the playa come August each year. How you participate is entirely up to you. We will be prompting and helping our virgin Pirates, as we enjoy helping the first time Burners in the city during the event, with being more engaged and getting the most out of this journey. You may choose to make art, volunteer or offer some type of service, it’s really up to you.
**Radical Self-Expression: The name is the description here, and it can often be somewhat confusing for people. In Black Rock City, societal norms, class, caste, and status have no bearing on how a person should act, dress (or not dress), walk, talk, drink, eat, burp, loiter, etc. The freedoms of expression available to each person at Burning Man can be overwhelming at first for some, and even for a few years even after being introduced. When removed from the atmosphere of how one is to act and what is appropriate or proper, to an entire city that throws those expectations to the wind (read: Dust), it has been daunting and even somewhat shocking due to the uncertainty of who one truly is and how they might act without those confines imposed upon us on a day to day basis in the default world.
**LEAVE NO TRACE: Just as the words indicate, this event is a blank canvas when we arrive, and we’re allowed to bring it to life every year through ensuring that it is just as spotless when we leave. Many people work for weeks on end to rid the playa ground from the most minute things in effort to uphold this standard and our outstanding reputation/social collateral. The term used on playa, and for Burners around the world, is MOOP. MOOP is understood to be Matter Out Of Place. A great way to approach this bit of advice is through recognizing that if “it” hits the ground and is not there for an intended reason.... PICK IT UP.
As part of Gallavant, we will be holding our virgins to an exceptional standard of keeping the playa free of MOOP. It is worth keeping on hand a sealable bag of sorts, or some other container in to which your (and other’s) MOOP can be thrown.
You may ask what is considered matter out of place? Like I mention above, anything that hits the ground that is not meant to be there. It can be a scarf, or jacket, on down to anything as small as an eye lash or piece of glitter.
See this video for a quick glance at the bad-asses who are out there setting the example: YouTube- Wood Chip Cleanup
**Communal Effort: Again this is likely self explanatory. But here it goes!
It takes an effort that largely goes unappreciated to create a living, thriving, functional city temporarily in an environment that allows next to nothing to live for ~50 weeks a year. When prepping your items and planning your travel, checking your vehicle for safety, assuring your totes and bins aren’t missing anything, just keep in mind that an ENTIRE CITY is created at random by a collection of people with a common goal in mind. It takes an honest, hard working, hard won... communal effort. It takes your effort. Step up, we need your help on playa and in camp. You have the fortunate opportunity to be included among a set of people that are incredibly well organized and knowledgeable about the random hurdles that may be encountered whilst getting to or on playa. We will be informing everyone of how their efforts can be best utilized for camp next year. And again, we will be happy to answer any questions you may have around this.
**Radical Inclusion: Part of the reason most people are so invigorated by their experience at Burning Man is due to the lack of discrimination. There is no line drawn on who may be a part of our community. The list of criteria to be included is at a whopping 0. At Gallavant, we are eager to find the people that have been looking for that platform which they might truly be included. The community call it Home for a reason.
***Decommodification: This has additional asterisk's because, as Camp Acculturation Officer, I can... So, listen up! And it’s been the horse that I’ve been beating into the ground for the past few years.
This principle is one of peculiar subtlety, but of enormous impact and extreme complexity. Our daily lives are inundated by a commercialist movement toward profit. This profit motive finds its’ way most insidiously into our lives in the forms of advertisements, billboards, sponsorships, logos, and the list goes on.... So, in Black Rock City, we seek to make those things as close to obsolete as is humanly possible, if not subvert them entirely. To understand, consider that whole industries and fields of study function with the primary goal of getting you to make the choices they wish for you to make, all through exploiting all-too-human tendencies. Decommodification is the preservation of purity, plain and simple. I will be releasing notes and updates on this more before next year’s trip.
To be continued...