Burning Man: Playa Magic!

Posted: September 27, 2010 in Burning man
Tags: , , , , , ,

In an earlier post concerning Burning Man I made a quick reference to Playa Magic and I promised to come back to the concept.  So what is Playa Magic?  I think that question is most easily answered by what it produces this year on the Playa a friend, who didn’t tell us he was coming, who has never been to the event before, simply drives up from LA, into a several mile diameter city full of over 50,000 people and drives right up to our camp.  Just a coincidence most of you will say and I won’t disagree, but the frequency of the coincidences at Burning Man can sometime be mind boggling.  I know of a huge number of instances where people have needed a particular auto part, or special screw, or type of medication and bam, the person in the next camp has it.  I was explaining this concept to a virgin (first year burner) at Center Camp one year and he didn’t believe me.  I had been so bold as to say that I bet you could stand up in Center Camp and loudly ask for anything and you would have it.  He laughed at me and we chatted for awhile and we came back around to the concept of playa magic again and he took the challenge.  He’d been craving fresh baked chocolate chip cookies, a few days on the playa usually leaves you craving something, so he stood up and loudly declared, “I want a freshly baked chocolate chip cookie.”  He repeated this twice and sat down with a very satisfied look on his face and said, “well?”  I told him to be patient and truly thought I’d been proven wrong when a woman leaned around the wooden bench we were on and said, “here you go, sorry, we ran out of milk,” and then scurried off.  My new found friend just sat there staring at the cookie, “playa magic,” was all I said.

This little story really feeds in to my favorite category of playa magic, magic food.  People who know me know that I’m a dedicated and passionate lover of pizza.  Not any pizza, but real NY pizza and I have often proclaimed that I actually like pizza more than sex.  That was almost tested in college but that’s a story for another post.  So after my virgin year on the playa I had one complaint, that the Random Pizza Camp had somehow not delivered me a pizza.  This camp has always been my favorite concept on the playa, they brought pizza ovens to Black Rock City and made pizzas and then walked out and randomly delivered them to people, talk about karma points.  So my second year on the playa I’m walking along, I was tired and hadn’t eaten enough and was just a tad bit grouchy, when someone taps me on the shoulder and says, “have you been calling for this?”  And there, like an angel, stood a man with a hot, pepperoni pizza and I just smiled, said, “yes” and took the pizza.  It was wonderful to be standing there sharing a pizza with the people with me.

However the greatest magic food experience I ever had on the Playa, and the way I learned of the concept was during my virgin year while camping with the People United for Nothing (PUN).  I was sitting at camp under the shade structure when one of my camp mates came in and told me he’d just run into a New York City hot dog cart and had a hot dog.  I asked him where it was and immediately leaped on my bike and tore off after the cart.  I didn’t find it.  I engaged in a grid shaped search pattern for another twenty minutes and nothing.  I returned to camp totally dejected.  A few minutes later another camp mate came back and you guessed it, I was off again flying across the dust to get to the hot dog cart, again nothing, another search pattern, nothing.  I returned to camp in a seriously foul mood, threw my bike down and isolated myself in the back of the camp to brood.  As I was sitting there a person in our camp who I’d just met that morning tapped me on the shoulder and said, “ketchup, mustard or relish?”  I did not find this amusing and proceeded to tell him so, the complete look of confusion on his face told me I was mistaken and so I said, “sorry, what?”  He smiled, I’ve made hot dogs thought you might like a couple.  I know, the non-believers will say, oh he overheard you, whatever.  Playa Magic my friends, playa magic.   My proof to you, like to my chocolate chip craving friend, will be to let the burners who read this relay their own stories of playa magic and show you how it works.  So, residents of Black Rock, lay out a little Playa Magic in the comments for the non-believers.

  1. Vanilla Gorilla says:

    We call it simply, “Playanicity”.

    Through the years, I’ve come across so many instances of Playanicity, I really couldn’t begin to count how many. One of my favorites is from the 2012 Burn.
    Myself and several friends were rolling around the City on Thursday night. We ended up at Opulent Temple (a big dance club). It was packed as usual, with several thousand people jammed in close. On the dance floor, music pumping, lights flashing, flame cannons shooting fire overhead, my good friend runs into his cousin that he hadn’t seen in years. Neither had any idea that the other was even going to the Burn, and his cousin lives in Mexico City. How could they possibly even recognize each other at night, in the dust, dressed in Burner finery?!?! Playanicity. 🙂

    Also, last Year, a Canadian camp mate ran into one of his best friends from High School who was camped directly across the street from us. They hadn’t seen each other since High School in Northern Canada and had no clue the other would be there either.

    In Black Rock, what is supposed to happen, will.

  2. […] find most amazing about Burning Man however is not the art, the insanity, the relaxation or even thePlaya Magic.  No what I love the most is something I call the dissolution of normal.  You see I think one of […]

  3. […] most amazing about Burning Man however is not the art, the insanity, the relaxation or even the Playa Magic.  No what I love the most is something I call the dissolution of normal.  You see I think one of […]

  4. […] https://zdeaconblue.wordpress.com/2010/09/27/burning-man-playa-magic/ Rate this:Share this:FacebookEmailDiggRedditStumbleUponTwitterPrintTumblrPinterestLike this:LikeBe the first to like this. […]

  5. […] finest damn people you will ever meet, they create the most amazing art you will ever experience, Playa miracles happen with regularity, simply put, Black Rock City is a magical place.  But as the annual Exodus […]

  6. […] ways than anything else at Burning Man and in fact you may even encounter food as a result of Playa Magic.  I know burners who make gourmet food in advance and freeze it, thawing it out each night on the […]

  7. […] Burning Man: Playa Magic! September 2010 7 comments 5 […]

  8. jamie says:

    ooh wow I have a ton of playa magic stories, with open eyes you will witness it everywhere out there! my pal todd had been working on a sculpture to bring to the playa for over a year, It was a recreation of one of the paintings from the polish artist
    zdzislaw beksinski. the artist had died a couple years ago and he was one of our favs so the recreation was in tribute to him, it was a 10 foot tall red cross and base and an amazing oil painting wrapping around it with built in lights and a hidden boom box for music. So on burn night todd was excited to see how people were interacting with it so we decided to check on it before heading out to the burn. when we arrived at teh site todd was destroyed to find that people have used it as a bike rack instead of seeing it as art and had about 50 bikes piled on top of it. After a couple bikes went soaring through the air we gathered our composuer and detracted the others and made a nice open perimeter where the art could be seen and experienced again and right before we were off to see the burn a young couple came up to the cross to investigate. it was a young family that came all the way from poland and beksinski just happened to be the whole families favorite artist. They were quite stunned that anyone had ever heard of the artist let alone create homage to him and his passing. Todd and the family chatted for like a half hour sharing their admiration for art and everything else. That small experience made all the hard work worth it ….and that was just one moment out there.

  9. Jodie2point0 says:

    Hey so I wanted to add to your playa magic discussion.

    1st year 2009 my camp-mates and I had just recently come back from a night out on the playa. Coming to camp as the sun was about 2 hours from coming over the horizon and the sky had just begun to have the dreamy glow about it. We cuddled up on a pluton and began sharing stories of the night. What was amazing what went wrong.. where were so and so.. oh i met this person .. i did that.. etc etc. Until suddenly we stopped talking and we all glance at eachother and say.. omg. i think i might be hungry!

    Alas, we had a problem. The torn insides of our stomach linings from the prior days were not too keen on making bacon or a smoothie or anything for that matter. As we sat looking defeated we decided that maybe it was best that we just skipped a meal as nothing sounded good or even tolerable at the time.

    Nearly 3 seconds after we decide we are not going to make food and just sit until the sun came up, we hear a bell outside of our camp. Thinking it is a stranger excited to see a bar with liquor at this time of night we welcome him to camp. Instead of coming in he says.. You look like you need something and I believe I have it. I am Jesse. Our faces llit up like we had just seen a unicorn (oh wait we did that earlier) and we anxiously awaited Jesse’s gift. As he rings the bell and we come out to his bicycle equipped with a generator on the back, a belgium waffle machine, and a rack holding syrup, whipped cream, and chocolate sauce.. we literally MELTED. He had saved us with possibly the only creation any of us could stomach and I will never forget Jesse the Waffle Guy.

    Playa Magic is real. Whatever you need will enter your life as long as you are willing to accept it.

  10. Bubbles says:

    All of this made me smile and brought back several magical memories. A favorite of mind was from our virgin year with PUN. I’d been having a pretty blissful burn overall, but on the 4th night or so somehow the weather had cooled off and I hadn’t organized myself and for the first time since arriving I found myself whiny, cold and hungry. Within five minutes of my first statement about this to a friend with me, someone we didn’t know walked in to camp. “Hey, we are from the camp next door. We just made this huge Thai food feast and there’s no way we can eat it all. You all should come over.” Before I knew it I was sitting in a camp by a roaring fire (they even had some kind of barrel fire pit!) with a huge pile of Thai food. Amazing!

    • Rhino says:

      My first year. Driving outside the playa through the desert to our camps storage unit of unknown location to any of us, I found the landscape hitting me like an Egyptian or middle eastern scene. I was overcome with a desire for lamb, and stated such.

      We continued down the road way past were the unit should possibly be. We decided lost cause and turned back. A few miles back we noticed a dust cloud way off the road. We stopped and watched it come closer. 2 minutes later we are greeted by a ups truck. We caught the drivers attention (the only life we had seen for over and hour) and asked about sylvias ranch supposedly marked with a
      backwards f sign. He said, oh follow me. 10 minutes later we were there!

      We returned to the playa to see the aftermath of massive white out dust storm. We reset our structures as best we could then went to our neighbor camp were we had been invited for dinner. The space and people were amazing! Middle of desert post massive storm and we were surrounded by performance art, sculpture, dj, visual video art, belly dancers and beautiful spirits serving wine and bringing various platters of middle eastern food. Then, LAMB CHOPS! Cooked to perfection!

      Last day hanging out reading the wall at center camp with my new australian friend named flower (who currently lives in uk), a man approaches her. He said I must gift you this flower. He did not know her or her playa name and handed her a beautiful large furry flower. They discover that they are both Aussies and the flower indeed came form there! She was presented an amazingly personal gift by a complete stranger from her long missed home country.

      There are more instances but my hand is tired of typing. But the finalie was bacon. We had tried to manifest it all week to no avail. Just about packed and ready to leave, a neighbor returned a frying pan I forgot I lent them. I said, please don’t tell mentions been cooking bacon all week. She said I’ll be right back. She returned with some bacon for us that they just cooked in my returned pan. F’in magic. Period! I love my playa mates we rock and are Devine blessings to all. We are so close to source that the lines of who is who and what is what are disintegrated into one manifestation from Devine source!

  11. Jake says:

    Sunday preburn my camp mate wanted to make us aloo gobi but we had forgotten to pick up the fresh ginger in reno. So the cook sends another campmate out with the megaphone. He gets about two camps away saying loudly “ginger any one got any ginger” and some guy walking down the street is like “no Ginger got Mary Anne though” and my friends like “I’ll take her”. Then the guy says “seriously though you need some ginger?” and he walks into his camp an busts out big ol fresh rhizome of ginger and gives it to my friend. The aloo gobi was awsome.
    A few days later we were out in the middle of the playa and my friends bike tire starts going flat so we get out the megaphone. Took about a minute to find a tire pump. We have saying “the megaphone provides”.
    A couple of years ago two friends were walking along esplanade and I guess they were playing doctor or something. One of them puts out her hand and says “scalpel” a random person two or three feet away pulls out a real scalpel and puts it in her hand.

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