A Guide for Burning Man virgins Part 1

Posted: July 7, 2011 in Burning man
Tags: , , , , , , , ,

I’ll be posting this in three parts since it got a bit long:

A Guide for Burning Man virgins

This series of posts is an attempt to provide some advice and guidance for Burning Man virgins, your first time on the Playa is special and it’s my hope that some of the information I provide in this post can help you have an even more enjoyable time in Black Rock City (BRC).  Now, this is certainly not the only virgin burner guide out there, nor will I be arrogant enough to claim that this is the best, just my attempt to provide you with some good information.  Additionally, in recognition of everything that is out there I will try to provide you with links to as many resources as possible.  Finally, there is no thought that this is exhaustive; as I’ve been composing I keep thinking of more things I could have included, but you have to stop somewhere.



First and absolutely most obvious is that if you haven’t already, you need to go to the home page for Burning Man, www.burningman.com .  There is a lot of information on the site for almost any question you could possibly have including what is Burning Man? 


There is a core set of principles that the event is based on, here is a link to the core principles:


A general preparation guide:


And of course the organizations first timer guide:


I know, some of you think that Burning Man is nothing but a drunken, naked, rave out in the desert where everyone is loaded and going crazy, it’s deeper than that.  In my years on the Playa I’ve come to lump the community into three levels of burners.  The first level are people who are just passing through, came to dance, or are in the small minority of folks who do nothing but come to the desert to get loaded.

The second level are those folks who get it, who understand that the principles are core to what makes Burning Man so much more than just a party in the desert, these folks usually are, or have been, associated with a theme camp at some point and most of all participate in the festival, more about that later.  Often these folks have some connection to the art either by creating, assisting or even just having a serious appreciation for the art of the Playa.

Finally are the hard-core burners, every year people come to BRC for the first time and become thoroughly immersed in all that is Burning Man, and maybe more importantly all that the world could be as a result of Burning Man.  These people try to live the principles of Burning Man 365 days a year and my hat is off to them in this noble pursuit.

Now these three levels aren’t exhaustive and folks float between levels, there are always a small number of tourists passing through, the ever-present law enforcement officers and people who defy definition.  All of these folks stir together to make the magnificent stew that is my favorite week of the year.

So where to start, I guess at the very beginning, if you want to go to Burning Man, you need to buy a ticket.  The tickets are tiered in cost each year starting in the low $200 range up to the final range of around $360.  For more details and information on tickets you can check out the following link:

http://tickets.burningman.com/  This ticket buys you admission to the festival for the week, gets you a place to camp and access to the porta potties.  A quick word about the costs for Burning Man, the ticket is just the first cost.  A week at Burning Man can cost you a $1000 between your ticket, transportation, food, water, gear, and hotel costs if you do that.  Of course it can also cost a lot less if you get the lowest level ticket, already have the gear and costumes and you can keep your transportation costs low.

Once you’ve gotten your ticket in the mail with your little candy surprise, read the back of your ticket, seriously.  It’s an interesting little read and it will point out that you can die at Burning Man, it’s much easier than you think and yet, happily rarely happens.  Plenty of people ignore the environment on their  first night, get over excited, over indulge and end up in a medical tent or on the road back to Reno for a short stay at the local medical facility 107 miles away.  The desert is harsh, it’s at almost 4,000 feet above sea level, it can be alternately very hot and then very cold, I once personally experienced a nearly 70 degree temperature shift in a 24 hour period from well over 100 to less than 40 degrees Fahrenheit.  The wind can blow on the Playa, and it can blow very hard, in excess of 50 miles an hour and last year I had a tent pole snap under the force of the wind and shred my tent and it wasn’t the windiest day I’ve ever experienced in BRC.

Knowing this, it’s easy to ignore on your first day on the Playa.  My first day, we arrived after driving the two hours from Reno, waiting for over an hour to get in and then finding our site and our friend Phil.  Being excited I jumped right in to set up camp, Bubbles and I unloaded the car, we set up the tent, started to get working on the shade structure, all the time Phil saying, take a break, take it easy.  I didn’t listen, at least not until I suddenly felt the familiar swoon of low blood sugar and went light-headed.  I sat down, busted open a bag of chocolate chip cookies and damn near drank a gallon of water.  Heat, dry air and a nice little breeze can quickly dehydrate you, and in our excitement we hadn’t eaten for at least 4 hours.  A minor bump in the road that day and it all worked out ok, but remember you’re in the desert, take it easy.

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  2. nichole says:

    Thank YOU!!! good insight..

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