Posts Tagged ‘brc’

Burning Man: My Complete Gear List, Virgin & Photo Guides

fix final temp shroom

Creativity is allowing yourself to make mistakes. Art is knowing which ones to keep.

~ Scott Adams


So it’s been awhile since I did my original virgin and photography guides part 1 and part 2 for Burning Man.  However, one of the things that I didn’t include with those guides was a really complete gear list, and let’s face it, getting your gear together is one of the bigger tasks at hand before heading to the playa.  So here you go, my complete gear list compiled over 6 burns, items are not listed in order of importance.  Two disclaimers, first I’m sure I’ve overlooked some things, feel free to add to the comments.  Secondly, my list has evolved every year, feel free to hit the comments section with questions and I’ll reply snark free. 🙂

First couple of things should be incredibly obvious, ticket, parking pass, directions to Black Rock City and DON”T bring things on the prohibited list, GATE people will turn your ass around and send you home.  Please leave your pets at home, the playa is a nightmare for them and dogs are prohibited.  Bring your schedules for any volunteering you’re doing, you are volunteering right? 🙂



shade structure (2) – 11 foot metal poles, with T connectors, tarp 8 x 12 & 6 x 10, rebar, old tennis balls to cap the rebar, 100 ft of clothing line rope.  This is a simple and basic structure, keep it tight so that it doesn’t flap and it’s damn near indestructible.  The picture below is a similar design with a better view of the structure from one of the Alternative Energy Zone folks, mine uses steel instead of wood and I also hang camping clothesline wire around the side and have sewn fabric panels I hang for decoration and privacy, punch holes in them so the wind doesn’t catch in them.

burning man, shade structure

Here’s an external shot of my set up:

burning man, shade structure


work gloves

surveyor tape to mark out camp and flag camp lines


water jug cooler – fill with ice and let it melt for cold drinking water and ice for drinks

electric fans

home made AC for tent

Music source w/radio function – BMIR 94.5 is funny and gives good info, there are usually a couple of small radio signals on the playa.  I bring an old boom box with a CD player but you can get much fancier.

Tools (vice grips (not cheap ones, you use this to pull rebar that has become cemented in the playa by twisting and wiggling it out, have a veteran show you how), hammer, screw drivers, wire cutters, duct tape, electrical tape, zip ties (various sizes), pliers, staple gun, nails, screws, 5 pound sledgehammer, 3 in 1 oil, tie downs, bungees, knife, scissors, etc…

tent stakes – but supplement them with rebar on your tent and no dinky stakes, at least 8 inch metal.  I have seen a tent airborne in a dust storm

bucket and rebar – bucket for holding rebar, tools etc… bring extra rebar various lengths

ground cover – I look all year for cheap old carpets, however, if the edges are frayed they can be a huge MOOP problem, I’ve duct taped the edges before going out, works ok.  This year an experiment I’m using a canvas drop cloth, I’ve also seen artificial turf used.

lighting – camp lantern, flashlights, head lamps are essential, I also use cheap solar ground lights and some decorative hanging solar lights as well

Folding table

Sun shades for the inside of the car to keep it from getting super hot inside

camp chairs

small camp table

Shower, evaporation pool – 1 metal pole with hook, solar shower bag, thick black plastic .6 mil (not garbage bags), wood for frame, small platform to stand on, shower chair

Below is a picture of a similar set up from a shot on the web, don’t have a pic of mine, but do some research there are a million shower designs out there, mine is the most basic

burning man, shower


Dr. Bronners soap – can use it to wash dishes, teeth, body whatever

Big bowl and wash cloth – alternatives to showering, bowl (sponge bath) and baby wipes are the most basic alternative




Sleeping tent – and years when camping with others I’ve brought a garage tent for storage, including a stand up mirror, usually use the garage for costumes, food other things I want access to that don’t involve sleeping

plastic painters tarp – put over your mattress, sleeping bag, pillow to keep dust off during the day

sleeping bag


air mattress


small hand broom to sleep out tent


burning man

Dr. Megavolt




can opener

pots, pans, glasses, plates, utensils, etc… – if you go environmentally friendly, bring a bucket for dish washing and remember to evap the grey water, DON’T dump it on the playa

camp cup – if you want a drink at most camps you’ll need to have your own cup

ziplocks – they are great to protect everything from dust

stove – I go minimalistic Mountain House camp food (Beef Stroganoff is awesome) and a pocket rocket or other way to cook off of propane.  However the options are unlimited, camp grills or even full sized propane grills.

extra cooking fuel


burning man



A minimum of 1.5 gallons per person per day, I bring 2.0 to be safe, it allows me to share and lets face it, you don’t want to be short on water.  Don’t forget you do get to buy ice, I fill one drinking cooler just with ice and let it melt for cold drinking water and ice for drinks.


spnonge bob, burning man



This list is utterly personal, I like having my main meals as dehydrated camp food and lots of easy food.  Some fresh stuff for the first day or so, but I avoid things like bananas that leave green waste that will end up stinking.


fix a1 sunrise



I bring my by good cameras but that’s a choice, the photo guide will give you more info.  Using your phone for photos will open up your phone to a lot of dust.  I recommend cheap digital cameras or even the temporary digitals if you’re just recording fun shots.  If you’re shooting more seriously take a look at my photo guides part 1  and part 2 for more info.  One warning I have had cameras die after being on the playa for one burn.


burning man, temple




seat post rack – particularly good for carrying ice but if a bigger camp bring a little kids wagon

tie downs, bungees – to hold ice on the bike rack

bike pump

extra tubes, patch kit

bike lock

items to decorate your bike with


burning man, bliss



backpack – I bring both a small backpack and my camelback that has a bladder a small amount of storage space

goggles – really, sunglasses just don’t cut it in a dust storm

dust mask & bandanas

crocs, sandles or other shoes for late night porta potty runs

personal lighting – EL wire is best, glow sticks are MOOPey, but don’t be a darkwad on the playa

cold weather gear – layers to warm up, gloves, warm hat, sweat pants to wear in your sleeping bag if need be

hats – for sun protection, warmth and decoration


burning man



Completely personalized but remember to have costumes for all the potential temperatures, something for sunny hot, warm evenings or freakin cold nights.  I’ve seen every temperature from 115 to 35 on the playa.


burning man



1st aid kit

Emergen-C, aspirin, ibuprofen any other meds you ordinarily use

vinegar – helps with playa foot (the acid counterbalances the alkalai)

baby wipes

hand sanitizer

car battery charger – this is a stand alone car battery charger I bring to be able to jump other cars or mine 🙂

garbage bags – for your trash and MOOP pick up, don’t throw your bags on the side of the road on the way out, there are lots of trash drop options on the way back to the default world

batteries, bring extra

sun screen

skin lotion – your skin will dry out on the playa

chap stick

toiletries and toilet paper – the porta potties usually have some but be safe and remember nothing but toilet paper and your bodily products in the porta potties, NO BABY WIPES in the porta pottie.

personal items – anything from sanitary products, to condoms to whatever you might need

journal, pens – I’m a writer so I spend some time on the playa writing

List of locations where people told you they are camping.

extra car key to hide in your camp

night time potty alternative if you don’t want to walk to the porta potties, here’s a final image for you


burning man

Art Project – if you are doing a project you know what you need


Gifts – bring something to gift people who have been helpful or nice or just because you want to.


burning man








Day 1 – The Basics

This year there is a possibility that there will be a much higher percentage of newbies heading to the desert so I thought I’d spend the 30 days before the gates open throwing out some information, some images and a little bit of wisdom, advice and snark about the place I love so much. These posts will be generally directed at Burning Man virgins but hopefully some of you old dogs out there will contribute through comments or get some enjoyment out of them as well. So here we go.  .  I’ll include at least one photo from Burning Man each day and once a week I’ll do nothing but photos.  I hope the posts are sometimes helpful and also enjoyable, enjoy ~ ZD Blue


The Basics

So what is Burning Man?  You’ll get as many answers to that question as you will get descriptions of what it is like to fall in love.  I often use the line that it is a naked, pagan, art festival in the desert.  I use it as a line, a shield if you will to deflect off people who I really don’t want to have a deeper discussion with about Burning Man.  You see most people have only heard a little about the festival and then it has usually been from someone who has never been there.  People typically think that the event is nothing but a drunken, drug addled party in the desert and naked, they always know there is nudity at Burning Man.

The interest and direction most people in the United States take in regard to Burning Man seems to me to be more of a reflection of how uptight the US is concerning anything different or unusual.  In America we also have an obsession with nudity and sex and want anything involving either to be dirty and inappropriate.  For those who show a little deeper interest in Burning Man I explain to them how far from the truth my little phrase or the default world’s ideas about Burning Man truly are.

First, here is a link to the Burning Man website, yes Virginia there is an organization that directs this event, sells the tickets, etc… there website is:


The man – yes there is a man that is burned at the festival, he is referred to in this highly creative community by this creative name.

Burners – us, the people that attend Burning Man.  There are levels to this but we’ll talk about that later.

The Org – the people that administer and run the event.

The playa – the area where the event takes place, an ancient lake bed in the Black Rock Desert.

Playa name – the name you use on the playa, sometimes it’s self-created, sometimes the universe just creates it for you, sometimes you get stuck with one by someone else, hopefully it’s a name that allows you to embrace your true self and be just a bit freer on the playa than you are in your regular life.

Black Rock City – the city that sprouts up on the playa during the event, often abbreviated to BRC.

Gerlach – refers to Gerlach, NV the nearest “city” to the event.

Virgin – a first time attendee to Burning Man

Rangers – really helpful volunteer type folk who are NOT law enforcement but help out at the event.  Just a note there are a lot of cops at the event, sheriff, state police and federal BLM folks.

Bacon – the most delicious pork product in the world, yes, dumb asses bacon is bacon but it’s the unofficial, official food of the event so deal with it.

Snark – a lot of what I just said about Bacon, or was it?

Home = playa

Default world – the place you are when you are not home.

READ THE SURVIVAL GUIDE on!!  An absolute necessity for anyone coming to the event for the first time.

So there has been a lot of noise in the Burning Man community over the great ticket debacle so I decided today to post up a few visual reminders about why we show up in the dust every year.

For the newbies, soon to be virgins and even the sparkle ponies I previously posted a virgin guide and for those planning on photographing in the dust a guide to photography at Burning Man part 1 and part 2, enjoy and happy Friday!




























Burningman ticket lottery Blog Roll part 2

There is a lot out there, some serious, some very funny, some very thought-provoking, figured I’d put it all in one place for an easy read, feel free to add anything I missed in the comments section, the first link has  a bunch of pieces including the Hitler video linked to it, enjoy.


Burningman ticket lottery Blog Roll part 1

Burningman anywhere a beautiful post

Capitol Radio in Sacramento, Insights with Maid Marian on the ticket debacle

This is an amazing piece on PR and how Burningman should have handled things

Interesting and thorough discussion

And the shroom doesn’t disappoint

The Reno paper is involved 

Post using the 10 principles to discuss the lottery debacle



Burningman ticket lottery debacle

So for those of you in the burner community you know that the great ticket lottery has now been completed.   In the interest of full disclosure I did not participate and there were two good reasons for this.  First, I have ultimate faith that I will be able to find a ticket as I have other years if I decide to make my annual journey into the dust.  Second, I’m really not sure I’m Black Rock City bound this year due to some potential life changes on the horizon but as always that remains to be seen.

I saw all of the early JRS and other info blasts on the lottery and like many burners felt good about the idea that the new system would do its best to thwart ticket scalping, something that the burner community finds especially abhorrent.  For the non-initiated, the ethos of the community is that if you sell your tickets, you sell them for face value and actual costs, no profiteering.    My next real contact with the lottery came in the form of a very excited Facebook post from a couple of friends who had scored tickets in the lottery.

Then I started seeing a lot of tense posts from friends who hadn’t heard anything yet and were starting to get nervous about their possibilities.  Then, finally, it started, the rejection notifications.  To be frank I was absolutely stunned by the effect this had on people.  My friends were devastated and as one friend told me, “I felt totally rejected by Burningman.”  Now this may seem silly to those of you who have never attended this dusty little bacchanal in Nevada, but to burners it felt like a community they have dedicated so much too had rejected them.   The Playa is a place where everyone feels accepted, as I’ve often said, at any point in Black Rock City look around, YOU, are never the biggest freak in your field of view and as odd as this may sound, that’s a comforting proposition for many of us who live our lives as square pegs in a very round world.

The rejection has really impacted people and I’m seeing a lot of comments that seem to indicate that people are reconsidering their relationship and commitment to the festival.  Honestly, I think a lot of that is the initial bad feelings from not getting tickets and that will wane as things begin to work out on the ticket front.  Burningman is an important part of many burners’ lives and although this hurts I don’t see a lot of burners packing it in over this issue, but the BMORG response will certainly impact this whenever that comes.  I think the secondary ticket service will help as well, its acronym is STEP and hopefully it won’t also step on people’s feelings as well, sorry, couldn’t help myself.

The saddest thing for me about Burningman every year has been apparent in a lot of the posts on the ticket debacle.  People on the Playa are some of the 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 occurs each year, these same amazing people hit the tarmac connection to civilization and begin to revert to the same patterns that drive us all nuts in the default world, selfishness, elitism, entitlement and little concern for their fellow-man.  None of which I experience on the playa but suddenly there it is.  Likewise, and this is not new to this year or this situation, when many burners get off playa and online they become unbearable, in particular there is this burnier than though attitude that is really grating. 

It’s unfortunate that we can’t hang on to who we are on the Playa the rest of the year and even yes, when we can hide behind the curtains our computers have become.  That’s my hope for this community tonight, that we grab a bit of the radical exceptionalism that we so constantly exhibit on the Playa and turn it to making this situation work.  So let’s put on that fake fur, all of your glowy and sparkly accessories, fuzzy boots, shake some Playa dust out of your tent, throw it in your hair, turn up the heat all of the way, the fan on full blast and get to work solving this problem.  Hell, getting tickets can’t be harder than going to a dusty lakebed in nowhere Nevada, and in one week erecting a magical city, impacting the lives of tens of thousands and then disappearing like a mirage.

Burning Man: My 2011 Afterburn

I rolled into the 25th burn on Monday morning, left the pavement at 9:15AM and hit the gate at about 12:45.  Drove into the spot I was aiming for at 4:00 and J and set up.  Almost immediately adopted a couple of virgins who were seat less and shade less and my neighbor on the other side was a fabulous burner named Juicy, his camp quickly became the neighborhood hangout.  As usual at Burning Man, the neighborhood including a wide swath of geographic origins including British Columbia, California, Utah, Belgium and Holland.

The first surprise of the year was the weather, this was by far the best weather I’ve ever seen on the playa.  The first few days were breezy (15mph) winds and Monday in particular was a warm day, but nothing like some of the sweltering days I’ve spent on the Playa in the past.  On Wednesday we saw some 35 mph gusts but again that’s nothing.  So bright sunny days, comfortable nights, low winds and once they swung around from the East after Wednesday, the most dust free days I’ve ever seen out there.  Now I split on Saturday so I can’t comment on winds for the big burns but from what I’ve heard the good weather continued.

The first thing I have to talk about is the Temple, it was magnificent, and I know people all have their favorites, but this was my favorite Temple construction.  Between the size (120 feet tall), the five spires, the gargoyles, and the chime system it was truly spectacular.  The temple was visible across the playa at night when lit up, my hat off to the designers and the Temple crew, as always you all did a magnificent job.  And of course as the spiritual heart of the community the Temple is always a deeply special and moving place.





The people are always the best part of Burning Man and to be sure I met some great people this year and many thanks to those who allowed me to interview them for a piece I’m doing on children at Burning Man.  Special thanks to the Mayor of Kidsville and the munchkins within who I interviewed while they were deeply involved in sock puppet construction.  Also thanks to the Mayor of 4:00 and J and her faithful companion.

For me the fire highlight of the week was the Flaming Lotus Girl’s extravaganza which included the single best fireworks display I’ve ever witnessed.  Another big fun burn was the Trojan Horse burn, a towering art piece that burned spectacularly on my last night on the Playa.


My favorite art car was easily the Steam Punk Octopus you can check it out at the following link:

My favorite static art piece was the one pictured below, Aurora named for the artist’s 3-year old daughter’s favorite princess.



It was a very typical burn for me this year, a few nice little parties, some unexpected camp surprises, ran into some people unexpectedly, some things went right, others went wrong.  Missed some people who couldn’t make it.  I was a bit disappointed to hear how many people had at least enough cell connection for text messages and personally I think connectivity will really change the event, but that discussion is for another piece.  I was happy to track down some old friends and misconnected with some others.

For me Burning Man is refuge and escape from my life, a period of time to truly relax and as always I got that this year.  I also hurt my back late in the week, not seriously and given that I had gotten what I needed from the week, I decided to slip out early and miss the exodus traffic.  Another good year on the Playa, although it may be my last for a while, new adventures to be had and all.  Finally, a few pictures for your viewing pleasure and my fellow burners I hope your burn was magnificent.


Here are all three parts of my Burning Man Virgin guide in one post

Part 1 –

Part 2 –

Part 3 –