Regional, –adjective

An event (Regional Burn), group or organization created by Burners somewhere other than the Black Rock Desert. Burning Man has made efforts to control who can officially call themselves a regional representative, or which events are official regional burns, but no one pays them any attention. Regional Burns allow you to meet the same person more than once without a GPS unit and a tracking device, and may feature such luxuries as swimming holes, natural shade, or even actual showers. Someone who is Burnier-than-thou will tell you this adulterates the valuable, character-giving experience of sleeping on the cement-hard playa in the dust after the 50-mile per hour winds obliterate your tent.

From Kit O’Connell’s amazing Burner Lexicon!


Hippie. noun.
Since the 60’s, whenever you are are building an alternative to mainstream society, trying to change the world for the better, or sneaking off somewhere remote to get high and play with fire, you get Hippies. It’s not clear whether social change attracts them, or by trying to be agents of social change people become them. Probably both.
There’s all kinds of hippie, from the hard working DPW’er with blisters from pounding in fence posts that tells you all about the significance of double rainbows; to the sunrise naked yoga grandma who gives great Reiki and put all her kids in tie died diapers; to that dirty hippie freegan who drank all my beer and disappears when there’s work to be done.
What’s the difference between a Hippie and other Burners? Hippies seem to be more invested in things having meaning or purpose: Double rainbows, crystals, Burning Man…

By Shenanigans

HIPPIE, –noun, 50,000 unwashed freaks in the desert for a week, driving mutant vehicles, sharing everything in a gift economy and dancing for hours on end to oontz oontz music while many are in states of questionable sobriety? You might think everyone at Burning Man is a hippie; you might argue that Burn culture is a descendent of the counterculture that came to prominence during the 1960s, but has roots which go back much further.

If you did make these arguments, you’d probably be right. But while some hippies embrace the term, for others it’s used with (playful?) disdain. You might be a hippie, but we’re serious artists, musicians, Burners, etc (see also: Burnier-than-thou).

Burners might create a HIPPIE TRAP to ensnare, confuse, or beguile the unwary or easily amused hippie. Some examples of hippie traps include cages containing fake mind-altering substances or structures covered in tangled string which might be untangled by someone in the right mood. HIPPIE FISHING, by contrast, is the practice of attaching a glow stick or other appealing piece of swag to a string and using it to lure in passing Burners.

The lexicographer was the pet hippie of the once fearsome Austin division of the Chupacabra Policia, who used to be known for their acts of audio terrorism as well as stomping around events in riot gear. However, I was kept in line by the implied threat represented by the ‘remains of their last pet hippie,’ a pile of bloody, tye-dyed scraps they kept in the corner of their camp.

This entry incorporates a suggestion from Teo Del Fuego.

From Kit O’Connell’s amazing Burner Lexicon!


Exodus, noun.
Movement of the people.
Oh yeah, this year there will be 60 thousand burners. And when they all decide to drive out sometime between the temple burn and Monday night, down a crappy country road at just over 2 miles per hour, it will be a complete mess.
There’s only one legal exit to the playa, and it’s only one lane. You will be correct when you imagine the bottle-neck is pretty bad. Generally it takes 5 or 6 hours in line to get off the playa, then perhaps another hour to get far enough away that you can get up to speed.
So bring enough gas and supplies to survive Exodus.
Keep yourself hydrated, even though you are leaving, you’ve got a lot of hours before you manage to hit a town.
LNT doesn’t stop at the trash fence, haul your trash all the way out, and dispose of it responsibly, preferably somewhere that isn’t completely overwhelmed with burner trash.
If you must pull over, or break down, get all the way off the road.

By Shenanigans

Land Grab

Land Grab. verb.
Land grabbing is the practice of sending someone in early to mark out and occupy camping space until the rest of the camp gets there.
In the back blocks of Burning Man it’s fairly acceptable, as long as you don’t take more than you need.
When it’s in the more hotly contested open camping spaces closer to the esplanade, or when you try and steal land that was assigned to a theme camp, it’s incredibly rude.
At regional burns, where space can be at a premium, don’t try it. There’s nothing worse than angry neighbours who’s spot you stole, and angry organisers, who’s carefully laid plans you have messed with.

By Shenanigans

Playa Dust

Playa Dust. noun.

The Black Rock Desert is made up a not quite infinite amount of ultra nasty dust. It’s finer than talc, sticks to the least amount of moisture, gets into everything, and stays there, forever. Given the chance, it’ll eat your electronics, your feet, and in some cases, your lungs. It’s the most ‘in your face’ element at burning man, and if you are not prepared for it, it can ruin your week. However, it’s very easy to overcome, a simple dust mask and goggles can take you from blinded and immobile in a dust storm to once again being master of your destiny. Just don’t bring anything that you’ll cry over when the playa eats it.

By Shenanigans

An expanse of deep playa in the Black Rock Desert. Photo by Rob.PLAYA, –NOUN, Technically any dry lakebed can be referred to as a playa, but when a Burner says it, it’s almost always theBlack Rock Desert, the modern home of Burning Man. The event takes place within the trash fence in a space that allows for the 1.5 mile-across Black Rock City plus room for theTemple and other large-scale installation art and some open space. This unoccupied area is known as DEEP PLAYA orOPEN PLAYA. It remains empty except for rare artworks and occasional couples seeking open air intimacy.

The playa is not really sandy, but covered with a substance about the consistency of talc known as playa dust.Weather is notoriously harsh, with wide-ranging temperatures, frequent windstorms, and short-lived but heavy rains that can turn the surface to mud.

At regional burns, any focus of activity may be referred to as a playa. This leads to phrases like Burning Flipside‘sGRASSY PLAYA, which refers to the large open expanse of Pyropolis where they build their effigy and largesttheme camps. As a result, the phrase “See you on the playa,” can mean something more general than “see you next Labor Day weekend.”

Burning Man spent a year — 1997 — on another playa when it relocated to private land on the Hualapai Playa.

From Kit O’Connell’s amazing Burner Lexicon!


Here are some dusty videos for you to get a sense of what we’re talking about:

Radical Self Reliance

Radical Self Reliance. noun.

One of the 10 principles: Burning Man encourages the individual to discover, exercise and rely on his or her inner resources.
This is all about your ability to take care of yourself, to put on your grown up pants, (or tutu, or kilt) and take care of your own needs.
This could be your physical needs, which you can find lots of guides on line on how to do, what to bring etc. (ask in the comment section, and get directed to tons of them)
But just as importantly, you have take care of your mental and emotional needs. Burner events are great fun, and sometimes they can be hard. Sometimes you find yourself unexpectedly on an inner journey as big or bigger than the one that got you to the burn in the first place.
Plan as if you are the only one who prepared for this journey.

By Shenanigans

See preparation > event survival >  radical self reliance

RADICAL SELF-RELIANCE, Though it has its origins on a San Francisco beach, the home of Burner culture is the Black Rock Desert — an expanse of dusty, unforgiving emptiness with no shade, no drinkable water and almost nothing alive at all. The idea of going to such a harsh place to throw a big festival requires a certain degree of competency from its participants. Along with understanding the risk of injury or death (see safety third), Burners also agree to bring everything they need for a week in the desert or whatever supplies are appropriate for the environment and duration of their regional.

Radical Self-Reliance is obviously at odds with other Burner Principleslike Gifting and Communal Effort. Very few theme camps or art projects at these events are one person efforts, after all, and it would be a strange Burning Man event for most if they ate only their own food and never visited a costume camp or a bar camp. Despite the best efforts of the greeters there are those who show up with few supplies out of laziness, whether they term it an “art project” to depend on community generosity or are planning on relying on sex appeal.

At the same time, the volunteers that make these events happen are some of the most competent people you will ever meet. They might be skilled in anything from welding to accounting, skills in many cases learned through a Burner project or gained through their connections with others.

Radical Self-reliance is one of the ways we discover our art — by relying on our own abilities, we learn what we are capable of and what we still need to learn.

The Lexicographer has been soliciting opinions from other thoughtful Burners on the Ten Principles. Below you will find another opinion, but more are still welcomed. Use the contact information at the top to send your thoughts.

From Kit O’Connell’s amazing Burner Lexicon!

Sad Art

Sad Art. noun.
Sometimes the art has serious intent, and when you participate in it, or if it draws you in when you are not expecting it, it can make you feel pretty serious too.
The obvious example is the temple, it’s often the most serious place on the playa, where people bring their loss, grief, and pain, take vows, and hold weddings. It’s beautiful and meaningful,and often sad. Not really some place you want to take a drunken rowdy, or accidentally end up on that silly afternoon that you’ve spent giggling with the new crush, but perhaps perfect when you are tired of the oontz oontz, or are questioning the worth and purpose of things.
Sad art can be great, especially when the intention moves and inspires you, and sometimes you need a bit of grounding in the middle of all the craziness.

By Shenanigans


Whimsy. noun:
A ship sailing across the playa is cool, a fleet of them even cooler, but the impromptu pirate raid that swarms up on deck and feeds everyone rum? Pure whimsy. The odd, the fanciful, and the capricious are our every day environment at burner events, and while sometimes the art is powerful, moving and serene, more often it’s head scratching, WTF? hilarious, and just plain cool.
Art from the funny bone, art because fart jokes are still funny, art that you make because your inner 8 year old is in charge of the welder.
Art that makes perfect sense at 3 am when the tequila is just worn off.
Because you can, and it would be cool, and because if you don’t, who will.

By Shenanigans


Lamplighter, –noun, Technically, Lamplighters is just another theme camp like the others which dot the Burning Man landscape. However, Lamplighters is more than just a theme camp, and is similar to groups like the Black Rock Rangers, the medics, and Center Camp Café. These camps are integral to the operations and principles of Burning Man itself.

Lamplighters’ prime directive is to “Light the City Nightly” with a world-class collection of approximately 1,000 kerosene lanterns that are hung from stanchions placed strategically along major thoroughfares including the Esplanade, the “keyhole” plazas at 3 and 9 o’clock, Center Camp, the Effigy, the Temple and routes to those landmarks.

The lanterns are set out in a nightly ceremony that’s a true celebration of the spirit of Burning Man; it requires volunteers from among the Black Rock citizenry. To recruit volunteers, the 200 or so full-time Lamplighters hold two of BRC’s largest parties of the Festival — the Sangria Soiree on Monday and the Bloody Mary Brunch on Wednesday. Open to all, these parties are marked by free-flowing libations served by Lamplighters who remind all attendees to come out at least once during Burning Man to volunteer as a “carrier,” “lifter,” or “support” during the lighting ceremony at 4 p.m. each evening. Many regular burners wouldn’t miss the opportunity of playing a role in lighting the city. At that time, one can hear the cry of the Luminaries (leaders), “Make Way for the Lamplighters,” and the return call from participants, ”Thank you, Lamplighters.”

Every Lamplighter volunteer receives a pendant to memorialize his or her experience lighting Black Rock City and making everyone’s experience both safer and more enjoyable. Lamplighters also have responsibility for guarding and delivering the sacred flame to the Man on Saturday night to ignite the burn itself.

From Kit O’Connell’s amazing Burner Lexicon!

Playa Clean

Playa Clean; adjective.
Not really clean, but clean enough. If there’s ever been a time you’ve looked a mug, or a spoon, and intentionally not noticed that bit of crud that’s not really going to make a difference, you are half way to playa clean.
On the playa, the bit of crud that’s not rally going to make a difference becomes epic sized in comparison. Your mind makes excuse for it, and you decide that the two things will taste great together! and the heat and playa dust will have killed anything living on it anyway.
Playa clean also applies to personal hygiene. You don’t want to look Too Clean someone might mistake you for a tourist, and showering too often is a waste of water!

By Shenanigans