20 Questions every Burningman Virgin should know the answer to, but will never receive an honest answer for.(with explanations)
Every year, thousands of Burningman virgins show up and are hit with tons of pre existing culture, most of which is harmless but confusing. But one of the long standing secretes about Burningman is, hazing is a right of passage, and most of the hazing that happens at Burningman is expressed in the tons of disinformation, misguidance, pranks, hoaxes, tricks, jokes. Snark , silly and all manner of unseriousness.
While not all burners adhere to the baloney, the older more experienced more creator types pride themselves on a system of making the Virgins “pay their dues” who hopefully will, in their turn, take the reigns.
But because we have so many Newbie’s coming this year, the Council for Playa Education has met and decided to spill the beans (so to speak) to the community, just to make sure no one gets hurt. Despite what many feel is a “Safety Third” event, none of us can afford a legion of newbie’s missing the mark so… listen closely you virgins, this may be the last time this stuff is explained. This is the stuff you will not read on the official site.
Q. Will I be violated at the Gate?
A. It depends.
1. When you get to the gate, your vehicle will be thoroughly searched. They are mostly looking for stowaways but if they find any drugs, they will confiscate them, and call the cops and you will be given a ticket, if not more, so be careful. There have been Cavity searches at the gate. PS. HOLD ON TO YOUR TICKET!!! Sometimes the DPW (the people who build much of city before participants get there) disguise themselves as gate people and offer “newbie inspections”, do not fall for this! If anyone offers to search your vehicle early so you can go ahead in the line, decline! You will get jacked for your tickets while in line by DPW and when you get up to the gate you will be denied entry and those tickets will be long gone!
Q. I’ve heard there is an initiation ritual. Is this true?
2. When you drive up to the greeter station, all virgins are pulled from their cars and will be asked to “purify” themselves with an uncomfortable ritual involving dust, your ass and the choice of either Bacon or Cheese. “. Pick the Bacon” not the cheese. If you pick cheese you will regret it, but bacon will only be mildly uncomfortable. If u don’t do a naked dust angel (like snow angle bust in the dust) at the gate you don’t get a special bracelet (which has your participant code on it) which not only keeps you in the event but also allows you lower tier tickets when you return again next year. If you take the paddle spanking at the gate, you will receive an additional bracelet that has next year’s half off price code. If you don’t take the paddle you have to beg other burners for the code come next year.
Q. What is the procedure for finding a spot to camp?
A. There is no procedure beyond just finding a spot however we do have an arrival custom.
3. Once you have driving into the city and found your place to park, you must go to each and every neighbor and say hello and offer to sing a song to them. Something about Bacon will gain you extra points. If you do not, you might find all your belongings moved to another location (and no one will tell you where) as soon as the opportunity arises. You do not want to get stuck looking for your camp, all around the city in the hot sun or in the dark. Say hello and learn a song. People will probably join you in song signaling acceptance.
Q. What’s with all the Hugging?
A. It’s a cultural thing.
4. Not everyone hugs at Burningman, but their you must know about the “Huggers” also known as “Huggies” . These are a long standing group of people who show up every year since the first years and demand hugs from random people. If you refuse to hug one of them, they will be seemingly respectful and let you walk past, but then they will follow you back to your camp and in the middle of the night, return with their friends and place all their trash in your camp. It’s called “Trashing“. It’s the shit buckets that are the worst part of it.
Q. Are there mosquitoes?
5. Be prepared to be covered in mosquito and flea repellant. Every since about 2001 we have had a substantial Flea and Mosquito problem. Do not leave your RV’s open! It is the RV ‘s that allow the fleas to infest a neighborhood which is why so many veteran burners are against them. Better to have a tent and keep it closed at all times!
Q. Are there secret passwords?
A. Yes. But figuring them out is half the fun.
6. You will hear lots of people saying things like “Welcome home” and “thank you” these are sincere gestures towards you. But if you hear anyone say “Fuck your Day” that means they are looking for a fight and by fight they mean “Thunderdome”. Yes there is a fully functional Thunderdome Dispute Center which handles all personal challenges on the playa. Their staff is filled with well trained staff that handle all disputes in non violent fashion. It is only after you have gone through the “conflict negotiation process” and everyone is friends again, that you are rewarded with the chance to fight it out in public. As Newbie, you want to avoid pissing anyone off who says ”fuck your day” to you.
Q. Who are the Black Rock Rangers?
A. Black Rock City’s Official Liaisons.
7 Black Rock Rangers~ are the official eyes and ears of the playa. Most of us think of them as spies. If they catch you doing drugs, having public sex or doing anything we collectively can get in trouble for, they will report you. Many of them will entrap newbie camps with “planted evidence” in hopes of extracting a bribe from newbie’s. It iswise to keep either some extra beer or some other goodies you keep for a special occasion just in case you need to bribe your way out of them telling the police on you.
Q. Can I really buy drinks at the center café?
8. At the center Café, you don’t really have to pay for drinks, only newbie’s fall for this our little long running prank. Anyone who hands the cashier money signals themselves as a newbie and they will take your money, every time. They way to not have to pay is to wear a T shirt that has anything Black Rock, Burningman or burner related emblem, saying on it, but head this warning ”IT MUST NOT BE PROFESSIONALLY PRINTED. Only hand made, hand drawn emblems will do. Even just a hat or scarf will usually suffice.
Q. Why do the pictures show burners with tons of necklaces on?
A. The badges on those necklaces are your tickets (so to speak) to different privileges at Burningman.
9. The badges you wear around your neck are everything. Each necklace means a different privilege. And while there are too many different privileges to list here, the first one you should get is the “Taxi Badge”. Anyone an ride any mutant Vehicle (art cars) at Burningman. But if you want to go somewhere specific, you have to be wearing a “Taxi Badge”. You can get your first necklace badge easily by simply checking in with the Artery and completing their survey, They will hand you a “Taxi Badge”. You will learn about other badges as you participate in different theme camps. Hence the “Everyone is a Participant!” Get it? Just ask at the entrance of each theme camp what badge they produce and they will give you a challenge. More hazing, but really it’s fun!
Q. Are the Port-o-potties decent to use?
A. Yes, but they are not for newbie’s.
10. What ever you do, do not use the Port-o-potties. Port-o-potties are for staff and special veterans alone. You must come prepared to handle your own humans waste. They sell campers toilets an any camping supply store and there are plenty of web information on how to make an easy and smell proof waste management system. Just so you know. Sometimes you can sneak into a port-o-potty but if you get caught they will confiscate all your participant badges and you will have to start all over. And by weeks end, all the badges for most camps have been given out already, Most camps make sure they don’t give any badges away after Thursday to prevent encouraging the “weekend ravers” who are hated.
Q. Do people get dosed at Burningman?
11.The rule is “Don’t eat or drink anything handed to you! Assume it’s all dosed but do not expect that this will protect you. The truth is, everyone gets dosed at Burningman, it’s inevitable. The goal is to limit this happening to you “too much”. Try and limit your intake as much as possible and when you feel something strange going on, find a person you trust to baby sit you. You are expected to baby sit others when they ask it of you. In many ways, this is why we are all so close. We all agree to baby-sit each other as these “dosings” take us.
Q. What if I just don’t want to do an activity? Can I just say “NO”?
A. No. Your better off using the Playa Safeword; “CACAO”
12. The word “no” is somewhat frowned upon at Burningman so, we invented “Cacao” as a way of avoiding the negative associations commonly associated with the word NO. Cacao means “I’d like to change activities”. Use it.
Q. Are there FOMO Support Group for Burningman virgins?
13. Every Morning, 7 am, at the Center Café there are “fear of missing out” group meetings. Playa veterans lead discussions and do Q and A and discuss a wide variety of virgin issues including the fear that if you miss a party or event you will miss out on something great.
Q. Are different days designated as Special Theme Days?
14. Each day of the week has , over the years held traditional themes. Your decision to particpat in these themes will afford you special badges or not. The theme are as follows:
- Monday is Darkwad Day (Do not wear illuminative anything on that night only)
- Tuesday is No Bicycle Day ( everybody walks. No art cars either.)
- Wednesday is PON PON day (Pon pon day is when everyone, wears something bright and furry)
- Thursday is Insult Day ( instead of nice things we all say mean things because it means the opposite)
- Friday is (Tropics Day) a lot like Hawaiian shirt day but anything tropical will do.
Q. Who are the DPW?
A. The DPW (Department of Public Works) are a group of few hundred volunteers who do all of the physical infrastructure of Black Rock City.
15. A month before Burningman, the DPW go out to the desert , build the trash fence, create the streets, build the man, put up all the lamp lighter spires, erect the larger art installations, build center café, run all the power for the medical , etc. While they may act like pirates, they are the heart of the city. Oddly enough, despite their aggressive looks, most of the DPW are vegetarians and yoga fanatics. If you want to thank them, they love to be fed as the job they do has few perks. They love tofu dishes and other healthy goodies, so bring them lots!!!
Q. What is the longest standing tradition at Burningman?
A. Finding Larry Harvey.
16. The longest standing tradition is if you find Larry Harvey (Burningman Founder) he will gift you a free ticket for next year. But there is an additional stipulation; If you pants Larry H. in center camp, you get free entry for life! So far only one person has ever done it. Good luck. Many us have been trying for years.
Q. What do I need to know about RV’s at Burningman?
A. Two things.
17. RV’s pose many challenges for Black Rock City. Most people avoid them. Firstly, many RV rental places will give you a discount if you tell them you are headed to Burningman because they will simply give you one that was used at Burningman before which means it may already be contaminated with fleas. So if you get a good deal, flea bomb it heavily. Secondly, the health department does RV inspection sweeps. They look for sanitation problems, especially food preparation, but they can be accompanied by the BLM rangers and the LEO’s and will do Drug bust if they see an y evidence of drug use or other illegal activities. If you get Busted for drugs your RV will be confiscated and you will be escorted of site to a BLM detention camp and given citations if not arrested and taken to Reno. RVs are cop magnets and yes they have K-9 units.
Q What does it take to get kicked out of Burningman?
A. Not much. A drug bust, fighting, destroying other people’s property, theft, selling or buying things, public sex, excessive profanity etc. But one that surprises people is health.
18. You can and will get kicked out for getting dehydrated or severely sunburned. The theory is: get you out before they hurt yourself, someone else or become a liability for the whole event! You will be considered a ‘self health’ hazard and simply asked to leave on your own recognizance. Your tickets will transferred to others wishing to seek entrance into BM.
Q. Do the water truck spray clean or dirty water?
A. The water is Dirty!
19. However, it’s just lake water and really clean. People try to scare other with rumors of leeches and such but it’s just not true. The water trucks provide a great service for us and taking a shower helps keep our city healthy and cleaner. Newbie’s must take at least one shower a day, it might as well be when the water truck shows up in front of your camp.
Q. Are there Trash cans or Dumpsters at Burningman?
20. You must deal with your own trash. Most burners plan on burning their trash. If you have never been before, bring your own trash burning barrel. And if you can’t and the public ones are being used, don’t just simply set your trash down on the side expecting other people to burn it for you. Stick around, make friends, and wait your turn to burn your trash. In many ways, it’s what Burningman is all about.
There are more “in the know” items but these ten will get you started. The rest, as the say , will be part of your discovery History! Welcome to Burningman.