Attending the Burning Man festival in Nevada is like landing on another planet: a vast desert populated by a peaceful, friendly, out-there people, with a culture all its own. Over 5½ square miles of desert turned over as a blank canvas and filled with all manner of incredible art, weird and wonderful people to watch, and events and workshops to try. If you’ve been lucky enough to bag tickets, what’s the next step?
What is Burning Man?
Burning Man is a place where accepting your and others’ uniqueness, freedom of expression and the right to do whatever you want (as long as it doesn’t violate anyone else’s rights) is highly valued. So, in a fundamental way, it’s a place that inspires people to participate instead of to spectate, to suspend fixed judgement about what is right and wrong, and instead to become immersed in the field of infinite possibilities.
The weird bits (sex, drugs, rock and roll, outrageous outfits, camps, art work, etc.) derive from a combination of the above which results in a celebration of the collective individuality and uniqueness. Instead of adhering to a socially coerced, manufactured, branded, homogeneous set of norms provided by one institution or another (companies, governments, religions), here you can be free of all and just fully embrace the unique experience.
Being informed, the key to an amazing Burning Man!
Burning Man attracts a huge number of creative people who are willing to put months of work into temporary installations. Some can really take your breath away: not just because of the talent on show but also the commitment to installations that will often exist only for a week. The blessing of technology is upon us this year, so we can also check out The Unofficial Map of Black Rock City!
This unofficial map is very detailed, with location of every restroom, medical center and stall accurately represented on it. This should certainly help a ‘Burner’ navigate much more efficiently around the deserted campsite located smack in the middle of the Nevada desert. Anticipation for this one-of-a-kind festival has always been high, especially for first timers, who are not advised to treat Black Rock City like any other festival venue they’ve ever been to. The absence of currency, strict barter systems and a large hippie population at the festival contribute towards the magic of Burning Man.
It’s true that, amongst the hundreds of theme camps at Burning Man, many are “sound camps” that offer all night EDM. However, others serve beverages like coffee or cocktails. Many provide fun activities like roller-skating or playa surfing, but every so often we stumble upon a camp that is nothing short of miraculous – not for a mind-bending sculpture or a fire-spitting art car (which are commonplace out there) but for the blessings they bestow upon other burners, with nothing expected in return.
Some of these theme camps offer the most incredibly useful services on the playa, when you need it the most.
For Bike Repair: Playa Bike Repair
Few of us are mechanically inclined, so it’s a saving grace to find all the gearheads and artists around the esplanade when your trusty two-wheeled steed craps out. Perhaps the most useful services at Burning Man are those offered by the Playa Bike Repair. With a wrench in hand and a smile in tow, these guys (and gals) make burners everywhere proud each year by fixing upwards of 4,000 bikes in the desert.
For Rest: The Hammock Hangout Karaoke Lounge
When walking loses its luster and your legs are heavy, the promise of shade and rest will start whispering your name. Fortunately, the Hammock Hangout Karaoke Lounge has got you covered. With an old parachute to provide a respite from the sun and a serene atmosphere where to chill out, this stop is a dream-inducing recharge station that can be enjoyed alone or with friends.
For Emergency Nourishment: Bacon Oasis
Do we really need to say more than “bacon”? For those who underestimate the need for this perfect delicacy, fret not: Bacon is a staple at the Bacon Oasis (among many other bacon-themed camps at the Burn). If you need protein on the playa, this is the place to be.
For Conflict Resolution: Death Guild with Thunderdome
While most sane people don’t condone violence, the sad truth is that sometimes we can’t agree with others and a conflict must be resolved. At Burning Man, there’s a camp especially designed to reach resolution between burners. The Mad Max-inspired Thunderdome pits steampunk challengers against one another in death-defying jousts. Two Burners enter, but in the end, two battle-hardened, warrior friends will emerge.
For Kids: Kidsville
More little ones than ever travel to the kid’s camp at Black Rock City. Here the youngsters can meet others their age, frolic in a bouncy house and built art together. There is even a Thunderdome for kids! As if taking your children to Burning Man wasn’t awesome enough, now there’s a play space for some next-level parenting on the playa.
For Spiritual Well-Being: Sacred Spaces Village
At Sacred Spaces, yoga, visionary art and meditation workshops are offered in copious amounts and the knowledge one can learn in these places is mystically invigorating. Looking for a spiritual guide? Hoping to find your own key to happiness? Start with a satisfying saunter into Sacred Spaces.
For Communications: Post Office
Whether it’s to send a love letter, extend gratitude or to pass along a parcel, the Black Rock City International Post Office has all your courier needs covered. The sheer tenacity of these workers is admirable and the experience of receiving mail at “Home” helps to affirm friendships even when finding one another may be a challenge. In addition to supplying burners with a way to send messages on the playa, this camp also delivers mail from and to the Default World, which effectively makes it the only accessible communications bridge between Burning Man and the rest of the world.
Are there any useful camps we missed? Check the 2017 Unofficial Map of Black Rock City and tell us in the comments!