Burning Man Table of Contents

A Dork's Guide to Surviving Burning Man

Courtesy of Brian

Brian posted this to an email list in response to a request from someone who had not yet been to Burning Man but who had his ticket and wanted more information. We asked for permission to post it to our Web site, as we think it is one of the best guides we've seen. -The Civilized Explorer

The guides on the Burningman site only tell you so much. They're mostly about keeping you physically comfortable and perhaps save a few bucks because you bought the appropriate gear. Sure, it's hot and there's no running water, but it ain't Mars. You aren't going to die because you didn't follow the survival guide to the letter. You'll only die from being unusually stupid or unlucky. The drive up is probably more dangerous than the event itself. The guides don't really tell you what it's actually like to be there. Granted, it's a different experience for everyone and difficult to put into words, but here's something I typed up during a particularly boring day at work. One of these days it may end up on a webpage if I ever get around to taking out the typos and grossly inaccurate information. [We have not done any editing. -The Civilized Explorer.]

There's already a number of great guides out there covering the practical matters of getting your ass out to the desert and not dying while there. All important stuff, to be sure, but it's already covered. Bring lots of water, wash your feet with vinnegar, drive carefully, blah blah blah. What about social survival? I didn't go to the event in 1999 and 2000 because I didn't think I would fit in. I don't really fit in anywhere, but it seemed more extreme in an environment filled with people into the underground art scene, performers, and flamboyant people of all types. People who I like being around but have very little in common with. I'd never even spoken to anyone who had gone to the event before, all I knew about it was what I saw on their website. It's all a little intimidating.

I took the leap and went in 2001. To my surprise, nobody seemed to care that I wasn't one of "the cool people" and that I didn't quite look the part. They simply seemed anxious to interact with as many friendly people as possible. That being said, there IS some hostility towards certain types of people so you should do your best to not look like one of them.

Yahoos: Those who come to the event thinking it will be a cross between a tailgate party and a Girls Gone Wild video. They just want to drink beer, see some naked chicks and make fun of all the weird people. They typically only attend the final weekend of the event.

Tourists: Those who make little effort to interact with anything going on at the event or contribute anything. They are often seen spending most of their time in an RV, with occasional trips to the "big" pieces of art located between center camp and the man. They dress the same as they would staying at a roadside campground anywhere else in the country. They look at the weird stuff, take pictures, then go back to the safe air-conditioned environment of their RV. They are considered to be slightly less evil than the Yahoos, but are still not exactly appreciated.

What NOT to bring with you:

What to bring:

How to act once you're there:

What to do well before you head up:

Copyright 2003 Brian. All rights reserved.

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