Thanks to Burner Skysquid, firstly for hosting and facilitating so many amazing Burning Man art projects like those from Peter Hudson and Marco Cochrane in his Treasure Island warehouses; and also for this excellent selection of tips for Burners. Some good stuff in here, even for veterans. Burgins should watch this video also:
I often get asked about tips and tricks how to make turn your burning man experience up to 11. So here is my simple stream of conscious first pass of “Skysquid’s Tips and Tricks Guide to a more pleasurable Burning Man Experience”. In essence, most of these tips and tricks are about reducing suffering to allow more space for pleasure. This tip guide is aimed towards fresher faces on the scene. But even if you are an old hat at this game, it wouldn’t hurt to give it a quick scan and add your favorite tips as part of the thread. Collectively, we can make something that can have value for others.
Some top tips:
1) Bring ear plugs and a good eyeshade.
2) Try to go to bed clean.
3) Bring extra lip balm, and over use it.
4) Make your camelback you best buddy
6) Wear glow at night
7) Bring or arrange for a bike
1) Bring ear plugs and a good eyeshade (the kind that doesn’t touch your eyelids). Self explanatory
2) Go to bed clean. If you can shower inside, great. If showering outside, shower before sunset (it gets much cooler without the sun on you) then sponge/wet towel off before going to bed. One of the biggest pains at Burning Man is getting your RV’s waste tanks pumped. It can be a very unexacting art to get it done in the timeframe that is ideal. The number one reason for needing to be pumped is a full grey water tank because of non-efficient showering. My recommendation is to shower while standing inside a dishpan (the small rectangular plastic tub that fits in your sink) and turning off the water between steps. Here’s how you do it.
In the shower, stand in a dishpan (with a washcloth in it)
Fully rinse and have the water run off into the bucket. Turn off the water. Saturate the wash cloth with the less-than-perfect run off water in the bottom of the dishpan, and wipe off the top layer of dust and grime from your entire body, often recharging the washcloth with the bucket water. (It will seem gross but it gets better.) Then rinse off this layer with the run off from hair washing. Make sure you turn off the water between each step. Hit your pits now. Give a final rinse. If you do this right, the dishpan will be 1/2 to 3/4 full. Let the water sit overnight if possible and the dusty dirt settles to the bottom. Rather than letting this water own your drain and thus filling up your tank, you can distribute this water outside of your rv/trailer out on the playa by “broadcasting” the water around by swinging water around in an arc. It will evaporate quickly. The goal is to never fill up the gray water tank before the black water tank. (On that note, if easy, pee away the RV wherever possible—see peeing tips towards the bottom of this guide). Bonus tip: once you connect with the RV servicing guy, offer him food and sneak him an unopened cold beer; (I’ve never seen a woman do this yet).
3) Bring extra lip balm, use it. Cracked lips with loads of dust don’t mix well. Bring extra because you will most likely lose it or to to share. For super extra style points, tape your cap stick on a string (or beads) around your neck—not only will it be harder to lose, you look like a pro. Bonus tip: Extend the lip balm slightly from the tube and stick it in your nose. Yep, that’s right. Then wipe off the stick. Alternatively, you can schemer some on your finger and then stick it up your nose. As gross as it sounds, it really helps.
4) Use a camelback. You drink far more fluids when wearing a camelback. People theorize it is the oral fixation action. I like it. A squeeze of lime juice always makes it fresher. Further, you can add a bit of tequila or pisco or even diluted mixed drinks (with ice) for that night out on the town. (For you types that try to reduce the chances of picking up a bug from others’ contagious lips, I often carry a small bottle of water for those inevitable encounters when people ask for a sip from the nipple.) When placing your camelback on the ground, make sure the nipple doesn’t hit the dirt.
Besides carrying precious fluids, the camelback is a great carrier for your dust mask, goggles, chap stick and glowy thing at night. Bonus tip: buy a camelback with a widemouth filling bladder for easier filling. Bonus bonus tip: Tag your camelback with your name and camp location. People will return a lost bag if they know where to find you.
5) Wear glow at night. Bring some sort of section of EL (electroluminescent) wire, glow stick/ rope or other blinky thing and wear it at night. It’s best to be visible from the front and back. This way people on bikes and in artcars can see your trajectory on the open playa and can avoid running into you. This is especially helpful when the dust is up. Also, having glow will prevent the never-ending chastisement from people yelling at you to “get some glow”. Bonus tip, put your glow up high—get something lightweight like a plant supporting piece of bamboo and put your glow on top. Also, think of a incorporating a distinctive pattern for your glow, like to bundling two reds and a blue glowsticks together—and buy accordingly. That way your friends can easily find you in the throngs at night. (All this might seem like overkill, but when you’ve lost your friend(s) or they’ve lost you—which is not hard to do) it makes finding each other easier.
6) Bring a bike. Make sure to style it up. Also tag and lock it.
Bring dust masks.
Force feed yourself (and others). You won’t be hungry often. Force yourself to eat regularly regardless of whether you are hungry. Your body needs it.
Bring clear-lensed glasses for nighttime travel. I always wear clearish glasses at night. Keeps the dust out and looks pro. http://tinyurl/nightglasses . Bonus tip: Wear yellow lenses if being around blacklights (it cuts out the UV rays).
Bedding. If you go to bed clean, your bedding lasts much longer. Bedding gets dirtier on the playa much faster than at home.
Top sheet. Bring a large top sheet and leave it on your bed during the day. Remove the sure-to-get-dusty-during-the-day top sheet at night for a dust free bed.
Vinegar: The playa (ancient fish poo) is massively alkaline. Vinegar is very acid. They cancel each other out. Make a little foot bath with diluted vinegar at night, you will be amazed. It’s an amazing quick fix for crusty dry hands. Bring an extra small bottle and share the love.
Bring work gloves. You are more inclined to participate when you can protect your hands. Bonus tip: I often overload up my hands with hand lotion before putting on my gloves. Yum!
Latex gloves at night. If you like pampered hands (or repair damaged hands) load up your hands with lotion and put on latex gloves. (You will need help doing this).
Wear socks. Cover your feet with boots or shoes. Wear socks. Cracky feet suck.
Resist FOMS. (Fear Of Missing Something). It is impossible to see everything. You will always be missing something, and it is ok. Make sure to leave room for randomness.
Don’t wear stilettos. Go chunky heels.
Pre plan outfits. While I don’t do this, some pros even pre plan their outfits in day-coded zip lock bags. Obsessively wonderful and makes getting ready easier, especially when distracted.
Pre-coordinate color-themed days with your friends. (Wear all white on Thursday or red on Friday, etc.) It’s fun and builds good group cohesion.
Avoid pimp-style and “french maid” costumes. Screams newbie.
Avoid cheap quality fake fur, don’t bring feather boas.
If you wear bunny ears, you may be captured by BRC Animal Control. Seriously.
Don’t peak early. Many first timers start strong early in the week and are tuckered out right when the going gets good. Have discipline and subdue your desires earlier in the week so you can have some reserve for the big weekend crescendo.
Sleeping pills. Bring a small stash of non-Ambien sleeping pills. It can be a lifesaver.
Disco nap. If you plan on staying up late or even be on dawn patrol, take a disco nap during the day.
Have a meet up plan in case you get separated. Suggest to meet and a designated (which is easily findable and rememberable) spot on the top and bottom of the hour for example. That way you can still have a good time and know that you can rejoin your peeps shortly. tip: don’t make the meet up spot an object that might move away, like an art car.
A super pro move is to be fully ready to go out before heavily partaking (if you are into that sort of thing, which I’m not) in your camp/rv/text/hut/etc. Resist the temptation to do so untill you are fully ready to roll. It’s comical how much l o n g e r it takes to get out the door when even the least bit inebriated. Seriously. Otherwise, you risk the dreaded “RV suck”.
If high, MAKE NO LONG TERM PLANS…repeat….MAKE NO LONG TERM PLANS.—involving relationships / other people. Seriously.
Watch out for the PoPo. Do not consume anything illegal in public. Never. Not worth it. Go inside a tent, RV or somewhere. Do not give anything illegal to anyone. And if you must do, not do so to anyone you do not know. Read: http://survival.burningman.com/rules-regulations/law-enforcement/ Remember, this is Federal Land.
Bring extra lighters.
Bring led xmas lights. A couple of strings of xmas lights (leds are best) and a staple gun can totally change the feel of an RV/yurt/hut at night.
Lock your bike, everywhere. Seriously. A favorite bike “losing” area is in front of the porta potties. Most bikes aren’t really stolen but borrowed by people who are high. Bonus tip: get a lock with settable letter combination. It’s easier to remember your code and share your bike that way.
Wander the side streets.
Volunteer for a Greeter shift at the front gate or help art project. You can ask people working on a project if the need help or go at the Artery. (Be prepared with water, hat, sunscreen and work gloves.)
Take a playa name. Some people think it’s stupid. Some love them. Having one helps anonymity if so desired. (If you need one, let me know, I’ve got a great playa-naming trackrecord.)
The deep playa late night can be very cold. Be very prepared. If staying out late, you will most likely be on the open playa from time to time. After 2 AM, it’s really easy to lose your body heat to the cold night sky when not well covered. Warm coats / hats / scarves / wraps are winners.
Check out the trash fence at sunrise. Besides seeing an often awe-inspiring sunrise, you can find all sorts of fun and strange and interesting things in the trash fence. The wind blows all sorts of fun stuff into the fence during the night. (For those who like to make out at sunrise, bring a small tent out to the fence).
Learn your landmarks *before* the burn. Learn your landmarks *before* the burn. Learn your landmarks *before* the burn. Once the man burns people are often very disoriented. Find big lit (non moving) objects to key off of days before the burn. (The flags at Center Camp are a favorite.) Bonus tip: remember the lamplighter lights run between 6-12 and 2-9.
No “spot erosion studies”. When peeing or pouring out any water, don’t focus the beam in a single spot. Spread it around since making spots makes mud. For male folks, while peeing, try walking backwards while making big side to side sweeping motions. For women folk, try hopping around one planted foot—it’s nearly impossible but fun to try once.
Gift, don’t barter. Bring, carry and give gifts. (Chapstick on a rope is da bomb)
Use the power of the fire ritual. It’s different for many people and make it your own. I usually bring something to burn that symbolizes something I want to banish from my life and toss it in the fire during the man burn. I bring something the represents the attributes / things I am pulling towards myself (and myself towards) for burning in the more feminine energy temple burn. (That’s just one way. The Temple is a great way to say good by to your lost ones.) Go to the Temple early in the week.
Many people have an intention for their experience. While not necessary, it is sometimes strangely helpful and enlightening.
Give without expectations.
Expect everything and nothing simultaneously.
Prepare, and enjoy!
Timothy “SkySquid” Childs
P.S. A number of people said these where game changers and I will be trying them this year: http://www.betterbreathers.com/commercials.html
[Update 8/19/13 4:05pm] This post has stirred up some controversy, see the comments, because it’s against the rules to piss on the Playa. If you’ve got to go, Burning Man rules state that you must piss your pants instead, thus saving the precious desert that is underwater for several months every year. Just make sure your wet pants don’t drip!
Presumably these anti-pissers are city dwellers. For those of us who grew up in the country, it’s quite natural to take a leak outside in Nature. Perhaps even more natural than holding your breath in a port-a-potty with no running water or toilet paper (because BMOrg’s budget somehow isn’t ever quite enough to ensure an adequate supply of those).
Burners.Me is not a piss promoter, so suck it up! Everywhere you go, bring pee funnels and spare jugs. Perhaps wear them on a bandolier, since you can’t place them down on the ground (that would be MOOP) Piss jugs, the new fashion of Cargo Cult…piss, but don’t miss!