5 Tips For Surviving Your First Burning Man Experience

A guest post by Adrian Stefirta

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Note: All images used in this article are copyright-free

5 Tips For Surviving Your First Burning Man Experience

Your first Burning Man should be a liberating experience. And by “liberating” I suppose it should be as far away from the outer world as it can safely be. There should be no Facebook feeds, retweets and all that meaningless stuff.

People claim that the Burning Man that is well prepared for is a spiritual experience like no other. That’s no mystery, I guess. Leaving your annoying nine-to-five job to interact with random people, far away from civilization, sometimes doing drugs you’ve never heard of can easily be one of the most thrilling experiences you’ve engaged in so far. Speaking of drugs…

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1. Make Sure You Get Tickets Early

Ever hear the saying “The early bird gets the worm”? Well, the early bird gets to go to Burning Man as well!

Before we even get to the tips for when you arrive at the event, let’s first cover the fact that you should get tickets early. This is not something you’ll want to wait last minute for.

Burners.me wrote back in 2015 about 14 Tips For Getting Burning Man Tickets. The advice is still good to this day.


2. Get in the zone

The festival is famous for the community. You’ll definitely encounter the most bizarre people that have lots amazing stories and experiences to share, and it would be a shame not to get out in the world and sink in the energy surrounding you.

Leave your camera, don’t worry about your friends’ gastronomic preferences in your social media feed, and forget about your outfit. Nobody cares, neither should you. As an EDM fan, you might imagine that a festival is a place you easily get the vibe.


3. Self-reliance is crucial

Moreover, you could even say that self-reliance is in the spirit of the event. You must be ready for nearly everything that could go wrong and the more precaution you apply to your preparations, the smoother the experience.

You’ll need a huge amount of things starting with a flashlight and a pack of zip lockers to lip balm and a bicycle. There are so many things you’ll need, you’re guaranteed to forget something.

As mentioned above, leave your designer clothes at home and only bring clothing that is useful, warm (it can get chilly at night), and durable. You’re going to be exposed to numerous hours of sun, sand, and wind, which will be very demanding of your body and your clothing. Bear in mind that you’ll probably eat quite an amount of sand in the process, so why not bring a mask that you can wear when the wind is strong.

You see, people who haven’t taken proper care of their provisions have a special name they’re called on the Playa – Sparkling Ponies. You don’t want to be one.


4. Bring gifts

The sky’s the limit, but why not grab some practical things in a light excess? If you still have some spare space in your car, don’t hesitate to grab some snacks, water bottles, and other things that people around you could find useful. However, do not misunderstand the essential idea around gifts. You shouldn’t rely on people swapping their resources on yours because they’ve probably messed up and forgot to bring a bunch of important stuff, just like you did.

Gifts are about offering and not about trading, so don’t be offended if you give someone your grandfather’s watch and all you get is a free hug. Do not forget about the emotional and spiritual imperative of the event.

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5. Sleep

This is your first Burning Man experience. It’s one of a kind, and none will be same. You’re stoked and you’re freaking out. Regardless of that, you need to sleep. This may sound like a bizarre thing to say, yet there are so many amazing things happening on the Playa every single hour, that you’ll probably feel like a fool if you missed any of those. But this is another thing you’ll have to let go of.

Let your body rest a reasonable amount of time. You’re permanently exposed to sun, wind, sand, loud music, random people, alcohol, and crazy experiences. Let your brain rest. This is not a marathon you need to win, this is supposed to be an inspiring and spiritual experience. Remember?

Some people simply sleep throughout daylight and rave all night, which isn’t necessarily the best pattern to experience what the Burning Man has got to offer.


Final Notes

As an EDM fan, it is crucial that you perceive the Burning Man as a concept in its entirety. You could say that the festival isn’t about electronic music or karaoke but still many people go just because they have the best karaoke machines from the Music Critic’s guide to karaoke machines, as much as it is about the counterculture and its fringes. Well, you may claim that, given its background.

In the mid-nineties, Burning Man featured the Techno scene that was continuously emerging from the ghetto as its central musical figure. Nowadays, Techno is still in the underground of contemporary culture, yet, you can easily spot artists like Calvin Harris and others in the festival’s line-ups.

Is Calvin Harris about counterculture? I can hardly imagine. So what you need to know is the following – the festival does not focus on music as much as it focuses on the spiritual experience. Depending on your musical preferences, you may or may not want to choose other places to visit.

In my humble perspective, as a very opinionated appreciator of underground electronic music, there is nothing that mainstream artists like the above-mentioned can bring to my table, in terms of spirituality. But it’s your call to be made, so choose wisely before you decide to visit the Playa, expecting it would even remotely resemble a club in Ibiza.

 Screenshot 2017-05-31 12.14.10 The Author:

Adrian Stefirta is an EDM producer & writer for MIDI Lifestyle. He’s also an aficionado of Techno and a resident at Waxtefacts Records.





52 comments on “5 Tips For Surviving Your First Burning Man Experience

    • Yes, acts like Polkacide and The Mermen, laying down those “cutting edge beats” since the early 90s.

      Kidding aside, it is interesting to see they were concerned with press coverage since near the beginning. Too bad. For us.

      I still blame the ravers, though.

    • It should also be said that there’s a whole world of difference between the San Francisco rave scene, and the ravers therein, in the early 90s, when it was still almost totally underground, and the EDC festival crowd today. So even though I dislike ravers almost as much as I dislike hippies, there is MUCH more commonality of purpose between ravers and other burners back then than there is now.

    • Really this is just Burnersxxx way of gas-lighting the primary issue. EDM kids brought up on the festival scene, like EDC, who have no idea what Burning Man is and are only coming to say they saw DJ whatshisbucket in the desert. The camps that are promoting this scene take no responsibility to educate the ravers they are attracting and those people are harming the ethos and environment at Burning Man. Burnersxxx is the perfect example. He tries to promote Burning Man as a music festival but takes no responsibility for the behavior of the folks who will see his message and think Burning Man is something it is not. This is completely separate from the history of EDM music at Burning Man. Yes it has pretty much always existed at Burning Man, but it was brought there by Burners who were totally on board with the ethos of Burning Man including Civic Responsibility and Leave No Trace. Burnersxxx wants to promote himself as some sort of EDM warrior and environmental champion but his head-in-the-sand attitude to the impact of festival kids on Burning Man shows he is a just another self-centered irresponsible party promoter. He has a platform where he could do some good. One which could be used to help create an amazing synergy between the EDM community and traditional Burners. All he would have to do is promote EDM with a Decommodification (no paid acts) and Leave No Trace message. But he won’t do that. He’d prefer to present conspiracy theories about BM finances than try to create something positive and lasting.

        • Okay. Here’s my guest post. “THE MOOP IS IN FRONT OF THE FUCKING EDM VENUES”. Stop obfuscating. Even other EDM fans I know agree with that.

          • Burning Man is the world’s largest rave, there are thousands of EDM venues. Many of them have no MOOP. Obviously, a dance floor with 10,000 people there for 12 hours will generate more MOOP than tea for two in a tent. But the MOOP is everywhere at Black Rock City. Don’t believe me? Here is the last MOOP map:


            You will note the most MOOP is at The Man and the Temple. Areas where there is no EDM whatsoever. Perhaps we should ban those?

          • For years Burning Man was a festival with tens of thousands of people and very little MOOP. Then the EDM festival kids showed up. When I look at that MOOP map I can tell you where the big RAVE venues are. Look, if you want to deny the obvious fine. Don’t be surprised when the EDM culture meets more and more resentment from Burners. Thank you for proving my point. HEAD-IN-THE-SAND

  1. “1. Make Sure You Get Tickets Early…Before we even get to the tips for when you arrive at the event, let’s first cover the fact that you should get tickets early. This is not something you’ll want to wait last minute for.”

    Methinks this is a generic “EDM festival” post and you have either never been, or have always had others provide your tickets. You should read the 2015 ticket advice post link yourself. But hey, that’s OK. It’s all part of the Borg commodification plan.

  2. Here’s a tip for burners, new and old: stop telling others that they’re doing it wrong. Aside from giving essential advice like how to not die out there, realize that everyone burns however they want to, and if they’re ill-prepared or uninformed, that’s their own mistake. Yes, help them if needed, but don’t act like you are some kind of expert on Burning Man. No one is. Not even Larry.
    All too often, articles in this blog indicate a very high-and-mighty attitude about what it thinks the right way to burn is. Yet it keeps on posting articles about drugs and EDM. Way to play up the burner stereotype.

    • I’d add – stop asking people where they’re from. It’s torture every time you have to stop what you’re doing and answer that question and all the questions that follow. Stop worshiping every topless woman in DocMartins and a nose ring. Men, stop dressing up like women! The women don’t dress up like men – you cucks. Yes, your girlfriend is going to cheat on you at the first chance (Oh sure honey, you have fun at Center Camp I’m just going to stay at camp and tidy up.). Get used to it because your couples’ fights starting on about Thursday afternoon are boring and it harshes everyone’s vibe that can hear you… The list can go on and on. Finally, I’d recommend earplugs during the day – it forces people to get your visual attention when speaking to you. It avoids a lot miscommunication.

      • I’ve come to believe Tito is simply a talented troll. No one is that stupid. Well done.

        • So you think your GF who you dragged out to the playa, paid for her ticket and most of her survival supplies (including the RV) isn’t looking for the first chance to fuck some guy with a cool art car? She is. That’s why they always encourage you to get the fuck out of camp and go find yourself, while she goes and finds the nearest thing to a playa alpha… And when she fails because she’s 30 pounds overweight, she starts to blame her BF for keeping her down. That’s why all the couples’ fights start on Thursday – it’s when she realizes she’d not going to be able to come back to camp not wearing her panties, and she’ll have no good hook-up stories to tell her co-workers at the water cooler when she gets back to work on Monday.

          • Sounds like you are having issues with your relationship or you’ve had a bad experience. You probably feel some sort of ownership with regards to your current girlfriend, though I suspect you are single most of the time. I’m comfortable enough with my 25 year long relationship to let my wife explore her desires in any way she finds fulfilling and she is comfortable with me doing the same. Love is a great adventure when you don’t try to reign it in.

          • >One who wants to know

            The earplugs have a second purpose – to drown out the arguments you cucks have with your GFs at the end of the week. But I guess that’s my problem.

          • Projecting much? LOL… Classic MRA sexism. Sounds like someone didn’t get laid on the playa last year… hilarious.

          • >Stevia Johnson
            You sound bitter. Some man must have really hurt you. Not all men are like that. You’ll never attract a husband with your attitude.

          • Been trying to figure out if you are a pig with a small penis or a troll. I figured it out…both.

    • Anyone is welcome to write a guest post. It’s not like we are only choosing to publish guest posts about EDM and drugs. Way to dismiss almost 2000 stories here, while contributing nothing of your own – except to tell those who say others are doing it wrong that they’re doing it wrong.

    • You mean of-course the people who created and built Burning Man and who are trying to protect their home from self-centered immature posers who lack all actual creativity and soul. If you think EDM is the best part of Burning Man that says it all.

      • Those people can’t get tickets any more. But there are plenty of EDM fans willing to buy $1500 tickets, and the Burning Man Organization is only too happy to let them set up a plug-n-play camp and give them unlimited purchases on their Burner Profile. They make money directly off each one of those fancy RVs, as well as from the more than 100 licensed vendors on the Playa.

        • Did you read the census? The average household income of a Burner is just slightly over the national average. Less than 1% of the tickets go for more than $425. But let’s not let facts get in the way. There are rich people who come to Burning Man and there are P&P camps but they make up a tiny percentage of the population. EDM kids coming to see their favorite DJ spin the same souless “music” and treat the burn like a normal festival where they have no personal responsibility and get to drop their trash wherever they want is the fastest growing population at Burning Man. It is those people who are taking tickets away from true Burners.

        • burnersxxx I’m curious, since you have “habitat preservation” listed as something you care about on your profile, why is it you never have anything to say about how the EDM kids treat the environment at Burning Man? The sound camps always have the worst moop impact. Granted, I’m an old fart and the music seems soulless to me, but I get that it is an artistic form that lots of people enjoy. As such it is perfectly suitable to have it at Burning Man, provided the performers aren’t paid professionals (by which I mean paid to show up at Burning Man). The reason there is any hostility to the EDM culture at Burning Man is 100% because of a too large percentage of EDM kids who shit all over the ten principles, primarily “leave no trace”. So if you give a shit about the existence of EDM at Burning Man, why is it you never call out these kids who fail to take care of the environment?

          • Define “sound camps”. Because there are literally thousands of them. Have you ever noticed how MOOP blows from 2 o’clock to 10’o clock on the Playa? Ever wondered why the Techno Ghetto is on the 10 o’clock edge?

          • So are you denying it is true that the EDM kids are less connected, informed, and supportive of the ten principles than traditional Burners? The fact that there is more MOOP at large sound camps with profession DJs (i.e White Ocean, Nexis, Slut garden) is just a coincidence? Is that you position?

          • You should work for the White House. That’s bullshit and you know it. The festival kids coming to Burning Man these days are there to see paid big name acts. That didn’t happen before.

          • I am not promoting EDM culture at Burning Man. You are. It is your job to educate your constituents.

          • if you read some of the early press about Burning Man, you will see that it is the EDM crowd that made the festival from before its owners even registered it as a festival. The music was part of the media promotion from the beginning.

            Look into Anon Salon, Joegh Bullock and Michael Gosney. PROFESSIONAL PROMOTERS. Hmmm, the event is now a giant professional event? World famous? With world famous DJs?

            Those goddman EDM kids. Ruining everything at Burning Man, since 1992.

            Please read the history:


          • I understand there has been EDM from the beginning, but they were Burners who bought into the Burner/Cacophony ethos and happened to like EDM. That’s different from thousands of festival kids who think Burning Man is EDC and treat it like that. I don’t know why you are ignoring my original question. If you care about the environment, why don’t you call out the festival kids who are shitting on the environment at Burning Man?

  3. Just a personal preference, I like mutant cutting underground music to be there.
    I hate hearing some familiar top 40 tune form 10-30 years ago. The night a few years back when an art car parked right by the man’s embers and belted out “It’s not unusual to loved by anyone” by Neil Diamond or some such, drowning out the drum circles, I wanted to puke.
    Seems last year there was a lot more conventional music out there, I hope this is not a trend.

    • I agree, commercial vocal music sounds too commodified for Burning Man. Cutting edge beats that you can’t hear in many other places, and a melding together of the world’s electronic sounds: there are few events that offer both.

        • Great. As I have expressed many times, while I am not particularly a fan of EDM, I recognize it is an art form appreciated by many and, as such is perfectly appropriate for Burning Man. I think Decomodification means no DJs should be paid and I think Civic Responsibility means the EDM kid’s experience shouldn’t invade that of anyone else. The problem is the behavior of the EDM “kids”, not the inclusion of EDM.

          • I see. It is only fans of electronic music (95% of Burners) that create the problems at Burning Man. The Burners who hate EDM are the ones that understand the Tin Principles best.

          • Well…by your own logic yes. If 95% of people coming to Burning Man then it would have to be fans of EDM who are causing the problem. But to your point, not fans of EDM music. Fans of EDM festivals who think Burning Man is just another EDM festival.

  4. Do not come to Burning man for the EDM experience, but by all means come. And by all means enjoy the music…all the music. Yes the EDM folks have the loudest and most invasive sound systems, but Burning Man is a total creative experience. It isn’t about one type of music. As a matter of fact it isn’t about music at all. Music is something that happens at Burning Man but if that’s what you’ve come for, you haven’t come to Burning Man. Ignore the advice above (except the part about self reliance). The fact the author talked about “sand” should tell any experienced burner everything. There is no sand at Burning Man. There is dust. It is alkali dust and it is caustic. The playa loves you and wants to teach you…by constantly trying to kill you. It could be heat, dehydration, getting run over in the dark. I have never been at a Burning Man where at least one person didn’t die. Go to the Burning Man home site and read the survival guide. Then read it again. Then read it a third time. Then talk to an experienced burner so they can tell you everything the guide doesn’t. Know the ten principles. If you don’t like them, stay the fuck home. If you can embrace them, we can embrace you. PICK YOUR SHIT UP!!!!! If you are an EDM kid understand your your community has a bad reputation among the wider community of burners. EDM kids are seen as taking advantage of our home a treating it like shit. The big dance camps are the places where the greatest damage is done to our environment. That has led to a lot of resentment. You can fix that if you come with the right attitude and PICK YOUR SHIT UP!!!!. We are a leave no trace event. Learn what that menas. Live by it. Don’t patronize camps where artists are being paid to spin. Burning Man is about gifting. Artists gift their art to the community. Don’t come to Burning Man to see big names perform. No one gives a shit how famous someone is. We don’t come to watch. We don’t come to listen. We come to participate. Get involved. Contribute. Participate. Don’t be a spectator. There are plenty of other places to do that. That’s not what we are about. So please come. You are welcome. But know what you are getting into. Come for the right reasons and PICK YOUR SHIT UP!!!!

  5. Burning Man is not a music festival. it is not an EDM festival, and it certainly isn’t about bullshit hippy dippie Namaste Intentionality look-at-me spirituality. If that is what you are looking for, go to any of the hundreds of bullshit EDM festivals clogging up the summer nowadays. Repeat: DO NOT BE FOOLED! Burning Man is not an EDM festival. You will not like it, and we will not like you. Stay at Coachella or LIB or any of the others where you and your Visa can purchase experience and Instagram cool in your feather headdress. And ps – taking molly and waiting for the bass to drop does not make you a shaman. You are not changing the world.

  6. You had me totally supportive until you got to the idea that EDM was some kind of important or relevant thing at Burning Man (and you dissed other artist types). Why is that? Burning Man is ALL ABOUT different experiences and just because you think Calvin might offer nothing for your experience doesn’t mean others wouldn’t find it exhilirating. One of my favorite clubs on the playa is the Jazz Club where I can totally get away from the thrum thrum thrum of the electronica/techno music (which I honestly don’t like at all and tolerate only because at Burning Man it has always been a constant) and enjoy some really smooth music in the evening cool breeze. I will say that I rarely diss EDM (except in response as above to an unwarranted criticism of other music).

    I am glad that Burning Man is a place for all KINDs of music and all kinds of art as well and all kinds of experiences. You can pick and choose or just stumble on to things you might have never experienced before. It is the mystery of what you will find rather than the idea that you are on a mission to find some specific thing that makes Burning Man for me. Every unexpected experience is one more I would have missed if I hadn’t continued my love affair with TTITD.

    See you in the dust!

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