Party Like A Rockstar: Tips For Festivals & Burns Without The Ruin

By Terry Gotham

One year, in my camp, there was a fellow named Bad Andy. He had a penchant for yelling “Rock & Roll” at the top of his lungs while executing bad ideas, which is how he got his name. One such bad idea was drinking a bottle of Jameson & a 24 pack of Bud Light before going on a midnight art walk without a Camelbak. Some of you may have seen this episode before…

The next day, after Rangers delivered 3 IV bags of fluid & 4 32oz bottles of Gatorade into his system, he was back at our camp, suffering in a hammock while we poked him with sticks. His penalty was the same as it was for all Burners who get a little too confident. He lost a literal day to the hangover and had 10-15% less Burning Man than the rest of us (depending on how many days you’re usually there, of course). With festival season s about to kick off, I figured I’d create the spiritual successor to my New Year’s Eve article and get our faithful readers information they can actually use when going hard at weekend festivals, regional Burns, or even the Big Kahuna itself. Some advice will be more relevant to Burning Man, while other notes will apply more to regionals and retail festivals.

Basic Tips For Comfort

One thing that I learned the hard way my first year on Playa: Bring more than 2 pairs of sunglasses. There’s nothing worse than bringing a pair of sunglasses and having them break, or bringing 2 pairs, loaning one to your friend, and then smashing yours by accident. This may seem like a fashion faux pas, but wearing a cheap pair of plastic gas station sunglasses will get you way more Instagram likes than squinting in a 3-7 days worth of pictures.

For Burners, this goes double. Have 2 pairs of sunglasses & 2 pairs of goggles. Even a cheapo 2nd pair purchased as an afterthought can seriously decrease the amount you mutter “fuck fuck fuck” to yourself during a whiteout.

For anyone who hasn’t been to Mysteryland or PEX Summerfest or Burning Man, trust that the sound never stops. Ever. No matter what festival you’re going to, have a noise cancellation/hearing protection plan. This is more than just “bringing a pair of foam ear plugs,” because we both know you’re going to lose those on night one. At least 1 pack of foam ear plugs or those custom fitted/molded ones are must-haves if you’re planning on camping anywhere near amplified sound. If you bring extra, you can earn friends on the dance floor when you’re generous with the rest of the pack. This might be a good time to do some window shopping at gearhungry.com, camping survival gear and burns just go together, trust.

Additionally, if you’re bringing a child, know that protecting their hearing is paramount. Construction grade noise cancelling headphones are a must. If I see you with a baby on the dance floor, and that baby doesn’t have ear protection that makes him look like he works on a tarmac at an airport, I’m going to hate you to death with my mind.

One little suggestion to help you feel refreshed: Bring a toothbrush when you head out for the night. While this tip doesn’t really work in club land, giving yourself a fresh clean mouth and splashing some cold water on your face is as rejuvenating as a 20min nap.

Know the route from where you’re partying back to your tent in daylight & the dark without relying on too many landmarks. One of the biggest issues newbie Burning Man attendees report is, the day after the Man burns, no one can find their way around because they were using “the man” as a guide post to locate themselves.

Even if you don’t plan on tanning during the event, don’t forget sunscreen! Not tanning oil, sunscreen, with at least SPF30.You’re going to be in the sun all day, so even if you’re not lily white, you might burn. I wouldn’t wish a sunburn on my worst enemy at Electric Daisy Carnival Las Vegas or Burning Man.

Lastly, have a plan to get there AND TO GET HOME. I’m amazed I need to say this, but apparently it’s a tough one for some of us. No one wants to be the guy who is hitching a ride away from the festival. And yes, if you’re hitching to get off playa on Sunday or Monday after the man burns, we all hate you.

How To Avoid The Penalty Box (Hangovers)

While some issues are largely surrounding being comfortable while partying, some will sideline you if you don’t handle them properly. That’s why the mistake Bad Andy made was so costly. He lost 24hrs of Burning Time, which is pretty expensive, given the cost to attend and how much he’d been looking forward to it all year.

On day 2 and 3, start mixing Gatorade & salty snacks into your water regimen. Pissing clear is important, but because you spend so much time sweating, unless you’re replacing those electrolytes, you’ll be at risk for an equally problematic situation. Here’s a pile of potential problems to look forward to if you’re not maintaining those levels.

Moreover, at Burning Man, unless you’ve got an RV, by the time it’s 10 am, it’s too hot to sleep in the tent you took to Rainbow Gathering & pitched in the shadows of a big ass tree. So, this is a big one. Get to bed early enough such that you’re solidly in deep sleep by the time the sun is up. While you may not be punished for this so severely at a forest-based festival, if you’re on a beach or on playa, messing this up will cost you a night of sleep. That may not be 100% disabling, especially for our younger readers, but do this 2 days in a row, and you’ll be a zombie, guaranteed.

An easy way to sneak snooze time is to schedule a nap during a DJ you hate. It feels like you can’t miss anything and you’ve gotta go hard, trust me, don’t give in to FOMO. You’ll have a better time if you’re well rested, and you won’t piss off the people you camp with. Even a nap that only lasts 90min is a full REM cycle if uninterrupted.

One oddly helpful suggestion I received on playa one year is to start collecting/packing out your garbage daily over the weekend. This sounds like a thing we all say we’re going to do, but never remember. I tried it once and can attest to how smoothly it made my departure. Bag stuff up and get it ready to process/bring back with you from Leave No Trace events, so when you’re hungover/tired the day after the burn, you’ve got one less thing to think about.

Reports of My Death Have Been Greatly Exaggerated

This last category will be a bit more serious. Certain mistakes will ruin your night and the following day, while others can ruin your life. For example, know where the crisis intervention/Ranger stations are before you have an emergency. This can literally make the difference between life & death. I cannot stress this point enough. Say hi to the Rangers, Ground Control (EDC) or Conscious Crew (Seattle/Tacoma region events) before you get fucked up. Make sure your sober spotter knows how to get the attention of emergency staff. I cannot stress this point enough. When you need help and everyone’s on Ketamine, reading a map’s gonna get real tough, real fast.

No matter what the amphetamines tell you, don’t dance for more than 4 hours at a time without stretching and taking a break to cool down. Seriously. The stimulants have gotten powerful over the years, but the cardiovascular system of your average dance floor participant hasn’t. Stretching isn’t just because it feels good while you’re fucked up, it’s to prevent soreness, stiffness and aches you might attempt to medicate with painkillers. Take a break, the party will still be there after you take 20min to relax in a cuddle puddle.

Secondly, calm it down with the frat row level drinking. No really, you can’t be conversationally drunk for more than 12 hours. Either exhaustion finally overtakes you, or you mis-time that 14th shot and you crash hard. I couldn’t be a bigger fan of margarita walks in the inner rings near center camp, but don’t plan on day-drinking all day and partying until sunrise that same night. Give yourself an early bedtime and a Camelbak or two of water, so you can actually hit up Utili-kilt Yoga the next day.

If you’re honestly attempting to take drugs to stay up longer than your body allows, skip the adderall and hit up the provigil. You’ll get a couple more hours of party but less of the amphetamine jitters & insanity. The old urban legend of being awake for 72hrs causing you to qualify as clinically insane is a total myth, but amphetamine psychosis most certainly is not. Don’t try and push it, because the drugs will knock you around.

Be kind to yourself. Don’t try and push so hard, there will always be another party. Slow your roll so you make it to Labor Day with epic memories that don’t involve ambulances or puking on the deep playa because you needed more calcium. If you find me on the dusty dance floor, I’ll have ear plugs for you.

2015 (Almost) Final MOOP Map Released [Update]

Inspection tools. Image by @Shalaco

Inspection tools. Image by @Shalaco

This year, the BLM approved Burning Man’s “Leave No Trace” status a full week before the MOOP inspection could be completed. This seems a little strange – as does “we passed with a visibly wide margin” in light of the amount of red on this “almost final” map posted yesterday. Is this a sign that the volunteer MOOP inspectors are now being more zealous than the actual MOOP inspectors? DPW scored a few reds and yellows, and there is a giant big red for The Man. A few camps with red have been specifically named, including Ibiza Camp, Distrikt, Emergency Services Station 3, and the dead-eating nun-fuckers at the Totem of Confessions. Celtic Chaos and Ooligan Airways get named and shamed for large amounts of red, while White Ocean is the biggest red of the whole map and yet somehow manages to avoid a direct link to it.

2015 Moop-Map-2015_Day-9

The “final” map is still several months away, according to VOBM.

This is NOT the final map. The final is still being created, and will be released in a few months, along with detailed information about what was found where. If you’re wondering about what happened, and you’re a placed camp, you will hear from your Placement representative in a few months with more information

Apparently, the delay is simply in getting the data into the graphics, not doing the sweeps:

we have finished line sweeping our way through the streets of Black Rock City …However, it takes us several days to produce the Moop Map images…Sorry for the confusion. Have you ever tried computering in this desert? It’s a slow process [Source]

Here’s how the BLM inspection works:

The BLM can’t inspect the entire 4.5 square mile event site in a single day, so 60 randomly-selected points throughout the city are chosen as a sampling. Each inspection point is one tenth of an acre. They cover all parts of the city, from the streets, to the Man and art sites, to the open playa.

In order to achieve success, there must be less than one square foot of moop found per acre. Therefore, each inspection point must produce less than one tenth of a square foot of moop. That’s a 3.8 inch wide square. It’s small.

And yet, once again, we passed with a visibly wide margin. Do you know how big a deal that is? It’s a tremendous accomplishment, and it’s something we all did together, as the community of Black Rock City. [Source]

It’s great news that we passed. It’s just a little confusing that “passed by a wide margin” is the same as “large amounts of red and yellow all over the map”.

Congratulations to all the camps who scored a green. Anyone who scored a red must live with the public shame for months, without any information about “what” or “why”, and no chance to defend themselves. Surely there could be a better way. Why not just sweep the whole site on the Wednesday following Burning Man, taking photos with GPS co-ordinates? They could post any red marks online and let the camps who care come and explain themselves, apologize, or ask how they could have done it better. Dealing with this more publicly could help educate the whole community together; this system of “we say its red and that’s that and you won’t even find out why for months” seems to help the NPD social capital brigade more than it helps the global community of Burners.

And while we’re at it, what about an abandoned bikes map?

Thanks to Gary Justgary for posting these from previous years:

moop 2014 moop 2013 moop 2010


[Update 10/14/15 11:09am]

Adam La France has shared a couple of photos of MOOP left behind this year.

2015 wood left behind adam la france

Abandoned timber is gathered in one place and burned. Image: Adam La France via Facebook

2015 abandoned bikes

Many of these bikes were stolen before being abandoned. Image: Adam La France via Facebook

BMOrg Continues to Cover for Commodification Camps

Will Chase has added to the chorus of Commodification Camp justifications we’ve been hearing from BMOrg, with a post saying “what’s all the fuss about? Nothing to see here, move along”:

Virgins and Turnkey Camps Are Ruining Burning Man.

The content of the post is nothing like its title; quite the opposite. He is “Minister of Propaganda”, after all.

We’ve been hearing and reading a lot about Turnkey Camps over the past couple months (haven’t we all?) and I have to say, I’m a little confused by people’s apparent willingness to make or buy into blanket statements and generalizations about Turnkey Camps, virgins, who should be allowed into Black Rock City, etc.

Did some people do bad things? Sure. Are some people “doing it wrong”? Yep. Will it destroy Burning Man? Nope. Are we learning from this year what we can do better in the future? Absolutely. We are bigger than this, and our community can — as it always has — figure it out, adapt and self-regulate. There’s no question in my mind.

2014 sep 3 caravancicle aerial

Wednesday after the Burn. Caravancicle and Lost Hotel still have all their stuff there, regular Burners had to be packed up and gone

Self-regulate? Where the fuck does he think all the regulations come from? Certainly not from the community. It’s not the community saying “hey, you’re rich, cool, how many tickets do you need?  You can leave MOOP, you can exclude Burners from your camps, you don’t have to gift anything. Line up for 8 hours because we can’t mail tickets internationally. Pay royalties to the new LLC called Decommodification. Get insurance for your own art projects, because $30 million’s not enough to cover it. Your art car is public transport that belongs to the whole city”.

As for “blanket statements and generalizations”, that seems to be what we’re getting from BMOrg, not the other way around. The questions I’m seeing from the community have been pretty frikking specific. BMOrg’s definition of “Turnkey camps” is about as general as you can get.

Don’t get me wrong, we’re not apologizing for Turnkey Camps and virgins who may have mis-stepped … nor are we sweeping anything under the carpet.

Oh, you’re not? Could’ve fooled me. I guess you think you have nothing to apologize for – it’s “your” event, after all.

Here are some facts to keep in mind:

  1. Burning Man has always had virgins. It’s how this thing keeps going and growing. In fact, in the early years Black Rock City was sometimes more than 50% virgins, since the event doubled in size from year to year.
  2. The percentage of virgins has been steady for the past few years, between 35% and 40% of the total population.
  3. Not all virgins are clueless twits. Some won’t know what they’re doing, and some will (but we’ll attempt acculturate all of them).
  4. Some of those virgins are never going to “get it”. Most will. (I had no clue what I was doing in 2001, and I’d like to think I turned out OK in the end. Heh.)
  5. Every single year of Burning Man’s existence, people have lamented how it’s all going to pot because [insert reason here] and virgins are doing it wrong. And it hasn’t. (The #1 most common thing I hear from virgins is “I didn’t understand what it was about, how could I possibly have? But now I get it! I’m a Burner!!”)
  6. Turnkey Camps are not all the same. There’s a broad spectrum from “doing it fine” to “doing it horribly”. The percentage in the latter group is small. Very small.
  7. The “tech elite” have always been at Burning Man. Hell, they’re practically what made Burning Man possible.
  8. Burning Man will always change and evolve.
  9. It is in the media’s interest to generate and stir up conflict and scandal and paint black and white pictures, because money.

Talk about trying to change the subject, to dodge the difficult questions. “We’re not trying to sweep anything under the carpet, we just want you all to talk about something else. Because we’re listening. No really, we are! Here’s a list of 9 reasons why your concerns are wrong”

What difference does listening make, in a do-ocracy? Actions speak louder than words. All we’re seeing is words: words that make it seem like actually, BMOrg are not listening.

2014 caravancicle ad

Real ad, offering cash for sherpas on the Playa.

Turnkey camps are a “broad spectrum”, because that’s the way BMOrg is trying to define them. Commodification Camps are not a spectrum – they’re more like a cancer. An alien parasite, leeching off our culture. Contributing nothing to our city. By saying “most camps are turnkey camps, and there are only a tiny number of bad ones”, BMOrg pave the way for as many Commodification Camps as they can sell. It’s a spectrum – “oh, you had one of the bad ones? Not to worry, DPW will pick up that MOOP for you. Better luck next year. We’ll try to acculturate you and socially engineer you so you can move further up the spectrum to where we want you”.

By heavily promoting Burning Man to the mainstream media – from Town and Country to Vogue to the New York Times – BMOrg make tourists want to come. By favoring Virgins in the ever-changing ticketing system, they make it harder for Burners to go. By diverting tickets sold back to STEP in good faith by Burners, and instead selling them in secret for $650 to Commodification Campers, they make a mockery of Burner values – robbing good-hearted Burners of profits that they could be earning from scalping, by telling us it’s “against Burning Man”. By promoting celebrities and politicians, who have “special needs” that somehow prevent them from Self-Reliance, they make Black Rock City more like Any Town, USA.

The community is upset about Commodification Camps “because money”. He got that right. But no-one is objecting to the profits made by the New York Times. I doubt their Burning Man sherpa story was even a drop in their giant ocean of cash. No, we’re upset “because money” – because people are MAKING MONEY from our spectacle which was FREELY GIVEN.

It seems like, in all their listening, BMOrg have totally missed the part where we said we don’t want to be bingo items for safari campers. That’s not why we bring all our art and music and energy and love – why we PAY BMOrg to “let us” bring it. We do that for fun, and to give to each other: not so that a select few can then commercially exploit it, and tell us we’re not invited.

MOOP #fail

MOOP #fail

The community is not upset about Virgins. We’re upset about how experienced Burners can’t get tickets, and long-time camps can’t get placement; meanwhile, Commodification Camps mysteriously get all the tickets they want. We’re upset because we have to pick up after ourselves, while Commodification Camps leave entire blocks worth of MOOP for DPW to collect. We’re upset about selective rule enforcement: one set of rules for insiders, and one for Burners. We’re upset because volunteers slave their guts out for no pay, while tickets that could go to worthy Burners get diverted to paid employees to be the Self-Reliance that Commodification Campers are too lazy to learn for themselves.

We’re upset because BMOrg keeps telling us they’re listening, and keeps writing these posts that show they’re really not.

Let’s re-cap, shall we:

Radical Self Reliance and Rich People at Burning Man – 72 comments, lots of questions from Burners, few answers

How Turnkey Camps Get Placed – 50 comments in a single day, lots of questions from Burners, no answers

Virgins and Turnkey Camps Are Destroying Burning Man – 9 “talking points”, lots of trying to change the topic of discussion, no answers

A Rich Man Dreams of Paradise – 67 comments, no answers

Will says:

It’s part my job to keep my finger on the pulse of the community in Black Rock City.

If so, then maybe you should read all the comments above. That’s your community speaking, right there. What comes out the most? What question does the community want answered, more than any other?

HOW DID THESE CAMPS GET SO MANY TICKETS?

Four different posts on the topic at burningman.com, and still this basic question is ignored like it doesn’t even exist.

despite a sensationalist New York Times article that was inflammatory and inaccurate but had legs, Burning Man was happening in all its diverse glory.

photo: John Curley

Will Crawl, 2014 photo: John Curley

That’s what you think we’re upset about? A single article in the New York Times? Way to have your finger on the pulse, dude.

We firmly believe everybody deserves the opportunity to have a transformational experience, ESPECIALLY the people who may not ‘get it’ right away … they probably need it more than anybody. Is that risky? Possibly, but our culture is so rich that I challenge a newcomer to NOT be impacted by it. And, as our culture gets stronger, it’s harder for a minority element to contaminate it. Think of it like this: if our culture was a thin soup, one carrot could change the whole flavor. But if you toss a carrot into a rich stew like ours, it’s hardly noticeable … but it becomes part of the mix.

The minority element contaminating the culture, appears to be a small group of decision-makers who encourage this commercial exploitation of Burning Man. And guess what: they’re NOT making the culture stronger. I’m listening to the community too, and that’s not what I’m hearing – AT ALL. Quite the opposite, in fact. BMOrg boast that they’re pleased they’ve jumped the shark, but most Burners don’t feel that’s a positive thing for our culture.

I wonder if BMOrg really are getting lots of emails and feedback forms from Burners saying “Commodification Camps are great, there should be more of them” – and somehow, that message just isn’t making it through to social media? Is there some “we love Sherpas, we love MOOP” group on Facebook that I’m not a member of?

caravancicle interaction guide 1

Caravancicle “Interaction Guide”

No-one is denying that virgins should be able to have a transformational experience. Why should Burners be squeezed out, to make room for Commodification Campers who are exploiting the Playa – and all of our free Gifting – for their own financial gain? Why should these camps be allowed to turn Burners away because they don’t have wristbands?

It’s our job to figure out how to get more people to experience Burning Man without compromising our principles in the process (INCLUDING radical inclusion). This is all of our work. And as the event grows in popularity, we’re going to have to work harder. But don’t panic, this stew is really, really good.

Waffle. What will be done? That’s what the community wants to be told, not “you’re all doing it wrong, but we’re doing it great”. And, guess what: it’s not your job to get more people to experience Burning Man. It’s your job to get the permit, and provide the basic infrastructure for the event, so WE can bring our party out there. That’s why we pay you $400 per ticket, of which $13 goes to art and $57 goes to Mysterious Other. We understand it costs money to rent the port-a-potties and pay the cops and build The Man. We didn’t give you that money so you could sell higher-priced tickets to tourists and film us to sell it in YouTube videos and the iTunes store. We’re not paying you to do the job of inviting a bunch of strangers who don’t care about our values and don’t want to learn, who think they’re better than all that. Who come to SEE the spectacle, not BE the spectacle.

If it’s so important to the Burning Man Project to acculturate Virgins and spread its message around the world, then let them do that for the whole rest of the year when we’re NOT putting our party on together, sharing our hospitality and camaraderie out on the inhospitable Playa. Let them divert Virgins to the Regionals, instead of squeezing out long-time Burners. Why kick us out of Black Rock City, to make room for strangers who care nothing for our unique culture and want to exclude us at our own event?

To me it’s quite simple. Radical Inclusion doesn’t extend to people who shit on all the other Principles. Fuck them – it’s They who should be excluded, not we Burners who don’t have the right wristbands for their $2 million camps. If you don’t want to be a Burner, fine, no problem: we don’t want you. It would be easy to sell 70,000 tickets to people – even 40% Virgins – who want to Gift, Include, be Self-Reliant, Participate, make a Communal Effort, and Leave No Trace. Why should it be “bring them in anyway, maybe they’ll get it, maybe they’ll want us to re-educate them so we can move them along the turnkey spectrum?” What about all the people who really do get it, but can’t get tickets? What about all the Burners waiting all year in STEP, hoping that their chance will come up, so they can start planning and preparing for their Burn?

What is it that makes these Commodification Campers so special? Money? Prestige? Power? Why do we need them at all? What about all of us, over nearly 30 years now, who HAVE put in the effort, the blood, sweat and tears? What about OUR feelings? What about OUR city?

Read Will’s full post here.

If you’re not sure what a “Commodification Camp” is, here’s just some of our other coverage on the topic:

Commodification Camp Concerns

Commodification Camps and the Tin Principles

Plug-n-Play Goes All The Way To The Top of the Pyramid

Comfortably Commodified

$2 Million Camps: Gentrification of Burning Man

 

 

caravancicle tshirt

Safari Camps Play Burner Bingo

Just when you think the stories about Commodification Camp Caravancicle couldn’t get any worse, we get this leak from the Facebook group Sherpa Liberation Front. It seems $13,000 can buy you a room in a canvas cube, but it can’t make you cool.

caravancicle interaction guide 1

caravancicle interaction guide 3caravancicle interaction guide 2

Caravancicle, The Lost Hotel

Caravancicle, The Lost Hotel

 

MOOP #fail

MOOP #fail

2014 lost hotel2014 lost hotel corridor

caravancicle tshirt

2014 lost hotel room2014 lost hotel bedroom 2014 lost hotel bathroom

is that a lock I see on the yellow bike to the left?

is that decoration on a yellow bike (L)?

Rich White Trash

by Whatsblem the Pro

"Great burn. . . see you back at the sty, Larry!"

“Great burn. . . see you back at the sty, Larry!”


MOOP is “matter out of place,” the burner slang for litter. It’s very highly frowned-upon to litter at Burning Man; you will likely have a nasty confrontation with someone if you MOOP deliberately, or even if you wear things that are MOOP-prone, like feathered headdresses. The event takes place on federal land that belongs to all Americans, and not littering the place up is a condition of the permit issued by the Bureau of Land Management, originators of the slogan “leave no trace.”

Each year after the burn, the mighty Playa Restoration Team spends a month or more on the playa, gridding out the abandoned skeleton of the city and doing an astonishing job of picking up and properly disposing of even the smallest bits of MOOP, like carpet fibers and cigarette butts (and they even seem to manage to make a good time out of it). Using GPS, they mark problem areas on a map; the camps that get marked yellow or red on the annual MOOP map may have serious problems getting placement from the corporation that runs Burning Man the next year.

Check out this detail of the Restoration Team’s final MOOP map for 2013, and note the two circled camps:

DetailMap

See the yellow and red marking “Ego, Ergo Frum Camp” and “Camp Whatever” as main MOOP offenders? It’s not the first year these camps have left behind significant amounts of litter and detritus — their MOOP footprint was similar in 2010, for instance — but the name of the main camp has been listed differently on the MOOP map each year.

Why? Because “Ego, Ergo Frum Camp” and “Whatever Camp” are actually the public and private sides of First Camp, where the Board of Directors spend their burn. These are the people who adapted “leave no trace” from a Bureau of Land Management slogan to one of the Ten Principles that many burners consider sacred, holy writ. It’s kind of like the way the Board of Directors tells you not to commodify Burning Man. . . while they commodify Burning Man.

These aren’t people who lack the resources to have someone else pick up after them, if they just can’t do it themselves; some of them have social secretaries camping with them, for god’s sake. . . but if First Camp was your camp, you wouldn’t be allowed back after leaving behind that kind of mess multiple times in recent years.

Burner, these people aren’t like you. They don’t represent you, and they have no problem with double standards that treat you as lesser beings and hold you to a higher standard than them. They don’t deserve all the loyalty and support you give them. . . but if you have the will, they can be replaced.

We need new leadership! Out with the corporatists! Burning Man for burners!