First and foremost, let me just say this. If this is your first time experiencing Burning Man, you are considered a first-timer. You are not a virgin, this is not Rocky Horror Picture Show. You are not a newbie either, because many of you have seen or read as much as you could absorb to find out about the experience of Burning Man before you actually attend.
One of the most important things I have to say deals with your departure. Those of us who have attended Burning Man in the past will agree. We are serious when we say, "Leave No Trace." Everything that you take into the playa, you must take back out. I cannot stress enough that it is not okay to leave garbage bags behind for someone else to pick up. It is not okay to drop cigarette butts on the ground. In 2001, a camp left behind a pallette which was used as the floor of a shower. As I was the last one left on my "block" I dragged this thing all the way back to my camp, just so it wouldn't be left out there for someone else to pick up later. And while I felt I was doing my part, I really felt that the people who left that behind was inconsiderate to the rest of us for not planning ahead. So, before you leave, be sure to take a look around your camp, and even around the camps of those who were near you, and pick up everything you find which does not belong out on the playa. We are
serious about this one thing, because we could potentially lose our ability to use Black Rock as our home.
Until we, the citizens of Burning Man, arrive at our home in the desert, the land is barren and arid. Behind the cut, I will inform you of what you have to take, things I suggest you take, and tips on how to plan to get everything back out of there that you took in, in order to make the experience more enjoyable for yourself, and those around you.
As I mentioned, the desert is very barren and arid. There is nothing out there but ourselves. No cactus, no insects, no shrubs. The air is so dry that it will literally suck the moisture from you. You do not have a chance to build up a layer of moist sweat because it evaporates as quickly as you produce it. For this reason, you need to take water; lots and lots of water -- at least 1 gallon per person per day. This 1 gallon minimum is just for
drinking purposes, and I suggest you take even more than that. If you want to bathe/shower or shave, you'll have to take more. You might also want to consider taking Gatoraide to drink to increase your electrolytes, but it won't necessarily be needed on a daily basis.
Non-perishable food: Jerky works quite well. Dried fruits, too. Problem with regular fruits and vegetables is the stuff you throw away; it can get quite smelly. Remember, you have to take your garbage out with you. There are no waste facilities. Don't make the assumption that if you throw something on the ground that it will rot. The moisture will be sucked from it before it has the chance. It will end up petrifying. Besides, you aren't allowed to leave anything behind. Remember, "Leave No Trace" is serious.
You'll want something to sleep in (tent, sleeping bag, etc). Burning Man happens 24 hours a day, but you're going to have to sleep sometime. Not everyone can fit in Center Camp. When pitching your tent, use metal tent stakes, not plastic or alluminum. The ground is so hard that the plastic ones will break, and the alluminim ones will bend. Leaving behind broken plastic remnants of a tent stake is a no-no.
True, Burning Man is not a monetary based economy/community, but you can buy coffee and other drinks at Center Camp Cafe, along with ice nearby. These are the only things for sale at Burning Man, and all proceeds go to the local (Gerlach) schools. If you want to risk buying drugs on the playa, then you might want to take more. But Burning Man has so much to offer, there's no real reason to use drugs. It's quite an experience all in its own.
Be sure to take plenty of toys and costumes. Trinkets are great to trade or give to your neighbors and friends who you'll meet out there. Not everyone runs around naked, but wearing street clothes isn't normal. Come up with some clever and outlandish costumes. A lot of people wear body-paint, as well.
If you do plan on roaming the desert nude or semi-nude, be sure to bring lots of sun-block. And in case you do end up getting burned, sun-burn lotion to help you stay comfortable. Sunglasses are pretty important, too, to keep the sun from burning your eyes. Yes, we really have had people with sunburned eyes, it is not a joke.
Be sure you don't forget your tickets. Otherwise you'll have to pay to get in. And they won't let anyone in by buying tickets there after Thursday.
Take an open mind. Be ready to experience things that you haven't even thought of yet. So many people with so many original ideas go out there, that you will find yourself seeing things that you wouldn't see anywhere else.
Just remember to participate -- do something! Don't just watch. We call those people spectators, and those are the people we don't want. If you juggle, teach others how. If you give awesome massages, give some. Start a spontaneous parade. Just do something. It's fun!
When you leave, you will finally understand why we call Black Rock "home." The mundane place you now live in is just that. It's your second home. Black Rock will forever dominate, and be your true home.
Okay, here are some tips to help you take everything back out which you had brought in.
Take things which are collapsable. Alluminum cans as opposed to glass bottles. You can crush the cans to help make a little more room for all the gifts you get. There are also people who roam around who will collect your cans if you don't want to recycle them yourself.
Unless you plan on eating the skins or cores, try to take dried fruits and vegatables instead of fresh. Banana peels and apple cores will start to stink up your garbage. Watermelon rinds still contain a lot of water and will make your garbage heavier, and take up space.
If you want to take dried cereal, take the bag out of the box and leave the box at home. If you finish the cereal, you can use the bag to collect garbage around your camp. If you don't, you can roll up the unused portion of the bag and have the space that the box would have used up.
If you have wood products which you don't want to take back (like the aforemention pallette left behind), drag it out to the man on the night of the burn, and throw it in when you're dancing around the fire. Remember, many structures have nails and screws, and by burning such items, you're leaving those behind. You should plan on staying a little extra, going out to the burn site, and help pick up some of the remnants which you have left behind. This helps all the volunteers who stay behind in the desert for several months cleaning everything up by leaving them a little less. Just because there are volunteers who stay to do this sort of work doesn't give you permission to leave stuff there for them. Do your part.
And as I said, have fun! I'll see you out there!