- Don't look at it as a huge party - Burning Man stresses that they are not a festival but rather an event. This is the first clue that you should not approach your burn like Coachella. Sure, top DJs play and there are hundreds (if not thousands) of places to dance and drink, but party is the icing on the cake. The ideal objective is to have experiences novel to you with people who are different from you. In this sense it is like travel.. but traveling to an otherworldly martian outpost where society is structured in a very unique way. You can party anywhere, but only at Burning Man can you achieve the above objective on such a unique scale. Don't squander your time on the playa doing what you could accomplish at a bar on any given Saturday night, or in Joshua Tree with a case of beer.
- Don't prowl for girls/guys - There is a lot of sex crackling under the desert stars and you could very well be a part of it. However, to make pick-up your objective is a misuse of this unique time (See above). You will spot a couple drunken fools prowling dance floors and PUAs running routines at art cars. They'll be instantly identified by the crowd as "that guy." Instead of dropping game, drop into your highest vibration and see who hums along to your frequency. Using this organic approach I hung out with an older black woman who'd been to 12 burns, a Japanese BDSM master, a polyamorous married couple... and I met plenty of attractive women who synched up with my energy. Remember: Your vibe attracts your tribe.
- Put away your phone - Quizzically BM has introduced some signal on the playa. However, pulling out your phone would be a big mistake, cheating you of the opportunity to be present with the environment and people around you. Seal both your phone and wallet in a ziplock as soon as you arrive. You may feel a little withdrawal, but if you stand firm eventually thr amazing sensation of freedom will prevail. The proverbial ball and chain has been loosed! You will probably, like me, loath to turn your phone back on as you leave. But what if you need it to take pictures? See #4. What if you get lost and need to text your buddies to coordinate? See #6.
- Don't take pictures or video - Firstly, someone is already taking better pictures and better video for you, so you can ignore the distraction of the camera/phone (see above) and be present. Secondly, BM is an environment where people feel safe to explore sides of themselves they may not in the real world. The more Go-Pro's being waved around, catching strangers in frame, the more this aspect will suffocate. But principally my objective of BM was not to demonstrate on social media that I was there. That's broadcasting identity or trying to make an impression. The burn gave me a rare opportunity to drop the ceaseless Jonathan Legg routine and focus outside of myself. What a treat.**
- Get dirty and dress silly - There is hidden genius behind the chosen location. The difficulty to get there, the harsh environment, and the silly costumes all serve as a way to strip away your "real world" ego. Don't fight it. When I was wearing nothing but a tutu and a cowboy hat, covered in playa dust, I stopped trying to make an impression. Conversations seemed to jump right past pleasantries/introductions/resumes and right into something meaty.
- Get lost - At several points you will lose your friends. In the dark desert night, with thousands of flashing bikes moving all directions, it's damn easy. Don't panic. You know where your camp is.*** You'll eventually find your crew there. Embrace this sudden opportunity to embark on a solo mission. Go visit a camp you personally wanted to check out. Ride out into the deep playa and look for obscure art. Take a moment to look up at the stars and check in with yourself. If you utilize the "say yes" BM philosophy (see #7) it's almost guaranteed you'll have new friends and a unique story to share when you reunite with your tribe.
- Say "yes" to opportunities to slightly push your boundaries - You could definitely jump in the deep end at BM (hello orgy tent!) but if that's not your style just wade out a little deeper than you usually might. For me this lead to one of my most cherished memories of the burn: washing and being washed by strangers (gay, straight, old, young, male, and female) at the Human Carcass An experience that got me clean but moreover affirmed that there is nothing shameful about our bodies, nor is nakedness glued to sexual situations. At some point, as you're riding your bike towards an objective, someone will yell for you to stop and check them out. Remember that your plan is not that important. It was just a tool to get you in motion. Be present with what happens around you. Say "yes" to opportunity when it presents itself.
The 2015 burn was one of the most memorable and life-altering experiences of my life. It felt like a collective experiment to see how nice we could be to each other. Or as if we were all informed a meteor was definitively going to destroy the earth in a month... no more value would be placed on hoarding stuff or wearing a social mask. May as well share what you got, love fearlessly, and celebrate life. This is the burn.
Looking forward to seeing you on the playa. Swing by Center4RnD at 5:15 and G and say hello. If you've got BM advice to share please comment below.
** This year I plan to arrive early to shoot a small section of video and then be finished with electronics throughout the burn. If you do elect to photograph always ask permission; however, keep in mind it will never look as good through the lens as it does in real life.
*** Write the address of your camp on your bike with a Sharpie. This may help if someone accidentally grabs your wheels in the middle of the night and could also guide you home if lost.