VEDA #5 Making Burner Friends (Contacts) – Transcript (about 14 minutes to watch)
Hello. Welcome to Penguin’s Wanderlust Video blogging for every day (VEDA) in April. So today I made notes because we have a lot to cover today.
So today’s topic is If you’re going to Burning Man and you don’t know anyone that’s going to Burning Man – what do you do?
How to Make Burner Friends
So I figured we would start with the things to do beforehand. Get online and do a little bit of research. Under Burning Man you can find e-Playa (Playa is the name of the desert because it’s a lake bed so it’s basically electronic Playa).
(Deafening roar of heat pump.)
That’s going to be annoying.
Okay, so I turned off the heat pump. Today has been way colder than it’s been all week. It rained last night so everything’s kind of wet which is why I’m sitting on a towel. It’s not too bad right now. It’s dry.
1. Join e-Playa
So if you don’t know anyone that’s going to be going to Burning Man. None of your friends are going and you don’t know anyone that’s going. Then the thing to do is join e-Playa. There are forums there. Before I went in 2009, I went on e-Playa and I found another mother who had never been. She lived in San Francisco. Her son was a couple years younger than my daughter. My son was an older teen by then. My daughter was like fifteen, We met online and exchanged notes and comments. She joined me in my camp, our regional camp, she joined us and that was good. I think the thing that she should have done was probably bring a friend for her son because he went off to the Man by himself one evening just because he wanted something to do. I think having a friend helps.
2. Meet your local burners if there are any.
You can also join your region’s email lists. If you go to the burningman.org page. You’ll see Regional Network. It’ll show you a map of the world and then you can see where the regions are. So you can go to those and get on the email lists so you know what’s happening in your neighbourhood sort of thing.
When I joined the one in Victoria, BC I only joined the events one and I was on it for a couple of years.
I never saw a message on it at all until Ashes took over running the Victoria group. He contacted me and it turns out there was also a discussion email. But that was back in 2009. Most people are on Facebook so just look on Facebook. Do a search for Burning Man or burner and you’ll find lots of groups to join. There’s a European group, the ones in Canada, and the ones in the States.
3. Subscribe to The Jackrabbit Speaks Newsletter
The other thing to do is to subscribe to The Jackrabbit Speaks newsletter. That is the official newsletter that you get from Burning Man. It tells you what’s going on. You really should be subscribed to that.
4. Make contact with distant burners.
One way of doing that is to look on the Burning Man web page and find out about the list of theme camps. It may still be too early for 2016 but you can certainly go through the theme camps for 2015. These are the officially placed theme camps as opposed to the ones that might not be in that list. You can go through there and you can see if what they’re doing, what their theme fits in with what you want to do.You can correspond with those people. You might not want to camp with them your first year. But possibly if you build up the relationship you might want to camp with them later.
5. What I did
What I did was I camped with our regional group for three years, Slacktoria, the Republic of Slacking. We did it for three years. Our third year we were not placed as a theme camp. That caused some amount of problems because for a hundred people coming from a twelve hour drive it’s not that easy to coordinate a hundred people. But we managed it.
I in my first year 2009 I went to life drawing. I had heard about Burning Man at art school and I graduated in 2005. So I knew about it for a few years but the timing wasn’t right for Burning Man.
My daughter always had a 4-H horse show on Labour Day weekend at the Saanich Fair. So I was never able to come.
In 2009 I decided I was going. My son was going. And my daughter – I had it all looked after so she would go with another family and they would take care of her and everything.
I took her to the Seattle burn in July and she decided two weeks before Burning Man 2009 that she was coming. So that was a wild scramble to get a ticket from somebody who couldn’t go in town. Getting goggles, and mask and stuff and an airline ticket because we flew to Reno right after a dressage show in Chilliwack. That was the year I decided I never wanted to drive that route from Reno to the Playa at night again because it was fairly harrowing without having had enough sleep. I only had five hours of sleep before we went to Reno.
Anyway so the last three years that I went, I stayed with the Art Model Camp. I had met them my first year because I went drawing a couple of times. I went drawing with them my second year and hung out with them and the Los Angeles CORE group which was like a taco truck. In the third year my son came and drew because he’s also studying art at university, and then the next year we just camped with them the last three years. I will always camp with them because our regional group – some years it was a hundred people. The Art Model Camp which is in the Alternative Energy Zone Village, it has usually less than twenty people. So it’s a small group and it’s very nice.
6. Start a Local Burner Group
So if you can’t find a theme camp that you want or you want to do something else, what you can do is you can create your own local group. You can start that with – in Scandinavia they have these things called Burning Dinners. So somebody offers up their house for having dinner, and then people come and one set of people are the ones responsible for cooking that meal and then everybody else chips in to cover the cost of buying the groceries and stuff. They’re small intimate groups where you can talk to people and get to know them. The Scandinavian groups are very into relationships and getting to know each other which is like astounding.
The thing that they do here is sometimes they have Burners and Beer. So they’ll meet at a local pub once a month sort of thing and talk to each other. You can also have coffee groups. In Vancouver some of them get together for musical jams like acoustic playing because they have a big theme camp at Burning Man which is acoustic music.
7. Use Burner Map on Facebook
The fourth thing you should do before you go to Burning Man is you should use Burner Map on Facebook. Burner Map is a really useful application. What you do is when you know where you’re going to be placed, you write it on the map. So it’ll give your coordinates. It’ll put your friends from your friend list – they’ll be added onto your Burner Map. So it’ll have a pictorial representation of Black Rock City with the horseshoe and it will show where your friends are. Then on the pages after that it gives their name and their address and any notes. And that’s really useful.
8. Don’t Count On Appointments
Then at the event say you’ve decided you’re going to meet Dorothy at the Wizard of Oz camp on Tuesday at 3 o’clock. Don’t expect it to happen for sure because there’s such a thing as Playa time. People sleep in, people do stuff, people may be way over here and they’re supposed to be way over there in like half an hour. The city is nine miles across. If you cut across the horseshoe you may get lost but it’s a lot shorter than trying to go through the horseshoe the long way. So you’re talking nine miles here. I’ve seen maps where Black Rock City is overlaid Vancouver or overlaid Victoria. So you actually get a grasp of how large a city Black Rock City is. There are 72,000 people. It’s a large city. When I grew up in Fredericton, New Brunswick there were like 25,000 people. When they amalgamated the surrounding areas it was 40,000. So we’re talking about a city that’s almost twice as big as the one I grew up in.
So accept that you might not find your burner friend. My friend, Nato, spent half of a burn trying to find one of his friends and finally decided that his burn was his own and he gave up. And sometimes you just have to do that. Give up.
9. Do Stuff You Like
Do activities that interest you and you’re likely to meet people that you’ll get along with.
10. Borrow an Item Next Door
Nato also had this method where you could leave something at home that you know you’re going to need like a hammer. Then because you didn’t bring your hammer, you can go to the next door neighbour camp and borrow one. And that’s a good way to meet people. But you don’t really have to plan to leave your hammer behind. There are so many things that you have to bring to Burning Man.
There’s usually a little meme that says “Pack all the things!” That’s true. You pretty much have to pack all the things because there’s nothing at Burning Man provided other than roads and portapotties. Everything else is brought by the participants.
11. Go into a camp and ask “What do you do here?”
My friend, Chris in Flux, he had a really good way of meeting people. Just wander into a camp, don’t go into the private tent area, the part where there are people and say “hi” and you can say “And what do you do here?” Because even the small camps that are not the officially placed theme camps, they usually have a theme. So it’s easy enough to just go in. And I thought that was a really great way of meeting people “What do you do here?”And they’ll tell you about their concept that they have.
12. Carry Nail Polish and Offer to Paint Nails
Another way to meet people there, I went my very first event which was Recompression over on the Sunshine Coast of BC which isn’t that sunny but it was while we were there, somebody offered to paint my nails. So you can walk around just with a couple colours of nail polish and meet people. It’s really quite easy.
So that’s todays lesson: What to do if you don’t know anyone at Burning Man. Bye!