Dearest Newly Sparked First Time Burners,
Congratulations on saying YES to this life-changing adventure. I am ecstatic to share with you something I love so much. If you haven’t already, start getting really really excited for the RIDE OF YOUR LIFE.
You’ve got some work to do in order to get yourself ready (BM is August 28th-September 4th), but it’s part of the journey and in my experience, worth every second / penny / ounce of energy!
I’ve organized this Starter Kit into three parts:
1. INTRODUCTION – what is Burning Man? and what’s your why?
2. INSPIRATION – what others have discovered on the playa
3. PREPARATION – what to do and how to get there
PART 1: INTRODUCTION
What is Burning Man?
Burning Man is many things…it’s a blank canvas of infinite possibilities, it’s a catalyst for never-before-seen creativity, and it’s a sacred container of radical self-expression and wholeness. Every Burner will have their own unique experience and different reasons for WHY they come (or don’t come back) every year.
The way I like to describe Burning Man is this: Imagine a call was put out to the most creative tribes on the planet, a call to build your dream civilization for a week in the desert. No government, no capitalism, no constraints. Now imagine 60,000 people answered that call and gathered all their most treasured gifts and potent energy to share in this once-in-a-lifetime experience that happens every year.
And finally, imagine one of those magical, wonderful, beautiful, lit-up and fully alive people is YOU.
Now before you get down and dirty with the details, start with clarity on your WHY.
Ask yourself WHY am I going to Burning Man?
- What is my intention?
- What is my desire?
- What within me is asking to be revealed or ignited?
- What am I willing to let burn away?
- Who am I willing to be or let go of?
- Why spend all of this insane time, energy, and money to willingly roll around in the blazing hot and freezing cold barren desert for a week of my precious life?
Only you can answer these questions so before you get into the thick of planning, take the time to clarify your vision and your why. Everything is energy and if yours is pure and true, it will make the manifestation and preparation process so much smoother and more enjoyable.
Now it’s time to soak in more of the Burner culture and get inspired by other’s why’s.
PART 2: INSPIRATION
- Read Burning Man's First Timers Guide and How Do I Get Ready for BM? straight from the source
- Soak in the Culture & Values – 10 Principles of Burning Man
- Sign up for the Burning Man Newsletter: Jackrabbit Speaks
- Watch Spark - If you haven’t seen this movie about Burning Man yet, it’s on Netflix and totally worth watching!
- TICKET – There are multiple ways to get a ticket. Directly from Burning Man Ticket Sale is always best but you can also get lucky and manifest tickets through friends or friends of friends. I haven’t been able to get tickets directly from the BM Sale. The first year I didn’t decide I was going until 2 weeks before and the tickets came. The key here is COMMITMENT to going as well as a willingness to SURRENDER to that which is not in your control. Create a vision, set an intention, put out your feelers, and then let it go! Note: typically people start to bail 1-2 months out of BM and there are often a FLURRY of extra tickets and Vehicle Passes. Trust and hold true!
- CAMP – There are hundreds of camps at BM and while you can go on your own, I recommend joining one. Every camp has a unique offering and different requirements. Ask Burners you know who they camp with and see if you can join one of their camps. You can also go rogue and get your own parking pass and post up in an open spot. I know many self-sufficient people who prefer this. In the past I've camped with IDEATE out of SF and now CAMP WALTER based out of Phoenix.
- ACCOMMODATIONS – There are so many ways to live out there and I’ve tried a few, I’ve stayed in an air-conditioned shipping container (NICE!), an airstream (also NICE!), and I’ve pitched my own tent (not as nice but much easier!). Other people build yurts, rent ice-fishing tents, or take RV’s. I have some research on this in my packing list.
- TRANSPORTATION - I’ve gone up a few different ways, I’ve caught a ride in an RV, caravanned in an airstream, and taken the Burner Express. If you’re self-sufficient, low-maintenance and coming from San Francisco or Reno, the easiest and fairly inexpensive route is the Burner Express. If you decide to drive in via an RV or otherwise, you'll need a Vehicle Pass.
- FOOD & WATER – For me, I don’t go for a foodie 5-star experience. I take the essentials and some favorite goodies. Your meal possibilities also depend on your access to electricity and power. I don’t fuss with a generator, I bring a pop up stove, lots of soups, and then things like hummus, salsa, chips, avocados, apples, oranges, etc (see my full packing list for details). Water! Important. Bring 1-1.5 liters/day and YOU MUST MUST have a Camelpack. That is your lifeline out there, stay hydrated with electrolytes.
- BIKES - In Black Rock City, people get around primarily by bike or art car. Many Super Burners (experienced burners) have other cool means like segways dressed as sea horses but bikes are the norm. I recommend an inexpensive bike with big tires, a mountain bike or beach cruiser will do. I got mine at a Bike CO-OP, it's a used kids mountain bike for $40 - can't beat that! I recommend you also get some kind of horn, squeeky toy or noise maker of some sort (great when you can't see during dust storms but you can hear!) also a lock to keep it safe and a golf ball to put on your kick stand so it stands up easily.
- PACKING – BIG note about packing, I always seem to overpack and over-prepare, which later feels like a waste of time and money. What I’ve learned out on the playa is you don’t really need much. Yes, you need to survive but it’s amazing how little is TRULY necessary. Also, in the moment, I usually forget that I even brought half of what I have. KEEP IT SIMPLE. That said, I’ve put together an extensive list over the years that I’ve adopted from another Master Pack list. This is my Updated Pack List (same one I've listed previously).
- GIFTING - Gifting is a huge part what makes Burning Man amazing. This is an opportunity to get creative with a meaningful gift that you'd like to share with the community. I've made hand-stamped intention bracelets and received mini Burning Man dust globes. This article has some good information about gifting.
- OVERALL COST - This will be dependent on your needs but I suggest putting aside about $2,000 for your first go. $400 for the ticket, $1000 for transportation and accommodations. $600 for food, water and supplies. I've seen people spend upwards of $10,000 and others on a minimal low end of $1,000. Though you won't be spending any $ when you arrive, the cost to get there is another story. This may trigger you and feel like a bunch of privileged bs and I would say you're right but BM has also activated in me more power and energy than I could possibly describe. And if it's calling you and you can afford it or even if you can't, figure it out, GO!
- POST-BURN DECOMPRESSION - Here is an amazing Post-Playa tips list from BM. For your decompression, if you can take 5-7 days off after the Burn, you'll thank yourself for it. I've not given myself this time and space in the past and really regretted it. Be kind to yourself and allow for a smooth and gentle integration. The culture shock is real. A lot of people go to Tahoe or Reno after the burn. There are also a number of post-burn events, like the Dust-Off and official BM Decompression in SF.
Having just inhaled all of that, take a moment to breathe...
I imagine you’re feeling a range of emotions from ECSTATIC to OVERWHELMED. I get it. You don’t need to read all of this or do all of this. I’ve put this together after three burns and I don’t follow it all. But it’s there to support you and so is the entire Burning Man community.
So be kind and gentle with yourself.
Remember your WHY.
Have a little faith and trust in the process. After all, we’re not in control, the Universe is the master orchestrator and it supports us in all ways.
Final note and special shout out of gratitude to the majestic Jeremy Watson who assembled the original welcome email that turned into this Starter Kit. Thank you to Jeremy and many other Burner friends who have contributed to my experience year after year. Your generosity has been unbelievable, THANK YOU 🙏🏽❤️🙏🏽
Big love x light and see you all in the dust!