Burning Man — that thing happens every year in the Nevada desert (United States).
1. Plan Transportation
Getting to Black Rock City is an adventure in itself: more than 70,000 people are moving, more or less at the same time, to the desert. The majority option is to go by car, so traffic jams —even with a festive atmosphere on the way out— can last more than 12 hours. The Burner Express buses from Reno and San Francisco are a good alternative. To get around the desert, it is best to go by bike. There are public and free bicycles, but there are not many and they are in high demand. You can rent one in advance at Playa Bike Repair, with which you support the organization of the anti-festival and save yourself having to bring the bike to and from the city. Here you can see other rental options in Reno and Gerlach, the closest town.
2. Think about the weather
Remember that you are going to a desert where it is boiling during the day, very cold at night, and where you can find sandstorms that last for hours. And sometimes it rains. a lot. Look at the weather forecasts. Essential: comfortable shoes (boots, especially if you are going to work building something), sunglasses or goggles, a hat, warm clothes, and a scarf to cover your mouth, if necessary. That, plus all the costumes you can think of.
3. Evaluate if you should join a camp
Not everyone is up for hosting strangers, but here’s a list of those who are. Pay attention to the types of camps (there are family camps, for LGTBQ circles, for vegans…) and the deadlines and, when you ask to join, make a complete presentation. There are usually common projects, such as building the camp itself, cooking, organizing events, repairing and cleaning… and you have to pay a variable amount, depending on whether there is water, breakfast or dinner, art projects… It is a good option for first-timers because you can learn from the veterans – some have been going to Burning Man for decades and spend months preparing – and it means having a house in the middle of the desert. You will appreciate it.
You can also camp freely, although you will have to bring tents and tarps or awnings to protect you from gales, about five liters of water per day and per person, cooking material —no, you will not survive on preserves, bananas, and bars energy sources—and (very important) You must take with you all the garbage that you have generated! Others opt for caravans, although the burners do not like these people very well. In addition, it is expensive, and you will find yourself with blissful endless traffic jams.
4. Take care of yourself
It’s easy to get carried away by the euphoria of the beach and forget about time. It is also common, especially after a few days, to feel exhausted, discouraged, and out of place… A friend always asked those who felt sick: “Have you had enough water to drink? Have you eaten enough? Are you asleep?” Ask yourself several times a day, it seems obvious, but it is not. Don’t be afraid to ask for help either, one of Burning Man’s principles is self-sufficiency, but I haven’t seen people more generous and kinder than this.
This is not a festival to use. There are no stages to watch, no bands to see, and no schedules to follow. Interact without fear, ask questions, spend the day with strangers, put down your cell phone, and bring out the weirdo in you. Get closer, if possible, to those who have been going for many years. Avoid, as much as possible, surrounding yourself only with first-timers. In my experience, the Burning Man seniors are the funniest, the least biased, and the best stories, and they love to share. Don’t forget to bring gifts (food, drinks, handicrafts, clothes…) or activities to give away. Some people give you massages, paint your nails, make your juice, or who give you (bad) advice. Try to come up with something original. Double point if you make others laugh.
6. Do not judge
It’s the happiest place in the world for a week, and everyone experiences it in their way, and sometimes someone’s way of being happy is to skate dressed as a phosphorescent duck. Don’t laugh at others. And leave the cell phone.