Have you ever taken a look at Burning Man’s 10 Principles? To a great extent, they provide a quick synopsis of the Burning Man ethos and what you can expect when you’re on the playa.
The principles are not an orthodoxy that everyone observes in a rigid manner. They aren’t even guidelines for behavior. They are simply an idealized vision of the world that Burning Man seeks to create each year.
The principle that has had the greatest impact on me personally is “radical inclusion,” which is nothing more than the idea that all are welcome at Burning Man. Radical inclusion has helped me become a less judgmental person – especially when it comes to people’s appearances. I spent much of my life hanging around with corporate types and others who fit into my general style of living. There were few people with tattoos, ragged clothing or scraggly hair. At Burning Man, I found myself living, working and playing beside people who didn’t fit into the corporate norm, and it took awhile for me to stop judging such people negatively or even avoiding them because I felt we had nothing in common.
Expect — and accept — the Unexpected at Burning Man
Eventually I let down my barriers and began reaching out to people who looked and acted differently from me. It has been one of the most rewarding experiences of my Burning Man journey to discover the goodness that lies under outward appearances – even those that are the antipathy of your personal choices. Radical inclusion has changed my entire outlook on people and opened doors to a much broader perspective. It’s in my mind every day of my life because I constantly run into people who I might have previously rejected out of hand.
It may seem callous that I was such a snob in the past, but that was my reality until Burning Man. And the change is one of the reasons I believe Burning Man has been so good for me as an older adult. Late in life, I was able to expand my comfort zone and enlarge my community of interest to include people who think and act differently from me. These changes have enhanced my life, opened my mind to new thoughts, and helped to keep me feeling young and vibrant.
The 10 Principles are not gospel, but they do provide a taste of the Burning Man environment and the ideas that drive the festival. Check them out before you head for the Playa.
This is not a post about costumes, but about day-to-day comfort wear for Burning Man. You may not have thought about the type of clothing you’ll be wearing on a daily basis, but experience eventually teaches you to pack the right things for the situation you’ll be experiencing. The fact is, you want to be comfortable in the variable weather conditions of the Playa.
Daytimes when it’s hot out, the best type of clothing is short – short sleeves and short pants (otherwise known as shorts). A hat is also essential in the hot weather. But remember that the wind will carry that hat away unless it is tightly adhered to your body – whether by elastic, string or rubber bands.
Shoes: I’ve personally had the best luck with sandals. Sneakers are okay, but they tend to get much dirtier and dustier than sandals, and in any type of mud (due to rain) they become nearly unmanageable. Going barefoot is an option, but not a good one from my point of view. The alkali surface is rough on feet, and you’ll need constant attention (such as vinegar baths) if you go barefoot. Even most naked Burners wear shoes.
Some people substitute their whimsical underwear for light clothing. Nothing like a pair of Underoos to make a statement. I even have a pair of boxers with a silk-screened tool belt that I sometimes wear. It’s both comfy and stylish.
Of course, being uncovered means taking care to sunscreen yourself regularly. You don’t want to suffer through an unnecessary sunburn, much less risk the long-term effect of unfiltered ultraviolet rays. We usually carry our sunscreen with us as we walk around the Playa.
Dressed for Playa Success: Alan, our friend Helen and Judie ready for a night of fun.
Nights can be very different from days. It’s often in the triple digits daytime, but in the 40s at night. You’ll want to be both comfortable and safe in the evening. We’ve found a number of terrific fur or faux fur coats that look and feel great in the evening. We line the outside with EL wire so people can see us and we can look more festive. Bur remember, using EL wire means you have to pack extra batteries to keep the flame burning, and it also means carrying one or more power packs in a pocket.
My typical daytime wear includes jeans shorts, a tee shirt (preferably one that was designed at a previous Burn), socks and sandals. Yes, socks too. I really try to protect my feet from the Playa. We always take off both shoes and socks when we enter the RV, thus keeping some of the dust outside. There are typically a slew of shoes and socks at our front door. Fortunately, there’s no Burning Man homeowner’s association to tell you to neaten up the place. Doing whatever your heart desires is part of the fun of Burning Man.
Wear what you want, or wear nothing at all. Burning Man offers all possible options. Dress yourself to the teeth or dress down. Everything is perfect for Burning Man. Just consider your comfort as you pack for the Playa.