2014: Bring Your Parents to Burning Man Year

A lot of us older Burners originally came to the festival at the urging of our children.  In my case it was when my 20-year-old son talked his nearly 60-year-old dad into going.

So I’m putting a call out to all the young Burners who happen by this site to make this “The Year of Taking Your Parents (or, as appropriate, grandparents, uncles and aunts) to Burning Man”.  They may love it or hate it, but they’ll never forget their Virgin Burner experience.

How can you seal the deal with some likely tough customers?  I’d suggest you find ways to make their decision as easy as possible. Consider the burden to older people of spending a week in an uncomfortable tent with few creature comforts.  Suggest an RV, trailer or camper instead.   You can also seek out other alternatives such as dome-style encampments.  Google “Burning Man Shelters” for some creative options that offer a comfortable life while retaining a feel for Black Rock City.

An important proviso is the cost of renting an RV for the Burn. Your folks can expect to pay a deposit roughly equal to the amount of the rental cost to cover clean-up.  But they can mitigate or eliminate that cost by thoroughly scrubbing away all evidence of their playa experience, both inside and outside the vehicle.

A few preventative steps can help.  For example, we use carpet remnants to create a false layer of flooring in our RV.  The remnants can be pulled out and thrown away or stored for next year’s Burn – leaving only minimal clean up of the deck.  For cloth furniture and draperies, use Press ‘n’ Seal to keep out the dust.  Also be sure to seal windows and other spots where dust can creep in.  Post-Burn, take the rented vehicle through an RV wash.  Pricey as these automatic washes can be (usually around $100), that expense is a pittance compared to losing the entire deposit.

Preparing for Burning Man can seem like an onerous task, but you can provide plenty of help based on your own experience, plus the advice available on the Burning Man site.  Haven your parents check out this site for a thorough review (including videos) of playa preparations.

Tell your parents about the need for bikes and the prevalence of nudity at the Burn.

Tell your parents about the need for bikes and the prevalence of nudity at the Burn.

If you’re serious about bringing your parents, you’ll want to make a commitment to their success. Travel or caravan with them and join in the fun of welcoming them as Virgin Burners. Show them the important facilities, including the closest medical tents and porta-potties.  Walk through the What, When, Where guide you receive at the gate to help your folks pick out activities that they’d enjoy.  And while you’re at it, choose a couple of activities that you’ll want to share with your folks.

Another idea is to get them signed up for an Art Tour where they’ll get to see the major art installations and even meet some of the artists – all without walking or riding their bikes.  Check with the Artery  for more information on art tours.

Finally, be your parent’s mentors.  If you’re camping away from the, check in on occasion to make sure they’re okay, comfortable, and having a great time.  Introduce them to other older or some of the truly fascinating people you find at Burning Man  Warning: Setting your folks up in a campsite and then forgetting about them is a sure way to undo much of the goodwill that should be part of your aspirations for their visit.

So let’s declare this “take your parents to Burning Man” year, and bring along the folks.  It may just deepen your relationships for all time.

What’s with the new cover picture on Sunrise Burners?

First, I was tired of the old one (as much as I love the aerial shots of BRC, that one’s been up for the entire life of the blog).  But the more important reason for me was to remind myself that Burning Man is all about the art – and no piece was more memorable from 2013 than Truth is Beauty.  It lorded over the playa, visible from almost everywhere, and had that magical quality of repose during the day that morphed into a lively spirit after dark, when it’s complex lighting system was activated.

Sometimes I feel a sense of frustration when I see a piece of art as magnificent as Truth is Beauty – frustration that I have never created art, and haven’t even written much that will outlast me (not that many of the corporate Annual Reports I’ve written and edited won’t be accessible forever on the web; I just don’t count that as art).  But this wonderful sculpture had a different effect on me.  It was uplifting – almost spiritually so.  It gave me constant pleasure and joy with no sense of disappointment.  So I decided to make it the new header for Sunrise Burners.  Hope you like it as much as I do.

Truth is Beauty is a perfect representation of Burning Man 2013, which was brimming with art – whether in the form of sculptures, structures or vehicles.  It was a banner year for art, and almost impossible to see it all.  We’ve committed ourselves to getting to more of the art installations in 2014 and trying to make one of the art tours this year.

The Man in Motion. Photo courtesy NextCity.org

The Man in Motion. Photo courtesy NextCity.org

I’ve read a few comments regarding my blog on how most Burning Man films and videos show only the young and the beautiful, ignoring the core of us older, saggy types.  It’s certainly understandable when a filmmaker edits around the “average” people and settles on the many beauties that come to the burn, but we’d love to see someone go a different direction and show the full range of burners.  Maybe it would work for an artist to create a film or photo book of older Burners.  That way, comparisons wouldn’t make us look worse.  Seriously, such a work could bring out the beauty of us older folks, and show the way for other senior burners to give Burning Man a try.  Such a book or film may already have been made, so if you know of one, please add the info as a comment below; but if it hasn’t been done, then I’d urge one of our many artists to give it a try.

I haven’t said this often enough, but I am deeply appreciative of those of you who read this blog.  It is meant as a gift to the Burner community (you’ll never see any advertising or other forms of commercialism on this site), especially to those of us who are 50 and over.  But it’s also meant to help younger Burners convince their parents to give Burning Man a try.  There’s nothing quite as rewarding as sharing Burning Man with your children.  We’ve never had a Burn without at least one of our children there.  We don’t feel the need to do everything together, but we do try to see each other at least once a day.  The kids like to come by our RV just to make sure we’re okay (we always are); we like to visit them just to revel in the joy they’re experiencing (and also to make sure they’re okay – sorry, I’m a parent).

So I’m eagerly awaiting Burning Man 2014, and I’m still trying to figure out what the theme means to me, and what kind of flag we should make this year.  We hope more of you come visit us.  I expect to be back in Lamplighter Village this year, and anybody in the village will be happy to point out Perky and Lashes’ RV.  See you at BRC.