How Can I Talk My Friends into Joining Me at Burning Man?

The short answer is that you probably can’t.  At the very least, it won’t be easy.  Then again, Burning Man isn’t for everybody.  We’ve been proselytizing the Burning Man experience for seven years with only marginal success, but that hasn’t dampened our evangelical zeal.  Eventually, someone shows up, and even though there’s a better than even chance that they’ll hate it, some few will love it and come back again.

We accept the reality that Burning Man is especially intimidating for our age group.  It intimidated me when I first attended at age 60, and I never would have gone if not for the wishes of my 20-year-old son.  So we try to target our messages in specific ways for specific individuals.  More importantly, we always include frank discussions about the downsides of Burning Man – you know, the dust, the heat, the porta-potties – and how we’ve learned to cope with them.

So what compels an individual or couple to join you at Burning Man?  Five things come to mind:

Judie powers the famous Monkey art installation from 2006

Judie powers the famous Monkey-go-round from the 2006 Burn

  1. The art.  Older people tend to be more interested in art than the younger crowd.  For many of us, Burning Man is all about art that is created on one of the world’s most unusual canvases – the Black Rock Desert.  If you’ve been to the Burn, you already have the material you need to close the deal:  your photos of the amazing artwork.  Even if you don’t have photos of your own, there are literally thousands of examples available for free on websites about Burning Man.  Check out these example from the Huffington Post for a starter, and share them with your friends.  These images will stir the imagination of art lovers and make their mouths water for a week on the Playa.
  2. The change.  There’s no better way to experience a “change of pace” than going to Burning Man.  I’ve often described the festival as the world turned on its head for seven days.  If there’s anything of the humdrum to your friends’ lives, you can entice them with a week they will never forget.  From the moment they’re greeted with the traditional “Welcome Home,” your friends will know they’re “not in Kansas anymore” when they’re experiencing Burning Man.
  3. The laughs.  There’s so much whimsy at Burning Man that you find yourself smiling day and night.  And we all know that laughter is the best medicine.  So tell your friends that they’ll be happier and healthier after a week in the desert.  Here’s a site to share with your friends that features some of the awesome and hilarious art cars on the Playa.
  4. New friends.  Our trips to Burning Man have introduced us to a group of friends we never would have met otherwise.  There’s no comparing our Burner friends with our neighbors and work associates from other parts of our lives (what Burners call the Default World).  Our Facebook pages are brimming with thoughts, ideas and experiences from Burners that enhance our lives and make us feel younger every day.
  5. Boobs.  I have very few male friends who don’t ask to see my pictures from Burning Man every year hoping to see images of the naked females that abound on the Playa.  If you attend the Critical Tits bike ride, you’ll see more boobs than you’ve ever dreamed of.  And that’s a good thing, from my perspective.  So if your friends can’t be convinced by high-minded reasons to attend the Burn, just tell ‘em about the boobs.

Hold a slide show or just share a picture album, but bring the Playa to life if you want to entice your friends to join you next year at Burning Man.  Good luck.

5 thoughts on “How Can I Talk My Friends into Joining Me at Burning Man?

  1. awesome! and funny,thx u! i am a temple guardian & luv ur son;he rawks! i’m 58,first attended 6yrs ago & found my home! we’re the viking sirens camp,usually at 645 & G…u have to come by 4 & we’ll spank ur livers w/ our awesome bloody marys! see ya in the dust! )'( blessings,namaste horney 😉

    • Judie and I also take a Temple Guardian shift every year. We like 3-6 a.m. so we can watch the sun rise over the playa. We’re proud of our son as well…he’s done great work as lead for TGs. Thanks for your comments. We’ll see you on the playa.

  2. The last night of my first burn in 2010, I wrote this in my journal: “I can unequivocally say that this has been one of the best experiences of my life, but at the same time I cannot recommend it to anyone under any circumstances.* (* The subtext to this statement is this: If someone thinks they want to come to Burning Man, it cannot be based on the account of my experience. That is a responsibility that I disavow. It must be a calling inside of themselves that will enable them to surrender to the conditions and endure what may come in order for them to find their own ecstasy in Black Rock City (the double rainbow kind, not the MDMA kind).)” I still believe that, and know that Burning Man will call to those who are ready when the time is right. I too am a temple guardian who appreciates Carousel beyond measure. Thank you for raising such a great human being! Namaste!

  3. Everybody wants to know what I do at Burning Man. I’m 57 now, and my first burn was in 2006. I’ve never looked back. Everybody asks the difficult question, “so what is Burning Man like?” After many frustrating and long descriptions, I’ve finally come up with the answer. If it works for you, share it.

    For seven days you will live in discomfort. You will experience high temperatures during the day, and low ones at night. You will have to use porta potties that are not always clean or supplied. You will endure dust storms and high winds. You will get dehydrated. You must wear sun screen, eye protection and a dust mask. You must bring your own water and food and it will be expensive to get there and back. You will probably not be able to take a shower, or wash your hair. Your body and all your belongings will get full of dust that is difficult to remove. You have to pack out all your garbage, down to the tiny sequin that you pick up off the desert floor.

    So for seven days you will live in discomfort, but the trade off is that you get to visit Oz.

    Since most people have an idea of what manifests personal discomfort; the trade off for something magical outweighs their anxiety of being a wuss. Everybody’s version of Oz is different and those whose Emerald City is the place of enchantment and magic usually end up going…and have never looked back either.

    • Awesome commentary. Anyone who has “gone to Oz” knows that the trip is full of fearsome signs and wonders. But in the end you get to go home. And home is what Burning Man is. Welcome home.

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