We’ve made many friends at Burning Man over the years, and we’re always eager to see our Playa buddies when we return. In fact, we are often amazed at how many people we know as we wander around Black Rock City. For example, this year our vehicle was inspected by a former Lamplighter friend (Playa name: “Hey You”), who had moved over to the Perimeter Department. We love the fact that we have a unique set of Burner friends in addition to those people we’ve known from the default world.
We came away from Burning Man 2017 with a whole new set of Burner Buddies: the (mostly) young people we camped at Temple Guardians. As a result, we now have new Facebook contacts whose lives and achievements we can follow. It’s as if we’ve gained more grandchildren to brag about. Some of the “kids” (yes, I know they were all adults, but they seemed like kids to us), were incredibly caring people. I remember a time I was on a ladder trying to erect our big shade structure and one of our campers insisted that I come down before I hurt myself. I don’t think I was shaky while on the ladder, but there’s no question that I was old while climbing. Like this camper, many of the other young people treated us like respected family members who needed, and deserved their concern.
This year we also found out how much fun it could be to share our Burn with good friends from the other parts of our life. A couple we’ve known for years were invited to camp with Temple Guardians, and we were thrilled to learn they had accepted. Our friends parked their trailer right behind our RV and helped make 2017 our best burn yet.
We enjoyed nightly Burner-style happy hours with our friends, often ate dinner together, and even went on a Temple Guardian shift together. Our friends were also part of our wedding party and presented us with a thoughtful, memorable gift: a set of Champaign glasses commemorating our 50th anniversary at Burning Man. Those glasses are now in a treasured place in our house.
Camping with generationally correlated people meant for at least part of each day we wouldn’t have to ask what some word or phrase meant, or do our best to tolerate music we normally shied away from. The four of us could relate seamlessly.
Spending this special time together has not only strengthened our relationship but has also inspired us to continue going to Burning Man. This was our 10th year on the Playa, and though we’ve asked many friends to go with us, it was the first time we actually experienced the Burn with personal friends who were near our age (please don’t take offense, Jason and Mishy. We know you’re younger). It enriched our experience so much that we will now put even more energy into convincing others to join us.
If you’re planning to go to the Burn in 2018, I recommend strongly that you share the experience with good friends. It’s well worth the effort. But you have to keep in mind that asking older folks to go to Burning Man is like selling door-to-door. You’re going to be turned down many times before getting to “yes”.