Over nearly a decade of attending Burning Man, we have made a lot of Burner friends – individuals who we met for the first time at the Burn, see annually for the event, and occasionally meet for camp-related activities. But it’s a different kind of thrill to meet old friends who, after years of hearing us talk about it, have finally taken the leap and trekked out to the Burn. We always love to show Burning Man virgins around, but it’s especially rewarding to do so when they’re our friends from the default world. There’s a special joy in sharing in their amazement at the size and scope of Burning Man, and the atmosphere of love, caring and non-commercialism that marks life in Black Rock City.
But showing virgin Burners around the playa is far from a one-way street. You get to see the Burn through the eyes of first-timers – as if you’re viewing it for the first time. In fact, it’s as close as you can come to repeating your treasured first year on the Playa. Your friends will spot things that you’ve overlooked or might have missed. Seeing the awe that is inspired by the big burns in your friends renews your own sense of wonder about these incredible events. Your own experience becomes that much richer.
As a result of our greeting old friends on their first Burning Man visit, we have become evangelists for the event – especially to people our age. It’s one of the reasons I started Sunrise Burners. We’re always honest with people about the harsh desert conditions, but we also let people know that such conditions invite increased camaraderie among attendees and allow you to open yourself to the kinds of friendships that can last forever.
We also try our best to describe the scope and size of artwork on the Playa; so it’s especially rewarding to see their amazement when they come face-to-face with the massive art installations and innovative art cars created exclusively for the Playa. We’ve had a couple of friends who went once, enjoyed it, but never felt committed enough to return. On the other hand, some of them have become regulars and look forward to getting back to the desert each August.
I think I’m inclined to help people enjoy their first Burn because of the way my son and I were treated during our first year at the event and as part of Lamplighters. One of our campmates who had been around Lamplighters forever took us under his wing and made certain we had the best possible experience. I’ve never forgotten his kindness, and I know from our communications that he’s never forgotten us and remains proud of how we became true Burners because of his efforts to cushion the bumps and bruises so common to virgins. It’s our intention to do the same with new Burners – young or old. So thank you Know Matter What for showing us the way to be good Burners.
Only a few months remaining until the Carnival of Mirrors kicks off and our 2015 Burner experience begins. We’re excited to see some of you there, and to do what we can to make it a fun event – one that you’ll want to repeat every year.