What am I going to do at Burning Man?

The choices of what to do and see at Burning Man can be overwhelming – especially if it’s your first year.  Aside from perusing the art (nearly a full-time activity in itself), you can choose among an array of activities and events contained in the “What Where When” guide you receive when you enter the gate.  Last year’s guide was 160 pages long, and included lists of events 24 hours a day.

You won’t receive the guide until you arrive, so is there any way you can plan what to do in advance?  I’d suggest a review of the hundreds of theme camps you can find here.  Many of the camps run fascinating activities that may be just for entertainment or for your personal betterment.

I’ve listed below a few of the theme camps that were operating in 2011 and a smattering of activities from the guide.  There’s no guarantee that any of these events or camps will be around in 2012, but the likelihood is that most will.  On the website, you’ll find a complete list by alphabet of all the camps with descriptions of their purposes and activities.

One of our favorite stops is at HeeBeeGeeBee Healers for massage therapy, meditation and yoga classes.  There are top-notch professionals at this theme camp who offer incredible services at Black Rock City prices (FREE!).  Check it out here. 

If you still need enlightenment after your massage and yoga, you can bike over to Camp Illumineye, whose purpose is to illuminate, clarify, and enlighten the community on the alchemy of homeopathy and feminine wisdom.”

If your bike is looking a little dull next to others on the Playa, head over to Bioluminati/Pimp Yr Bike.  And if you need bike repairs, there are a number of good choices on the Playa, such as Chop Shop, which calls itself “a small playa neighborhood Bicycle Garage that is ready to help a wide variety of playa transportation with parts, repair, and advice.”

Forget to bring a costume?  There are at least three good choices on the Playa to outfit you, Kostume Kult featuring “afternoon costume gifting in the Kostume Dome;” Black Rock Boutique (“Let our fashionistas slip you into something a little more questionable!”), or the self-explanatory Slut Makeover.

Shanghai Suite at the Ashram Galactica -- a great bar, disco and international hotel theme camp

Of course, if you want an all-American shopping experience, you can always visit the multi-story Mal-Mart Mega Store, “an exploration into America’s consumer driven society where the shopping mall reigns supreme.”

Then there’s the food and drink – all gifted by their theme camps.  Examples include Pancake Playhouse for breakfast, Chaya Tea House for an exotic taste of Japan, Black Rock Diner (“changing lives one grilled cheese sandwich at a time”), and one of our all-time favorites, Barbie Death Camp and Wine Bistro, where you can actually see everybody’s favorite doll maimed and tortured while you’re taking a sip.

If you’re a lover of home-brewed lager, try Home Brew 4A Home Brew, “a home brewers’ community where brewers of the Playa come to meet and share.”

You can get ready for an evening out by having your nails artistically painted at Get Nnailed Salon, then head out for fun at the Black Rock Roller Disco, BRC Drive-In Theater or BRC International Film Festival, Opulent Temple Disco, or, if you’re more into erotic play, ATTOL’s Famous Orgy Dome where you can “get it on with your playa friends.”

If you’ve fully exhausted yourself, head for Hang-Out and rest on one of their hammocks; or simply spend some quiet time reflecting on life, love and your spirituality at The Temple.

Want an overview of the art of Burning Man?  Sign up for an accompanied tour at The Artery.  But check this one out early because Artery tours are available only during the first few days of the festival.

We’ve barely scratched the surface of Burning Man activities, but you can easily see that there’s never a reason to be bored or uninspired while you’re at the festival.  Enjoy!  And if you have other great sites to recommend, please leave a comment.

New info:  Thanks to a couple of Burners who commented on the site, I now have two great sites that give you information about what’s went on last year at Burning Man.  The first is http://playaevents.burningman.com/2011/playa_events/1/ for what is essentially the What?Where?When? guide from 2011.  The second is www.playadex.com, which gathers together some of the creators of new work at Burning Man and shows their ideas.

Correction:  In my post on volunteering with Lamplighters I misstated the time volunteers should arrive for nightly lamplighting.  It’s 5 p.m., not 4 p.m.