And just like that, the annual pilgrimage to the Playa begins. Scores of Burners head to the desert this week to partake in and create Burning Man. However, if you plan on smashing your Burning Man hymen this year, we thought that, since this SFist editor has yet to attend the dusty festivities in the unforgiving sun, we would ask a handful of Bay Area scribes, noted for their Burner cache, to dole out sound advice. (We've got everything from choice events to proper filet mignon storage to tying a turban.) Further advice can and should be placed in the comments (anything about sex and drugs, which we hear is a thing there, is ideal!).
Steve T. Jones (SF Bay Guardian; author of The Tribes of Burning Man):
The most important thing you can bring to Burning Man is an open mind, leaving your expectations at home. Be prepared for anything, because the playa can be an unforgiving place, and that means bringing good goggles (at least two pairs, for day and night), dust masks, and rebar, a mallet, and plenty of cotton rope to batten down your camp. And bring a bunch of silly costumes, your favorite intoxicants, and a few ideas for projects or performances you want to see (tip: catch Pumpkin's dawn set Thursday morning at the Unicorn Stampede's deep playa party). Then... just let it happen. You'll have your high highs, and probably some low lows, and you'll learn about yourself and your community in the process. Burning Man is a cauldron, and most people don't come out in the same condition they went in. As they say in the Hokey Pokey: that's what it's all about.
Marcia Gagliardi (Tablehopper):
• Bring good coffee out there—I adore my honking Bialetti stovetop espresso maker. And make extra to keep in your cooler—and share with unsuspecting neighbors.
• Dear lord, no feathers!
• Light your bike up (and your person) like a Christmas tree. Don’t be a darktard.
• Do not underestimate Mother Nature—it can rain, it can be very cold, and it sure as hell will be dusty and windy. I always pack a duffel bag with a puffy jacket, wool pants, rain poncho, etc. that I hope I won’t need to use, but you never know. Will never forget 2000! That year was hardcore—and also my favorite, to be honest.
• Understand that you will have great days, and you will have tough days. Don’t be hard on yourself if you’re feeling punky or out of sorts—that’s what HBGB camp is for (the HeeBeeGeeBee Healers). Don’t forget cold water and a good meal can also fix a lot. Start there.
• Some of the most amazing coincidences and revelations and connections can happen out there—and yes, you can take it with you.
• Travel safely, don’t rush, and try to get some sleep before you leave (I fail this last point every year).
Mary Polizzotti (7x7)
• Food - Don't spend tons of money on food. It's so hot and dry, all you will want to eat is something salty, so bring lots of chips. I spent $100 at Costco buying cans of tuna and pasta sauce that all sat unused. I could have spent a quarter of that money and been fine. The most popular item in my camp was a huge bag of Stacy's pita chips. Eat a decent breakfast.
• Camp - an RV may seem comfortable but it is a BITCH to deal with. Cleaning it afterward is a nightmare. Suck it up and camp. You can throw every thing in the shower when you get home. Also, most RV's I saw had signs out front begging for septic pumping. Gross. They keep the porta-potties quite clean.
• Go light on alcohol—again, it's so hot, the only desire to drink a beer is because it's ice cold. Weed, on the other hand, doesn't have the same dehydrating effect.
• Dry Ice - This will last for days and allow you to enjoy chilled white wine and filet mignon 3 days in.
• Baby wipes - There is no point to showering. The first thing you touch will make you dusty again. And, you have to carry that dirty water out (remember, everything that comes into the Playa must be taken out). Baby wipes will keep you clean.
• Contact lenses - bring glasses and PLENTY of solution. You will spend at least 20-30 minutes attempting to put a clean contact lens in your eye every day. Dust everywhere.
• Bike - Bring one, you will be thankful you did. It's a city after all!
• Neon lights - bring them for your bike and your backpack, so friends can find you.
• Hair - a lot of seasoned Burner girls get cornrows. If you don't, you will have a few dreads by the end. And you'll use half a bottle of conditioner for a lengthy untangling process. Ugh.
• At the first sign of light on the horizon, head home—100+ degree temps are coming. You'll get 4-5 hours of sleep if you turn down before sunrise.
• Shade - Bring one, anything. I, er, borrowed a 10x10 tent used for trade shows from my company. It was clutch. (But, I subsequently spent 2 hours cleaning it in the warehouse parking lot with a broom. Alkaline salt does not rinse off easily.)
• Goggles and face mask - dust storms are intense and inevitable. You can use ski goggles or anything else that securely fits to your face. Sunglasses are not enough. A surgical mask or a Buff is ideal, otherwise you will suffocate on dust.
• Leave before Saturday night's Burning of the Man (or stay until Monday) - If you don't, you face a 12-14 hour drive home. There is only one single lane road out, and 50K people are trying to do the same thing. And, you'll be exhausted. Leave early, or stay late.
John Vlahides (writer/producer/TV host at Lonely Planet):
It's too late now, but you probably way overspent and way overpacked. However, all you need are the following: a spray bottle of water to keep cool, boots, goggles, a strap-on painter's mask (rubber not paper) with particulate-matter filter, and a fur coat for nighttime. So much the better if you know how to tie a proper turban. Behold: