Everything You’ve Wanted To Know About Burning Man
Claire Miles - April 12, 2019

Every year, thousands of people flock to the desert to share in the Burning Man experience. Self-proclaimed “burners” (attendees of the infamous festival) enjoy a week of secluded adventures including music, workshops, art galleries, and many exclusive rituals found only at Black Rock City. While a week in the desert may not be everyone’s ideal getaway, the secrets found within the yearly gathering are nothing short of strange, unique, and truly captivating.

 

 

The Burning Commandments

 

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There are ten “Principles of Burning Man”, according to Larry Harvey and the original group of Burning Man founders. The ten principles of Burning Man are radical inclusion, gifting, decommodification, radical self-reliance, radical self-expression, communal effort, civic responsibility, leaving no trace, participation, and immediacy. But, we’ll get more into each of these in a bit…

 

 

 

 

First timer traditions

 

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First time Burners are treated to a special welcoming ritual upon arrival to the desert. First, a greeter will hug the newcomer and welcome them to their new home. Then, the first timer must engage in a secret ritual which might involve hitting a ceremonial gong and/or rolling around in the dirt and proclaiming, “I am a virgin no more!”

 

 

Leave your wallet at home

 

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There are only two items available for purchase at Burning Man: ice and coffee. The rest of the festival runs on a “gift economy” philosophy. Goods and services are exchanged as “gifts”, and the mentality is adopted by all festival goers including participants and vendors.

 

 

 

 

Don’t drop the soap

 

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If you plan on bathing at Burning Man, you’re in luck because there are public showers that are fairly easy to access. The downside? You have to assist in bathing others before it’s your turn to bathe. There’s a hierarchy of jobs involved in this ritual: first, you are a rinser, then you move to be a scrubber, next you are a soaper, and then it’s your turn for others to bathe you.

 

 

Embrace the culture (literally)

 

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Forget handshakes, waves, or a simple “hi”, because the customary way to greet others is through hugging. Lots, and lots, and lots of hugging. If you’re not a “people” person, Burning Man might not be the place for you.

 

 

 

 

It’s radically inclusive

 

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The founders of Burning Man established the festival to welcome anyone and everyone to their community, or in their words, “No prerequisites exist for participation in our community.” No wonder it attracts some of the most unique, spirited, and colorful personalities on the planet.

 

 

But tribes dominate

 

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The tribes at Burning Man could give high school cliques a run for their money. While all tribes are respectful and appreciative of one another, each has its own distinct vibe. Many have noticed in recent years that a tribe of glamours stars has begun to emerge on the site, a fact that many do not believe represents the true nature of the secluded festival.