101 Lessons from the Playa

It’s just so beautiful.
  1. You will cry. Everyone does. Its ok. Let it go.
  2. If someone offers you ANYTHING homemade, made with love and intention, accept it.
  3. Embrace the dust.
  4. You will have any preconceived notions about the beauty that people are capable of pushed beyond your wildest expectations.
  5. Art cars are not taxis.
  6. You have been given the freedom to fully express yourself. Weeeee!!!!!!!!
  7. DJ’s do not like requests, but if you must make a request, during the day is better, and presents help mask the insult.
  8. Yes, you WILL get carded on the playa. Carry a copy of your ID and don’t get pissed at the bartenders for asking.
  9. Beer ≠ Water
  10. The most common injuries on-playa are rebar wounds and dehydration.
  11. Hug everyone! But ask first.                             
  12. There are more undercover cops than you know. They have their own art cars and cute girls in faux fur bikinis. If gifting or accepting anything illegal, do so with caution.
  13. Camel Backs.
  14. Light up your self at night. Be a freaking one man disco show.
  15. If you are not having good time, walk ten feet in any direction and your world can change.
  16. There is more to Burning Man than big speakers. Venture away from the sound camps to find the real magic.
  17. Whenever you leave camp, leave with the knowledge you may not be back in days.
  18. Coconut oil may save your life. It has so many uses! Sunscreen, lotion, lube, chapstick, frying….
  19. When you see someone who needs help, whether it is a hug, some water, a hand up, or anything at all, HELP THEM. After they are okay, you can leave. Help when needed but don’t get roped down in other’s drama.
  20. When you need help, ask for it.
  22. Being gifted something is a privilege. Do not ever expect to be given a drink, a ride, etc. Accept your gifts with gratitude and give back if possible.
  23. Ice is valuable! When you get ice for yourself, always pick up a few extra bags for friends, camp mates, art cars, and/or bars you frequent.
  24. If someone offers you water, take it as a sign from the divine you should drink more water, whether it is yours or theirs.
  25. The dust really is magic. Nothing is sexier than a dust covered body.
  26. There are not a lot of rules here. The few that do exist you should probably listen to.
  27. Radical love.
  28. When someone tells you to eat half the cookie, only eat half the cookie!
  29. Shirtcockers are members of this community too. Segway users however…
  30. CIGARETTE BUTTS ARE THE WORST KIND OF MOOP. Dispose of your butts accordingly, and help to educate others when they need it. Empty Altoid containers work great.

    Seriously. No one wants our Home to look like this.
  31. The playa dust is very magical and masks the robust smell of unshowered hippies.
  32. Hold onto the pole when you step off the platform to slide down the pole.
  33. Costumes are funner when you make them yourself.
  34. White outs are a great time for percussion jams and making new friends.
  35. Don’t just drink water, stock up on healthy coconut waters, ice tea, juices, and other yummy things.
  36. Eye drops.
  37. Tip the bartenders. (No, not cash.) Be creative. Hugs, drugs, or ice all work. Also boobs.
  38. Invest in insoles for your shoes. You are going to be on your feet a lot!
  39. Lock up your bike when you are not using it. It’s not so much that people steal bikes (although some do), it is the fact that people get so high that they see your bike “abandoned” and know that the Mighty Elves of Black Rock who they have been praying too, have left it there for their pleasure. A lock is usually all it takes to dissuade trippers.
  40. If you are one of those assholes who steals bikes… SHAME ON YOU! Playa karma will get your ass. You’re the kind of scumbag that would fall for a bikini cop at Distrikt or drink piss out of a gatorade bottle from a stolen bike.
  41. Don’t lock your bike to art installations!
  42. Baby wipe showers are perfectly acceptable. Buy the ones without alcohol in them.
  43. Even if you don’t change your clothes, change your socks and underwear at least once a day.
  44. Always have toilet paper. Also sometimes the porta potties have poop on the seat. Be careful.
  45. Avocados are green mushy powerhouses of vitality and sustenance. It’s hard to eat a solid meal while tripping, but most can choke down an avocado.
  46. If you leave your car to pee on the way in, you may not find it again for awhile. Accept. This will be a pattern your whole week.
  47. It’s okay to be a bit selfish. Take care of yourself.
  48. There is no “normal” here.
  49. Don’t dwell on things you can’t control…. Or things you are controlling…. Just stop dwelling.
  50. Ear plugs.
  51. If you don’t bring your lessons back to the “Default World” they are useless.
  52. If you remember to do something useful (brush teeth, drain cooler, take vitamins, etc) DO IT IN THE NEXT 5 MINUTES or else there is a 50% chance it will not get done for 24 hours.
  53. Beware of energy vampires. (Read more about avoiding them on the Playa here)
  54. You can’t see everything! Just enjoy what you do.
  55. If you have never experienced the power of collective consciousness prepare to be astounded. Having so many people in such a small area who are all so completely open and full of love allows things to happen in perfect synchronicity.
  56. Magic is real.
  57. There comes a time in every burner’s week when it feels like the world is ending and life is futile. Generally this feeling means it is time to go to sleep.

    Sometimes sleep is necessary! Shh..don’t fight it. Just let it happen.
  58. Work gloves.
  59. Sometimes you have to loose yourself to find yourself.
  60. Playa foot is a real thing, but is not as prevalent as one is led to believe.
  61. Realize that you don’t need to do drugs at BM to experience the greatest highs of your life.
  62. Plans change.
  63. People change.
  64. Change is good.
  65. You can get to the front of almost any line with a bottle of whiskey. If that doesn’t work take off your shirt.
  66. Bring zip ties in all sizes. Not cheap ones.
  67. Never bring anything to the playa you can’t afford to lose. This includes relationships.
  68. Coconut water is liquid gold.
  69. BM teaches you to be open and how to flow in the sweetness of perfect synchronicity, but also it teaches you that ultimately, you are your own leader/shaman/guru and you need to respect and honor the inherent power, knowledge and intuition within.
  70. Western culture is wayyyyyyy too uptight about nudity, and that prudish element creates a culture of shame. Yay naked people!
  71. There is no such thing as too many people in an orgy. Unless it’s in your tent and you need to sleep.
  72. Get your bass face on. Dance until you can’t anymore.
  73. Words are not enough.
  74. No, those little blisters on your tongue’s edges are (probably) not mouth herpes, it’s just Playa Mouth. AKA brush your fucking teeth and take care of your body now. (Hippie lesson: in Chinese Medicine the edges of your tongue correspond to your liver.)
  75. Safety pins.
  76. Playa boogers! You’ve never seen ‘em like they make them here!
  77. Yoga? There’s a camp for that. Horny? There’s a camp for that? Thirsty? There’s a camp for that. Math? There’s a camp for that. Shirt cocking? There’s a camp for that. Furry? There’s a camp for that. Bass-obsessed? Too many camps for that.
  78. Reusable is better than throwaway. This includes almost everything you bring including glowsticks, waterbottles and boyfriends.
  79. Respect the temple. There are few places in the world radiating so much all-encompassing spirituality. Allow yourself to get lost and release.

    2013 Temple & Man by Nate Miller
  80. Enforce a naked-only policy in your tent/car/RV. It will keep your sleeping place clean and promote sexy-time.
  81. A good cooler is worth the investment. No styrophome! It will break up into a million pieces and become MOOP. Also make sure to get a cooler with a drainage spout on the bottom.
  82. You will need some solid landmarks to find your way home from deep playa, especially after the man and temple burn.
  83. Spend one day without your friends or your partner… venture off alone. It will change your life forever.
  84. Sponsor a ginger: bring sunscreen.
  85. Anarchy does not mean behaving without reason, it means listening to your own principles instead of relying on the rules someone else made for you to follow blindly. Listen to your inner voice.
  86. Snorting Listerine hurts.
  87. The year I put a pee funnel in my tent I was much happier, however, a word to the wise: make sure your pee container has a lid.
  88. Things that may not melt in your home in San Francisco or Seattle WILL melt in your tent.
  89. Fairies do exist. If you don’t meet at least one you are not trying hard enough.
  90. You can leave the metaphorical or literal orgy whenever you want.
  91. Pack a change of clean clothes for the ride home.
  92. Dancer tights are the perfect layer at night (for all genders). They will keep your legs so toasty and warm!
  93. Tutu Tuesday!
  94. If you forget tutu Tuesday a lesser known theme day is Tutu Thursday (and Tutus are acceptable on Sunday as well).
  95. Deep playa sex.
  96. You loose an incredible amount of moisture out of your skin. Keeping your body moisturized will help you stay hydrated.
  97. 3POC: Three Points of Contact. When in altered states, maintain three points of contact with other objects to stay safe. (Ex: Two hands and a butt. Two feet and a hand, etc.)
  98. The best accessories are both functional and fashionable: goggles, bikes, parasols, etc.
  99. What sets parties apart from celebrations are the intentions behind the event. Burning Man is considered to be a giant party, but those who have experienced it will vouch that it is infinitely more than that.
  100. Life is beautiful.
  101. It really was better last year.


*Much gratitude to everyone who shared their experiences with me so I could compile this list. Thanks for sharing your magic.


3 Responses to “101 Lessons from the Playa”
  1. Dustin

    Volunteer! Participating is key and there’s no better way than helping out by joining one of the many teams on Playa. Burning man.org/volunteer

  2. wrt 30 – Poop is the worst MOOP! Cig butts seem a lot less gross after finding a pile of shit out in deep playa where some overly-loud “art” car had a dance party the night before.


Leave a Reply