Playa Life: Activities in Black Rock City

There are many more blog posts coming up related to this topic. Readers can stay tuned into The Black Rock City Census by utilizing the WordPress, Facebook, and Twitter functions at the bottom of the posts.

When trying describe to someone what Burning Man is all about, one might tell them about the Black Rock Desert, and what the conditions are like. Or maybe they’ll tell them about the mutant vehicles seen, and the fantastic people met at the Burn. But actions often speak louder, so telling what was done on the Playa cannot be left out of any comprehensive Burning Man story! So, with their friends and Playa family, here’s what Burners did on their summer vacations:


Playful Mood

Burners in 2013 said that embodying a “playful mood” was their top priority, and this also led the Census poll of all of the activities in which they answered “yes” to their participation (followed closely by “sexy encounters”).

Playa Bumper Car Race

Photo by: Anthony Peterson (from the Burning Man website gallery)

Heckle or Tease

Heckling and teasing was the least common activity on the playa. This might be a reflection of off-Playa preferences about how people “play” with their friends – some people like to poke and prod their friends and “play rough” – others might prefer to abstain from this activity because of its potential to hurt feelings. But for those for whom that is their “cup of tea” there are other Burners who like to talk trash around the Playa.

Lamplighters on the Playa

Photo by: Cindy Graver (from the Burning Man website gallery)

Volunteering and Work

Of the activities that people seem to be most interested in, working or volunteering on the Playa seems the most inviting. The Burning Man webpage for volunteering describes it as “a form of participation, gifting and civic responsibility.” There are opportunities for everyone and all types of talent! Volunteers can choose the amount of time to help as well as with which groups. To get in touch, Burners can utilize the Burning Man site (above) for BM postings, or social networking and word of mouth to reach theme camps or regional groups. Opportunities could include planning, set up, operations, and tear down, as well as year-round ways to help. Spontaneous urges to pitch in while on the Playa can be satisfied by a visit the V-Spot in Center Camp (with no prior experience or arrangements). All of these activities can give citizens a better understanding of what it takes to make the Playa the wonderland it is – that’s why around a third of Burners do it!

Encounters of the Sexy Kind (see earlier post New Relationships)

Nearly half of Burners described at least one of their encounters as “sexy,” and there will be more about that topic in posts coming very soon. About 10% of Burners said they were not interested in a sexually-charged interaction on the Playa, which is something anyone seeking those interactions should keep in mind. Regardless of whether someone seems interested, practicing safe/consensual interactions and asking before touching someone can be very sexy; many find it nice to hear someone tell them out loud that they are wanted.

Dust and Silk by: Scott London

Photo by: Scott London (from the Burning Man website gallery) 

Get Naked!

In addition to “sexy” encounters, the Census also asked about getting naked. Veteran Burners know that just because someone is naked does not mean they are giving consent to grab or touch them, so the Playa is a great place to “try out” something that might not feel safe/comfortable in the default world. While just over half of Burners did not get naked, almost a quarter of them did. Almost another quarter said “sort of.” This might include those who participated in the “Critical Tits” bicycle ride or other topless events, or those more comfortable wearing merkins or pasties instead, which is nearly naked, but with the genital area covered/protected.

Get “Out of Control”

Most people on the Playa (around 65%) showed interest in leaving their comfort zone and getting a little (or a lot) “out of control.” But nearly 1/3 are “not into” this (self-described) category. Challenging boundaries and trying new things are healthy and can help to learn and grow as a person, as long as health and safety precautions are taken. It is easy to become dehydrated or sick on the playa when basic physiological needs are not being met.

Fireworks explosion as the Man burns

Photo by: Mike Orso (from the Burning Man website gallery)

Written by: Tabicat

Edited by: Scribble


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