Why Are You REALLY Going to Burning Man?

T. Dazzl

Burn So Happy

Every Tuesday, get your weekly dose of transformational nectar to prepare your wings to hum with freedom at the burn and beyond.  “Burn So Happy” is brought to you by Troy Dayton a.k.a “T. Dazzl” who is longtime burner, BurnerMap co-founder, and life counselor.


I didn’t know much about Burning Man before I went (2000), but from the little I heard and saw, it sparked a desire in me that led me to scrape up the money to go and drive across country, not knowing a soul other than my driving companion.

Me in Center Camp (2000)

My fantasy of Burning Man spoke to a longing in me to roam free in a place where I could fly my “freak flag” without everyone looking at me like I was a freak.

I always felt like the world couldn’t really handle me.  Like I was too much.  Too Expressed.  Too sexual. Too colorful. Too effeminate. Too direct. Too playful. Too impulsive.

If I was too much for people at 60%, they certainly couldn’t handle me at 100%.  But I thought that maybe at Burning Man it would be OK for me to be 100% no-holds-barred ME.  I was curious what existed in the remaining 40% of me that never had the space to really be.

Sending thoughts to each other via sneed (2000)

There was a longing to be free from the tyranny of social convention…where every action or thought existed in some standard deviation from “normal.”  Where I was constantly bound by either convention or the defiance of it.  Where being an outlier was either frowned upon or heralded (either way, leading to more feelings of isolation).

Great news!  My fantasy largely came true.   It was great to become a citizen of a community where full self-expression got the right of way.  I found a place where my “too muchness” was just enough.

It turned out that being authentically self-expressed was not a switch I could just turn on after one year at the burn, but rather a lifelong dance with social norms and self-doubt. But the people I experienced at Burning Man gave me glimpses of what was possible for myself and others. It gave me a North Star for self expression.

Being ridiculous with friends on drivable recliner (2011)

What is calling you to Burning Man?   (particularly for first timers, but also a relevant question for veterans)

I’ve asked this question to many people.  Most say something like one of the following…at least, at first:

  • My friends have been going for years and they rave about it so I finally decided to do it.
  • I read an article on it and it sounded like fun.
  • I like_______(fire, festivals, electronic music, sexual exploration, costumes, altered states of consciousness, building things, or camping) and that happens there, so I figured I’d go.

I invite you to peak underneath those surface reasons.  What deeper longing calls you to Burning Man?
(The most compelling responses might be invited to guest blog on BurnerMap Blog.)

This entry was posted in 2012, BurnerMap, Burning Man and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

14 Responses to Why Are You REALLY Going to Burning Man?

  1. Danielle says:

    Although I won’t be attending Burning Man this year, I feel compelled to talk about what drew me to it the first time two years ago and what may be in store for 2013 and 2014.

    BM 2010 was my very first burn. Of course, I had known about it from people within my dance community in NYC, but that was the year to take the plunge. I think my first year was about discovery and adventure. Danielle at 22 would have never thought of willingly spending the week in the desert, living on the principles of radical self reliance. Yet here I was, at 26, about to do just that. I wanted to see what I was made of and to know who Danielle was outside of the confines of New York City life. In that, I found a woman who can be calm when issues arise, a woman who can be present and open for others, a woman who can love freely, a woman who desires and can be desired. BM 2011 was a continuation of that discovery, but it was about being comfortable with it and embracing it. It’s also finding other aspects, like Danielle as healer.

    • Awesome story Danielle. Thank you so much for sharing. Hope to see you back in future years!

      • Yasmin says:

        My return was prtety much as expected with pleasant surprises. Just prior to TTITD, a major milestone project at work got moved up by 4 months ..no, not weeks, 4 MONTHS! So I knew I had to return on my A game. My boss was awesome in being super kind and gentle the first two days back then a weekend, then all hell broke loose. Yeah, returning to camp reality has been harsh this year, no gentle float down for me!

    • Moon says:

      A few years ago I’d have to pay smoeone for this information.

  2. Tae Phoenix says:

    I’m going for an opportunity to accept what is and live completely in the moment, to get in touch with the voice inside me that wants to sing in public all the time.

  3. Jatila says:

    I’ve never been to Burning Man, but the more I hear about it, the more I want to go. So — What deeper longing calls me to want to attend Burning Man now? In order of increasing importance: My new and increasing connections between art and science; my increased curiosity because my son went for the first time this year; and my sense of urgency about approaching the end of this incarnation and needing to greatly accelerate my personal spiritual growth.

  4. Jatila says:

    What deeper longing now calls me to want to attend Burning Man? In order of increasing importance: My new and increasing connections between art and science; my increased curiosity because my son went for the first time this year; and my sense of urgency about approaching the end of this incarnation and needing to accelerate my personal spiritual growth.

  5. Keys says:

    I don’t know who you wrote this for but you hleped a brother out.

  6. dasago says:

    Im looking for a rite of passage, a before and after event that can help me trigger the change, just to let go and open myself, to show and express without fear of being censored, to try to connect in creative productive ways. I know this can be achieved in every day life, I just consider BM to be just that, a liberating event, a rite of passage.

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  9. Jojo Bees says:

    2013 will be my fifth and first Burning Man. Physically it’s number 5, spread over the course of 14 years, since 1999. The history of my experience went a little something like this:

    1999: First contact. I went for two nights, with a friend. Neither of us had ever heard much about it. We went completely blind as a last minute decision. We bought our tickets at the gate. We brought no more than one change of clothes and two gallons of water. We slept on a tarp, exposed. No bikes. No ideas. No contributions. Our minds were so blown, it was painful.

    2001: 3 nights, alone. Still completely underprepared. I honestly can’t say I remember much about it other than I took a lot of rides on art cars. People were nice, but I still wasn’t letting anyone in and I still had nothing to offer (an illusion, of course). I went exclusively for the art. I did not interact with anyone unless they presented themselves to me.

    2002: Oof! This was the year after 911 and I think I cried the entire week. At one point, after drinking some very strong tea, I had an epiphany. I heard my true self tell my inauthentic self, “You cannot survive this way for much longer. You are a fraud. Stop being stingy with your gifts. Open up. Learn. Grow. Let go and GIVE!” I felt an instant shift and I knew what I had to do. But, it wasn’t until the very last day that I began to play and integrate myself. I still had so far to go.

    2010: That journey began with a tragedy. My partner received terrible news while on our way to the desert (we were already in Auburn from SF). We had to turn around and take him to the nearest airport. So, now, I was alone… Again. I took this as a sign that I needed to really exercise my independence (what a fucking joke!). I was invited into a camp, but I made no effort to be part of it. I was overwhelmed. The population had doubled since my last experience. There were so many people; I couldn’t perceive uniqueness; they were merely distractions from my aloneness. I did not offer myself; I did not give myself up.

    2013: I’m in my 40’s now and EVERYTHING has changed. I am a mother fucking butterfly! I am funnier, freer, more loveable and more loving. I’m giving everything I have to this year. I have partners and lovers and dear, sweet friends all heading out to the playa. For the first time ever, I know and love a lot of people and I relish the thought of seeing them all, even if only for a fleeting moment. I started my own camp on a whim. There are just two of us and I’m so excited to see it grow. I’m oozing with creative juice. I’ve gifted a ticket; I’ve hand-crafted dust masks and costumes; I’m taking several volunteer shifts at the event and I’ve given hours of my time on other artist’s projects. I’m totally INVESTED. Not just that, but I’m finally savoring the process of preparation. I’m having FUN.

    But, it’s not just what I’m giving…. This year’s theme, like no other Burning Man theme of years past, has inspired me to stretch and expand. It appeals to my sense of wonder and reason and SCIENCE! I cannot begin to contain my excitement. I’m going to put on my flight suit and take a trip in the Mancraft and be exactly the kind of science-fiction/fact-loving nerd I’ve always wanted to be.

    • Michelelebelle says:

      I want to meet you! I too, experienced BM 2 times that were very different from last year. This year, for me too, will be profoundly different.

      I’m also volunteering for the first time in Census and Temple Guardian.
      I’ve been having a blast prepping for the Playa trip to home.
      We will be camping at 6:05-6:30 and Holy. We are Campo Taquito.

  10. Ryan says:

    Love Jojo Bees story. What timeline and an opening to self over so many years! I hope i bump into you on the playa! Maybe I will and not even know it. It’s my first burn. I have already contributed to an effigy, prepared to the teeth supply-wise, but who knows about psychologically!

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