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Posted in 2012, BurnerMap, Burning Man | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Interview a Burner – JohnJohn

Every week BurnerLove interviews one awesome Burner – this week it’s JOHNJOHN


Playa Name: The Oracle called JOHNJOHN

# of Burns: 6

20011 Camp: Rocktard Poop Smear Magical Wizard Camp (Charon Build Crew)

2012 Burner Project: Kate Raudenbush Star Seed Build Crew @ Garage Mahal

Past Burner Projects/Events: Kalamitee’s Kabaret and Bistro, Bootie Mashup @ Fandango, Bootie Mashup @ AutoSub, Piss Clear, BRC Weekly, Kate Raudenbush Future’s Past Build,  and Peter Hudson Charon build.


Burner Love (BL): You’ve worked on some big art pieces on the playa.  Is it hard to put that much time, sweat and tears into what is essentially someone else’s artistic vision?  How much ‘buy in’ do you need with the artist and/or his vision/concept/philosophy before you commit to a project like Charon?

JOHNJOHN: It isn’t hard at all because I work with not only the best artists but also some of my best friends. Everyone in Our Community has amazing and unique talents. I’m not a contractor, welder, or carpenter, so I let those who are make those contributions. On build crews, I work my ass off doing the things I’m good at which usually includes a sort of PR Role: intercepting the incessantly curious public and giving them details about the theme, process, and progress so that they buzz off and let the artist actually work. Setting up camp, shade, cooking, bartending, and keeping everyone from going grumpy is a lot of work too! My art comes in the form of stage shenanigans, DJ journeys, costumery & tom-foolery, so that’s what I provide for my Playa Art Crew, as well.

At this time I am not a Sculpture Artist, so I am more than happy to help exact one of my genius sculptor friends’ visions… especially if that vision includes a stroboscopic zoetrope skeleton ferris wheel to the underworld. Yeah, Charon was a no-brainer and I felt SO privileged to be brought aboard that boat! Truly a dream-team of Playa Professionals involved with that piece, many of whom are in Europe touring with it right now.

Also, working to bring to life Kate Raudenbush’s truly transformational and beautiful laser-cut steel Art is an honor as well. This year’s Star Seed will raise the bar even higher for light portals on the Playa.

I am more than happy to help exact one of my genius sculptor friends’ visions… especially if that vision includes a stroboscopic zoetrope skeleton ferris wheel to the underworld.

BL: So an artist this year is building her first big piece on the playa this year.  Any advice on what her and her crew can do to make the process as fun and healthy as possible – to help make sure the people involved don’t end up in tears and fights and resentment at the end?

JOHNJOHN: ASSEMBLE AS MUCH OF YOUR ART OFF-PLAYA AS POSSIBLE! If you think money is tight building at home, just wait until you run into a shit-storm out there and hafta order parts or run to Reno. You want to be DAYS ahead of your detailed work schedule in the desert as to be as relaxed as possible… Because when that 3 day white-out hits and snaps the poles of half your camp’s tents, tosses your shade-structure an hour and a half across the Playa, and has you reading your ticket nervously, the LAST thing you wanna be thinking about is whether the damn 3″ (not 3.2″) chrome bolts will be arriving on time!

ALSO VERY IMPORTANT: Make sure at least one Crew Member is partially devoted to Sanity and Comfort Control, aka: The Fluffer! Not just sunscreen, massages, gator aid powder, and constant coddling/compliments for your Artist.  I’m talking cold beer, enormous cocktails waiting in the wings for the moment work is finished, bite-sized deliciousness to feed directly into a work-a-holic artist’s mouth on-site; ALWAYS ANTICIPATE HOW TO KEEP THE ARTIST FOCUSED AND SANE… And if that involves finding a hot Playa hook-up for said artist, DO IT! If they ask you to play The Cure Anthology on a slide whistle, YA DO IT! People act irrationally when they’re not getting what makes them happy, even though most of us weirdos don’t even know what that is! That’s where the Village comes in.

Lastly, I know most Artists are horrible at allocating responsibilities and bringing in specialists to pitch in, but PLEASE, ya gotta have a separate Project Manager (esp. for big pieces) who creates a plan of action and divides up the work. You picked your crew because they are badasses (hopefully) who can contribute and sometimes significantly enhance your vision. Let others into your process!

BL: Favorite art piece on the playa you weren’t personally involved with?

JOHNJOHN: That distinction always has to go to The Belgian Waffle (not Euchronium, sorry Belgians) because it was the cherry popper of my year 1, monumentally mind-blowing ARTGASM! On Sunday, The Do-Lab Flower and Venus Fly Trap started to battle with some sort of ballet/opera happening beneath, then the huge wooden rollercoaster cave was set on fire, resembling an Inuit polar bear with just his ass ablaze at first. Then tornadoes of flame and smoke came out of nowhere and enveloped the Beast. Oh! And Folks were throwing huge jugs of maple syrup at the thing! Oh, and I was wearing a turban and kaftan (OG Oracle) giving a full play-by-play report in a british accent to a 1920’s style French Filmmaker for hours! (still haven’t found that footage. Anyone?) Oh and it was by far the biggest and hottest fire I’ve ever seen. The whole Playa went APESHIT… in a really good way.

Of course I have to shout out Guardian of Eden, Homoroborous, Temple of Flux, Wedge Slide (aka Human Cheese Grater), Big Rig Jig, Bliss Dance, of course, and SO MANY MORE. I have the most talented friends on the Planet.

I was wearing a turban and kaftan (OG Oracle) giving a full play-by-play report in a British accent to a 1920’s style French Filmmaker for hours! (still haven’t found that footage. Anyone?)

BL: Among many talents you are a DJ on and off the playa.  Do you have any thoughts on how the world of electronic music has been affected by Burning Man?  Is there such a thing as a Burning Man sound?

JOHNJOHN: I remember having three MAJOR musical paradigm shifts (among many other shifts) at my first Burn.

The first came when my future camp-mate Kalamitee Jain played a Bootie Mashup CD she’d gotten from Adrian and D in LA. I went to Bootie BRC that Thursday night and I think the rest is history. Yeah I started stalking A&D from my home in CO, then was living in SF and working the Bootie stage a year and a half later. The idea of creating a collage (or a Sandwich!) out of music was enthralling for me, and I think the party’s vibe speaks for itself. Has Bootie changed the world of electronic music 7 years later?  You be the judge.

The other lifting of the musical curtain was hearing the Space Cowboys brand of funky-ass breakbeats via Mancub (boxing gloves and EVERYTHING) on the Esplanade that year. This sound would come to define my taste in all dance music. Bouncy breaks with dirty vocals: SIGN ME UP!

And third, on Playa my first year, I turn around to find an art car posted up with The Fungineers freestyling & beatboxing, uber-silly style with Reggie Watts. These acts have become hilarious heroes for me. Fungineers were amazeballs 5000 at Lightning in a Bottle last month. Reggie Watts, whom I got the privilege of meeting and DJing after in Austin, is cracking the whole Planet up on tour now. I love these acts (along with Lafa Taylor) for keeping it light while conveying a wonderfully thought-provoking message that this Planet must hear right now.

BL: DJ or Band you’d love to see perform on the playa but will probably never happen?

JOHNJOHN: I’ve always been dreaming about seeing Fat Freddy’s Drop from New Zealand on Playa, sunset or sunrise. Their brassey, dub-reggae (not dubstep, don’t twist it), big-band, word class sound is some of my original Playa music thanks to DJ Good from CO. I saw their first US performance in SF a couple years ago where they got into this wonderful deep house groove late-night and I closed my eyes and could see it all playing out in grand desert fashion. Hook it up, big sound camps who want credentials!

BL: What are the ingredients that make a camp a great place to live for a week or two at Burning Man?

JOHNJOHN: ABOVE ALL – Folks who know what to expect from themselves in extreme, uncomfortable, cracked out, and completely abnormal conditions! I don’t care if they’re jaded old Burnier than Thou types, Playa Princesses, or complete Noobies, HANDLE YOUR SHIT, HONEY!

Last year at the Rocktard Poop Smear Magical Wizard Camp, for instance, we had every type of PoopStar imaginable, some REAL gems of Your Playa Experience Past & Present, but

I gotta hand it to Our Requisite Noobie, Marky Ray, for taking to the Playa like a seasoned vet and THRIVING in a Survivalist Desert Non-Stop Party Campout.

Ya gotta have a mix of Folks’ levels of excitement and enthusiasm to be living in the most badass City on the Planet for a week or a month.

There is nothing worse than a bunch of jaded, age-old Burners sitting around a nitrous tank all week talking shit about how it all used to be so much more “REAL, MAN…” Meanwhile the one new person at camp’s experience is smothered by a Tecate soaked blanket. Go camping somewhere else!

A technique I’ve used with great success has been to shove those ear plugs in and sleep from 10pm- 2am or so. It’s nice and cool, you’re exhausted from dancing at Distrikt all day, you’ve had some food, now clean yourself up, get dressed for the night even, and SLEEP for a bit. Set an alarm and get out there for the pre-sunrise experience when the yahoos are passing out. Stay up through the day. The morning is the BEST time to find your kinda dance floor. You DO NOT want to try to sleep during the heat of the day!

The morning is the BEST time to find your kinda dance floor. You DO NOT want to try to sleep during the heat of the day!

Also, go ahead and set up your own sound system and a sanctuary for Your People if you can. DON’T PLAY DARK MUSIC IN CAMP.

  • Camp morale relies on daily check-ins and ritual dining experiences/ extracurricular experiences.
  • Rotate ice run responsibilities, having people get like 15 bags, playing the ice fairy in everyone’s coolers in camp.
  • Put weird art up in camp!
  • Contingents from different cities: The most gratitude I feel when leaving the Playa is for new Family.
  • Notice when someone is withdrawing and do something spontaneous to make them happy.
  • Allow yourself to have at least one controlled emotional breakdown per week on Playa. Create space for others to do the same.
  • At least 10 types of whiskey.
  • Bike Decoration Day!
  • Also- Unlimited neon zip ties, duct tape, Vanilla Ensure, and unscented natural aloe baby wipes.
  • Let’s be honest, at least one RV.

HUMOR & LIGHTNESS! BM’s too short for your bad time/trip to infect and haunt all of camp like an awkward demon that nobody has the balls to exorcise.

Watch out for each other and use your intuition to guide you on Playa and your camp will be EVERYTHING.

May the Cosmic Giggle be with you this year at THE BIG BM!

Posted in 2012, Burning Man, Interview a Burner | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

Consumption Archive: Obama to Sell Burning Man Tickets to Ease Federal Debt

From the archives of Consumptionblog 2011:

Washington, DC (CN) – As part of intense, last minute negotiations with Republicans on raising the national debt ceiling President Obama has offered to sell his and Michelle’s Burning Man tickets.

The President said all profit from the sale of the two tickets will be applied to lowering the federal debt.

It was announced last weekend that BurningMan had sold out for the first time since tickets were introduced at the Burn of 80 AD when it was first held at the Roman Colosseum.  Prices for Burning Man tickets rose on global commodity markets when trading opened Monday.  The value of a single ounce of Burning Man ticket has now risen faster, higher, and stronger than gold.

“The Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner has advised me that under the current economic climate we should be able to haul in about $20,000 a ticket,” said President Obama in a statement in the White House Rose Garden.  He was later seen weeping with Michelle as he repacked a dusty set of fire poi and a pink fuzzy full length jacket.

The offer to sell the ticket was accepted by the Republicans and Democrats in a rarely seen moment of honest bi-partisanship.

“As much as I’d love to see Obama in the great state of Nevada wearing a pink tutu spinning poi, sometimes the welfare of the country comes first”, said Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV).  “But just barely.”

“I’m not sure what Burning Man is,” said a confused GOP House Speaker John Boehner.  “But I guess it’s better the QE3.”

Obama had been to Burning Man twice before being elected Commander in Chief.  He also sold his 2009 tickets, but only for a measly $300 on Craigslist.

Posted in 2012, Burning Man, Consumption Blog | Tagged , | 1 Comment

Following Burning Man on the Twitter

Following Burning Man on the Twitter is like biking in the deep playa at night and finding a small art installation.  You take a break, drink some water and say 140 characters worth of words about the art:

“Wow, that’s kinda cool. Amazing what you can do with an old Walkmen, airplane glue, a couple LEDs and a mannequin.”

After about 5 minutes you bike off to find the guy who serves sorbet and scrambled eggs every 3am somewhere near the trash fence.

Worth the effort with the occasional gem, but lets not get too excited.

BurnerLove has compiled the Top Sixteen Burning Man related Twitter accounts for your pre-Sorbet convenience:

  • @consumptionblog – The 24 hour news source for all things Burner
  • @BurnerMap – Helping you find for friends on the playa for almost one year.
  • @BurningMan – The 3rd most important Burning Man related twitter feed.
  • @willchase – Burning Man’s official propagandist and cool dude
  • @bmanproject – Official Twitter of the BurningMan 501©3 non-profit
  • @burncast – Burning Man News, Entertainment and Awesomeness.
  • @burnersdotme – Opinionated, compulsive reading for BurningMan news junkies
  • @katparry – Awesome Burner photography and stuff
  • @maryannehobbs – How else will you know what dubstep to enjoy?
  • @Aggerscricket – Aggers! Cricket, the official sport of Burning Man
  • @DaysToTheBurn – What it says on the tin.
  • @Halcyon and @HugNation – We love you!
  • @BAR_Mag –  A great new inspired Burning Man magazine
  • @JustinJones – Traveller, writer, and Burner
  • @ablaze – Burning Man blog writer
  • @M4RQ – Awesome DJ from Decadent Oasis

There are a plethora of great twitter accounts that cover aspects of Burning Man.  If we missed you, well…kisses…Post your account in the comments.


Posted in 2012, Burning Man | Tagged , , , , , | 2 Comments

From the warm and cuddlies over at The Shroom – The Burner Zodiac:


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Interview a Burner – Kat

Every week BurnerLove interviews one awesome Burner – this week it’s Kat!


Playa Name: Kat (I don’t really have a playa name. I figure it’s Kat who does the planning to get to Burning Man, Kat who earns the money, and it should be Kat who gets to have an amazing time on the playa. Also, I totally love Kat.)
Burns: 7
Camp/Village Name: Pancake Playhouse
Past Burner Projects/Events: I’ve got nothing but Pancakes in my heart

BurnerLove (BL): Pancake Playhouse serves pancakes and plays softrock. Sounds pretty simple, but I bet its not. What are the biggest challenges to keeping the Bisquick and Neil Diamond flowing every year at the Burn?

Kat: Simple and not simple – that’s exactly right. Sometimes, it seems so overwhelming – and other times, what we do seems incredibly easy compared to other camps that, say, put on all night dance parties.

Funding is always an issue. Our annual budget isn’t much – about $4,000 if we don’t make any major camp improvements. And working in the non-profit world, $4,000 for a budget is small change. But actually getting all 4,000 of those dollars can be incredibly challenging. Asking our campers to contribute cash (in addition to their blood, sweat, tears, and syrup) is difficult. Asking other Burners is even harder.

Another challenge is that we are a small camp.

I think we have about 40 core members that come and go, with probably about 25 of those members on the playa every year. That keeps us tight – we love each other an incredible amount

– but it means that everything that needs to get done around the camp, from dish-washing to de-mooping, has to be divided among a small labor pool. It can be exhausting.

One thing we’ve gotten really good at is running a tight ship in the kitchen. We let it rip, we have a good time, we dance – but everyone is wearing a head-covering, everyone has followed the proper hand-washing procedure, and everything is up to code. That used to be a challenge, but now we regularly get 100% on our health inspections.

Sometimes, the biggest challenge is just being there for our customers. If we’ve been out partying the night before, we may not be the bright, cheerful faces you’d expect when you’re the morning’s first customer – or if, God forbid, you’re early. We don’t start the soft rock until we’re ready to serve, and sometimes I wish that wasn’t the case. Because as soon as John Denver starts to sing, we’re all in a good mood again.

BL: What keeps you coming back to the Burn every year and more specifically to be a ‘Pancaker’ rather than some other awesome camp?

Kat: Oh, you’ve hit a nerve there. I agonize every year over how much I love Pancake Playhouse. Sometimes, I wonder what it would be like to camp somewhere else – somewhere that isn’t as much work, or is at least a different type of work. I want to experience Burning Man differently. But I can’t tear myself away. I feel like a girl who marries her high school sweetheart. What I’ve got with Pancake Playhouse is so incredibly special – but since I’ve never known another lover, I’ll always have a nagging wonder in the back of my mind.

What makes it awesome to camp with Pancake Playhouse is first and foremost my friends. We are a tight-knit group and I love these people, both individually and collectively. The next best thing is the recognition I get from strangers. When you say you camp with Pancake Playhouse, nine times out of ten you get a huge hug, a warm smile and an “I love you guys.” And that makes me feel like a million dollars.

And the feeling I get when I walk through camp in the morning, past a bunch of happy customers singing along to George Michael – you can’t buy that.

As for the broader question of what keeps me going back to Burning Man – well, it’s Burning Man! When Burners complain about how it used to be better, about how it’s selling out, about how bla bla bla bla bla, I just think, “Okay, so what are you going to do during that last week of August that’s better?” Burning Man isn’t perfect, but I can’t think of anywhere else in the world I would rather be. Even if I could relive Burning Man 2002 or Burning Man 2004 – both great years for me – I’d rather have Burning Man THIS year, to see what it holds.

BL: Top Three Soft Rock Songs you just love to hear at Pancake Playhouse every year?

Kat: ‘Don’t Go Breaking My Heart‘ by Elton John and Kiki Dee
‘Sweet Caroline‘ by Neil Diamond
‘Hold on for One More Day‘ by Wilson Phillips

BL: What’s the key to a great pancake? Any technique specific to Burning Man or an extreme cooking environment like the playa?

Kat: We use Krusteaz batter, which requires only water. The secret is to add much, much more water than you would in the real world. They cook faster and taste better that way.

But we serve the best pancakes on Friday morning, when we have our annual White Trash Breakfast and put PBR in the batter.

BL: What should you never ever do to a pancake under any circumstance?

Kat: I don’t have an answer for you. Instead, can I tell you a story? Okay, good.

Last year, a hippie couple came to our camp Friday afternoon after we had shut down service for the day (and the week). I was there relaxing in our main service / living area, and told them I was sorry but we were done serving for the week.

They said “No, you don’t understand. We don’t think we’ve won Burning Man unless we watch something burn every night and eat a pancake every day.

We’ve eaten a pancake every day that you’ve been serving since 2005. But today, we fell asleep after we watched the sunrise. All we need is a pancake out of the trash, just so we can say we’ve won.”

I’ve never wanted to help people more. I would have cooked them up fresh cakes then and there, but because it was our last day of service, we didn’t have any batter left at all. So (after sounding the alarm so that all my campmates could meet these incredibly devoted fans), we fished up the best looking failcake from the trash, covered it with syrup, and they each took a bite. It really wasn’t as gross as it sounds, and it absolutely warmed my heart.

BL: Advice for Virgin Burners? How about veteran Burners – how do you keep it fresh? Or what excites you about this year’s Burn?

Kat: For virgin Burners, I always say: Get as prepared as you can. Bring the stuff you need to be self-sufficient. And when you fail in being self-sufficient (and you will fail), your whole community will be there to support you.

For veterans, I say: Lighten up! Burning Man is amazing, and you know that, which is why you go. Let it in! Be open to the possibility!

I know we all love sit and whine about the newbies and the frat guys and the bmorg, but really – it’s Burning Man! Love it for what it is.

BL: I know you are an Opera ‘Affectionado’, any great Opera moments on the playa? What Opera would you like to see performed at The Burn?

Kat: I love it when I have Burning Man experiences I can tell my Mom about. I had one in 2010. I’ve always wanted to go to the Early Riser’s Classical Music Cafe for coffee and classical music (two of my favorite things), but it’s always across the city and right in the middle of pancakes. Pancakes are my raison d’etre at Burning Man. But in 2010, knowing it was important to me, my campmates forced me to take a morning off to go hear classical music.

On Wednesday morning, I rode my bike to the other side of the city and arrived at a small and silent cafe. “Am I too late or too early or too weird for classical music?” I asked the guys who appeared to be in charge. “We have plenty of coffee,” they said, “but our violinist never showed up.” “Well, I have my MP3 player in my pack and it has tons of classical music on it, if you can hook me up to your sound system.” “Sounds like you’re our guest DJ. Someone get Ryan.” The sound guy hooked me up to their system and I dj’ed at Burning Man – on the Esplanade, no less! I played Vivaldi and Beethoven and slipped in some of opera’s greatest hits – The Flower Duet from Lakme and Au Fond du Temple Saint from the Pearl Fishers. Sadly I didn’t leave myself any time for some Saint-Saens I wanted to play. But regretting some of the set is, I think, part of being a DJ.

I told my Mom and she was incredibly proud and incredibly jealous.

Posted in 2012, Burning Man, Interview a Burner | Tagged , , , , , , , | 13 Comments

Consumption Blog: The Story So Far

Every Wednesday BurnerLove will publish a news story from Investigative Journalism blog and BurnerLove comrade

The story so far…

With The Burn literally days away many of you are only now starting to bring Burning Man into your thoughts.  Since the end of last years Burn many exciting developments have happened.  Don’t worry dear Burners, Consumptionblog has been on top of it.  Here is a quick executive summary to get you up to speed with all things Burning Man just in time for Burning Man 2012:  ‘Wild West’

Lets begin at the beginning shall we?

  • For the first time in modern Burning Man history Hippies overtook Ravers as the dominate cultural force on the playa.

“You can’t Rave to Beats Antique”

ATTN Virgin Burners to Rule #3 of the new ticket lottery rules:
3. The #1 Burner Draft Picks of each Burning Man Corp. Director will be awarded the right of ”’primae noctis” with any virgin Burners they choose during the event.

  • It’s official, Sex and Community are now official threats to Burning Man’s continued existence.

    The Burn is Fucked!

  • Worried about the Zombie Apocalypse ruining your Burn?  Don’t.

Please stay tuned – Consumptionblog is currently working on several stories we believe will shake the Burning Man community to it’s CORE Project.

Posted in 2012, BurnerMap, Burning Man, Consumption Blog | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Burning Man: In 2 Sentences or Less

People are always asking me what Burning Man is. Over the years I’ve played around with various responses to this perennial unanswerable question.

It’s such an ineffable experience.  I run into similar challenges when describing the psychedelic experience.  Have you ever tried to explain to someone what an orgasm is like if they’ve never had one?  It’s difficult.

Mitch Parent and Amanda Grace eat toy history.  Photo by Mischa Steiner

The sum of Burning Man is so much larger than the parts so describing the elements is simply insufficient.  I’ve found that to describe it adequately, it’s necessary to move into the realm of metaphor.   Here are a few of my favorites:

  • 49,999 people come to the desert with the goal of joyfully helping you have the most mind blowing time of your life. And they don’t even need to ask the same in return because chances are their overflowing generosity is likely to spontaneously inspire you to offer your gifts to others.

Written at the temple. Photo by Mischa Steiner

  • A place where the most radically self expressed of every subculture you’ve ever imagined and ones you could never imagine come to let loose and find people who resonate with that form of expression. It’s a place where you can go “identity shopping” with no shame and even change identities by the day…or moment.
  • It’s the biggest rave, circus, sex party, installation art exhibit, spiritual oasis, self-help seminar in the world!
  • It’s an open source archaic revival for the Internet generation. It’s the cultural icon of a new age.
  • It’s Mecca for the magnificently misfitted.
  • A global gathering for the worst marching band in the world; everyone marching around to a different beat.

What’s your favorite elevator pitch for Burning Man? Leave it in the comments field and we’ll highlight some of the more awesome ones over the next week.


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.


Posted in 2012, Burn So Happy, BurnerMap, Burning Man | Tagged , , , , | 9 Comments

Interview A Burner – Soup

Soup Serenades the Playa

Playa Name: Soup
Burns: 8
Camp/Village Name: Bumblepuss, in Nectar Village
Past Burner Projects/Events: I’m the Mayor / Enabler of Nectar Village, was a Lead for the Heebeegeebee Healers, and contributed to assorted mutant vehicle projects. We recently brought Nectar Village to Symbiosis, which was an exciting way to expand the presence of Nectar Village outside of Burning Man.

BurnerLove (BL): You are one of the founders and a lead enabler of Nectar Village for the past four years.  Nectar Village is really big, like 300 people camp there, 5 theme camps – what’s the biggest organizational challenge, what’s the biggest joy you get out of doing this year after year besides getting to sleep in the rental truck?
Soup: The biggest challenge is staying on top of the details.

With 300 people, 5 different camps, and all the different needs that go with that, there seem to be as many subplots as All My Children going on.

So, staying on top of those things, keeping it organized, and communicating to all the right parties is very time consuming. Aside from that, doing the layout for one of the largest land grants in BRC can also be tedious because of all the stakeholders.

While initially I did it because I like the smell of patchouli in the morning, now it is really about the smiles I see on the faces of people that visit. We put together a camp that attracts 1000’s daily, and when they leave they are totally blissed out, having enjoyed an amazing oasis for the mind, body and soul.

BL: Besides building more bike racks, what are you really excited about this year with Nectar Village?

Soup: What I’m most excited about this year will affect Nectar Village, but not only Nectar: I’m very excited to se how this lottery turns out and who turns up. I sincerely hope it shakes things up a bit and people go, “Woah! I don’t remember Burning Man being like this!” Burning Man hasn’t changed much in the past 5 years, and shaking things up is going to be fun to see!

BL: Whether it’s part of a village or not, what makes a great camp at Burning Man? Besides ensuring there is enough bacon what’s one thing that may not be obvious that people organizing a camp can do pre-Burn that can really make or break camp chemistry?


Great camps are made of great people, pure and simple.

Pre-burn, in organizing a camp, I think it is really important to make sure you have a rule about allocating slots to new people to the camp. We do in our camp, and it is that 20% must be new. We introduce them to the group online, and get them involved in doing something so they feel connected. Then when they get out there, we get all the new folks together and give them a project to work on- which I can’t tell you about; it’s a surprise for all our first timers, but it is loads of fun!

BL: As a Burner veteran, what do you do to not get all grizzled and burned out?

Soup: What is this, Piss Clear? Adrian, this guy is stealing your thunder….

BL: Ok, fine, what’s your advice for Virgins this year?

Soup: Don’t try to do too much. But do something! Join a theme camp and ask how you can contribute. Make costumes and wear them.  Bring a bocce ball set and set it up on a street or in the playa and invite people to play. Serve tea on the side of street to passersby. But do something where you are touching other people’s experiences, and you’ll have a much more fulfilling time. Don’t try to do all those things, because you are already going to have enough to worry about out there and we want you to come back!

BL: I know you Captain’d a large art car a long while back and you found it pretty stressful – is running a large art car the hardest job on the playa?

Soup: Depends who built it, my dear chap….

Burning Man is a great place to be devoid of responsibility, but when you take it on out there, the responsibilities can be pretty heavy.

Captaining a large art car means you are responsible for the riders- which was 50ish in my case- and the hundreds of people running around your car- and in front of it- on the ground. Even though it is a big party and good fun, those are still people’s lives, and a lot of them, and you’ve got to be really focused and careful to respect that responsibility. It’s where I got my first gray hair….

BL: You were at Symbiosis – how was it?  Are the Burn-A-Like festivals such as Symbiosis, Lightening in a Bottle, etc. and the Regionals the key to Burning Man’s success and longevity?

Soup: Symbiosis comes in at above average, but faced a number of challenges- that the event happened at all is a testament to the constitution of the producers. We brought Nectar Village out there this year and were very happy that we were invited to be a part of their festival. It would be fun to collaborate with them more.
I will say that I don’t think the regionals are the key to the longevity. I’ve heard it a lot, and I just don’t buy it. The regionals never capture enough of the essence of Burning Man. I’ve heard hope that the big problem is “critical mass,” getting enough people out there to have enough projects and camps to make it more like Burning Man. But… I think they are their own scene. I think Burning Man will always be Burning Man and the festivals that target Burners, and the regionals, will always be in the same eco-system, but distant cousins. And I think either can survive without the other.

BL: You think Burning Man can expand to 100,000 people over the next five years as has been rumored?  Is that desirable, do you want to be a part of it?

Soup: Well, there is a lobby going on for it right now and the BMorg has hired a lobbyist firm in DC to effect certain changes. I don’t know if they can expand. I think they could do the infrastructure, it’s been done before by other festivals, and the BM folks are amazing and creative and capable of anything. I don’t know if the community will support it, if the demand will be there or if the government will allow it.
  It’s not entirely desirable for me. I like where we are now, maybe even a few years back with 5-10k less. But 100k seems awfully large. I like being able to walk through the crowd at the biggest shows… and

how will popular theme camps cope? With all those people pulling on our resources, it will require more resources, and/or security to turn away those we can’t safely serve.

Resources are not readily available to increase for every theme camp, nor does every theme camp scale well; and turning people away is not the inclusive experience we want to offer. I think this reality frightens me most: can the theme camps support more people? Do we want to?


Check out NectarVillage’s website or NectarVillage on FaceBook

Posted in 2012, Burning Man, Interview a Burner | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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.)

Posted in 2012, BurnerMap, Burning Man | Tagged , , , , | 14 Comments