(Remember) How to Burning Man Part 5: Your Last-minute Black Rock City Checklist

Looking for a hands-on refresher on the burning arts? Feeling a bit rusty or wet behind your ears? Whether it’s your first time going to Black Rock City in 2022 or your zillionth time, we’re releasing this series during the Summer of Waking Dreams to acculturate and amuse you with tips, tricks, and wisdom to help you be in Black Rock City to be successful.

If destiny takes you to Black Rock City in a matter of days, and your living quarters aren’t currently filled with trash cans and random stacks of extremely useful or downright frivolous items, we hope it’s because you’re a very experienced procrastinator.

Because now’s the time when list making, spreadsheets, instant messaging, and last-minute errands are accelerating across the Burnerverse. Yes, we all do more than we normally do, BUT ALSO maybe time speeds up too when we feel the pull of our favorite dusty city together. It sure feels like it, doesn’t it?

Which leads me to wonder why you even have time to read this article. But since you’re here, let’s talk about last minute things to think about in those days before heading to this dusty place.

Read your survival guide!

It doesn’t matter how many times you’ve been to Black Rock City. They change. The world is changing. The things you need to know are changing! Before boarding a plane or your car en route to the BRC, Read your survival guide. Read the printed copy that came with your ticket, or read the online copy – preferably twice! Doing this simple thing will solve so many of your on-playa (and pre-playa) problems. It will also make you the Burning Man expert and smartest Burner in the Dome when others are lost, confused and don’t know what to do.

Watch your ticket like your burn depends on it (because it does)

First of all (can’t believe I have to tell you this) DON’T FORGET YOUR TICKET. It’s not just a pretty piece of cardboard, it’s the thing that physically takes you to Black Rock City. If you are picking it up from Will Call, you must present a valid government-issued photo ID. Keep your ticket handy during your trip to Black Rock City. Don’t leave it in your car or any other random place. Tickets are selling, especially during Playa-bound Burners stage in Reno. The same goes for items you might leave in your car overnight while it’s parked in front of a Reno casino hotel. Hold onto your things.

Pack water and a meal or two for on the go

Goal for BRC, 2019 (Photo by Manuel Pinto)

As you pack your car or get ready for the Burner Express bus, make sure you have enough food for a meal or two and an extra gallon of water per person. There are so many reasons why traffic between your current location and Gate can come to a standstill. AND if you’re arriving by vehicle on a Sunday or Monday, the wait on Gate Road can easily be eight hours. Prepare yourself mentally now so that you can be happy when things go as planned, rather than be disappointed when they don’t.

Create a COVID-19 and monkeypox prevention and emergency plan

Have you thought about your COVID-19 and monkeypox prevention plans? Around here we keep a low profile for a week before heading out into the desert (no pre-compression parties for this girl) to minimize the risk of bringing some unwanted viruses with us on the trip. Make sure you read Community Care: Living and working together in Black Rock City 2022. If you haven’t taken the time to talk to your camp or crew about prevention and create an emergency plan, do so now and pack Covid testing.

Put your phone away

“Nipper Man’s Best Friend” by Chris Mack and The Unintelligent Design Society, 2018 (Photo by Juan P. Zapata)

You have the other 51 weeks of the year to look inside this shiny device. Turn it off and leave it in your tent or vehicle, s’il vous plaît (that’s “please” in French). We’re not going to lecture you about immediacy here. But we’ll give you the wrong look for missing the stilt poi dancer clad in head-to-toe iridescent spandex; You might have been your soul mate but you will never know because you were busy sending selfies to whoever. Take a break from social media, no need to live stream your experience. We have a lovely week together and it goes by quickly! To be present!

Print out your ID and stick the copy on your mug

(Photo by Susan C Becker)

The legal drinking age in Nevada is 21 years old. It doesn’t matter how old you are (or how old you think you look), bartenders in Black Rock City require you to show ID before they serve you. Make some color copies of your ID and stick one of these copies on your burner mug. Then you can adventure night after night without losing your government ID anywhere between 9:00 and E and the Man. It’s also a helpful reminder in case you accidentally forget who you are.

A pep talk about giving

If you grew up with the idea that a gift is an item given by one person to another, it may take a hot minute to grapple with Burner’s broader definition of “gift.” The TLDR: You don’t have to bring anything as a gift. While burners love necklaces and bling — especially if you made it yourself — nobody needs plastic tchotchkes anymore. YOU are the gift. You can give away your time as a volunteer. Prepare a meal, tell a story, help your neighbors – these are all gifts! That great playa art out there? It’s also a gift.

De-MOOP your groceries and supplies before you head out

(Photo by Jini Sachse)

Anything you don’t eat, give away, or burn out there in Black Rock City must come back with you, including any packaging that came with your groceries and other pre-burn purchases. Before heading into the desert, lighten your load by removing all unnecessary cardboard, paper, and plastic wrap from your groceries and supplies. Then throw all that packaging in all socially responsible recycling and trash bins. You see, just thinking about doing it makes you feel lighter, doesn’t it?

Do not bring cremated human remains into the temple

Please do not bring human cremains to the temple; This is done out of respect for the Pyramid Lake Paiute Tribe, who believe that leaving non-native human remains on the homeland adversely affects the living spirits in the lake and Black Rock Desert. Learn more about this topic and other temple-related matters here.

What else should you bring?

Here’s a great Burning Man packing list if you are still looking for one.

Also, bring the following: earplugs, your medication, a battery-powered radio, a portable ashtray if you smoke, a bucket with a lid and kitty litter (you’ll thank us if it rains), patience, sense of humor…

what to leave behind

Please do not bring feathers, glitter or sequins. Do not bring costumes that reflect the rituals and customs of other cultures. Leave your non-human pets and your expectations at home.

“Now Clock” by Matt Lavigne, 2012 (photo by Steven Fritz)

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