The story of how a series of books inspired a journey across the sea to a desert far far away”
My first trip to Burning Man will also coincide with my first visit to San Francisco. Ever since I first read Tales Of The City I have long felt a pull to the city.
Growing up gay in the gritty underworld of Melbourne was tough. The people of the queer community were often targeted. It was inspiring to read Armistead’s Series of novels and dream of living in a city such as San Francisco. I identified strongly with Mouse. The Gay Everyman. And from my first reading I wished my life could be a little like his. Mouse had swagger , not so much cool but brave and sophisticated a man who stood by his principles and lived by what he believed. It was definitely someone I aspired to be.
Some years after I had come out to my family, found my footing within the gay community a loving partner and formed my own logical family Armistead Maupin published “Michael Tolliver Lives” for me this book was groundbreaking almost a second coming out. Mouse had a younger partner and in his wonderful writing I could draw parallels between Mouse and my own wonderful partner John
Earlier this year when I had already sought to establish contact with Comfort & Joy in my early planning for Burning Man Armistead released his latest novel The Days Of Anna Madrigal. After reading the book and his glowing description of Comfort & Joy I knew camping with comfort and joy was a “logical” decision.
For those of you who have not read this series of books I highly recommend them. I had the privilege of meeting Armistead and his partner Chris whilst he was doing a literary tour with “Mary Ann In Autumn” I wonder if I will meet him again on the playa.
With only a few weeks till I depart for America. I’ve begun to reflect now on why I am going and what I hope to achieve and most of all not form pre conceived conceptions of how I want my week in the desert to unfold..The Playa will provide
I feel I am well prepared for my experience, I am excited but I am also now beginning to feel a little nervous and worried. Little seeds of self doubt that diminish my careful research and undermine the contacts and friendships I have formed in my lead up to the event.
“Have I prepared myself enough for the event?
“What The F##K am I doing? The Playa looks like something out Star Wars!”
Sitting here in my favourite coffee house Brewtown a warehouse chic coffee bar Newtown. Brewtown has freshly ground coffee brewed in house and cronuts to die for , it can be found off King St Newtown a street frequented by everyone from hippies to homos, punks and trannies , hipsters, geeks freaks and Coldplay in their latest video “sky full of stars”
It’s hard to believe how real this adventure is becoming in the past few weeks I’ve been busy applying for visas, researching the internet for packing lists and last minute survival research I have come across two fantastic articles I would like to share with other readers of this blog.
Ive been thinking a lot recently about
WHAT ONE PIECE OF ADVICE WOULD YOU SHARE WITH A FIRST TIME BURNER?
This handy Reddit thread asks veterans this very question and I was surprised at how comprehensive and thoughtful some of the answers are, the tips and tricks in this thread are well worth reading and even worth contributing too if you have years of playa experience under your belt. Some of the advice is logical.. Some quite profound it’s well worth checking out,
Reading these really puts into perspective how remote the area of Black Rock City is. Id better start thinking about my own lists soon….that must be out next blog!
A phone conversation I had with my Boyfriend:
Stephen: ‘Hi sweetheart, I bought some AMAZING fabric at Cliff’s in the Castro Sidewalk sale!BF: ‘It doesn’t have sequins, does it?’Stephen: ‘Er yes it does. Is that a problem’BF:’Yes, they shed which makes MOOP’
Now, two weeks later, constellations of sequins dot my living room carpet. One or two have migrated down to the ground floor – five flights below. I wouldn’t say they’re everywhere but they are very much Matter Out Of Place.
So no sequins on the Playa. No beaded scarves either for the same reason. Here’s a list of MOOPy things posted by BloAsis’ Shawn Brower from LA on Facebook:
wood chips, splinters and sawdust
burn barrel ashes
mylar (once it dries out and cracks)
firecrackers and fireworks
anything that may dry out, break up and/or blow away in the wind
sheets of paper
disposable drink cups
swimming pools (soaked playa = moop)
glass containers (they can shatter)
Like Paul, I too am coming across lots of lists. Here’s a packing list from my friend John:
It’s also very detailed and will give me plenty to work from.
When I asked him: ‘Can you give a Virgin Burner one piece of advice?”, he said, “Be open and go with the flow. Have no expectations.”
One more note:
Over Pride I volunteered for Comfort and Joy’s Afterglow. I realized any new costumes need to be Day-Glo. Thank you Chickpea!
Back by Popular Demand
A Solo Play by Evan Johnson
In Collaboration with and directed by Ben Randle
In this “fresh twist on Peter Pan” (SF Chronicle), shadows stir in modern day San Francisco when Michael discovers a time capsule in his basement. As Michael looks through VHS tapes, audio cassettes and wrinkled party fliers, parallels begin to emerge between his life and that of 90′s gay club kid Peter Pansy.
This performance experience has all sorts of faerie magic in it. PANSY is about connecting to a lost shadow, walking in another homo’s shoes, and finding one’s place in the world.
Now at the New Conservatory Theatre Center in San Francisco with performances nightly through June 29th. Find out more in this Facebook event.
Following each performance of Pansy an informal discussion will take place with performer Evan Johnson & local queer luminaries. Like Peter Pan’s lost shadow, these discussions will re- connect this make-believe story with a sense of real-life queer lineage, firmly placing this theatrical work into a historical context. The effect will be nothing short of magical.
June 20: The Ticking Queer Clock – Queer Ancestors Project. Special Guest Katie Gilmartin
June 21: Early 90′s Nightlife, Remembering Diet Popstitute. Guests Alvin Orloff and David Hawkins
June 22: Theatrical Fairie Dust – The Cockettes. Special Guest Rumi Missabu
June 26: More is More – Drag Family as Drag History. Special Guest David Glamamore
June 27: Pansy Division – Fems in Leather Jackets: Queercore Music and Culture. Special Guest Jon Ginoli
June 28: Grace Under Fire: Stories from the Crisis Years. Special Guest Steve Susoyev
It has been an exciting spring for Comfort & Joy, as we’ve started producing our trademark clothing-optional dance parties around the country with escapades in Hawaii, Tennessee and most recently at this weekend’s Afterglow Portland in Oregon.
Now we are gearing up for our biggest celebration of the year, with our tenth annual Pink Saturday Afterglow party on Pride Weekend in San Francisco!
Confirmed DJ talent includes Jackie House, Two Dudes In Love, Justime, Tisdale, Doc Sleep and many more! 3 Dancefloors. Dozens of Performers. Full roster coming very soon.
Now, nearly three months later, I still don’t know. Paul and I have been texting back and forth with the names of various camps: Astropups, Bloasis, Celestial Bodies, Comfort and Joy etc etc.. He’s been marvelous at finding out details on Facebook. But I still have questions…
(from Paul in Australia)
As a follow up to our latest blog post I thought I’d try to give burners/burgins an insight into the logistics of planning a burn from the other side of the world. Any comments, thoughts ideas and advice are welcomed as I try and explain the planning of my first trip to the playa.
At some point in time we have ALL typed “burning man” into Google. Results of course vary but all in all visiting different sites, blog spots and viewing images and video point to a festival that looks ALOT of fun. My first encounter with Burning Man was through Internet chat friends who spoke of this festival in the desert where for one week citizens constructed a world lived in it and burnt it to the ground at the end of the week leaving no trace of their time there.
“Wow” my brain spun just thinking of this concept .
“You’re kidding me right? …. a week?
“Yup the worlds largest transient population in the world … Give or take a few long time established refugee camps”
I had been to many a rave party, music festival, event time things by then and the concept instantly intrigued me.
” I love it …..how do I sign up?”
Well… That was about five years ago now and here I am ticket booked and ready to collect from will call and ready for my first burn.
You have NO idea how excited I am…lol.
Before you have even set foot there The Playa holds a mystical aura that draws you in and makes want to dive deeper into its soul and discover its secrets. As an international visitor I think (again Virgin bravado here) this is where international visitors can really offer a valuable experience into planning your first burn.
Obviously preparing yourself for The Playa is the key to making the most of your time there. And travelling from Sydney Australia is marginally more difficult than making your way from Wisconsen. The distance we travel forces us to research quite earnestly and plan our journey to the mystical playa many many months ahead.
Social media and the internet has helped fuel my determination to burn…. I learnt of different groups. searched for them on Facebook, googled them and tired to connect with them. I stated to banter with those who responded to my messages now 80 odd days from burn I have already formed friendships I am excited to ignite on The Playa some are seasoned burners some burgins like myself I am sure we will get on famously on the playa.
Saturday June 2 2014 (Comfort and Joy afternoon social)
Any self-respecting shaman will tell you that when people are faced with difficult decisions, it’s a good idea to refer to an external randomizing element; the I Ching, Tarot, tea-leaves and entrails for example, which have the benefits of a) offering ‘direction’ and b) allow the blame to be shifted to the process rather than the person when things don’t go as planned…
I use a spinning top called ‘Ask the Force’. With ‘over 50 cool Star Wars phrases’, it’s basically a Shamanic Magic 8-ball:
You spin it and formulate a question in your head like “should I camp with Comfort and Joy?”. It plays the Star Wars theme – a LED lights up
- and you get an answer:
So when I asked the top ‘Should I camp with Comfort and Joy’, It came back with the answer: “MASTER SAYS NO!”
Armed with this certainty, I went to the social with the intention of being a good neighbor. What I found instead was connection to a wonderful group of hard-working people. I asked lots of questions: “Is there a chill space” (Yes) “What does a day look like?” (Whatever you create it to be)”Do I have to do the washing up everyday?” (There’s a list you can sign up for).
I got answers, learned more about one of the Burning Man 10 Principles – Communal Effort.… and I’m going to camp with Comfort and Joy!
I’m writing a blog about my experiences in getting to the Burn. And I’ll share what I’ve learned. But at this stage, I feel that this blog is a bit like the playa itself… a vast, intimidating blank page.White as chalk. Stretched to infinity. Thirsty for creativity.
Maslov’s Hierarchy of Needs
Break it down, gurl.
Maslov’s hierarchy of needs: shelter, water, food, fabulous outfits
I am excited that I’m not doing this ‘thing’ alone. Whether it’s this blog or the Burn itself, I am reaching out to friends and acquaintances asking for advice, impressions and tips…and camping gear, and a bike, and god knows what else. And that’s what this blog is essentially about. It’s a journey of discovery, ostensibly sharing tips and experiences, but also of exploring new friendships and connections as those of us who have never gone before take the steps to learn the Burn.
My name is Stephen…you may know me as that guy with the English accent….and I’m a Birgin. I’ve lived in San Francisco for over twenty years and now at the age of 50 I’ve set my intention of going to the Burn.
This guy from Australia hits me up on Facebook. His name is Paul aka ‘Noddy’. He is looking to find his way to Toyland (Google ‘Noddy’ if you don’t know what I’m talking about). We’re talking via Facebook. He’s thousands of miles away and I learn we share common goals. We decide to co-create this blog.
Between us we’re going to figure it out.
My name is Paul. I’m a first time Burner travelling over from Sydney Australia. I’ve been wanting to get there for years and I’m so excited to be going this year
The prospect of spending a week in the desert can be a daunting one, include the words radical self reliance and “bring everything you need with you but leave no trace” and even Bear Grylls needs to sit down and formulate a plan to survive the week
Coming from overseas can be even more daunting , so many questions churn around inside your head.
How do you actually prepare yourself for a week in the desert.
What do I need to eat in a desert?
How do I get my water to the desert?
How do I find a camp and meet people beforehand so I’m not running around alone all the time?
How can I participate in Burning Man now to make the most of my experience when I arrive there.
In the weeks ahead we will be sharing our conversation
and the research we’ve done (thus far) in choosing a camp that best represents us and our needs on the playa ….
BAAAHS is part penetrable large-scale sculpture, part mutant vehicle, part socio-politcal statement, part furry back-room, part mobile pick up joint and part gay disco. Basically the best sheep ever. Get a taste of the sheep sound with this stereogamous mix recorded live on board the BAAAHS in Black Rock City, Nevada, during Burning Man 2013.
Need a Burning Man ticket? Here’s your best bet… the Secure Ticket Exchange Program (STEP) is an online system that facilitates the safe resale of tickets that have been purchased directly from Burning Man. It’s designed to provide a hassle-free, secure way of buying and selling tickets while avoiding scammers, counterfeits and scalpers.
Anyone who has not already purchased a ticket directly through Burning Man can register to purchase a ticket through STEP. Registration for STEP will take place through the Burner Profiles beginning Tuesday, April 22, 12pm (noon) PDT, for ticket buyers. IN OTHER WORDS, YOU MUST HAVE AN ACTIVE BURNER PROFILE TO PARTICIPATE IN STEP.