Changes to Theme Camp Thinking

What makes a theme camp? What gives some of these staying power while others fade? Who is really making a mark on the culture, while who is just producing a glorified camp with friends? Truth is Burning Man is demanding camps innovate and change. Camps that are not evolving are getting placed less and less.

There are 5 standards for present and future camps need to meet (from April 2014 news letter from Placement)

  1. Theme Camps should be visually stimulating, have an inviting design and a plan for bike parking and crowd management.
  2. Theme Camps must be interactive. They should include activities, events or services within their camps that must be available to the entire Burning Man community.
  3. Theme Camps must be neighbourly. This includes keeping sound within set limits, controlling where camp generators vent exhaust, and easily resolving any boundary disputes that may arise.
  4. Theme Camps must have a good previous MOOP record (for returning camps).
  5. Theme Camps must follow safety protocols designed by the organization (this includes traffic management on the streets, proper handling of fuels, and any other areas defined by the organization’s production team including alternatives to RV lined streets).

Gayborhood camps might think they have a better chance of placement without innovation or evolution because they are a staple of the area. Some camps have been really setting the bar in their presentation. Another area of note is the friendly nature of the camp; is that is inviting – engaging – interactive? Some camps have made remarkable steps in that area as well.

“Community is the successful result of people coming together for a common goal”**

comfort__joy_2006Comfort & Joy has been the epicenter of the Gayborhood for a number of years now. Their neon courtyard created by Chickpea and art pieces by Neon suck people into their space and do not require a lot of direct engagement to make people feel welcome when visiting. They do have fluffers who keep their space refreshed which is an additional welcoming factor of their space.

Over the last few years the camps that have made strong presentations:

  • Comfort & Joy – Glamcocks – BloAsis – Barbie Death Camp – Paradise Motel – Celestial Bodies – Mystopia

Most improved process of making people feel welcome in their camps:

  • Glamcocks – Camp Beaverton  – Gender Blender

Camps to watch grow in recent years:

  • Hanging Gardens – Disco Chateau – Peterson’s Pink Pagoda – Sun Guardians

Exciting new camps that brought a lot of fun to the playa:

  • Cub House -Gaylactic Village (now including Homojitoville)

Gone are the days when the Borg are willing to let camps stay the same. Theme camps have to become more interactive or provide services that make the city more inviting. They can come in many forms from Snow Cones, to Super Hero Parties to Oil Wresting (3 camps had this in 2015).

There are some new subjects coming to light in the 2016 season that have yet to officially be directed, but you can look forward to seeing:

  • Frontage lighting for camps including day oriented camps
  • More rules on sound: sound camps in the city
  • … and more I am sure

Want some help with your camp infrastructure or plans for 2016. Well, we have news! There is going to be a Camp Creator summit coming to the Bay Area in 2016 where camp leaders, vendors and builders can get together. It will be called LiSP 2016: Leadership in Silly Places. Stay tuned for announcements and ticket sales.

Working together and networking is a good way to up your game for 2016. The baseline is higher now. The good thing is that Placement is keeping us all on the ball with their mailing list. Get on it by contacting Placement through the web site or emailing placment@burningman.org. You will be automatically added if you submit your Placement Application in April 2016.

**source quote unknown
Banneer Image from Toaster
2nd inset image for Comfort & Joy unknown

Burning Man 101

Are you new to this crazy stuff? Exploring the idea of going to Burning Man or maybe you ended up with a ticket and have no freaking clue what you are headed in to. Before you count on WHAT YOU THINK YOU KNOW… educate yourself first! If you have a vision of all naked folks on drugs and a non-stop party think again; Burning Man is the largest collection of interactive art in the world.

Let’s Break it down….

You MUST read the Survival Guide provided by Burning Man on their site. They have a ton of resources that will help you with your survival. I said SURVIVAL because you can die out there if you do not take care of yourself and embrace this term: Piss Clear.

The page linked above will give you all the official what-do and what-not to make your experience a rich and rewarding one. A term you don;t want to embrace is: Sparkle Pony.

Helpful things on QB.Com

Here are a few past posts on the site that might be helpful. Use the categories in the footer of this page to discover more!

Trip Report: Burning Man Placement

On Saturday the 29th Burning Man called in the troops and passed out a mega-ton of information about camps preparing for the playa. That also means preparing people and resources.

It can’t be emphasized any more that this: get your shit together. If you are planning on requesting placement you will be working with the most gregarious team at Burning Man and they want your experience to be the best possible. However, your project has to be thought out and complete and submitted by July!

Hot Button Issues

You have to see the right pages for the right thing. There is no single source for all your questions. Just remember this, deadlines matter and getting your documentation in early counts.

  • Theme Camp FAQ
  • Outside Services: Thinks have changed: Linked Here
  • Vehicle Passes: MUST HAVE: Recommended Blog Post
    (Note: this is still very confusing. How do people who need vehicle passes get them if they are not purchased at the time of the ticket purchase? Who thought of this? How do low-income ticket purchasers get passes…)
    – Alternatives: The Burner Express

This tiny blog cannot answer all the important questions, but radical self-reliance means a guuurl has got to take action with immediacy. Wurkit.

5 Years of Queer Burners

One of the best pieces of advice I got when in the first half of this project came from Kitten was that the posts and so forth from this site were not written in “I” statements. This project is not about me. It is about a community of people inside a community in side… etc. Why is this project to important to me and what am I asking people to do with it? This is more of an “I” entry…

Here I come!My name is Scott. On playa I am known as Toaster. I am a queer male who loves people of all genders and joined the Burning Man community to grow and I did. One of my early specific goals was to improve my relationship with women. I since then learned to accept and relate to people of all gender identities and am so blessed for it.

2008/2009: the beginning

When I became involved with my first Burning Man collective it was the Las Vegas Burning Man group. I arrived on a beach on Lake Meade one night and met Debbie and Mike; older wild ass couple you would fall in love with immediately. The Vegas community was in a huge transition at the Me and the girlstime with identity and base. I quickly became deeply involved and at some point along the way was being considered for a Regional Contact (R.C.) role.

At the time Cameron Grant was the core R.C. and his girlfriend Melissa were real heroes in keeping the community on track. Captain Bill and his wife Amber were also strong leaders in the community and I did great things will all of them.

  • Fact: there was a true embrace of people from all walks of life in this community. The lines between LGBTQ++ and other burners was never an issue. There were a lot of blurry lines.

So Why?

It became clear after my first year to Burning Man in 2009 that there was a huge presence of LGBTQ++ people. The Gayborhood was established and Comfort & Joy was the jewel of the crown. There was the last ember of “Stiffy Lube” in the shadow (history). I met a shining star under the mylar rain out front… and I wondered how could it be possible to make this amazing feeling last.

While queer burners had their own camps, clicks and factions there was no single unifying presence that understood LGBTQ++ needs. And, there was something clearly missing from the burner culture at large. There was direct and indirect homophobia. Not to mention on the onslaught of trolls on message boards; ePlaya etc….

This project is designed to provide safe space for people to network from. This is the space to get camp information and general information from the community within and without the LGBTQ part of it.

The web site

It started off as Gay Burners [dot] Com. An accident by a member who called it Queer Burners got me wondering… “who is looking at this site and who is the audience?” After all, this is for every person regardless of gender of orientation with a focus on the LGBTQ++ population.

It is about a place for community. While Burning Man [dot] Com is the premiere source for all things Burning Man there is a bevvy of sites out there for the pockets of communities out there. This is just another one. This speaks to the fastest growing segment of the Burning Man demographic.

Burning Man is not a gay event and many LGBTQ people who attend never go near the Gayborhood. But, the Gayborhood is so vital and important as an entity. Why? If you cannot see that now it simply cannot be explained any more than explaining Burning Man to normal people.

Keywords to note: safety, security, sanctuary, familiarity.

Bottom Line

I hope with all my heart that people see the value in this project and embrace it. We have groups to make us feel safe. Many of us queers have CHOSEN our families and made new and unconventional ones. We have our queer neighborhoods at home cities. We have groups of friends. We have so much and asking you to see the pride and community that blooms from queer burners inspires passion and more. It’s about community. It’s about a pocket of light that wants to shine back on all of you.

2013 Cargo Cult : A Trip Report

After 2012’s Fertility 2.0 and the crushing ticket fiasco of all times it would seem hard to bounce back, but Burning Man Project did and pretty darn well. All the pomp and pageantry came to Black Rock City in a glorious way with Cargo Cult and John Frum.2013 Temple

What were the numbers? Anyone will tell you there was a glut of newbies, virgins and tourists on the playa with other terms like dark-tards, weekenders and any of many other words for the people who are more and more becoming the gross of the population.

Speaking of population, another fiercely growing majority are LGBTQ people. We cannot see it in a skin color or any other physical trait but it is becoming more and more clear to the observer.  LGBTQ people have been open to the embrace of radical self expression over our counterparts who are still learning to wake that part of themselves up. This tremendous sense of living is what brings us back every year.

Gayborhood 2013

Before Burning Man 2013 the Placement Team announced where placed camps would end up which included the camps that would normally consist of the Gayborhood. The Gayborhood is a concentration of camps with camps like Comfort & Joy Village, Camp Beaverton and others at the nexus.

In the formation of the Gayborhood camps were spread out along the 7:30 corridor which brought trepidation and curiosity to this admin. In fact, the Gayborhood was just as good as ever, but we also had the benefit of being half of the 7:30 Plaza.

This area is the Castro of BRC and provides a valuable channel for queer, questioning and our friends to enjoy the special vibe LGBTQ Burners bring to the event.

The Gayburbs are the camps radiating around the Gayborhood.

There were some really bright stars in all of this:

  • congratulations to Comfort & Joy for their amazing courtyard and Village. The neon flags, glowing flowers and glow in the dark badminton were popular with everyone.
  • big applause for Crisco Disco who really proved to be a community art car; Brian and his crew who really focused on the community he was a part of and made it special for so many people.
  • and to BAAAHS who seemed to have a lot of mobility problems but were big hits on the playa with a sound system that matched or out-classed many other art cars out there.

In spite of being spread out the city the Gayborhood was a win! BloAsis Village dominated their block with one of the best setups I ever saw. The Beavers and Gender Blender were great hosts and their vagina glory hole even made the BRC newspaper. Many others were business as usual with business that is loved by the community.

Official Meet & Greet on Monday

The official Gay meet & greet was sponsored by The Down Low Club and welcomed over 200 people through the evening. It went on 3 hours with visitors from all over the city. They served a playa cosmo and snacks.

Guests included many people from this web site whom I had the pleasure of meeting face to face; some for the first time. We also saw Terry and Chris who built the ‘Time To Burn’ Aps for Android and iPhone. There was Tacoboy, Craig and so many others!

I did speak at this event for the first time and extended my appreciation to so many people the community. I had to thank Catcher and Red (Down Low Club managers) for once again sponsoring this event. I had warm thanks to Kitt, Matty Morin, Blitzy, Foxy, Scott Burdette, Indigo (Russ Smith) and so many more for being a part of the Queer Burner Leadership Network and helping make this project work over the last 5 years.

BRC Gay Pride @ Cargo Cult on Friday

In memory of a lost leader in our community, Mario Cisneros, the parade left The Man at 1pm. We managed to get everyone on wheels either via art car or bicycle which allowed us to take a slightly longer route that included the Gayborhood.

The Gayborhood had never been included in the parade before. It went from The Man, passing Center Camp, a lap around the Gayborhood and then off to the Gayburbs where a party was sponsored by Burner Buddies.

Crisco Disco was the shining gem in the crown of the parade and special thanks to everyone who brought out flags and banners. Though Crisco Disco was the only art car it really delivered. Kai Noble from Comfort & Joy worked the megaphone through the whole route adding to the amazing energy from the people participating.

Cargo Cult

The theme this year was the best in a long time and filled the imagination of so many. The iconography and pageantry was only matched by the hundreds of thousands of people who came to be a part of it. The weather all week long was optimal and there was very little wind. We enjoyed small bouts of rain, but in the end it was rain that chased many off on the last Monday afternoon of the event.

Entrance wait times were marginal for many, but up to 9 hours for some. Exodus seemed to average about 5 hours according to social networks.

Saturday night’s burn was breathtaking and it was a shock for many when a huge wave of large burning pieces and smoke tumbled into the crowd due to wind on the 11 o’clock side of the construct.

Sunday’s temple burn was moved up an hour to let people escape the city earlier because of the pending threat of rain the next day in an effort to minimize the time to get out the gate.

tumblr_msl9q5TBTv1qb4uc7o1_500Wins!

The weather, art cars, amazing art pieces, camps that filled the city even beyond the outer ring and more events that ever to shake a stick at. More people than ever seemed to state quite confidently than I have ever heard that this was their best year ever. The coolest MAN I ever saw.

Losses!

Unspeakable amounts of MOOP and investments in glow sticks. Darktards out the wazoo! Art-cars unwilling to take on passengers for one reason or another… and on the other hand people who think walking in front of an art car to stop it who think that is a wise decision. There were an unspeakable amount of fake entries in the What Where When, too, frustrating many of the city explorers.

Draw!

A disconnected Gayborhood spread through the 7:30 corridor above D street. More newbs than veterans and an uncommon amount of frat boys, tourists and weekend warriors.

It takes all kinds to make Burning Man happen and all the different flavors can be really fun, but this event and lifestyle are nothing like Coachella or EDC and is in danger of becoming all too much as such.

Conclusion

comfort_and_joy mapBest year yet. And what makes me qualified to levy that claim? Just my own experience as well as the general feeling in the air. Those of decades past might say otherwise, because it is not the same Burning Man of the nineties or the eighties. Although there were a lot of people who could not begin to harness the ideals of community and the 10 principles the city was more amazing than ever.

The art was exemplary and fascinating. CORE delivered and their Thursday night burn was pure gobsmack!

In spite of a spread out Gayborhood we were blessed. This year the Gayborhood had art cars, a spectacular nexus provided by Comfort & Joy, and such amazing life represented by Glamcocks and Paradise Motel among others. BloAsis was a new shining star on the 7:30 Strip! Thank you BAAAHS and Crisco Disco for your amazing service to the community.

Burners on the Playa

This site is a resource for Queer Burners (LGBTQ++ which is Radically Inclusive) who want to connect with and hang out with other burners with similar wants and desires. Those needs might be social and/or it might be sexual. Queer Burners have a lot of talented people. We also have a lot of amazing personalities people want to be a part of.

Gayborhood v. Gay Ghetto

The existence of the Gayborhood has been criticized and discussed in past posts. However, BOTH Queer Burner Leadership Summits (2012 and 2013) the attendees have discussed the real value 2013_Final_Web_LGof this part of the city is in it’s safety and familiarity for LGBTQ+ people. This is a place anyone who needs help will find real sanctuary if needed.

The one sad fact about the Gayborhood is how it is often misrepresented by the perception of those who do not participate in it. Or those from within the LGBTQ community who sit on the sidelines like bitchy gossips peering down their nose and refer to it as the Ghetto; not unlike a gay man being called ‘faggot’ on the street. It’s slanderous and mean-spirited.

The Gayborhood this year sits on the 7:30 corridor and is spread out thinner than it has been in recent years. This is both good and bad as it either undermines the sanctity of the space for queer and queer-friendly people or it gives other Queer Camps a chance to fill in the space and make a bolder statement.

LGBTQ Who’s Who at TTITD*

2006 DemographicAt some point (after 2006) Burning Man stopped sharing the actual numbers that were released through the afterburn reports. Assuming that this is a fair representation 22% of the people polled showed how potentially queers were playing a significant role.

In the same year, in a place with some very fluid sexuality, people were asked if they were bi-sexual. 38% of those who answered were vague at best but it further cements in the need for awareness.

Many of us have seen or participated in the census at burning man which can be found in the Center Camp Cafe. There are more questions than you can imagine in it and yet the afterburn reports give us a fraction of the results.

 2006 Bi Sexual? 2006 Straight ? 2006 Gay ? 2007 Gender ?2008gender-jpg 2009 Gender ?married-jpg 2011 Gender at Birth ? 2011 Gender Now ?

Take a look at the above charts from the afterburn reports and see how the data has been portioned out effectively editing out the queer community and focusing on a homogenized and very heterosexual audience. While the data showed in the past 1/5th and potentially more of the burners out there were or are LGBTQ identified or not. The data released spawns more questions.
(*TTITD: That Thing In The Desert aka Burning Man)

Not every rainbow is gay

Before you get confused about the uncommon amount to rainbow flags out there… they don’t all mean what you think. There are 3 rainbow flags out there and if you were unaware they meant something different one might think there were A LOT of Queers on the playa!

3flags

  1. 6 Color Flag: LGBTQS Diversity (gay)
  2. 7 Color Flag: Diversity (gay or not but usually not)
  3. 7 Color PACE Flag: Diversity with ‘Peace’ in Italian on it (same as #2 but pretending to be Italian)

Not that there are a lot of rules about flying these flags but my initial thought was ‘wow, there are a of gay people in these camps’ as if in many cases these were letting others know where we were… not so! But not necessarily not so either.

Maybe this was the same confusion Oscar Remundo (blogger for the Huffington Post) had when he stated in his post that 70% of Burning Man attendees were LGBT. I know I was starting to wonder myself because gay people were everywhere.

Queer Utopia

LGBTQ people have flocked to this culture because of it’s radical inclusion and acceptance of people irregardless of who they were or where they came from; as long as they can afford a $400 ticket and survive in the dirt for 8 days.

Conclusion

The contribution the LGBTQ community offer a lot to the Burning Man experience inside and outside of the trash fence. Our identity as Queer Burners v. just being referred to as Burners is often at question, but to be minimized by BMorg (the Burning Man Organization) or from within by Queer people is a cancer that is not constructive.

Being aware of each other out there strengthens us as a whole not just LGBTQ but also with Burners everywhere.

We celebrate faggotry and all Queer presence on the playa that gains focus in the Gayborhood and radiates outward. The Gayborhood expands and contracts wildly with layers and satellites that bring diversity all over the BRC (Black Rock City).

Tickets! Christmas Tickets!

You knew it was coming but did you know it was going to be $650.00? That’s right! Higher price for the benefit of having that tickie in your hand. The upside, the money goes to The Burning Man Project… yeah.

From the JRS:

Early-birds can participate in our Holiday Sale, which allows folks to buy tickets in time for holiday gifting. PLEASE NOTE: Holiday Sale tickets are priced dramatically higher than our regular tickets will be and Black Rock City, LLC will donate 3% of the price of each ticket sold during this early Holiday Sale to the Burning Man Project, a new nonprofit dedicated to spreading Burning Man culture around the world. (In addition, Black Rock City, LLC makes other substantial contributions throughout the year to support the Burning Man Project, including contributing the proceeds from fundraising events and many other forms of support.)

So ... here are the details:

- 3000 tickets will be offered at $650 each for the Holiday Sale.
- In order to participate in this sale, you must pre-register at:
http://tickets.burningman.com/registration-holiday2013.html
- Registration is open NOW and will close at noon PST on Wednesday December 19th.
- Those pre-registered will be able to participate in the first-come first-served sale on Thursday December 20th, starting at noon PST.
- You may purchase a maximum of 4 tickets per person.
- These tickets are not eligible for STEP, but are transferable (you are welcome to resell them on your own, if you wish).
- The only payment types accepted are Mastercard or Visa credit cards, or debit cards with either the Visa or Mastercard symbols. If you don't have one of these cards, you will need to obtain a one-time use card.
- Physical tickets will be shipped between June 1 and July 15, unless you opt for pick-up at Will Call in Black Rock City.

(We will not be implementing identity-based ticketing (e.g. name-on-ticket) ... for more information, see this blog post from Larry Harvey: http://blog.burningman.com/?p=23887.)

As always, you can find find full ticket information on http://tickets.burningman.com, and answers to your questions in our Ticketing FAQ (http://tickets2.burningman.com/faq.php) and spiffy new online ticketing forum (http://ticketsupport.burningman.com/home).

10,000 more souls

The more the merrier? With the (oh not so long ago) shit storm with the ticketing situation many disenfranchised and sad-sallie burners could never have imagined any hope of recovery. The mud on BMorgs face could have been a cleanse?

Many of us were pissed off. Many of us saw the lottery for the flaws the minute it was announced. What if it was a success, then who would be wearing the face-mask? Well, it wasn’t and according to a press release a lot of tickets went to people who never participated in the Burning Man experience before. It was estimated to be 70% (yes for real) people who never looked at the 10 principles before.

The Canvas

The fabric of the burner community has been changed, perhaps ripped away, then made into something new. Not only is this the year that Burning Man, LLC became The Burning Man Project 501(c)(3), but the participants who buy tickets also changed. There will be tens-of-thousands of new heart beats out there with new points of view and new expectations.

the future of burning man?

Thankfully before the last 10 to 20 thousand tickets went on sale BMorg (Burning Man Organization) took a step back and setup a system where people had the pleasure of buying Tier 4 tickets for $390/bux each instead of a real chance at getting anything less. Fortunately, some of those tickets also went to help low-income applicants.

So, on the chess board that was the ticket shit storm BMorg made some headway.

Camps were portioned allotments with the ability to purchase for their encampments. Tickets went to Art Cars, Artists and finally moving in the direction they needed to be.

Newbie Orientation

There was a huge emphasis on how we as a community do several things. One of the most important was another new word in the Burner Community: Enculturation. Even at the Leadership Summit in March 2012 that hosted in San Francisco and attracted leaders from all over the world, there was a strong emphasis on this.

Queer camps like Comfort & Joy, Camp Beaverton, and Astro Pups have all embraced this concept in different ways.

The goal is to get  new attendees to embrace the 10 principles and  make their participation meaningful without destroying those already entrenched in the life. This means much more than a party or festival. This is more than a bucket list item. But, for many that is all it will ever be.

10,000 More People

Yes, there will be close to 65,000 people out there this year than last year; more than 10,000 additional souls with a prediction for another 10,000 in 2013. The ticket screw ups earlier in the year aside, there is a flushing out as it were, and change is forced upon us.

Not many burners are really welcoming of “change” in spite of the hippy attitude projected on burner activity. Burners and Burner Leadership have to set the example.

We have no choice. We embrace and move forward. We saw the BLM bring sanctions with a deep inhale and the exhale follows an announcement of 10,000 more souls.

With that comes responsibility, too. For US who need to embrace change and for THEM whom we hope to enculturate. It will hopefully culminate in WE in the light of the temple burn. The 10 principles are the biggest key we can hand over to a new generation or a new breed of burners. But this thing, by Larry Harvey and his cavalcade of 5, is/was something very meaningful and the fear is that it will be lost…. or changed.

Change is… inevitable.

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