If you’ve burned before — whether in Black Rock City or at a Regional event — you’ve probably had the uncanny experience of walking into a space and thinking, “Wait a minute… this is SO Burning Man.” What is that Burner je ne sais quoi? It’s not a cologne. We think it comes down to a combination of ethos and actions that the community proactively puts into place to co-create a Burning Man space.
At our core, Burners are thoughtful, considerate; kind, funny and yes, snarky too. We invite the stranger. We talk to each other — especially that person who may be standing at the edge of the gathering. We participate, and offer help — whether it’s setup, breakdown, or initiating shenanigans.
How to Create a Burning Man Space, Anywhere, Anytime, with Anyone
Collaboratively plan, build, manage, and tidy up your activity. Everyone co-creates and contributes to a collective experience, whether they’re bringing ideas, wrangling cats, installing spaces and structures, or helping to fuel connection and participation.
Everyone is invited! Burning is not exclusive. There are no door staff judging you, secret handshakes (though they can be fun) or VIPs. All are welcome to imagine, co-create, and play.
Build in interactivity and encourage participants’ self-expressive creativity. There are no spectators! Everyone contributes their weird, playful, experimental special sauce to a co-created experience. Burning Man spaces are non-judgmental, so long as something isn’t interfering with others’ safety and well-being.
Respect each other, the neighbors, the community, and ecosystem. Gather in a way that is respectful — to each other, the locals, and the natural world. Don’t make noise that upsets the neighbors. Encourage participants to be mutually respectful and consensual in their interactions with each other.
Bring new people into your adventure. Creating a Radically Inclusive experience guarantees that new people will drop by to check it out. Say hello and connect with the curious, shy stranger, introduce them to your friends, and bring them into whatever it is you’re co-creating.
Be collectively self-sufficient and pool resources. Rather than heading out to your local store when you’re missing an essential component of your experience, reach out to your co-conspirators to see what you can collectively cobble together to make your adventure complete. Abundance is often created simply by pooling resources.
Give without expectation, simply because it feels really good. New Burners may think that Burning Man experiences involve trading or reciprocity. Gifting is not about stuff, and it’s not about what you get back. You could offer a skill, useful knowledge, your sense of humor, or a keen observation of what might be helpful in a given situation.
Decommodify it. So many spaces we pass through daily rely on financial transactions as the basis of human interaction. To enable radical creativity and culture creation, Burners create spaces that are free from sponsorship, branding, and commercial logos.
Leave the space better than you found it, as if you were never there. This has been a core tenet of Burning Man culture since it was a twinkle in Larry’s eye. Whether you’re inhabiting a park, warehouse, dusty expanse, or someone’s living room, part of the fun is leaving absolutely no trace of the hijinks that went down mere hours earlier.
Need Some Ideas?
There are so many ideas out there for fun things to do with your friends and extended community, we couldn’t even start to describe what may be in your imagination right now. We can, however, lay out a few possibilities upon which you can improvise to your heart’s content!
Connect with your nearest Regional community. For many, connecting with their Regional community and participating in year-round projects and events is the catalyst that truly opens up the ethos and universe of what it means to be a Burner in the world.
Open a Free Store and gift to passersby. Create a theme camp in your front yard or in the park and start gifting! Encourage your crew to clean out their closets and gather the goods for a giveaway. Turn yourselves into shopkeepers of generosity, gifting compliments and wondrous things to everyone who passes by.
Create a pARTiciPARADE. Be the parade you wish to see in the world! Whether it’s you all by yourself, or your favorite crew of magical humans, consider how moving through life can be a parade of interactive art, celebration and human expression, and invite others to run away with the circus.
Make art with your friends. Scare up some found and recycled objects, then get together to build Burning Man art in your community.
Plan a workshop or co-learning day. It’s amazing what knowledge exists in any community. Reach out to people of all ages to share their wisdom, experience, or just what they love. Collectively teach and learn from each other by organizing workshops or co-learning experiences.
Burners Out There Doing It
Burners around the world have become experts at creating whimsical experiences that summon Burning Man magic anywhere, any time.
Over the years, the imaginative Sacramento Valley Spark team has hosted drive-thru parades, MOOP your city events and more.
During the lonesome years of the COVID-19 pandemic, Burners around the world lit up their bikes and organized bike raves and two-wheeled techno parties. Meanwhile, a couple in Seattle built their very own Pie Chute for socially distanced distribution of baked goods.
And oh the parades! It doesn’t take much imagination to see why Burners around the world enjoy taking to the streets dressed in their weirdo finery. New Yorkers represent their favorite marine creature at Coney Island’s annual Mermaid Parade. And it goes without saying that San Francisco’s yearly Saint Stupid’s Day parade is chock-a-block with Burners doing what we do best.
Did someone say fire art? People who like to burn things (and spin burning things) do more than visit Black Rock City — they build effigies and start festivals such as Alaska’s Burning Basket Project or Ignite, which brings together Europe’s flow arts community.
In other words: this is YOUR call to gather your humans and celebrate whatever it is that you enjoy more than anything else in this world. Need inspiration? This Behavioral Scientist article details how a small group of curious Burners set out to recreate Burning Man adventures in their hometown.