Burning Man has its own unique sense of style. Part “Mad Max,” part steampunk, the usual Burning Man attire is edgy, cool, and avant-garde. Over the years, the week-long event has become one of the biggest holidays for adults to dress up outside of Halloween. Before you head out to the Black Rock Desert, though, you need to know the rules.
It may seem like anything goes at Burning Man, but there are some definite fashion no-nos. Glitter and sequins are highly frowned upon because these materials can fall off costumes and pollute the delicate ecosystem of the Playa. Feathers are also discouraged, but it seems like the woman on the left in the photo snuck some in. No matter what you wear, make sure your costume is eco-friendly and follows the “leave no trace” principle of Burning Man.
The Gifting Principle
Gifting is one of the core principles of Burning Man. Money has no value in the Playa because it’s based on a barter economy. This anti-capitalist approach to community means that gifting is a big deal. From cold drinks to goggles, people come to Burning Man prepared to give.
The gifting principle of Burning Man states that “the value of a gift is unconditional.” When someone gives you a gift, you aren’t expected to give anything back in return. Gifting is also seen in collaborative art projects, like this mouse trap installation, where people write special messages and add them to the greater whole. This creates a sense of community and connection that Burners can’t find anywhere else.
Don't Forget to Accessorize
Some Burners take their Burning Man fashion very seriously. Others? Not so much. This guy has done the complete opposite of creating a Burning Man wardrobe by ditching the clothes altogether. Believe it or not, many people choose to go nude during the event. It makes sense, especially considering how hot the desert sun is during the day.
This guy’s got the right idea. He’s living his best life in the nude, but he’s double-fisting some umbrellas for UV protection. The lack of shoes and protective gear is a bit concerning but to each their own. Hopefully he put on sunscreen before venturing out of his tent.
Fire, Fire, Everywhere
If there’s one stereotype about Burning Man that rings true, it’s that there’s fire everywhere. Fire art, open campfires, and flame effects are just some examples of how fire is utilized during the week-long event. Although many outsiders consider Burning Man a free-for-all bacchanal, the organizers take fire safety very seriously.
All fire art installations are approved after a rigorous approval process. Artists need to make diagrams, a safety plan, and an emergency response plan before they can even begin building their vision. If a Burner’s vehicle has pyrotechnics installed, it must be inspected by the Playa’s DMV (Department of Mutant Vehicles). Overall, Burning Man wants everyone to have fun while being safe. The only things that should be burning are the larger-than-life art installations.
Please Do Touch the Art
Although Burning Man isn’t technically a festival, there are aspects of the event that give art festival vibes. Basically, Burning Man is a lot like an outdoor, 100% interactive museum where you’re encouraged to touch the art. Many large-scale pieces and installations are built to be collaborative and activated by the Burning Man community. These giant, colorful cellos are perfect examples of community-activated art.
During the festival, anyone could walk up to these instruments and begin playing. So even if a Burner had never touched an instrument in their life, they’d still get the opportunity to interact with this piece. These giant cellos might have even been part of a communal burning at the end of the week, which would have added another level of meaning to the piece.