Glossary

  • White-out

    A dust storm which produces near-zero visibility.

  • Village

    Affinity group of theme camps.

  • Theme Camp

    A campsite which artistically presents an idea or concept and is designed to be interactive with participants.

  • Trego Trench

    A long, hot spring-fed ditch created by Southern Pacific with a backhoe in the 1950s.

  • TAZ

    Temporary Autonomous Zone (term coined by writer Hakim Bey).

  • Spike

    Name of dog which died in 1993 after its owner allowed it to jump into a hot springs.

    Survivally-challenged: Politically correct term for any participant whose judgment is impaired by drugs or alcohol.

  • Solifuge

    A swift, non-poisonous insect which thrives on the playa during the dry season. Also known as Sun or Wind Scorpions. They are very active for several hours just after dark.

  • Sensory Overload

    Just attending Burning Man. This is generally a blissful state, however, there is some sadness in the realization that a human can only witness a tiny fraction of the vast, non-stop, brilliant activities occurring during the week-long festival.

  • Regionals

    the global representatives of Burning Man who help connect Burners with fellow Burners off playa, while producing events and upholding the Ten Principles.

  • Recompression

    parties and events put on by Burners before Burning Man to get inspired for their upcoming playa experience.

  • Rebar

    Cheap steel rods often used for tent stakes.

  • Reality Bends

    Cramps felt in the mind and spirit after returning to the "real" world after spending a week in Black Rock City. Best remedied by Decompression.

  • Ranger Station

    The general, public accessible, campsite/complex and base of Ranger operations.

  • Ranger HQ

    The actual building and base of operations for the Rangers.

  • Quinn River

    Located at the northeast side of Black Rock Desert, this springtime river empties onto the playa and then driess up during the summer.

  • Project, the

    Term for the Burning Man Project, organization name.

  • Potlatch

    American Indian term for a gathering or festival in which gift giving is featured.

  • Poi

    traditional Maori dance prop popular with fire performers. Made with a knot of wick at the end of a rope.

  • Playafication (adj: playafied):

    the process by which all participants' shoes/feet, hair, tents, carpets, furniture, vehicles, etc. become the same serene shade of playa-tan due to ubiquitous dust build-up.

  • Playa Platforms

    What your footwear immediately becomes after it rains on the playa, when 2-3 inches of mud rapidly accumulates on the bottoms of your shoes.

  • Playa Name

    originally spawned by the need for unique names on the staff's 2-way radios, playa names have become almost ubiquitous, and are sometimes used to provide an individual with an "alternate" personality or persona. Playa names are traditionally given to a person, rather than taken on.

  • Playa Madness

    Mental condition that occurs after being out in the Black Rock Desert for more than a week at a time.

  • Playa Info

    Information booth located in Center Camp.

  • Playa Foot

    a common malady where one's feet become dry and cracked due to prolonged exposure to the highly alkaline desert floor.

  • Playa Chicken

    Community legend of a rare species of vicious, carnivorous chickens reputed to live in the Black Rock Desert. Any strange phenomenon that is not readily attributable to any known cause may be blamed on Playa Chickens.

  • Playa

    Spanish word for beach.

  • Platina

    The uniform sheen on the surface of any object which has been on the Black Rock Desert for more than an hour.

  • Piss Clear

    The 2nd newspaper to appear in BRC. The name is derived from the survival axiom "Drink so much water that you piss clear."

  • Participant

    Uh, that would be you...

  • Open Playa

     the portion of the playa that is within our pentagonal event space, but is used exclusively for art installations rather than camping space.

  • Obtainium

    Any useful and valued material which is found or obtained for free.

  • No Spectators

    Another central tenet of the Burning Man philosophy. By blurring the line between audience and performer, everybody is a superstar at Burning Man.

  • Nose Tators

    Playa dust nostril plugs that form during the event; spelling derived from a contraction of "No Spectators."

  • Newbie

    Any person who is attending Burning Man for the first time. Can often be recognized by the call they utter when coming out of the Porta-

    Potties on Tuesday: "That wasn't so bad."

  • Mutant Vehicle

    a motorized conveyance that is radically, stunningly, (usually) permanently, and safely modified. Larry Harvey likens Mutant Vehicles to "sublimely beautiful works of art floating across the playa like a Miro painting." Licensed by the DMV, these vehicles are an important part of the Burning Man experience.

  • MOOP

    Matter Out Of Place. Litter, debris, rubbish.

  • Miss Information

    Legendary distributor of wisdom at Playa Info. Can be recognized by her bright green plumage.

  • Media Ho’s

    Members of the Burning Man Media Team. Their mission is to cajole the media into presenting fresh and interesting stories about the event.

  • Man, the

    Term used for the Burning Man statue.

  • Lingam

    The erect penis: companion to Yoni, and a symbolic of creative power.

  • Leave No Trace

    A philosophy learned during a rigorous 3-day back-country training expedition, during which participants are taught to clean up after themselves completely. Also one of the central tenets of the Burning Man festival. No, really, we're serious about this.

  • Lamplighters

    the volunteer group who lights kerosene lanterns each night of the Burning Man event to illuminate the esplanade and promenades, providing participants with valuable navigational aids.

  • Lamp Posts

    The series of vertical lighting fixtures which line walkways and delineate areas of BRC.

  • Khakis

    Durable, tan-colored clothing which has become the standard uniform of the Rangers. Not to be confused with the ubiquitous tan-colored GAP clothing worn by business-casual office drones the world over.

  • Java Cow

    Community legend which appears with hot coffee at sunrise on the morning of the Burn and asks the question: "Do you want cream or sugar with your coffee?"

  • Jack Rabbit Speaks

    Internet-based newsletter produced by Burning Man organization.

  • ICS

    Incident Command System, an action plan to be used by the Rangers in the event of serious emergency.

  • HELCO

    Fictional corporation which attempted to buy Burning Man in 1996.

  • Heat Exhaustion

    A more serious form of dehydration.

  • Guru Lane

    A folk-art monument-lined road near Gerlach, built by Doobie Williams, who passed away at age 76 in 1995.

  • Gifting

    A core tenet of the Burning Man ethos, gifting is the act of giving something (material or otherwise) to another person without any expectation of receiving something in return.

  • Fly Hot Springs

    A hot water geyser surrounded by several large man-made pools.

  • Frog Pond

    A warm water artesian pond where frogs were raised in the 1950's. Renamed Bordello Springs by Danger Ranger in 1992.

  • Fire Jumping

    A technique of jumping over a burning fire, sometimes with negative results when two opposing jumpers collide in mid-air.

  • Fire Walking

    A technique of walking barefooted on live embers, best performed after moistening the feet.

  • Fire Dancing

    The most popular past-time on the playa. The art of dancing with fire, usually in the form of poi, staff, hoops, clubs, fans, or other devices.

  • Fire Breathing

    A technique whereby someone blows a flammable liquid across a torch or match to produce a large burst of flame.

  • Exploding Man

    Legendary fireworks performance.

  • Exodus

    the process and organization of the mass participant departure from the playa at the end of the event.

  • EL Wire

    Electroluminscent Wire. Cool, glowing stuff used to make moving objects and sculptures out of light. The must-have accessory for the event!

  • Earth Guardians

    A subgroup of Burning Man participants who work with the BLM to care for the Black Rock Desert. Earth Guardians are trained in Leave No Trace techniques.

  • Earplugs

    Small foam ear inserts used to reduce loud noise.

  • Dust Devils

    see Ancestors.

  • DPW

    Department of Public Works.

  • Double Hot

    A boiling hot springs located in the mountains beyond the north end of the playa.

  • Donner Award

    Annual award given to the individual, or group, who pushes the limits of personal survival through stupidity, inattention or just bad luck during the event.

  • DMV (Department of Mutant Vehicles)

    The team of dedicated volunteers who review and register Mutant Vehicles, giving them permission to drive on the playa during the event.

  • Dehydration

    Medical condition that results from not drinking enough water.

  • Default World

    The rest of the world that is not the playa during the Burning Man event.

  • Decompression

    A party held one month after Burning Man to give participants a brief chance to return to Black Rock City. Offers relief from the Reality Bends.

  • Danger Ranger

    Founder and icon hero of the Black Rock Rangers.

  • Culture Shock

    A state of melancholy, anger or frustration which sets in trying to readjust to "normal" life after one has attended Burning Man.

  • Coyote Man

    Community legend about a local resident who runs with coyotes at night.

  • Concrete Stake

    Heavy-duty steel stake with a series of small holes along the length.

  • Chasing Shadows

    Dashing across the playa in pursuit of brightly burning objects, only to arrive after the crescendo, or when the object has already burned to ashes, and then doing it again and again to the point of exhaustion.

  • Center Camp

    Large circular area and structures located in the center of Black Rock City.

  • CB

    Citizens Band radio.

  • Cattle Guard

    A closely spaced group of horizontal pipes placed in a roadbed at fence line to prevent cattle from escaping and yet allow vehicles free access.

  • Camera Obscura

    A darkened room or building fitted with a specially designed lens which projects an outside image onto a screen or table inside.

  • Camp Arctica

    The camp on playa where participants can purchase ice to keep their perishables fresh, and their bodies cooled. Proceeds from ice sales are donated to local charities.

  • Cacophony Society

    A randomly gathered network of pranksters and eccentric individuals, united in the pursuit of experiences beyond the mainstream of culture.

  • Burning Man Shock

    More or less the opposite of Culture Shock, a state of happiness, euphoria and freedom which sets in while attending Burning Man, after one has conformed to "normal" life for too long

  • Burner

    One who has attended Burning Man, and takes the spirit of the event back with them to the default world.

  • Burn, the

    Reference to the actual event, and activity, of burning the Burning Man statue.

  • Bordello Springs

    See Frog Pond below.

  • BMOrg

    Short for Burning Man Organization, this term is actually a common misnomer. The actual name for the organizers of the Burning Man event is the "Burning Man Project".

  • BLM

    Bureau of Land Management, government agency which administers public lands, including the Black Rock Desert.

  • Black Rock Geyser

    A water truck, frequently pursued by pedestrians and bicyclists for it's brief but refreshing shower. Though the water can be quite hot, the moisture helps to relieve the desert heat.

  • Black Rock Gazette

    Newspaper produced on-site in the desert during the Burning Man event.

  • Black Rock City

    The annual, temporary city created by the community of Burning Man participants.

  • Black Rock

    A large dark rock formation at the north end of the playa.

  • Baker Beach

    San Francisco beach where Burning Man originated.

  • Art Cars

    see Mutant Vehicles.

  • Art Bike

    kissing cousin to the art car, the art bike is a decorated or "mutated" bicycle, and is the preferred method of transporting oneself around the playa.

  • Ancestors

    spiraling, tornado-like dust plumes that traverse the playa, either produced by wind or by heat from large fires, such as the Man burning.