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Preparing for my first burn

Sanna Stefansson
Sanna Stefansson
3 min read
Preparing for my first burn

I've been dreaming of joining the social experiment in Black Rock City for a long time. Last year I logged on before the ticket sale started, patiently waited for two hours in the infamous online queue, only to find out it was sold out. This year history repeated itself. But, this time I had my partner in crime next to me, who did manage to get through after two hours of various error messages.

It was decided—we’re going to Burning Man.

At this point, I start doing my research more in-depth. Now, I thought I had a pretty good idea. I've read about the 10 principles. I've listened to friends who have gone for years. At the last NomadCruise I begged a fellow cruiser to organize a Burning Man meetup so I could ask all my questions  (thanks G, much appreciated). "It shows you what society could be, it's like an alternate universe", they said.

Not that I needed more convincing, but consider me sold.

The thing is, listening to a story without internalizing the practical aspects, is just that—a story. You hear someone talking about how she climbed K2, and you're like, "cool, dude", until you have to start packing for the expedition yourself and realize what the fuck you've gotten yourself into.

Now, let me stop here to tell you how much of a camper I am.

Last summer I went to Feel Festival with a friend. It was my first actual festival, and while we had several conversations about outfits, we had far less about the practical details. We were going to camp. Two nights, how hard could it be. She borrowed a tent and had brains enough to bring a sleeping bag and mattress. Do you know what I brought? A yoga mat and a blanket. True story. That night went right into The Top 5 Most Miserable Nights Of My Life. Fuck, it was cold. In hindsight, I should have done what any other self-respecting Berliner would; do drugs and dance all night. Oh, well. The day after we were both so wretched and exhausted we just packed up and went home. Less than 24 hours.

In our defense, we did look cute at least 10 of those hours.

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The point is, not much about me says natural born camper. And this was a camping area close to civilization, and honestly, not that extreme temperatures. It was probably around 8-10 degrees as coldest.

Burning Man is a different level. Boiling during the day, easily 40 degrees, and close to freezing at night. You will be covered in dust at all times. The wind will blow your tent away if you don't secure it properly. If you forget something, you can't just go and buy it at the local supermarket. Everything you bring, you need to bring back—nothing, not even a seemingly simple thing as grey water, will be left on the playa. Not exactly a picnic excursion.

The more I understood, the more daunting it felt, and thus, the more determined I got. Since receiving the tickets I’ve gone from "I don't care what it costs, I need an RV with a shower" to "fuck yes, I'm gonna be so prepared with camping gear and baby wipes people will think I grew up in a tent". Yes, baby wipes are perfectly adequate as an alternative to showers for a full week.

At this point, I have a color-coordinated spreadsheet in Airtable, which includes budget and packing list. I found a camp with fellow nerds I look forward to spending the week with. And next weekend I will practice setting up my new tent so I can manage to do it in a dust storm, if the situation calls for it.

I may not be a camper, but I’m most certainly a project manager.

I leave this little piece of comedy gold right here and apologies in advance for how potentially obnoxious I will be in September.

Also, feel free to call me Pancakes any time.


Sanna Stefansson

Lisbon-based Swede who dabbles in creative writing and has too many hobbies. By day I lead product development in a marketing agency and advocate for working remotely.