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Expert advice for uptight Burning Man virgins
by Abby Normal

With the swollen popularity of Burning Man, itâs likely that many of this yearâs participants will be, A) first-timers, also referred to as "newbies," and, consequently, B) not quite mentally prepared.

More alarmingly, itâs likely that there will be more than a few of them with something oblong up their collective ass (and it wonât be there for pleasure either.)But these folks have their concerns too, and to them theyâre quite legitimate. So, in the spirit of community living, here are some of the more popular questions which Iâve seen posed on the ăIâm Scared of Burning Manä Internet discussion group, along with some refreshingly common-sense replies.

What if the 8 gallons of water per day Iâm bringing isnât enough?
Enough? Enough for what? Are you planning to stage your own version of The Riverdance ? Common wisdom puts an average playaiteâs water needs at a gallon a day; bring two per day just to be safe, three if worrying makes you sweat, and four in your case. If you insist on bringing more, you can always trade or barter it to less-anal, less-prepared types than yourself ÷ donât worry, youâll be outnumbered. Sell the leftovers only if youâre ready to endure heaps of public scorn for competing with the local Gerlach high school kids.

How do I know when to dance, and if Iâm cool enough?
If you have to ask... Let me guess, youâre the type that only dances about twice a year, and then only when the DJ plays the remix of ăBizarre Love Triangle,ä arenât you? Trust me, once you get into the spirit, youâll be an unstoppable sex machine, and your little-used boogie muscles (ummm... I mean the ones for dancing) will ache for weeks afterward. Some pointers for knowing when to move and groove at B-man:

When the caffeine and alcohol in your body combines with sleeplessness, heat exhaustion and the effects of that little white tab that other camper told you was aspirin, and you realize that you wonât be able to sit still for about the next 16 hours ÷ you might as well dance! However uncoordinated you are, dancing will still be less goofy-looking Đ÷ and less dangerous ÷ than anything else you might try to do at this point.

When you first alight from your SUV, do an ăIâve arrived!ä dance. As in: whirl like a dust dervish, spinning and leaping around madly until you collapse and vomit in sheer nausea. All of this will probably go unnoticed, but it will give you an excellent crash-course in what to expect over the next few days. (Tip: try to avoid tented and staked areas when doing this, as guy wires can really interfere with clean lines of movement, and the attendant rope burns will probably be in all the wrong places.)

When someone mistakes you for a large piece of sheet-metal and begins pounding on you with huge mallets, go with it! Twisting and contorting in rhythm with the blows will lessen the impact, distributing the force over more of your body. (Or stand still if you want some bruises to serve as a unique body decoratio

As for being ăcoolä enough ÷ just using the word ăcoolä has already labeled you. But ÷ and you may not like this if youâre a tight-assed mofo ÷ the only way to not be ăcoolä about dancing at B-man is to not dance at all. Get it? Get up offa that thang!

What happens if Iâm seized by a bunch of feral grrrly-grrrls, held down and forced to participate in some wild rite of clitoral liberation?
A good question ÷ this happens all the time. My friend Chester went straight from B-man last year to the tattoo parlor to have the henna pussy-prints planted on his thorax by a roving band of masked yahoo-shockers immortalized on his skin.

But seriously now, Slick. If youâre even thinking (yeah, I know, hoping) that this kind of thing will happen to you, it never will.Youâre a lot more likely to end up with flesh burns from wandering into the wrong pool at the hot springs than you are to realize this twisted Vivid Video-type fantasy. Unless you want to round up a bunch of grrrls and stage your own liberation rite involving spectator-looking types.

Speaking of, how do I avoid flesh burns from wandering into the wrong pool at the hot springs?
Stay in your tent and never come out the whole time ÷ since Iâm sure youâre just as worried about gruesome sunburn, this will help you avoid that too. Sheesh. But if you must bathe, dig a hole next to your tent, line it with trash bags and fill it with water - you did bring 8 gallons for every day after all, didnât you? Let the sun do its thing for ten minutes and then immerse yourself, ignoring the repeated inquiries of ăIs it soup yet?ä There - feel better now?Just make sure that when digging your bathtub you donât accidentally connect with your neighborâs puke trench.

What are the drugs that I should avoid, and which ones will enhance my Burning Man experience?
Abby says avoid them all. Every single last one of them. Forget the legal ones: alcohol accelerates dehydration, and caffeine gives a false sense of strength, agility and endurance ÷ know your limits and stay alive! As for illegal drugs, we have it on good authority that the county law enforcement is intending to make up for its budget shortfall this year by handing out boo-coo citations for drug use, so expect John Law to be over this yearâs site like stink on shit.

Besides, what kind of advice-giver would I be to encourage you to take illegal substances, anyway? So pass up that scrumptious-looking pot brownie that would make for mind-blowing aardvarking with your libidinous new, dazzingly-painted friend. Just say no to the speed that you need to keep you dancing for the next six hours while T'chkung and Beyond Race blow the PA system out. Turn your nose up at that tab of X, knowing that you donât really want to help build community by lying around in a pile with a constantly-changing group of loving, caring folks that youâd never get to feel so close to otherwise, confessing your deepest secrets and listening to theirs. And if somebody offers you something youâve never heard of before ÷ well, whyâd you want to take it anyway? You think weâre out here for new experiences, for Chrissake?

How do I know when Iâve crossed the line from being a spectator to being a participant?
When you wake up in a strangerâs tent with your nose and ears plugged with something and you canât tell if itâs mud, fresh cow flop or chocolate syrup, or a mixture of all three. (Tip: dig it out and save it - itâs the closest thing to a medal that Burning Man has.) When your genitalia is scraped raw from constant wild animal sex, and you canât remember who your partner was, or if you had one. When every muscle in your body aches torturously, even your cheek muscles from spitting flame. When you realize two weeks later that your cheek muscles still hurt, no longer from the flame-spitting but because you havenât stopped smiling in that whole time.

What happens if someone hands me a pill and tells me to take it and I do, and half an hour later realize I made a mistake?
Since by now itâs already too late and youâve disregarded my previous advice and gone ahead with this (ahem) foolish behavior, remember ÷ youâre surrounded by friends, all 10,000+ of them. There are no mistakes here (except for discharging firearms inside the City - you locked away the .357, right?) So relax, go with the flow, and donât freak out. The Black Rock Rangers have enough to worry about without bringing your sorry newbie ass back in from a bad trip. Go somewhere safe, like among the sculptures on the playa, and marvel at how everything must eventually return to the earth from which it came. Walk the 15 miles back to the main road and dodge traffic - sweating profusely, whether from exertion or fear, is a good way to rid your body of toxins. (Tip: to aid in your sweating, carry as much water as you can on your mule-like back - remember, ăa pintâs a pound the world around!ä)Dance, even (especially!) if thereâs no music. Make a new friend. Make 10,000 of them. Do something youâd never think of in your ordinary life, like see what the melting temperature of your new cell phone is. (This is, of course, after you call your ex and tell her/him how youâve just added their favorite clothes that you neglected to return to the kindling-pile beneath the Man.) Put on lots of makeup, or false facial hair, or both, and admire yourself in your carâs side-view for hours, wondering if bisexuality is all itâs cracked up to be. (It is. But youâve gotta find that out for yourself - why not now?) Live for a change, Mr. Mitty.

Hmm - good advice for B-man in general, whether or not youâve swallowed anything.

Canât we have more rules? Someone might get hurt.
Howâs your patience? Then forfeit your goddam $65-or-whatever ticket fee and wait for 10 years, when you can go to Disney-fucking-land for ăBurning Man: The Ride.ä Rules to cover your every possible movement will be posted there in big block letters, for your own protection.

Jeesus fuckinâ Christ. Whoever said ăthe only stupid question is the one that doesnât get askedä never had to do this job.

P.S. Donât let this last snarl fool ya. Abby wants everybody to have a great time on the Playa this year, and to respect everybody else - clueless as they might appear - too. Fun and freedomâs what itâs all about!

Abby Normal is looking forward to breaking in her brand-new pair of $89 Tevas at this yearâs Burning Man.

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