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Confessions of a Newbie
by Andrea Spacegirl Drugay

I have not always been this cool.

Several years ago, while high on E at the very first "real" rave I ever attended, I wound up completely embarrassing myself during a conversation with a very cute, very techno guy who wanted to know how many raves I had been to. Young and shy about my lack of "experience," I coyly asked him to guess. He smirked and sneered, "It's your first."

I gasped and ran away, horrified! How could he know? My newness! How shameful! How quaint!

Fast forward, year 2000: a hundred raves and however many drugs later, I have come to accept and fully embrace the new, the unknown, to revel in it.

And finally, after years of talking with friends, acquaintances, and ex-boyfriends who had gone to Burning Man and loved it, I found myself heading out there for the first time ever. The desert! The non-rave! The freaks! I was traveling with a group of crazy party people who were all heading out for their second, third, fifth, eighth time.

As it turned out, my trip was a well-padded one, cushy, in fact, for a virgin: not only was our group large enough to take over three corners of an intersection, but we had our own full-on club, complete with silver dome, lasers, DJs, and equipment galore.

I was so ripe, so ready to go. And years after the humiliation with techno guy, I was absolutely determined to be the best virgin ever. "Ooh, I've never done this before!" would be my mantra.

As the months crept up like underwear during a long drive, my mind began swirling, filled to the rim with lists of things to buy, things to make, clothing to hem, batteries to test. What was I in for? Where was the edge of this new world? I had heard the stories, seen the pictures. I had the outfits, the gear, the common-sense fear of the unknown and yet the sick, horny desire for outrageously transcendental psychedelic, sensual experiences. But did I have "it"?

The questions nagged at me for weeks before I left. Would it really get unbearably hot in the desert? Too hot to wear a wig during the day? What if we run out of water? What if we run out of beer? What if I have a bad trip? What if I run into someone I know? What if I don't? Will I get to run around naked? Will I get to be in an orgy? Will feminist hippie chicks hate me because I'm straight? Am I straight?

The answers, my friend, came blowing in the wind and the dust, and the chunks of playa, and the dozens of overblown tents and tarps. The answers blew into my ears and up my nose, got tangled in my new playa-made dreadlocks, infiltrated my cranial region and have since taken up permanent residence in the gray matter formerly known as Brain.

The answers, I discovered last year: it is usually too hot to wear a wig during the day, and if you bring 98 cans of beer, you probably won't run out. If you go into a trip in a good head, you'll probably come out of it in a good head. You will always and never run into someone you know. A cute outfit can be just as much fun as being naked. I'm still looking for an orgy and I'm probably not really straight. And feminist hippie chicks like me.

Of course, all the answers I discovered last year only led to more questions once I returned to the city. Why did I never go before 2000? Have I ever had a greater week in my life? Why do people still go if they complain about it all the time? Where can I get a cheap golf cart?

I still can't answer those three, but I do know that this year will be bigger and, well, maybe size really does matter. I'll never be able to sit around the campfire telling stories about '95, cheap ticket prices, or "back when it was underground," but I will be able to have a great time in '01, with expensive tickets and tons of people.

All said, there's not much to say except, well, you're here and you're reading this so you probably know already and if you don't, you will, soon. It's what you make of it, it's mind over matter, carpe diem, be here now, stop whining, ride your bike, fly a kite, play along, chill out, go with the flow, freak out. If you're sneering, sneer somewhere else; and if you're a newbie, remember your sunscreen.



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