Burning Man is an enigma. For 7 days,
you’ll take to the desert where you will be forced to endure the elements.
For beginner Burners, it may be overwhelming to hear about how the Burning Man festival is divided up into camps where you will decidedly spend your week camping and celebrating. And that you should make a decision of which camp you plan to join, prior to entering Black Rock City. With hundreds of camps to choose from, where do you even start?
What is a theme camp?
Camping at a typical festival, you will find thousands of campers and their tents strewn about a field with no rhyme or reason, except that you may be planted next to your mates. This is not the case at Burning Man.
Camps are the festival. Burning Man Organization doesn’t actually provide much more than a theme (2019 was Metamorphoses). The rest is in the hands of the Burners. Thankfully, Burners are dedicated and organized. Theme camps are established months in advanced and officially registered with Burning Man. While yes, camps are where you will go to rest your head in your tent or RV at night, they are also so much more. Theme camps provide community, shelter, inspiration, and entertainment. Theme camps can vary from four to 400 people. Villages, too, exist and are when two or more camps that have joined forces.
While you are not required to join a camp (you can camp in the open camping areas), camps play a huge part in the overall experience. It’s always best to find a camp with interests that align with yours.
With over 1,500 registered camps, it can be a little daunting. Here are a few that spark our fancy.
A collective of Mexican and Californian artists, musicians, designers, craftsmen, and technologists, Mayan Warrior is one of the most iconic Burning Man camps. Their ethos is to bring people together, regardless of borders, backgrounds, or culture, and celebrate as one through music and dance. Known for their legendary art car, wild light shows, and fiercely curated electronic music performances, Mayan Warriors is a camp to which we say “you likely can’t beat them, so you may as well join them!”. Catch electronic artists Unders, Jan Blomqvist, Damian Lazarus, and Bedouin playing sets from sunrise to sunset and beyond.
Brought to you by the one and only Carl Cox, it can only be expected that Playground is a camp of epic proportions. Cox co-founded Playground as a way to give back to the community of Black Rock City and Burning Man, something he holds near and dear. Describing itself as a mirage of good vibes and amazing techno beats, the party on Playground begins as the sun goes down. This year, Playground will have two stages. The Arrival stage starts after dark and goes until sunrise. Catch Carl’s sets on Wednesday and Saturday. The Dune stage begins at dawn and brings the noise until dusk. Don’t miss the Purple Disco Party on the Wednesday.
A large-scale Sound Camp with Arabian desert vibes, the Kazbah turns up the volume as the sun starts to set bringing epic melodic beats to the Playa. Centered around a 48’ Pyramid in which the DJ booth is placed, the desert becomes the dance floor. The structure is designed to be a modern hybrid of the pyramid and obelisk harnessing energy from the cosmos and radiating it to those surrounding. Resident DJs Elz, Halloran, Hef2Def, and Papa Lu will bring the tunes through the Eye of Horus.
Black Rock City spans 7 square miles
(11km2). The Burning Man city is arranged as a series of concentric avenues and
camps, with a diameter of 1.5 miles (2.4km). The Burning Man effigy stands at
the center. In order to navigate the city, most Burners bring along their
bicycles, decorated to the nines. This makes getting around much easier. However,
some of the more crafty types may opt to create an art car, known as mutant
vehicles on the Playa.
A mutant vehicle is a motorized work of art. The vehicle itself must bear very little resemblance to its original form. They are meant to wow and inspire. Think of a pirate ship sailing through the desert or an enormous praying mantis on wheels.
Mutant vehicles have also been known to host some epic dance parties as they make their way through the Playa to different camps. Decked out with mixers and epic sound systems, they are a party on wheels.
Brought to you by the Airpusher Collective, the Airship has been cruising the Playa since 2013. A group of diehard Burners, DJs, and builders, these guys like to turn up the heat with bumping sets and quirky costumes.
How to find camps and cars
As we know, the Playa is vast and there is a hell of a lot going on. It’s best to go with a plan of which camp you are going to seek out. Perhaps it’s even better to contact the organizers of the camp beforehand. On the Burning Man official website, you’ll find a complete directory, alphabetized, with all 1500+ registered camps. Some camps have just provided their names while others have included a description and contact information. To find out the placement of the camps, grab a BRC map once you get to the grounds.
Unless you are a seasoned Burner or have been following the lead up to Burning Man through certain camps’ socials, finding where the Mutant Vehicles will be stationed requires a little more digging. However, thanks to Kate Houston, a.k.a. The Rock Star Librarian, and her Music Guide, you can find out what camps will have tunes, the dates, times, and locations of the sets, whether they are wheelchair accessible, and if they have mutant vehicles. Oh ya, this guide is thorough.
Her list is only inclusive of camps that have requested to be featured, so it is possible there are some camps and cars missing, but it is chalked full of great information.
Groove to disco on BAAAHS the big-ass amazingly homosexual sheep. Jump aboard the Deep Playa Diver mutant submarine bus and move to sounds of Motown. Get into some shenanigans on the Mystic Flyer art bus as it cruises across the Playa. Embrace your inner animal on the Dusty Rhino as breathes fire and beats through BRC.
Light up the night on the galactic cruiser Lucky Star, created by the Gluckstern family of Magic Hour camp. Rock out on Root Society‘s Rolling Root art car or hit up the camp, Root Cathedral, for some of the biggest dance parties on the Playa. Join the eclectic crew aboard The Janky Barge for funky techno beats.
Love animals and dancing? Get animal-friendly on the Dirty Goat Roadhouse. Unicorns are real on the Playa and you can live out your wildest dreams by riding Sparky across the sand. Haven’t gotten your fix of mystical creatures? The Xuza Art Car is otherworldly, from the structure to its music.
Burning Man is a fun and freaky ride. If you’re headed out to the Playa this week, don’t forget to tag us (@electricsoulapp) in your pictures and Stories.