We had never been to a local burn before, had never even heard of them until we went to the Big burn. I guess we jumped right into the deep end – so since we did this journey slightly backwards I thought I would try to compare what we expected a small burn to be like vs what it was actually like. After all good or bad, reality never quite matches up with what you expect.
Expectation: Less FOMO (fear of missing out) since this is such a smaller event I would be able to see much more, visit every camp and experience it all.
Reality: I had decided to not really follow the event book at Burning Man, and just wander. However, at such a small event aimless wandering was more difficult. I did not feel comfortable or welcome to just walk in to any area, and had much less encounters of being invited in or stumbling on something. Things often seemed closed, I also still feel like I missed a lot, there were camps I could not find and due to being un sure of what was private camps or open to visitors I avoided certain areas that in hindsight I should have tried to explore more.
Expectation: Making more close, local connections. Since everyone would be from the neighboring states, and there is less to do I would be able to connect with people that I could actually try to keep in touch with, and see again.
Reality: Many of the people I met were from nearby cities and I would have loved to keep in touch with several of them. However, it seemed to me that most people already had a group that they came with, or stuck to the camp that they were with. Not being part of a camp seemed like a hindrance, and we did not fit into any of the pre formed cliques. Since the event was so local, many people had been friends for several burns and stuck together. Max and I are shy, so breaking into these groups felt awkward for us.
Expectation: Less harsh conditions. This is in Arizona, not the playa. The survival would be so much easier. We survived Burning Man, this should be a breeze.
Reality: So wrong. It seemed that many people had this wrong assumption, and we saw many Easy Up, shade structures and chairs get torn apart or go flying. (Ours included) Since this is not as large of an event there was less information to find on what we should bring and be ready for, so many people were not prepared. We left the heavy duty stuff at home, and prepared for average camping. Bad choice.
Expectation: There would be no where near as much gifting, so we should bring more to be able to participate. Less people would mean less of the principals.
Reality: There was non-stop gifting. The 10 principals really shine in a smaller environment. We saw daily and even 24 hour gifting at many camps. Other people had our same idea and so we saw small scale gifting and larger scale gifting. When we did brave walking into a camp there was always something there for everyone, and that was great. Right before the last night, the Celtic Pub put a box out that said they needed more alcohol and beer for the last big party that night. We came back a few hours later with a small bottle to give them, and the box was overflowing. I heard the camp owner later expressing how much he loved the burner community.
Expectation: The temple and art would be too small to really pack the same emotional punch, but they would still be fun to look at. The camps would be really small and not as neat.
Reality: Many of the camps are the same ones that go to Burning Man, so they are just as fancy and wonderful since it is all the same supplies and these people are now experts at what they do. The art was also surprisingly still really interactive and great. Everyone writing on the temple was moving, and still a place of peace. The temple was even host to two weddings, so that was really beautiful.
We will absolutely be doing more local burns. I want to check out as many as I can now. They are easier to get tickets too (although buy early as they still sell out) and each time I learn about myself and I feel like I grow so much. One day I will not be so shy, and I will get even more out of these amazing communities. Max and I are already getting better at participating so we are off to a good start.