Ten Principles: the ten core guiding concepts of the Burning Man project.
Art Bike: kissing cousin to the art car, the art bike is a decorated or "mutated" bicycle, and is the preferred method of transporting oneself around the playa.
Baker Beach: San Francisco beach where Burning Man originated.
Black Rock: A large dark rock formation at the north end of the playa.
Black Rock City: The annual, temporary city created by the community of Burning Man participants.
Black Rock Gazette: Newspaper produced on-site in the desert during the Burning Man event.
Black Rock Geyser: A water truck, frequently pursued by pedestrians and bicyclists for it's brief but refreshing shower. Though the water can be quite hot, the moisture helps to relieve the desert heat.
BLM: Bureau of Land Management, government agency which administers public lands, including the Black Rock Desert.
BMOrg: Short for Burning Man Organization, this term is actually a common misnomer. The actual name for the organizers of the Burning Man event is the "Burning Man Project".
Bordello Springs: See Frog Pond below.
BRC: Black Rock City
Burn, the: Reference to the actual event, and activity, of burning the Burning Man statue.
Burner: One who has attended Burning Man, and takes the spirit of the event back with them to the default world.
Burning Man Shock: More or less the opposite of Culture Shock, a state of happiness, euphoria and freedom which sets in while attending Burning Man, after one has conformed to "normal" life for too long.
Cacophony Society: A randomly gathered network of pranksters and eccentric individuals, united in the pursuit of experiences beyond the mainstream of culture.
Camp Arctica: The camp on playa where participants can purchase ice to keep their perishables fresh, and their bodies cooled. Proceeds from ice sales are donated to local charities.
Camera Obscura: A darkened room or building fitted with a specially designed lens which projects an outside image onto a screen or table inside.
Cattle Guard: A closely spaced group of horizontal pipes placed in a roadbed at fence line to prevent cattle from escaping and yet allow vehicles free access.
CB: Citizens Band radio.
Center Camp: Large circular area and structures located in the center of Black Rock City.
Chasing Shadows: Dashing across the playa in pursuit of brightly burning objects, only to arrive after the crescendo, or when the object has already burned to ashes, and then doing it again and again to the point of exhaustion.
Concrete Stake: Heavy-duty steel stake with a series of small holes along the length.
Coyote Man: Community legend about a local resident who runs with coyotes at night.
Culture Shock: A state of melancholy, anger or frustration which sets in trying to readjust to "normal" life after one has attended Burning Man.
Danger Ranger: Founder and icon hero of the Black Rock Rangers.
Decompression: A party held one month after Burning Man to give participants a brief chance to return to Black Rock City. Offers relief from the Reality Bends.
Dehydration: Medical condition that results from not drinking enough water.
DMV (Department of Mutant Vehicles): The team of dedicated volunteers who review and register Mutant Vehicles, giving them permission to drive on the playa during the event.
Donner Award: Annual award given to the individual, or group, who pushes the limits of personal survival through stupidity, inattention or just bad luck during the event.
Double Hot: A boiling hot springs located in the mountains beyond the north end of the playa.
DPW: Department of Public Works.
Dust Devils: see Ancestors.
Earplugs: Small foam ear inserts used to reduce loud noise.
Earth Guardians: A subgroup of Burning Man participants who work with the BLM to care for the Black Rock Desert. Earth Guardians are trained in Leave No Trace techniques.
EL Wire: Electroluminscent Wire. Cool, glowing stuff used to make moving objects and sculptures out of light. The must-have accessory for the event!
Exodus: the process and organization of the mass participant departure from the playa at the end of the event.
Exploding Man: Legendary fireworks performance.
Fire Breathing: A technique whereby someone blows a flammable liquid across a torch or match to produce a large burst of flame.
Fire Dancing: The most popular past-time on the playa. The art of dancing with fire, usually in the form of poi, staff, hoops, clubs, fans, or other devices.
Fire Walking: A technique of walking barefooted on live embers, best performed after moistening the feet.
Fire Jumping: A technique of jumping over a burning fire, sometimes with negative results when two opposing jumpers collide in mid-air.
Fly Hot Springs: A hot water geyser surrounded by several large man-made pools.
Gifting: A core tenet of the Burning Man ethos, gifting is the act of giving something (material or otherwise) to another person without any expectation of receiving something in return.
Guru Lane: A folk-art monument-lined road near Gerlach, built by Doobie Williams, who passed away at age 76 in 1995.
Heat Exhaustion: A more serious form of dehydration.
HELCO: Fictional corporation which attempted to buy Burning Man in 1996.
ICS: Incident Command System, an action plan to be used by the Rangers in the event of serious emergency.
Jack Rabbit Speaks: Internet-based newsletter produced by Burning Man organization.
Java Cow: Community legend which appears with hot coffee at sunrise on the morning of the Burn and asks the question: "Do you want cream or sugar with your coffee?"
Khakis: Durable, tan-colored clothing which has become the standard uniform of the Rangers. Not to be confused with the ubiquitous tan-colored GAP clothing worn by business-casual office drones the world over.
Lamp Posts: The series of vertical lighting fixtures which line walkways and delineate areas of BRC.
Lamplighters: the volunteer group who lights kerosene lanterns each night of the Burning Man event to illuminate the esplanade and promenades, providing participants with valuable navigational aids.
Leave No Trace: A philosophy learned during a rigorous 3-day back-country training expedition, during which participants are taught to clean up after themselves completely. Also one of the central tenets of the Burning Man festival. No, really, we're serious about this.
Lingam: The erect penis: companion to Yoni, and a symbolic of creative power.
Man, the: Term used for the Burning Man statue.
Media Ho's: Members of the Burning Man Media Team. Their mission is to cajole the media into presenting fresh and interesting stories about the event.
Miss Information: Legendary distributor of wisdom at Playa Info. Can be recognized by her bright green plumage.
MOOP: Matter Out Of Place. Litter, debris, rubbish.
Mutant Vehicle: a motorized conveyance that is radically, stunningly, (usually) permanently, and safely modified. Larry Harvey likens Mutant Vehicles to "sublimely beautiful works of art floating across the playa like a Miro painting." Licensed by the DMV, these vehicles are an important part of the Burning Man experience.
Newbie: Any person who is attending Burning Man for the first time. Can often be recognized by the call they utter when coming out of the Porta-Potties on Tuesday: "That wasn't so bad."
Nose Tators: Playa dust nostril plugs that form during the event; spelling derived from a contraction of "No Spectators."
No Spectators: Another central tenet of the Burning Man philosophy. By blurring the line between audience and performer, everybody is a superstar at Burning Man.
Obtainium: Any useful and valued material which is found or obtained for free.
Open Playa: the portion of the playa that is within our pentagonal event space, but is used exclusively for art installations rather than camping space.
Participant: Uh, that would be you...
Piss Clear: The 2nd newspaper to appear in BRC. The name is derived from the survival axiom "Drink so much water that you piss clear."
Platina: The uniform sheen on the surface of any object which has been on the Black Rock Desert for more than an hour.
Playa: Spanish word for beach.
Playa Chicken: Community legend of a rare species of vicious, carnivorous chickens reputed to live in the Black Rock Desert. Any strange phenomenon that is not readily attributable to any known cause may be blamed on Playa Chickens.
Playa Foot: a common malady where one's feet become dry and cracked due to prolonged exposure to the highly alkaline desert floor.
Playa Info: Information booth located in Center Camp.
Playa Madness: Mental condition that occurs after being out in the Black Rock Desert for more than a week at a time.
Playa Name: originally spawned by the need for unique names on the staff's 2-way radios, playa names have become almost ubiquitous, and are sometimes used to provide an individual with an "alternate" personality or persona. Playa names are traditionally given to a person, rather than taken on.
Playa Platforms: What your footwear immediately becomes after it rains on the playa, when 2-3 inches of mud rapidly accumulates on the bottoms of your shoes.
Playafication (adj.: playafied): the process by which all participants' shoes/feet, hair, tents, carpets, furniture, vehicles, etc. become the same serene shade of playa-tan due to ubiquitous dust build-up.
Poi: traditional Maori dance prop popular with fire performers. Made with a knot of wick at the end of a rope.
Potlatch: American Indian term for a gathering or festival in which gift giving is featured.
Project, the: Term for the Burning Man Project, organization name.
Quinn River: Located at the northeast side of Black Rock Desert, this springtime river empties onto the playa and then driess up during the summer.
Ranger HQ: The actual building and base of operations for the Rangers.
Ranger Station: The general, public accessible, campsite/complex and base of Ranger operations.
Reality Bends: Cramps felt in the mind and spirit after returning to the "real" world after spending a week in Black Rock City. Best remedied by Decompression.
Rebar: Cheap steel rods often used for tent stakes.
Recompression: parties and events put on by Burners before Burning Man to get inspired for their upcoming playa experience.
Regionals: the global representatives of Burning Man who help connect Burners with fellow Burners off playa, while producing events and upholding the Ten Principles.
Sensory Overload: Just attending Burning Man. This is generally a blissful state, however, there is some sadness in the realization that a human can only witness a tiny fraction of the vast, non-stop, brilliant activities occurring during the week-long festival.
Solifuge: A swift, non-poisonous insect which thrives on the playa during the dry season. Also known as Sun or Wind Scorpions. They are very active for several hours just after dark.
Spike: Name of dog which died in 1993 after its owner allowed it to jump into a hot springs.
Survivally-challenged: Politically correct term for any participant whose judgment is impaired by drugs or alcohol.
TAZ: Temporary Autonomous Zone (term coined by writer Hakim Bey).
Trego Trench: A long, hot spring-fed ditch created by Southern Pacific with a backhoe in the 1950s.
Theme Camp: A campsite which artistically presents an idea or concept and is designed to be interactive with participants.
Village: Affinity group of theme camps.
White-out: A dust storm which produces near-zero visibility.
Yoni: "Vulva," the primary Tantric object of worship.
What's missing? Do you know some Burning Man terminology that should be on this list? webmaster(at)burningman(dot)com