I had to get organized in 3 days. Burners usually plan everything a year in advance. I ran like crazy in Manhattan and Brooklyn to get the most recommended items mentioned online by previous burners.
First, I need to acknowledge my friend From Canal Street. ( GRAND GENERAL MERCHANDISE 331 Canal st, New York, NY. 10013 - Tel 212 334 0378- open everyday 10am-7pm). I was searching for the famous E.L Wires, those battery generated light threads some Burners say you can't survive without. I noticed some lighting in his front window and jumped in. I asked for the famous E.L Wire that he didn't have then looked around and started to ask him if we was carrying items of my list, one by one....he had literally 2 third of the things I needed, and for very cheap.
Future Burner, Curious Burner, Aspiring Burner, Returning Burner, here is my list of ESSENTIAL ITEMS TO CRUISE IN BURNING MAN @ BLACK ROCK CITY- BRC.
- Head Lamp : more than the E.L wires. Vital. I had a "HaHa!" moment when I tried it at first and blessed the person who invented this thing. Life changing.
- 2 torch lights : a small one to tie on your bag or belt, and a medium one for extra light
- Lots of batteries, AA, AAA, depending on your item needs
- Dust masks : you can get disposable ones, my friend @ Canal Street sell 8 masks for 2.99$. You can also get an upgrade type online, or before Gerlash on your way to Burning Man, you have few vending tents filled with fancy and crazy items to get, like masks, all sorts of lights and lighting props.
- E.L Wires : those are like searching for a f*ck**g Unicorn in NYC, the great capital of the world. After spending hours looking for it online, trying to locate a store, knocking at said address only to fail, I found some at New York Costumes, 104 4th Avenue @ E. 11th Street, New York, NY 10003, located on the lower East side. Very few colors were available, not a lot of choice. The vending stop before the city of Gerlash on the way to BRC blew my mind when I discovered all the multiple options, colors, thickness, length available .... So really, don't stress on E.L Lights, unless you wanna sew them on a costume before the Burn. You'll find plenty of those few miles away from Black Rock City. And cheap mind you.
- Hand Warmers: I bought some and never got to use it. Thanks to a gentle weather.
- ZipLock Bags : PLENTY !!! Try to get the largest one, 2GL and 1GL ones for different uses : clothes, shoes, costumes in XL ones, all electronics, props and miscellaneous in M ones, it will save ALL your stuff from the stubborn desert dust. Take extra bags with you, you'll need it.
- Mist or spray bottle : I filled mine with a mix of alkaline water, peppermint, eucalyptus, citronella, rosemary, santal essential oils pre-mixed in vegetal glycerin + a cap of vitamin E oil. I used it a lot, to refresh and alleviate the cooking feeling of my skin under the scorching sun.
- Aloe and Camphor Medicated Super Hazel from Thayers : I picked the wrong bottle of Witch Hazel on the shelf. I realized my mistake when I tried to apply it on my face, it burned ! But I found it amazing to splash/shower my body with it after each shower. The sun is really without any mercy in the desert, and this preparation will cool, heal and prevent skin burns. You'll need this.
- Shea Butter : it saved my life, it prevented my hair from drying, my skin from burning, my nostrils from dry buggers, my feet from cracking heels and my hands from breaking nails ( yes, it get so dry your nails may break like glass ! ). Also, it saved my skin from the merciless dust, I had a little jar with me at all times and would apply it on my legs, hands, arms, back, even on my face often during the day. I was not looking like a dusty ghost, and was complimented for my good looking skin ! Feet need to be rubbed with Shea butter and covered with socks for a special recovery treatment before sleeping at night. I recommend NÜ Candy or NÜ Choco-Candy from NÜ ORGANIKS ( www.nuorganiks.com ), a blend of organic oils + addition of cinnamon essential oil & black palm tree oil from Cameroon-Africa makes it a powerful skin armor against the sun, but also against skin germs and fungus along with hydrating & repairing the skin. It is also well known that in the desert, African tribes like Touargi or Fulani use oil for body & hair hygiene & cleaning. TESTED & PROVEN.
- Vicks rubbing pomade or Mentolatum : effective for nostrils hydration.
- Lips hydration stick: I used my Shea butter and Vicks pomade...I am that kind of girl ....
- Portable mug or cup : no waste ! So each bar will ask you to bring your own cup to be served. BYOC.
- Your ID: Nevada state laws still apply and individuals & bars are obliged to ask for your ID to serve you alcoholic beverages.
- Blanket, large piece of Fabric or Mat: you can sit, lay down, invite friends to share a little rest space with you, around the multiple fires at night, and specially, on Saturday to see the Man burn and Sunday for the Temple burn.
- Yoga Mat : if you practice yoga. The scenery is unique. Bikram experience guaranteed if you do your session in between 11am and 3pm !!!
- Comfortable walking shoes and Boots : I walked all day with my best pair of Nike Air Rift /Split toes Ninja 2003 Vintage shoes. I met Japanese Burners wearing amazing models of Ninja shoes, I believe those are the most comfortable shoes ever. I wore my flip-flops on the camp and my fake UGG inspired boots at night to keep my feet warm, with socks and feet rubbed with a good layer of Shea butter. I threw those shoes in garbage at the end of the festival. They are done, ruined, were brown, ended grey, thanks boots, we made it ! High Heels are of course not recommended in the desert. Think WALKING A LOT IN THE DUST, and RIDING YOUR BIKE.
- A good bike and a fantastic bike seat : No Driving in BRC. A bad bike in the desert can really ruin the experience. Riding in the sand is also another obstacle to overcome : I found out that beach cruiser bikes are DREAMED bikes to enjoy Burning Man. And again, the seat is of upmost importance. After 2 days of riding our mountain bikes, our inner ass ( yes, so inner in your crouch you didn't know you had muscles there ) our crouches were hurting sooooo much that we walked the next day, physically unable to ride again. Arnica gel massages of the area helped tremendously !
- A lock for your bike and some decorations to customize it so it'll be recognizable FROM AFAR : I had this terrible experience of parking my bike for an afterparty on the desert playa at Robot Heart. We were probably few thousands of us, and as many bikes were parked. I searched for my bike for an hour and a half, I finally surrendered and fell asleep on the desert chipped surface for 2 hours. When I walked up, it took another 30 minutes to find it, after more than half of the people left. Searching a needle in a stable full of straw....same sh**! I though I'd lost my mental sanity that day ....
- Plenty of Water: you will need water to drink, wash, shower with. I took 10 GL for the week. Worked well for me. I bought 2.5GL containers and had a liter portable bottle I would fill and have on me attached to my belt bag AT ANY TIME.
- Snacks: almonds, apples, peanuts, protein bars...you never know where you'll be when you'll be hungry. Riding your bike and the disturbance of your body hydration can also create sudden energy drops. Have snacks always packed in your bag. ( Think munchies too ! And don't forget chocolat melts in the desert !!!!!)
- Electrolytes + vitamin C powder: to mix with your water and to drink EVERY DAY and twice a day if necessary ( if you feel extremely tired and that water is not quenching your thirst, you need ELECTROLYTES to fix the water in your body). Don't neglect this, it is vital. Pedialyte drinks/powder works but I find it too sweet. I liked Electrolyte Stamina Power Pak by. Trace Minerals Research, not sweet, a subtle raspberry flavor.
- Queen Afua's Heal Thyself - Breath of Life Formula VI : this potent mix of peppermint and eucalyptus oil helped my respiratory system to detox and clear while breathing dust and dry air all day. It also helped one of my friend with stomach aches. Amazing.
- Neosporin cream, bandages, antiseptic lotion : I ripped my toes on a tent pick...bleeding & hurtful. Again, the dust is your best enemy and you need to keep any wound clean and out of sweat and dust.
- Googles : even ski or construction googles would do. You can customize yours or find fashion ones and plenty of funky models at the vending stop before Gerlash city.
- A knife (& small scissors) : to cut ropes, plastic wraps, tomatoes, bread, salami....
- Paper tissues
- Wet wipes/baby wipes : one or two packs, you'll need those to complement your military showers. Don't throw wet or baby wipes in porta potties ! It'll clog up!
- Antiseptic gel: have little bottles, one with you at all times, one in your tent...you'll need a lot, especially after using the porta potties available everywhere on the site. I used it during all my stay and was amazed that it never missed toilet paper. I didn't bring any. Didn't need any extra than the one provided.
- Garbage bags : you will take ALL your garbage with you when you'll leave. MOOP -Matter Out Of Place. It's a rule. You can also improvise an evaporation station using a bag for your little waste water : teeth brushing, rinsing, little items washing. No waste water on the playa surface !
- A little bucket : for ice, shower, washing, feet soaking...
- Gifts : the principle of Burning Man is SHARING. No commerce, no money in Burning Man city. Share your talents ( massages, healing, sports/art classes ), crafts (items, creams, potions, knitting, jewelry...), food, beverages, stories, clothes, books .... COME WITH SOMETHING TO SHARE !!!!
Helene Faussart aka. Golden Athena aka. Nubian Queen, Artist, Universal Citizen, Mother, CEO, Co-founder of Les Nubians, Founder of Nü Organiks natural beauty line, co-Founder of Africa4theFuture.org, Cyclist, Burner.