Burning Man is many things to many people, but one of the aspects of it that I personally enjoy quite a bit are things that challenge convention or are just unexpected. Of course, the beautiful and epic, like last year's Tree of Ténéré, or this year's Hexatron (the forest of 20' tall LED poles), are mind-blowing, but I really love the weird, personal shit out there.
Whether it's watching an inestimable gentleman suck his own dick at Eggs bar while we cheered him on, or watching two guys in a tricked-out golf cart dressed like law enforcement roll up to people with headdresses and write out a citation, or the even more innocuous like Camp Sharkcage, devoted to the decidedly excellent combination of Nicholas Cage and sharks ("You can cage the shark, but can you shark the Cage?"), I love it!
Sadly, although I have no measurement for it, or even a proxy by which to fake a measure, I feel like the weird factor at Burning Man has slowly been going down, while there's been a commensurate rise in folks for whom looking and feeling 'cool' is a primary drive. You know of whom I speak. You see them dressed in multi-thousand dollar miraculously clean outfits with a photographer with pro-level gear nearby, frequently stopping to preen and pose. Their natural watering holes are places like Robot Heart and Mayan Warrior (both of which are pretty amazing, don't get me wrong) or wherever Diplo (not at all amazing) is playing.
And, I get it - it's fun to dress up and look sexy, and Burning Man is an awesome background for photos, but goddam people, don't you just want to ditch the fashion show and let your freak flag fly? Black Rock City is a great place for it. Burning Man != Coachella or whatever. Let's get fucking weird!
In that spirit, about a dozen of us in our camp Friendgasm declared Wednesday daytime would be Weirdout Wednesday going forward.
(You can follow the - as of this writing - brand new Weirdout Wednesday FB page here: https://www.facebook.com/groups/weirdoutwednesday/ )
For Weirdout Wednesday this year, we did a thing one of my campmates - Ginger - has long dreamed about. We made signs saying things like Can't Stop, Won't Stop or Nvr Stop, got some of those dual beer-can helmet holders, put on adult diapers, wrote some stuff on them, and rolled out.
First stop, Duck Pond, where we took over the dance floor to lots of stares by pretty, clean people, and a lot of laughs from others. Excitingly, one guy we didn't know also showed up in diapers, saying he'd seen us, and went back to camp to change into diapers. (He happened to have adult diapers in camp? This guy prepares.)
He went even more hardcore than I did. I hadn't worn shoes, feeling that socks-only seemed even more ridiculous, but this guy eschewed even socks, rocking his diaper and only his diaper. I salute you, unknown diaper soldier.
Other shenanigans ensued, including loudly encouraging people to stop supporting the USS corporate pooper monopoly. Stop using the portas, people! Shit where you dance - in your pants!
Finally we headed over to Distrikt, where we rolled up onto the elevated stage and proceeded to irritate a group of women of the aforementioned Instagram type, trying to get a pristine picture of themselves in their pristine outfits without a bunch of idiots in diapers in the way. They kept asking us to move out of the way so they could get pics of just them, but I mean, can't stop won't stop, so obviously that wasn't happening. Nothing wrong with taking pics of yourselves, but if you can't handle a little Burning Man in your Burning Man, you're in the wrong place.
Then, one of their ladies laid a hand on one of our ladies to kind of lightly shove her out of the way, which was a classic mistake. No photos were taken from then on that didn't have a diapered ass in it! The frustrated gnashing of their teeth was music to our ears.
That was the end of Weirdout Wednesday for us, as it was time to head back to camp for our Rum-Hamilton singalong, because as a camp we do a weird variety of things.
Other Instamodel Shenanigans
Because it makes me laugh, I have to relate another similar incident from our camp. A group was at Sharkey's - an excellent bar - when an Instamodel was spotted in the wild, out in the street, accompanied by a sole photog.
The prey was cleaning herself carefully of any dust, preparing to display her plumage, presumably in order to attract a mate, when Carmen spotted her.
Carmen is a campmate whom I have compared favorably to my sort of fancy, cuddly, but also rip-your-face-off-fierce chihuahua, Chairman Mao. She hadn't eaten yet that day, and was hungry for prey.
In the distance, a ritual warning call was heard, "Hey, I haven't showered in a week!"
The prey was as of yet unaware of her danger, and continued to groom herself.
Carmen swung into motion, suddenly dropping down to do frantic face-down dust angels in order to coat herself in playa.
Up she sprung, making straight for the Instamodel, who was still oblivious to the doom rapidly descending upon her.
"You're so pretty! Can I have a hug?!" said Carmen arriving and baiting the trap.
"Yes," said the prey tentatively, sealing her fate.
The prey leaned in for the barest possible hug, but Carmen was ready to feed, and went for the full koala (that's a bear hug where you wrap your legs around too). Then it was over, and the prey slumped to the ground, defeated while Carmen roared in triumph (ok, the roar didn't happen, but I like the image, so work with me here.)
Thus, the circle of life was fulfilled. Dust to dust, forever unclean. There was cheering from Sharkeys, and disorder was returned to the streets of Black Rock City once more.
Seriously, let's make Weirdout Wednesday a thing.
I'll definitely write about this again next summer before the Burn, but I'd love any help anyone interested can lend in promoting this idea. I mean no presumption with this call to action - I just think it'd be cool if a bunch of people devoted Wednesday daytime to letting their freak roam free. Do the unexpected, the weird, especially in places people go to be 'cool'. Mess with people determined to 'be cool.' Set an example and help bring some Cacophony into burners' lives.
I've read of a couple going to Distrikt this year fully nude with markers to let people write stuff on them, just to keep it weird.
I read of another few people that brought a propane grill to Distrikt and were grilling up food in the middle of the dance floor. I love it! (I don't mean to pick on Distrikt here - it's pure coincidence these all involved that camp.)
What are you going to do for Weirdout Wednesday next year? This is an opportunity for a lot more creativity than the more narrowly-defined days out there, like Tutu Tuesday. I've got all sorts of ideas running around in my head, including taking the diaper shenanigans to a new level.
Leave your ideas in the comments, and later I'll collate them and share them to help inspire others to weirdness as well.
Feel free to use the Weirdout Wednesday graphic below I did up (I can copy and paste, mom!) to spread the word too, if you're so inclined.
(You can join the Weirdout Wednesday FB group here:
I'm Dr. Yes, a 10 year burner. I run this site, was on the '15 Temple team, lead a theme camp called Friendgasm, and make Burning Man videos. Just say yes, folks, and help keep Burning Man weird!