The Healthy and Mindful Burning Man

Nick Halavins
Sep 6 · 13 min read

Some of you have only heard of Burning Man, and some have already been there. When I came back home to Silicon Valley I couldn’t stop getting questions like: How was it? What did you eat? Did you take any drugs? Is it worth it? Are they all pervs and addicts out there? Why are you so clean? Aren’t you tired?

In this article, I will explain:

  • What made me go to Burning Man
  • How I prepared for staying clean and healthy in the dusty windy desert of Black Rock City for 1 week
  • How I managed to create a luxury atmosphere in a tent
  • Which experiences I had
  • How I managed not to get tired and get back to normal life without any issues
  • The costs I had to make

When I first heard of Burning Man, I thought it was another kind of music festival, where a bunch of kids wears those strange clothes, get drunk and hang out. I’ve been to Ibiza four times, visited all the best electronic and deep house DJs, so another music festival was not something that could impress me.

Why did I decide to Burn?

I created several companies uniting tens of millions of people online. One of them focuses on letting people express themselves with no fear of any judgment. It turned out so, that many of our clients and most of my friends want a similar place to be able to freely express themselves offline. As a result, we decided to invest in renting or buying an island within 10 years to create an isolated offline community on an island. The core value of this community must be karma instead of money. That means your social status depends on the positive deeds you make for the community, not on the money you managed to earn or steal. We want this island to be a therapeutic resort, where any person can be fully detoxicated from the Internet and cellular connection, alcohol, and drugs, as well as be engaged in such therapeutic activities as growing plants, building bungalows, making clothes and furniture, painting, composing music, and having meditative conversations. People may visit the island whenever they want or even stay there forever.

One of the islands we think of buying or renting for the community (location: Seychelles)

While talking to different potential partners and island shopping, I met different people who attended Burning Man. They said something like: “Man, this sounds just like the Burning Man, but forever! If you haven’t been there, you must check it out!”

I decided to go to Burning Man two weeks before the start of the event. It took me one week to get a ticket from a person who had to skip the event for emergency reasons. I sent him $1000 and he promised me a ticket. So I had only one week left until the start of the event. I had to resolve the following problems:

  • Decide where and how I was going to sleep in a desert with temperatures going up to 100ºF in the daytime and falling down to 50ºF at night (sleeping in a yurt with other two guys? — no way)
  • How would I move around the Black Rock City (normally, they rent a bicycle, but it was not what I wanted)
  • How would I eat, pee, poo, clean myself and stay just as healthy as at home in Silicon Valley (I was sure that dry ramen was not something I would like to eat on Playa)
  • Where do I get fancy festival clothes in just one week
  • Find someone to lift me to the Black Rock City with a huge amount of luggage (the overall weight of my luggage was more than 200 pounds)

Preparing for a Healthy and Mindful Burning Man

Camp

First of all, I contacted all my friends who have ever been to Burning Man and asked their advice on where to stay, and who could lift me to the event. In just one day I managed to find a camp where I could place my tent. The founders of the camp asked me to donate $500. It was said that there would be 150 members in the camp, everybody paid $500 and had to volunteer, as well as donate 2 liters of alcohol to the bar. In return, you would have a place to put your tent and access to a kitchen and a shower just like in the picture below.

You would have to take your own water to the shower and your own pans and plates to the kitchen.

Home away from Home

So, the place to stay was found. Then I had to decide where exactly I would sleep at nights: in a tent, yurt or RV. Many people co-rented yurts, just like this one:

It cost them $500–700 for the whole week, so the ones who shared the yurt among 3 people paid about $200 each. The camp administration would assemble and disassemble the yurts for them.

A friend told me that I can also stay in an RV with another two guys if I wanted:

In both scenarios, I would have to share the room with someone else and wake up every time they go out or come back in case we have a different schedule. So it definitely was not my choice. I wanted a private space. So, I checked all the available tents on the market and purchased the most expensive and suitable for the Burning Man:

I paid $1500 for this tent and managed to set it up at home in just two minutes. You basically place it on the ground, sneak inside, push on the walls and it opens like a flower. It’s also perfect at reflecting the sunlight and you can even put an A/C in it. The height is perfect even for the tall guys like me. I could easily stand in the middle of the tent.

To make it feel even cozier, I bought two air mattrasses: one with the biggest height and the second the most expensive and comfortable to put on top of it. I also purchased linen, a pillow, and two blankets.

They say the dust on Playa is a no joke and can lead to chemical burns, so you definitely have to protect your feet and lungs, and humidify your skin in a proper way, so I purchased all the necessary things I needed including a plenty of KN95 dust masks, different creams, napkins, and sprays to place in a small drawer on a travel easy-to-assemble table:

To be able to see my outfits I had to place a huge mirror in the tent. I also bought and assembled a small wardrobe for my clothes with 10 hangers and 2 shelves.

On the picture above I showed you the tent which was easy to assemble in my driveway in two minutes. Of course, it took significantly more time in Black Rock City, because I had to secure the tent with the pegs, as well as put a shadow shield on top of it. To make it safe for the neighbors to walk around the tent at night, I decorated the pegs with the solar-powered tree lights.

I placed a sand/dust-free carpet near the entrance of the tent and an outdoor chair on top of it. It helped me to keep the tent completely dust-free during the whole event. I always took off my shoes before going inside.

Hygiene

I bought ten packages of wet wipes for the body and the plates, as well as ten packages of wet wipes for sensitive skin. Twice per day I moisturized my face with creme. I took several tubes of SPF100+ cremes to protect the whole body from ultraviolet.

Every day I took a selfie in the morning to analyze how Burning Man could affect me.

I did not drink any alcohol and did not use any stimulants. I wanted a mindful healthy experience. I even managed to sleep almost 8 hours every day but the one when I decided to meet the sunrise. On day four, I took a shower, that’s why my hair look clean on the pictures No4 and No5. I took the shower on the morning of day seven too, but I did not make any selfie on that day, because we departed back home.

By the way, taking the shower was not that easy. I took 4 liters of water first and they ended pretty fast while I was still in soap mode. I had to go back to my tent, refill the water tank and finish the washing procedure later.

The last but not the least important part of keeping yourself clean and healthy was to wear the right socks and shoes. I bought 14 pairs of hiking socks to change them twice per day. I also bought two pairs of Gore-tex boots with Vibram, which were just perfect for this climate. The feet were always dry even in the middle of the day and the dust never reached the skin.

My foot on the 4th day of the event

Moving around Black Rock City

Black Rock City is a temporary 7 square mile city with lots of camps, art objects, and music clubs. I spent several hours per day moving around so it was extremely important to have a comfortable ride. For this reason, I bought and assembled a tricycle with a basket and a comfortable chair:

To make it visible at night, I attached the LED lights on the wheels and a flashlight on the handlebar. I also bought a fancy backpack with LED lights for the night and put a 3-liter water reservoir with a hose in it. To park the bike safely in any location on the Playa I didn’t forget to buy a lock. Actually, it was the last thing I bought and I have never regretted it. One of my friends’ bike was stolen on the second day of the event because he did not lock it.

In general, a tricycle is a very comfortable ride. You can stop whenever you want without the risk of falling down. The fact that I assembled the trike myself at home first was a perfect choice because I had to repair it several times during the event: attach the seat I broke by accident, fix the brakes broken because of the dust, and inflate the wheels. So I carried the tools with me all the time and had no stress at all.

Healthy Organic Food

Most people prefer eating dry ramen or whatever they find for free in camps, but I knew that you can definitely organize a healthy meal anywhere you go if you think ahead of time. My wife is a soon-to-be nutritionist, so I asked her for help.

We went to the best organic foods store and bought:

  • oatmeals, lactose-free milk, and yogurts
  • whole wheat bread and lavash
  • 24 eggs, organic vegetables, and fruits
  • tuna, cheese, and refrigerated noodles
  • chicken broth, chocolate, and berries

I put it all in two different coolers with ice bags in between the groceries:

The ice in the bags melted in 4 days, so I purchased additional ice on the premises of Playa for $12. They say there is no money at Burning Man, which is true unless you want to buy some ice or coffee.

By the way, I didn’t buy the coffee, because I brought a travel coffee maker with me and made the hot drink from the fresh coffee beans. Oh, man, the coffee I made in such unusual conditions was the best coffee I ever had!

To cook the food I used the travel boiling kit, a knife, and a cutting board. I couldn’t clean the plates and pans with water because there was no place to dispose of the gray water. So, I used a slice of bread to finish all my meals and then polished the dishes afterward with the wet wipes.

I had enough protein and fiber every day. I also took high potent multivitamin pills as a supplement to have 100% of the recommended dosage of every essential vitamin daily. As a result, my weight and energy remained in perfect condition. One of the best solutions was to cook the risotto with mushrooms and truffle oil on the main day of the event and take this meal with me to the signature fire ceremony. We had to wait for about an hour for the Man to start Burning, so I enjoyed this time eating the tasty dinner.

To hydrate myself wisely I bought 24 liters of water with Ph of 9+ and filled all the bottles with electrolytes. I also took 7 gallons of water for washing and cooking. Guess what? That was not enough! I consumed 4 liters of drinking water per day and 1.5 gallons of water for washing and cooking purposes. I was almost ready to boil the ice from the coolers to make it drinkable. Luckily, my neighbors had more water than they needed, so they were happy to share it.

What Else Did I Do at Burning Man?

So, you can guess I had to spend a lot of time to sustain a healthy lifestyle in the desert. My overall schedule looked like this:

  • 4am-12pm sleep
  • 12pm-5pm cook food, hygiene, cleaning the clothes, repairing the trike
  • 5pm-4am enjoying the art, music, and community of Burning Man

The party started even before we reached Playa.

When we reached the Gate, they asked me to dive into the dust and make an angel.

Parked my trike at night to listen to the music.

Watched some cool art objects.

I spent almost half an hour playing with this fire. Very cool!

This car with lights reminded me of a dog with long hair.

This woman getting out of the egg was one of my favorites.

More pictures of this piece of art made of wooden plates.

Dancing near the Love sign, listening to great music.

Mammoth made of trash found somewhere in Nevada. Look at all these details. It’s gorgeous!

My second favorite piece of art — the Shining Heart.

This was very cool. Tens of people wearing robes manually put the lamps with lights all around the Playa. Moreover, the day I made this picture these guys were accompanied by the music:

To make this video I had to pedal really fast to pass this car on my trike. Just listen to that solo. It basically throws your mind into the cosmos.

This is how the Esplanade of Black Rock City usually looks at sunset. You see that fog everywhere? It’s dust.

That’s the video of the most famous mutant car of the Burning Man — the Mayan Warrior. Some people say they invested $9M into this car with its perfect sound system.

Someone gave me glasses which turn all the lights into hearts. Isn’t that cool?

One of my favorite art pieces: the disc with animation and classic music. I spent almost two hours watching it at the sunrise.

The sunrise.

Sunrise is the perfect time to take pictures with the art because no one is around. No one but the lady who was kind enough to do me a favor and make this snapshot.

The artistic atmosphere inspires for creative shots.

And moves.

I’ve got plenty of pictures and videos like these, but you can definitely get the idea of the overall atmosphere on the Burning Man. And you don’t have to exhaust yourself with any instances to enjoy the beauty of this place.

Finally, let’s see the Man Burning:

The last video is epic. I sat in a place in which direction all these sparkles and tornados were going. Just look at the reaction of all these people. I heard how the sparkles burnt a jacket of a person near me, but he was so excited to watch the Man Burning that didn’t go away!

I hope you enjoyed this report! Feel free to share and leave your comments.

Happy Burn!

Nick Halavins

Written by

Founder & CEO of Anonymous Chat Rooms — AntiLand (www.antiland.com) | iOS Swift /SwiftUI Developer

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