A Burner [Insert Noun]

I have never been to Burning Man, but over the past year, I’ve found myself increasingly describing people and even things as “burner.”

For example, I was explaining the Brooklyn club House of Yes to a friend’s roommate who had just moved to NY:

“Hmm how would I describe it? People dress weird, like guys in women’s clothes. Almost like a gay club but not really” Then unable to think of any appropriate adjective — I said it:

“It’s like…a burner club.”

To my surprise, his eyes lit up. He was familiar with the burner scene in Chicago and knew exactly what that meant. It was perfect.

Then another time, my loose lingo didn’t go over so well. I was in Manhattan at Phebe’s trying to convince a few college friends to come to an event I’m going to this weekend:

“Good music and fun. Mostly, I like hanging out with the crowd there — it’s a burner crowd. Burner people.”

This one didn’t go over so well… so I explained:

It means, as a female, I can wear whatever I want and not be ogled by bros who are thinking “ooo she’s wearing that, she must want the D.” That’s what I mean. People who don’t give a fuck. But also care tremendously about their and others’ right to do just that.

Be a straight guy but kiss a man. Be topless. Have crazy hair. Don’t shave your legs or your face or your pits. Or do all of those things. Be old AF and still party. Be in love with 3 people at once. Tell everyone you tame lions for a living because that’s your alter ego and you want to live in another world for a bit. Or just. be. a. lion*.

The list goes on. So PSA when I say “burner,” that is what I’m talking about, and I can’t be without these people anymore.

But really, as amazing and incredible and groundbreaking Burning Man is (I am STOKED to go this year) we need a broader term to describe this type of amazing human and place and space in the real world that better embodies what this aura really is. Despite the festival’s tens of thousands of attendees, there are many many more “burners” in the world who will never get the opportunity to go. Comments are welcome.

*No disrespect to lions. We can’t know your struggle.