And Oldtimer Tells It Like It Is – Amara’s Guide to Otherworld

Years ago I was asked to write a letter to Otherworld newcomers. Since I have been going to Otherworld before it was Otherworld and I run the Black Rock City Retirement Community (see Otherworld 2012/2013, Burn in the Forest 2010, Critical Northwest 2010/2012, Burning Man 2013 and 2016), I qualify for the burner senior citizen’s rate. I also qualify for that jaded old timer who is going to give you unsolicited advice about how to do it right. Here’s the letter, kids. Do me proud.

After years of your friend bugging you to come to this awesome thing, you decided to shut them up and check it out. Well, congratulations! What took you so long?

First off, this ain’t no party. Folks call this an event for a reason. If you spend your entire time here “partying” you are going to miss some of the best parts. You’d best be discovering the Otherworld website. Or if you’re on your way, head to Center Camp where you can check out the What, Where, When of Otherworld. Feeling spiritual? Feeling playful? Feeling scholarly? It’s been covered so indulge in instant gratification. Just remember, not everything is scheduled. Sometimes you just need to let go of going to that thing you really wanted to do because there is something amazing unfolding right in front of you.

If this was a party, a host would have taken care of your every need.



There ain’t no hosts here! What we have here is a bunch of participants. Every single person has paid for their ticket and is contributing in some way. Over there, you’ve got someone who spent weeks building a piece of art for this weekend. And behind you, a group of people have collaborated to provide a performance. Point being, EVERYONE is participating here. No damned spectators. What are you doing? See that guy struggling to move that thing? Get off your ass and help him! See some MOOP? Pick it up and take it home. Look at you participate! Pat yourself on the back. Better yet, have someone else do it. Now you’ve made a new friend.

If you are going to party, that’s cool too. Be a dear and party reasonably. No one wants to clean you up out of the ditch. Sure, events like these are often about boundary pushing. However, there are some boundaries that are there for a damn good reason. Boundary pushing is about having an open mind and a desire for exploration. It’s not about doing heroic amounts of drugs. You will be mocked for being such a poopoohead and your friends will be pissed off because you’ve ruined their time in order to babysit your sorry ass. If you aren’t sure, ask. We have Rangers for a reason. They ain’t the cops. They ain’t your mom either. They keep this amazing space safe for everyone. Don’t ruin it, noob.

Don’t be that person!

This brings me to the most important bit. If you’ve never been to an event like this before you are likely seeing a bunch of hippies hugging, kissing, touching, whatevering. Admit it, you want that too. Fucking hippy. I digress. You’ve made some new friends already. You want to hug them. Ask. You’re high as a mothertrucker and you want someone to hold your hand. Ask. You just had a profound epiphany on life and it involves kissing. Ask. Are you getting my point? Now, not everyone is going to be on the same vibrational level as you (*cough cough hippy cough*) and they may say no. That’s cool. Or maybe they are sharing in that same beautiful moment when you ask and they say yes. Hooray! Long story short, this ain’t no club where you work on your pickup lines. You are interacting with other humans. How would you like to be treated?

Oh, how I could ramble on. Come find me. I do like a good ramble. You have probably listened to at least 10 people talking at you about what to see, what to do, how to act. Jeebus, we’re self-righteous! The best piece of advice anyone gave me was to let go of all those expectations and find your own journey. Find a couple of noobs and go on a Virgin Excursion. Besides, you’re tired of listening to the old timers tell you how to do it. Just don’t forget what I said because that shit is important AF.

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