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A Burner Lexicon: Orphan & Regional

Posted in A Burner Lexicon, and Burning Man

An effigy is built at Burning Flipside. Pyropolis, 2004. Image by Kit O'Connell.

Orphan –noun, someone who can’t make it to That Thing in the Desert. For example: “You poor broke fuck, guess you’re going to have to be an orphan this year.” May gather in groups during or around Labor Day weekend to complain about how much they miss the smell of playa dust and to set things on fire. Compare with: Participant, Tourist.

–adjective, an event or party attended by orphans. An Orphan Burn. Compare with: Regional Burn.

Which isn’t to say you can’t have an amazing time with your fellow orphans; check out my report from Orfunner 2010.

Regional, –adjective, An event (Regional Burn), group or organization created by Burners somewhere other than the Black Rock Desert. Burning Man has made efforts to control who can officially call themselves a regional representative, or which events are official regional burns, but no one pays them any attention. Regional Burns allow you to meet the same person more than once without a GPS unit and a tracking device, and may feature such luxuries as swimming holes, natural shade, or even actual showers. Someone who is Burnier-than-thou will tell you this adulterates the valuable, character-giving experience of sleeping on the cement-hard playa in the dust after the 50-mile per hour winds obliterate your tent. Compare: That Thing in the Desert.

I’ve been attending my local Burn, Burning Flipside, every year since 2001. I think the big Burn is an amazing experience and I look forward to going back in the future. But the local events are every bit as psychedelic and potentially life-changing as making the pilgrimage to Black Rock City.

Other entries in A Burner Lexicon can be found at