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A Burner Lexicon: Darkwad

Posted in A Burner Lexicon, Archive, and Burning Man

A mutant vehicle on a mission to seek out and destroy darkwads. Black Rock City, 2008. Image by 7263255.

Darkwad, –noun, A Darkwad is a person without lights travelling on the playa at night. Being lit at night is not just fashionable, it’s also a survival mechanism. After a day spent hiding from the horrible rays of the daystar under a comfortable shade structure, the night becomes positively crowded with people, bicycles, and mutant vehicles, all piloted by minds of dubious sobriety. If you don’t want to be run over, you need a light: whether it’s a humble headlamp or an entire costume made of EL-wire.

Following a distant light onto the empty playa is always an interesting gamble: you might find an isolated art project, a group of friendly psychonauts talking and exchanging backrubs on a blanket, or a naked Burner couple who would probably rather not be interrupted.

A Burner named Zang told me about his encounter with a darkwad at this past Burning Man:

The guy was classic weekender: khaki shorts, logo t-shirt, ball cap, sandals, mostly empty glass bottle. He was staggering drunk. I spotted him off to my right as he lurched away from me, then over-compensated and lurched directly into my path. I didn’t even have a chance to brake, just enough time to lean into the collision, sending him into an involuntary pirouette and onto the ground. He probably had a handle bar-shaped bruise on his chest the next morning, to say nothing of nasty lacerations on his palm from his beer bottle.

It was awesome.

Thanks to Ghoast and fatboy for suggesting this entry. This word appears in this year’s Black Rock City Weekly (formerly the Piss Clear), who have been codifying and satirizing Burning Man culture for well over a decade.

Other entries in A BURNER LEXICON can be found at