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A Burner Lexicon: Sparkle Pony

Posted in A Burner Lexicon, and Burning Man

Don't be this. Photo by Moonvine.

Sparkle Pony, –noun, One of the Burner Principles is Radical Self-Reliance. Everyone at a Burn event is expected to bring everything they need to survive for the duration of the event — food, clothes, water and shelter. Yet this principle overlaps with another — the gift economy, where Burners share what they have with those that need. Of course there are those who take advantage of this by coming to the event poorly prepared.

A sparkle pony is a Burner who is under-prepared for basic survival but still managed to pack 2 suitcases full of fabulous outfits. He or she expects the community to take up the slack because they’re just so wonderful and drama inevitably follows when expectations are not met.

Although the word dates back to at least 2008, it was popularized by the Sparkle Pony Corral, a theme camp present in Black Rock City from 2009-2010. Frustrated participants could drop off their camp’s sparkle ponies at the corral where they would be fed, watered, and have their egos stroked by “certifiable experts.” Sparkle ponies received much-needed attention while campmates received a much-needed break.

See also: Tourist.

A sparkle pony should not be confused with a sparkle party.

Anyone can be a sparkle pony regardless of age, gender or orientation. Kate of Sparkle Pony Corral notes, “Everyone likely has been a Sparkle Pony out on the playa at one time or another. Have you ever left camp without your evening gear only to find yourself in the dark, riding your bike, only to ram into a guide wire, flip your bike and come up with facial gashes and bloody nose? (mind you, this did not in the end require a trip to EMT!) Or perhaps you decided to take an art bike tour in the skimpiest of costumes but neglected to take any goggles or dust mask only to be captured by a wicked dust storm out at the perimeter fence. We’ve all been unprepared at some point. Sometimes we handle this well, sometimes we don’t. When we don’t, we’ve entered the beautiful world of Sparkle Ponies.”

Although the Sparkle Pony Corral will not be returning to the playa, Kate is the author of the excellent Rockstar Librarian Music Guide. This annual guide helps Burners find the best music events in Black Rock City. Both the guide and her “Evolution of a Burner” audio series can be found on her Rockstar Librarian blog.

Thanks to Kate for great contributions to this entry, and to Jet Sinister & my pet for additional input.

Other entries in A Burner Lexicon can be found at

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