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A Burner Lexicon: Catchphrases

Posted in A Burner Lexicon, and Burning Man

A Burner proudly shows off his skirt on the playa. Black Rock City, 2006. Photo by Jess Liotta.

The task of documenting Burner language and slang is daunting to begin with, but catchphrases doubly so. New ones are constantly being invented, though most remain current for only a short time. Here are a couple of enduring ones:

The Playa Provides, Burn events take place in a gift economy. Though radical self-reliance suggests that you should bring everything you could need, it’s inevitable you forget something or discover new needs you could not possibly have anticipated. This goes as much for human companionship and more spiritual desires as it does for physical objects.

But Burners like to say that the Playa Provides. Very often, one only has to make a need known to one’s friends and neighbors to find that need rapidly filled. With entire theme camps devoted to bicycle repair or serving pancakes, and thousands of participants interacting randomly, the serendipitous and seemingly unlikely can become commonplace.

Chicks Dig Guys In Skirts, In the default world, a man in women’s clothes can expect a wide range of reactions from confused to antagonistic. However, on the playa a post-apocalyptic, genderqueer fashion aesthetic reigns. Men are actively encouraged to explore new forms of personal dress;  as a result many participants like to say that Chicks Dig Guys In Skirts. Of course, the experimentation is not limited to skirts, but dresses, knee socks, fishnets, body suits, social panties and nearly everything else normally associated with female attire.

This catchphrase is not sarcastic, but reflects a genuine appreciation on the part of women (and queer men). Wearing skirts on the playa suggests an appealing open-mindedness, and can also show off those tasty calves.

I can remember the exact moment at Burning Man in 2002 when a friend told me I needed to start shopping in the women’s section of my favorite thrift stores. My wardrobe has never been the same.

Thanks to Vitiare for suggesting ‘The Playa Provides.’

Other entries in A Burner Lexicon can be found at