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A Burner Lexicon: POOM

Posted in A Burner Lexicon, and Burning Man

Playa dust gets onto everything. Black Rock City, 2011. Photo by Molly.

POOM, Burning Man is a Leave No Trace event, but it’s undeniably going to leave a trace on the participants. One can wax philosophically about the way it changes lives, but there’s also the physical impact. A week spent in a harsh desert environment leaves Burners sunburned, sometimes dehydrated, and most of all dusty.

POOM stands for Playa On Our Matter and is a playful mirror of the common acronym MOOP, or Matter Out of Place. At the end of Burning Man, first participants and then the DPW spend weeks returning the desert to a MOOP-free state. Almost nothing can return participants to a dust-free state — even after multiple showers, the playa dust remains in tents, baggage, bicycles and embedded forever on the soles of burner boots.

Many theme camps put down carpet for added comfort, and these camps may ask participants to remove their shoes (even those tall boots with many laces or buckles), so it’s possible you’ll hear “Take off your boots, you’re getting POOM everywhere!” Despite these efforts, everyone and everything inevitably gets filthy.

A frequent topic of discussion during re-entry is the amount of filth that circled the drain during that first post-event shower. Even with the help of events like the Human Carcass Wash, there’s just no avoiding the dust.

Thanks to Organic Pink and R for suggesting this entry.

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