Arctica

Does the idea of working in and around freezing ice trucks in 110-degree heat appeal to your inner Eskimo? If so, then you’ll be at home volunteering with Arctica and the ice caps – where nearly 400 people come together to create the three chill-(i)-est spots on the Black Rock Desert.

Located at 3 o’clock, 9 o’clock, and Center Camp, Arctica sells ice to the Burning Masses, with all proceeds going to benefit local Gerlach-area charities and community groups. The gift economy keeps on giving!

We are looking for Cube Masters to work three-hour shifts throughout the entire event. You’ll keep the life force flowing to hot and dusty Black Rock citizens while helping to support a local communities that exist outside BRC!

If interested, indicate Arctica (Ice Sales) in the Volunteer Questionnaire, or contact our volunteer coordinator via ice-volunteers@burningman.org.

Airport – 88NV

Black Rock City has its very own Municipal Airport, 88NV, so come get high with us!

It takes nearly 400 incredibly cool people four weeks to build, operate, live in, and disappear a hundred-acre Airport in Black Rock City every year. Yep, we said Airport!

Working on the Black Rock City Municipal Airport Operations Team isn’t just a mouthful, it’s crazy-exciting, fast-paced fun. Airport Ops Team (for short) builds and runs the Airport before, during, and after Burning Man. We oversee everything that happens at 88NV, from welcoming passengers to BRC, to radio communications and data processing, to MOOP patrols.  We do it all and we invite you to join us!

88NV IS A GLOBAL CROSSROADS

Airport gets by with a lot of help from our friends, who can also become your friends, including: the fabulous Box Office team, the Gate Perimeter & Exodus badasses, the ever-vigilant Census team, talented Airport artists and music makers, and Greeters so sweet you’ll get a toothache. You’ll run into plenty of Burners from all over the world here, too.

Even though 88NV is in its own corner of BRC, exciting things happen here all day from sunup to sundown. If you want to visit or volunteer with us, find the intersection of 5:00 & L  and look for the Airport Road to Point 5. Be sure to bike, walk, or ride a Mutant Vehicle because cars are otherwise prohibited and we will stop you!

WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR?

Log into your Burner Profile, and on the Volunteer Questionnaire click Airport. Our Volunteer Coordinators will respond to you via email and you’ll be ready for takeoff!

All Airport volunteers sign up for shifts via Shiftboard. If you sign up for a shift and cannot make it, be a rockstar and tell us beforehand. To do us a serious solid, arrange your own replacement by recruiting a neighbor or a campmate! You’ll wish you kept your shift when you hear their seriously incredible stories later on. Magic, weirdness, and amazement await.

Send love notes and questions to airport@burningman.org

Visit the 88NV website at airport.burningman.org

Air Playa Info (Reno)

Do you like answering questions and helping people? Do you have free time before heading to the playa? Or, are you not going to the playa this year but still want to actively participate? If any of these apply to you, then you could be a good volunteer for Air Playa Info.

Established in 2008, Air Playa Info is an off-playa bureau of Playa Info. It is an Information service provided at the Reno-Tahoe International Airport by Burning Man and the Reno-Tahoe Airport Authority during the event to assist Burners arriving via the airport. The Airport Authority estimates approximately 10,000-15,000 Burners come through the airport during the event, so our Info service is very helpful and needed!

Air Playa Info Oracles greet Burners and answer questions. A variety of information and resources are available to assist travelers in getting the details they need, so they can move onward toward their playa destination. We provide information such as directions to Black Rock City, local Reno-area resources, and rideshare possibilities.

If you enjoy interacting with people and know enough about the Reno area and/or the Burning Man event to answer questions, we would love to have you as a volunteer for a 3 or 4-hour shift!

If you would like to volunteer with Air Playa Info, please check the “Air Playa Info” box under the “Volunteer Team Interests” section on the Volunteer Questionnaire, or contact us at airplayainfo@burningman.org for more information.

You will find the gratitude of the people you help enormously rewarding!

Gate, Perimeter and Exodus

The “Gate” department is actually comprised of 3 teams — Gate, Perimeter and Exodus — each with separate but connected functions. When you sign up to work with our department you may volunteer with just one of those teams or all three. We are the first people to welcome participants into the city after they turn off the highway and drive onto the playa, and we are the last people to say goodbye as they return to the default world. We are one of the few Burning Man departments that operates 24 hours a day before, during, and after the event, and we work very closely with nearly every other department on playa.

Gate

Gate staff usher many thousands of people from the blacktop to the dust top, with a certain kind of je ne sais quoi that only this motley bunch can muster. Some mistakenly think that we are Greeters, some refer to us as security, and to most we are those surly guys and gals who search your cars and tear your tickets. The latter is correct, but we do oh so much more than that.

Our number one priority is to ensure that each and every inhabitant of Black Rock City gets in safely and with the proper credentials (read: ticket in hand). We search vehicles, looking for stowaways, potential MOOP-makers (Matter Out Of Place), firearms, fireworks and dogs, as well as ensuring all Mutant Vehicles entering the city are pre-registered with the DMV. We unite artists with art placement. We get the ice trucks, water trucks, and “poop pumpers” in to the city as rapidly as possible. All this while making sure that traffic on the highway doesn’t back up.

Perimeter

The Perimeter staff patrol the fence line looking for people trying to sneak in, and ensuring the safety of those that have accidentally stumbled out or that are just plain lost. We work with the Bureau of Land Management to monitor the closure area around the event site.

Exodus

Exodus helps thousands of Burners get out of Black Rock City and on down the highway as safely and as fairly as possible. We do this with the help of “Exiters” who control traffic and resolve traffic issues in BRC, and “Flaggers” who control and maximize the flow of traffic onto the highway and through the towns of Gerlach and Empire. We are the last contact our citizens have with Black Rock City.

From Saturday night through Tuesday, we are the eyes and ears of Black Rock City. Exodus is responsible for monitoring traffic flow, reporting disabled vehicles, assisting drivers with issues, and generally being out there, in the dust, making sure the process is running smoothly. We maintain a close relationship with BMIR, updating them with real-time traffic info that they in turn pass on to BRC citizens. We take pride in completing the cycle, from arrival through Gate, to leaving with Exodus.

Volunteer with Gate, Perimeter & Exodus

The Gate staff is a dedicated and diverse group, and many of our core staff have worked for the department for years. We’re a tight bunch with a keen sense of camaraderie. The work is physically grueling, sometimes mentally taxing and usually thankless. Dust storms that halt action for others on the playa don’t faze us – we can’t let them. We have a job to do. The Gate is our Burning Man, and we love it.

We have many types of positions to suit people with different skills and interests. But there are a few traits and skills that will serve you well in our department:

  • A willingness to work hard and be part of our team.
  • Responsible, self-reliant, and able to roll with the punches.
  • Patience, composure and a sense of humor in challenging situations.
  • Good people skills and a desire to interact with everyone who enters or leaves Black Rock City.
  • And of course a willingness to have fun while doing all of this!

We are looking for people to help us make a positive impact on everyone’s experience the minute they leave the blacktop of the default world and enter Black Rock City. We need volunteers 24 hours a day during the entire week of the event, and a few days after for Exodus. Most shifts are six hours, and the fact that we operate 24 hours a day means we can be sure to find a shift that suits you best.

Volunteers should have attended the event at least once before they work with Gate and Perimeter. New Burning Man participants can volunteer with Exodus. You must also be able to attend the meetings and training sessions. Training meetings usually happen in the June-July timeframe in the San Francisco Bay Area. If you are not local, we will also have on-playa training.

If you wish to join the Gate, Perimeter & Exodus crew, please indicate this on the Volunteer Questionnaire by checking the appropriate box. Our Volunteer Coordinator will email you with more information. Please note that by the beginning of August we are making our way to the playa to start setting up the Gate (which means we may not be checking email), so if you want to volunteer with us for the current year, please fill out the questionnaire as far in advance as possible.

For other questions or comments, email gate@burningman.org.

Greeters

Who We Are

We are the grinning face of Burning Man: A demographic sample, a community example. We are the First Contact between participants and the denizens of Black Rock City. We are the moment of impact: GROUND ZERO for INFO.

What We Do

We make the first impression. Greeting is a vital role that helps shape and form the initial perceptions and expectations of first time participants. Greeting is the one and only chance to communicate with each and every participant on a one-on-one basis, mano-a-mano, facia-a-facia.

Armed with wit, wisdom and infectious exuberance, we Greeters take advantage of this opportunity by becoming skilled information providers conducting helpful, informational workshops to carloads of people.

Sometimes wearing nothing but a smile, Greeters are dedicated to providing useful answers to all questions. Starting with our specialized greeting equipment that enables us to provide up-to-the-minute weather reports (“It’s been pretty dusty”), Greeters have enlightened tens of thousands of new and returning participants and done so with notorious flair.

Faster than the 5 m.p.h. speed limit, able to leap tall RVs in a single bound, Greeters do their darndest to drive home the major issues of critical importance, not only to personal safety, but to the continued survival of the event itself. Greeters are experts on such topics as “Leave No Trace”, Camera Tags versus Media Registration, the latest word on Tiki torches and other weapons of mass destruction.

From the mundane to the profane, Greeters are adept at dispensing practical guidance and, if pressed, will zealously describe, in visceral, gut-clenching detail, the consequences when porta-potties are incorrectly utilized as depositories for items other than human waste.

Well-versed in the guiding principles of the Prime Directive, Greeters are eager to engage discussion and clarify the concepts that define the atypical standards of our unique Burning Man community.

In short, the mandated goal of our Greeter mission is the orientation and education of each and every arrival before setting them loose as newly indoctrinated citizens of Black Rock City.

How We Do It

The medium is the message. How we communicate can have lasting impact.

Proven studies have shown that students absorb more information and retain it better when they are engaged in the subject matter. Well, boy-howdee, look out! As a Greeter, the attention-getting possibilities are as endless as your imagination – and your stamina.

Needless to say, creative educational techniques and other novel methods of communication are greatly encouraged. Past experiments in group and/or individual Greeting have included one-of-a-kind absurdist performances, clownish interpretive dance, friendly nudity, the ever efficient “no nonsense” method, and a variety-pak of endearingly hostile affectations (you know the type: Surly Greeter dressed in a playful tu-tu? Or, its aesthetic opposite, the super-friendly gregarious Greeter outfitted and accessorized for revolution and terrorism?) just to name a few.

Who You Are

Gregarious Philosophers, Guides and Messengers, Hosts and Ushers, Communicators and Educators, Troubadours and Clowns.

What We Need

Energetic, dependable and informed Greeters with fabulous Communication Skills and the Ability to Relate to just about Anyone. Qualified Greeters should be able to demonstrate an ability to recognize when (and how!) to exercise the recommended daily allowance of common sense. A modicum of patience and a good sense of humor never hurts.

Is Greeters your destiny or just your destination?

SIGN UP NOW! So what are you waiting for? Don’t miss this rare opportunity to share your talents and add your energy to our highly-dedicated (and sometimes sophisticated) team of zany Greeting experts and professionals. It’s easy!

Just fill out the Volunteer Questionnaire and choose “Greeters” under “Volunteer Interests”. It’s that easy!

Greeters’ Operations continues to expand creating an ever-growing need for qualified and committed Greeters. Regardless of your level of interest, experience and/or skill, if you are interested in becoming a Greeter, we have a place for you. Check out the growing variety of positions to chose from, both on the playa and pre-event (during the annual planning process).

Dept. of Mutant Vehicles

Friday morning I wake up to another beautiful sunrise on the Playa. All is quiet, so I hug myself and get ready to begin working at the DMV; wishing I hadn’t stayed up quite so late drinking and having fun with new and old friends.

“Where’s the coffee? I need coffee!!!!”

Three cups later it’s 9:30. Grits and I have managed to get the boxes of required paperwork moved back to the DMV table and we’re starting to give and get hugs and kisses from Hotties showing up for their shifts (what a great perk to the job, we love that Hottie Love).

By 10 a.m. the Mutant Vehicles are starting to show up and there are some absolutely beautiful mutations. “Oh my gawd it’s a Giant Roach coming to say good morning! Ya gotta love those art car kids from Houston!!”

But no time to visit. I’m busy trying to get the water truck to come through and water our little corner of the Playa before we’re covered in dust that the vehicles kick up. “Quick, where is some Hottie schwag to give that sweet man driving the water truck?” (I dig through 3 boxes to find a sticker and a magnet from my personal stash!).

Each team of Hotties is busy viewing the Mutant Vehicles, reviewing licensing requirements, making sure they’re safe and going over where to drive or not drive on the Playa. Thank gawd the Hottie team is well trained, cute and fun to hang with.

“Would ya look at that?” Animal Control pulls in to tag us for being naughty animals. But I miss them cuz five people are talking to me at once and the benches are full of people waiting to get licenses. I got one pissed off person that doesn’t have a clue (it’s a golf cart that looks like a golf cart but has an umbrella attached so it’s been modified and why won’t I license it?) Well, thirty minutes later trying to explain it still looks like a golf cart and no it’s not a staff vehicle and no it’s not for a handicap person and no it’s not modified and did you read the criteria on the Web site when you sent in your pre-registration? The golf cart left with one pissed off person. Ooohh I can feel the bad karmic vibes he’s trying to send me cuz now it’s the cart with the fabric tied on that can’t understand why we won’t give it a license, “Well I don’t care what’s gonna happen if I drive. Anyway. Other cars are driving. Look at that truck.”

“Yeah. Look at it. It’s DPW waving at us as they head out to the Playa with a vehicle full of equipment needed for one of the projects that help the citizens of BRC enjoy their experience even more.”

Would ya look at the time? Second shift is coming on and we’ve only seen 47 vehicles so far. But more are coming in and we have to license two vehicles off-site (just too big to get through the streets safely). But quick. More hugs and kisses from the Hotties before I jump on my bike and head over to this great big Carousel Swing that someone in Lamplighter Camp made. It’s awesome. I go for a swing and it’s a blast. Well, yeah, the tow truck supports the carousel looks like a truck but its interactive with the community, something we love. And it’s so much fun. I’m laughing like a little girl again as I swing round and round. Twenty minutes later, paperwork filled out, license on truck, it’s back to the DMV while hoping someone, anyone, please have lunch there for me.

DMV is once again a cluster-fuck with 15 Mutant Vehicles and their drivers awaiting inspection. And the list is growing on how many people we’ve had to direct to the bus stop. I’m hungry, cranky, and tired of saying ‘no’ to these great fun-loving people who have worked hard. But their vehicles don’t meet the outlined criteria. Thankfully Grits is now dealing with the clueless cart with an umbrella attached so it’s been modified. Oh, and by the way, the driver had decided to get as many departments involved in this dispute so the information people around the corner from us have been brought into the discussion too. I roll my eyes, kiss Grits who can handle these situations so much better than I can (it’s why I’m the evil twin). I gather up my paperwork and head out to license the Eyes of Gawd.

Wow! These folks are sweet. They gave me an afternoon beverage to quench my thirst while I inspected their vehicle for safety and reviewed the driving guidelines. I can’t wait to see it at night. But right now it doesn’t have enough lights for nighttime driving when there is no moonlight and I can only issue a day license. I promise to come back at 9 pm to give them their night license. Back on the bike to the DMV. I make sure there is nothing the Hotties need but no one there pays any attention to me with all the people hanging around waiting for their license or just needing to sit in the shade cuz it’s too darn hot out and we don’t want heat stroke. I grab one of the stronger Hotties of the male persuasion to help carry and fill the ice cooler with water and ice. Another shift is coming on but who pays attention when it’s been so busy and we’re running out of paper registration forms for people to fill out? I wonder if a mandatory pre-registration process will help us manage the paperwork and unlicensibility issues?

Once again, for the fourth time, the golf cart comes in covered in fabric that we would not license earlier. This time the driver says, “Well, I hate to pull the handicap card but this is my camp mate with a broken foot.” (Yes, there was a cast and a handicap placard issued by the state Department of Motor Vehicles), “See. We’re handicap we need an art car license?”

“Sorry. But all you can have is a handicap sticker. And why didn’t you say so before? Cuz this is not a Mutant Vehicle. But yeah, you can have a handicap sticker.” All I can think is why are these people wasting our time? Can’t they look over at Art Car Camp to see what a Mutant Vehicle is? Okay. I’m getting too negative. I’m tired and cranky and I need a cold beverage. And I still have to go back in an hour to the Eyes of Gawd for their night license. But look! The cars that need a fire license are all starting to gather. AAHHHHHHH!! It’s a cluster-fuck of pyro. Thank gawd the Hotties are a great team of trained Hotness, cuz I really can’t deal with another person and be positive about why that swag of fur thrown over their motorcycle does not make a Mutant Vehicle.

It’s time. I’m off to night license the Eyes of Gawd. But for now I’m sorry, I can’t give a night license without more lights at eye level (don’t want the altered state people walking into it), and glow sticks won’t do the job. “No I can’t give you a license based on what your gonna do. I have to see it. Listen I’m tired and cranky. I’ve been at this since 9:30 this morning. Stop arguing with me and just do it. You have 30 more minutes before the DMV closes for the night.”

Back to the DMV. Aahhh a cold beer comes from a lovely sexy woman waiting to get her Mutant Vehicle licensed. Wait! Was that a big pink bunny rolling down the street or am I seeing things? I’m losing it. Too tired of the constant barrage of people asking questions and arguing because they worked for three whole hours altering their vehicle and deserve a license cuz of the fabric. Got to get back on the bike to the Eyes of Gawd. YES! It’s got lights, not glow sticks!!! I’m so happy. I can give them a license.

Now its back to the DMV to shut down, pack everything back into boxes, store it all in the storage space allotted to us and then I’m off to home to clean up, KISS my sweetie, and make sure he eats. About an hour later I’m wandering the Playa and encounter the Eyes of Gawd making its maiden night voyage. I’m invited aboard. Then we’re off at a snails pace (actually the pace of the spotter on the bicycle in front). I’m having so much fun on board making the eyes blink and wink as we slowly cross the Playa looking at the fabulous art.

By whatever hour I stumble into bed, sleep beckons me and I definitely need it before tomorrow’s coffee.

Want to be like me? Fill out the Volunteer Questionnaire and check the box for Dept. of Mutant Vehicles

Department of Public Works

Black Rock City’s Department of Public Works (DPW) is the workforce dedicated to building the physical infrastructure of Black Rock City, the place Burning Man calls home in the Black Rock Desert. The DPW works side by side with all of the departments within the Burning Man Project. We also work with Burning Man participants, cooperating agencies, and our worldwide community to ensure that Black Rock City becomes a reality, and then vanishes without a trace. You can check out a full list of our mandate here.

It’s long hard work, and we have a damn good time doing it. Each year we bring together more than 700 people — some new folks, some returning crew — to build our team. We look for electricians, plumbers, heavy equipment operators, licensed truck drivers and bus drivers, carpenters, welders, auto mechanics, office assistants, dispatch operators, and Depot staff. We also look for unskilled, hard-working individuals who are eager to learn and who have a strong desire to help create the temporary city in the desert we all call home.

The DPW work season is a fast-paced, chaotic, large-scale event production environment. To work well with us, and to create a place for yourself within this aspect of the Burning Man event, you’ll need to have the skills necessary to function and thrive in this type of workplace. These skills include dynamic problem-solving, self-sufficiency, flexibility, emotional intelligence, and a generally proactive approach that keeps things moving forward. Solutions ensure that the show goes on.

You’ve also got to be able to deal with the setting. The Black Rock Desert is one of the harshest environments in the continental U.S., and it takes a conscious effort by the individual as well as the group to ensure everyone’s health and safety. Slackers, whiners, and exceptionally needy people need not apply. It’s tough enough out there, and if you cannot toe the line, we will have to ask you to leave.

The DPW Work Season runs from early August to early October, and has four distinct phases: set-up, the event, tear down, and playa restoration.

Set-up is where we ask you to show up in Gerlach, Nevada, in early August and work with us on putting the city together until the event starts. Working two weeks of set-up will earn you a ticket to that year’s Burning Man event.

The event is when most DPW crews are on call. However, if everything has gone according to plan, you will have the week off to enjoy the Burning Man event. If you WANT to work during the event, there are some DPW crews that keep working, and many other opportunities to volunteer with other departments and projects.

Tear down starts Tuesday morning after the event. Tear Down lasts about two weeks and involves taking apart everything we put together during set-up. The buildings come apart, the fences come down, and everything gets packed up and shipped away.

Playa restoration is the last phase of our work season. Throughout the DPW work season, you will have many opportunities to sign up for playa restoration. You can also sign up any time by emailing restoration@burningman.org. If you are selected, you will join an all-star team of professional environment-restoration specialists, dedicated to leaving no trace of our event in the Black Rock Desert. Playa restoration usually lasts for just over two weeks and brings us into the first week of October. 

You can sign up to do set-up, or tear down, or both. Playa restoration candidates will be selected during tear down.

We will provide for your basic needs while you work for us: three meals a day, water and electrolyte drinks, access to laundry, kitchen facilities, and our own Rec. Center / Social Club, complete with internet access, a pool table, and a phone so you can touch base with the outside world now and then. Working with us for two weeks will earn you a DPW T-shirt, identifying you as one of us, for better or worse.

If all this sounds good to you, and you’d like to be involved, please go here to apply.  We will add you to the list of potentials for the DPW crew, and keep you in the loop as things go forward. We do our best to select and notify crew by late May / early June each year. Please keep in mind that we don’t have room for everyone and that out of the hundreds of applicants, only 30-40 new people will be asked to join our team each year. 

You can read much, much more about our operation in our current DPW Handbook. 

Emergency Services

Black Rock City is just like any lively city on the map. As a participant strolling through the city and interacting with others, you may not be aware of the many other scenes being played out all around you 24 hours a day. Accidents, injuries and other events requiring emergency response come into play hundreds of times during the event.

Black Rock City’s Emergency Services Department (ESD) is there when you need them months before the event officially starts, and is on-duty well after the last participant leaves to support the playa clean-up efforts. ESD provides Black Rock City with several different key areas of service; these services include Fire Fighting, Rescue, Hazardous Materials, Emergency and Non-Emergency Medical evaluation and treatment, Mental Health services (including sexual assault response), 911 Dispatch, and providing the two-way radio communications infrastructure for all of Black Rock City.

The Emergency Services Department is interested in recruiting dedicated, skilled professionals from all areas of emergency services.  If the idea of volunteering with other community dedicated, fun-loving, energetic and professional emergency services providers is of interest to you, please select Emergency Services under volunteer team interest when you fill out our Volunteer Questionnaire.

For more information about ESD, please feel free to check out the ESD section of the Burning Man web site: esd.burningman.org.

Have additional questions? Email 911@burningman.org.

Cleanup and Restoration

Starting the last day of the event and lasting roughly one month, DPW’s Playa Restoration Team works to return the Black Rock Desert to its pre-event condition. The work ranges from removing city structures to picking up large and small bits of escaped trash (onsite and around the desert) and eradicating burn scars (the residue of fired playa sediment and ashes).

It’s a large undertaking to leave no trace of a week-long city with an ever-growing population of tens of thousands of people, but our future existence demands it, and it is the right thing to do. It is a rewarding, team-spirited effort as well as a nice way to intimately experience the Black Rock Desert and unwind after the hectic Burning Man week (not to mention that staying after is the perfect solution to avoiding the mass exodus traffic). However many days you can stay, or come back up for, your contribution will be greatly appreciated!

The citizen cleanup effort begins on the final Sunday of the event and goes through a few days past Monday, Labor Day. Everyone attending is asked to clean up their own camp (down to the granular level), plus contribute two hours scouring the open space of the city before departing.

Starting the day after Labor Day (Tuesday), the event is officially over and the only people allowed to remain at the site are the DPW Playa Restoration crew (this is mandated by our permit). Clean Up is an organized effort. You can sign up by coming to the daily 8 a.m. meeting at the DPW Depot (check out Playa Info for directions). Things that are handy to have: gloves, hat, water bottle, trash bucket (an empty plastic water jug with 3″ hole cut out of the top for sharp items such as glass and nails), and a pickup truck! If you plan on helping with this effort, email the DPW Volunteer Coordinator at dpw-volunteers@burningman.org, or check “DPW” on the Volunteer Questionnaire and specify Clean Up when prompted.

Center Camp

In 2022, we’re trying something new: there will be no sales of coffee (or anything else!) at the Center Camp Café. Center Camp will remain a vibrant hub of engagement and participation with performance and art. There will still be nearly an acre of beautifully designed, shaded and welcoming space for members of the community to enjoy and activate. We’re excited for the reimagining of the space, and hope you are too. You can learn more about these changes, as well as the history of the Center Camp Coffee Shop, in this post. To learn more about how to be involved in activating this space, read below and complete the Volunteer Questionnaire.


 

Ever wonder how something as huge and magnificent as the Center Camp becomes a reality? Is it magic? A mysterious gift from beyond? A shared waking dream we co-create with our imaginations? Well, yes, a bit of all of these — but the true answer lies in the teamwork of many dedicated volunteers. From planning, creating and installing of our décor, to the building and running of our stages, the heart of Center Camp is its volunteer community.

Volunteering at Center Camp is a uniquely gratifying way to participate at Burning Man, and an incredible opportunity to see how it all happens. You’ll be helping put together the social center of Black Rock City, and you’ll get to enjoy watching the entire city come together and appreciate your hard work.

Construction: At 38,000 square feet, Center Camp offers .65 of an acre or 2/3 of a football field worth of shade in the blistering sun. The structure is held up by two concentric wooden rings and secured to the earth by high-tension cable, capable of withstanding 120mph winds and drastic temperature and weather changes. We need plenty of help to put this sucker up.

Art & Décor: Calling all sculptors, seamstresses, furniture builders, painters, artists, designers, and multi-talented can-do creative people. We’re on the lookout for collaborators to help us bring Center Camp to life. No experience required — just a willingness to work hard and have fun! Enjoy the satisfaction of transforming an enormous shaded circle of bare playa into the beautiful, warm heart of Black Rock City. You’ll get filthy with us on carpet day, and cheer with us as we turn on the lights for the first time, so we can see how gorgeous we’ve made everything look. For specific questions about décor, contact cafe-decor@burningman.org, and for opportunities to have your art be part of Center Camp, cafe-art@burningman.org can help you help us.

Production: Center Camp is as much a performance space as a social space, and the Production Team makes sure the show goes on as it must. From building, lighting, and amplifying the Performance and Spoken Word Stages before the gates open, to booking acts, MCing sets, mixing sound, and herding cats (stage managing). Production is the reason you can spend an entire night on a polka dot couch in Center Camp, and feel like you haven’t missed a moment of the Burn. Reach out to cafe-production@burningman.org to get in on the backstage hijinx, or cafe-performance@burningman.org if you want to perform on the best stages in town.

Center Camp is the social core of BRC, the living room of the city. Come, meet, play, and be inspired. Then, if you’re inspired enough, contact cafe-volunteers@burningman.org and get in on this good Communal Effort!

If any of these opportunities interest you, sign up from the Volunteer Questionnaire.

Box Office

The Black Rock City Box Office is devoted to providing a welcoming and friendly first point of contact with Burning Man while striving to be as efficient and accurate in issuing our participants their keys to the city. Being on the front lines of BRC, along with Gate, we are committed to maintaining a safe and supportive environment for Box Office crew and incoming participants alike.

What Is The Box Office?

For a lot of people, the Box Office is the first point of contact they have with Black Rock City and for many it’s their first contact with Burning Man ever. For this reason, we try and make their experience as smooth and pleasant as possible.

Inside our handcrafted Box Office buildings, we run a full-service Will Call operation. On each shift, you will find a small, diverse, friendly crew asking for photo identification, looking up names in our computer system, issuing tickets, and generally having a fantastic time helping participants as they arrive on the playa.

We are responsible for all of the tickets held at Will Call as well as those left for participant’s friends who are arriving later during the week. We get a high volume of people looking to pick up, drop off, and change the name on their tickets, and it all happens at the Box Office!

Sounds Like a Box Full of Fun! Tell Me More!

The Box Office is open 24 hours a day during the event. We have four 6-hour shifts a day that begin at 6am, 12pm, 6pm, and midnight. We ask all volunteers to commit to a minimum of 4 shifts each, one of which must be a midnight or 6am shift.

Due to the nature of this work, you’ll need to have a healthy relationship with computers as well as people. We will train you on how to use our computer system, but being comfortable with simple technology and basic problem solving is important. Our “search” process is a lot like looking up things on Google, so if you’re nervous, feel free to practice.

Participant Relations at its Best!

While the Box Office can be a relaxing place to volunteer and connect with others, sometimes you will be confronted with a line of people that goes seemingly to the horizon, made up of folks who have been in a vehicle for hours or days. Participants ask questions, present problems, and sometimes are unhappy. Patience is very helpful in the Box, and is even better when partnered with a quick judge of character, a level head, and problem solving skills. If problems arise, have no fear, you are not alone; there is an experienced Shift Lead in charge of each shift as well as other experienced crew members nearby who can help you. In the end, Box Office volunteers should be prepared to deal with any problems one might expect any Will Call Box Office to have.

Who Are These Box People?

We are a small, close-knit crew of mostly long-time volunteers coming from all over the world and spanning generations. Many of us camp together during the event at our family-friendly Box Camp where we have a nightly social hour, festive living room, relaxing deck, charming mayor, and a cozy burn barrel to gather around on cold nights.

If you’re interested in volunteering with the Box Office, please fill out the Volunteer Questionnaire in your Burner Profile. Be sure to indicate ‘Box Office’ as your preferred area of interest.

The Box Office Personnel Manager will receive notice of your application and will reach out to you if your skills are a good fit for the Box Office’s needs. This process may take a few weeks, so please be patient.

If you have specific questions that are not answered on this page, after you complete the questionnaire you can email boxoffice@burningman.org.

Department of Public Works (DPW)

Black Rock City’s Department of Public Works (DPW) is the workforce that plans, surveys, builds, and deconstructs the basic infrastructure of our temporary city in the Black Rock Desert. Since 1998 the DPW has worked side by side with all of the departments within the Burning Man Project to institute the City Plan and bring Black Rock City into existence.

Our mandate includes:

  • Black Rock City survey
  • Fence installation
  • Arctica construction
  • Artery Everywhere construction
  • Center Camp construction
  • DPW Ghetto construction
  • The Black Rock City power grid
  • First Camp construction
  • The Black Rock City Fluffer Program
  • Fuel services
  • Heavy equipment and transportation
  • Construction of The Man and The Man Pavilion
  • Roads and dust abatement
  • Sign production and installation
  • More than 200 shade structures
  • Spires construction and installation
  • Potable and nonpotable water services
  • The BRC Yellow Bike Project
  • Playa restoration and highway cleanup

After the event, DPW strikes the set, packs away the city’s bones, and makes sure that Black Rock City will truly Leave No Trace.

If all this sounds good to you, and you’d like to be involved, please click here to apply. If you want to know more about the DPW’s volunteer needs, and our operation in general, please visit our volunteer page.

Dept. of Mutant Vehicles

DMV Night Registration (Photo by Mark Brems)

The mission of the Black Rock City Department of Mutant Vehicles is to enable Burning Man participants to share their Mutant Vehicle creations with the community of Black Rock City, and to license vehicles for use by disabled participants.

The Department of Mutant Vehicles (DMV) must balance the desire to have vehicles at the event with the community standards of keeping Burning Man a foot- and bike-friendly event, maintaining a level of safety, and adhering to the stipulations of our land use permit. Because of these limiting factors, not all vehicles that apply can be licensed. While this is not an easy job, the DMV believes having Mutant Vehicles at Burning Man is an important part of the experience and work hard to make it possible for them to be out there.

Simply put, the DMV is there to make it possible for the Mutant Vehicles to be at Burning Man. if there were no DMV, there would be no mobile art in Black Rock City. The DMV staff work throughout the year to process the Mutant Vehicles and disabled vehicle registrations, and then run on-playa operations to license vehicles during the event. The DMV staff also work to build and maintain the support infrastructure for their operations.

Learn More About Mutant Vehicles

If you are interested in bringing a Mutant Vehicle to Black Rock City, see the Mutant Vehicle Licensing and Criteria.

If you have a disability and need a vehicle to get around Black Rock City, see the Vehicles for People with Disabilities page.

If you’re interested in volunteering to be a DMV Hottie, visit our volunteer page for more information. And if you have any questions, please email dmv@burningman.org.

For information on other types of vehicles on the playa, see the Getting Around section.

Black Rock Country

Black Rock country is truly one of the most fascinating landscapes in North America. Nestled between the western edge of the Basin and Range Province, the Black Rock Desert forms a unique assemblage of volcanic lava flows, ash, ancient shallow marine sea floor, exotic batholithic terrain, and lacustral sedimentary packages.

Within the Black Rock, the most striking and prominent feature is a silt alkaline Salt Pan, commonly referred to as a playa. The Black Rock Playa, elevation 3,848 ft, is the second-largest flat region in the Northern Hemisphere. Shaped like a “Y”, the Black Rock can be divided into 3 parts: the playa, west arm, and east arm.

The longest stretch of playa is 27 miles along the west arm. South of the intersecting arms, the widest spot is 12 miles. The playa has a “bulge” in the middle that is widely reported to be the visible curvature of the earth; this is actually the result of water pressure and the expanding clays that make up the playa fill. (The earth’s curvature is not visible from altitudes lower than about 20 miles.)

Also unique to Black Rock is a large concentration of hot springs, found along the escarpment of the ranges bordering the playa. The source of the springs is still unknown, although it is theorized that they are the result of active volcanism and latent heat from the Cascades in northern California and Oregon.

The playa is the remnants of Pleistocene Lake Lahontan, which at its greatest expanse 13,000 years ago covered 8,665 square miles of northwestern Nevada. Over the last 75,000 years Lake Lahontan has had four measurable high stands which all correlate to glacial advances in the Sierra Nevada.

The highest lake stand was during the most recent glacial period. Geologic evidence suggests depths up to 920 ft. at what is now referred to as Pyramid Lake, 525 ft. in Walker Lake, and 490 ft. in the Carson Sink. Lush vegetation and an abundant water supply were present, provided from rivers draining off the Sierra Nevada Mountains & Modoc Plateau. Giant mammoth, camels, horses, and saber-toothed tigers roamed the marshy land.

In 1979, the largest mammoth ever found was discovered in the Black Rock Desert located in a channel of the Quinn River. This 17,000 year-old Imperial Mammoth was 50 years old at death, weighed 13,000 pounds, and was 13 ft. tall at the shoulders.

Glacial retreats, subsequent extension of the Basin and Range, and further development of the California Coastal Ranges, Sierras, Cascades and Klamath Mountains created physical barriers generating a Rain Shadow habitat in northwestern Nevada and eastern Oregon. Lake Lahontan eventually dried up, leaving behind terraces (up to 300 ft. wide) on the surrounding mountains and the current playa surface.

– Thanks to Catherine O’Riley, Mike Bilbo (BLM), and Nate Pepel.

Suggested Reading: Geologic and Natural History Tours in the Reno Area (1995), Purkey, Becky Weimer, University of Nevada, Reno, Mackay School of Mines

Getting In: The Gate

Q. What do I need to know about arriving at Burning Man? A. We’re glad you asked!

  1. Traffic has become a part of the Burning Man experience, and it is up to all of us to make it as stress-free as possible. Carpool or take the Burner Express! Fewer vehicles = less traffic = shorter wait times = better for the environment. Winning!
  2. Everyone in your vehicle must have a valid ticket for entry. All vehicles driving into BRC (except motorcycles) require a vehicle pass, which must be purchased in advance.
  3. Beginning Sunday, the day the event opens, we will begin broadcasting hourly traffic reports on BMIR 94.5 at the top of the hour. You can listen on your mobile device via iHeartRadio. We’re also providing real-time updates via Twitter. Follow @BManTraffic for the latest.
  4. On your way to Burning Man, please drive safely and be considerate while passing through local towns. Speeding, parking on highway shoulders, and unsafe passing are safety hazards and could threaten the future of the event. We are guests in their communities, so be extra courteous and obey the law.
  5. If traffic stops on 447 or 34, please stay in your vehicle and keep your headlights on at night. These are rural highways and it is hard for oncoming traffic to see you.
  6. Plan your arrival so that you show up at the Gate after opening. We cannot allow people who show up early to wait in town or on the sides of the highway.
  7. During peak traffic periods we will be controlling traffic with highway flaggers along Hwy 447 before the Gerlach and Empire gas stations. Past experience shows that long lines at local gas stations have caused unsafe conditions. Once the line reaches the edge of the gas stations, you will be instructed to continue driving. Please fill up before you get on Highway 447.
  8. As you approach the Burning Man entrance, tune your radio to 95.1 FM for the Gate Advisory Radio Station. We will be broadcasting up-to-date info about the entry process.
  9. Drive no more than 10 mph on Gate Road! Speeding causes ruts in the playa surface. And the dust you create makes it hard to see our volunteers in the lanes and for other drivers to see you.
  10. Stay with your vehicle on Gate Road. If you need to go to will call, your entire vehicle should go with you. Don’t risk losing your friends (yes, it happens).
  11. All inbound lanes have access to the Box Office. About 1/4 mile before you reach the Gate you will come to a set of small kiosks we call the ‘Apex.’ Gate staff here will direct you to the will call lot.
  12. Upon reaching the Gate your tickets will be torn and your car searched. If you pack accordingly (and yes, we will want to get to the back of your box truck and have you open that big container) it will make it easier on everyone, which means you get through faster. If you have a large vehicle or a lot of stuff, we appreciate it when you help us during the search. Plan ahead and know what items are prohibited. Please see HERE for items not allowed through the gate.
  13. If you don’t have a ticket, do not show up at the event. There is a closure order issued by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and you must have a valid ticket to be inside of it. If you are at the Gate without a ticket, you will be told to leave or risk citation from the BLM.
  14. Plan ahead. Read the JRS and Survival Guide, and know what you need for early arrivals. If you are a camp or project expecting deliveries, know that process far in advance.

Q. When is the best time to arrive to avoid those long entry lines? A. Wait times during the first 36 hours after opening can be five or more hours. If you arrive during the rush, expect a long wait and pack water and snacks for the ride. If the weather gets bad we may have to temporarily close the Gate.

We know you want to experience the dusty playa as soon as you can, but if you can arrive Tuesday or later, you will find your wait time to be much shorter. On all days but opening night, the shortest lines are usually in the early morning hours, generally from 3 a.m.-10 a.m.

Q. What credentials do I need to get through the Gate? A. Everyone needs a valid ticket to enter BRC. Every vehicle driving through the Gate, except motorcycles, must have a vehicle pass.

Arriving before the Gate opens requires a valid early arrival pass for every person in your vehicle.  If you are bringing a mutant vehicle, you must have a copy of the Department of Mutant Vehicles registration. Deliveries require the same credentials as participants; if you are part of a group receiving deliveries, speak to your Burning Man contact in advance.

Q. Can I show up early, before the Gate opens? A. No! Our permit stipulations issued by the BLM do not allow participants to arrive before the Gate opens, except for those who are involved in set up.

The pre-event period is when we are building the city, which means there are construction sites and heavy machinery that can be dangerous. Participants wandering the playa will delay the set up process. We do not yet have the resources to handle participants (medical, staffing, ice, etc.), and people showing up dearly taxes the resources we do have.

Q. Well, what if I decide to show up early anyway? A. Your entire vehicle will be turned away and sent back to Reno. We cannot allow participants to be left at the Gate without a vehicle if they do not have an early arrival pass – make sure every person in your vehicle has a valid pass.

When the Gate opens, we give priority to those who show up on time. This means if you show up early and we have to stage you somewhere, you will get in later than if you showed up on time.

Q. Can I drive out to Gerlach earlier in the day and just wait in town or along the road until the Gate opens? A. This is the worst thing you can do. Under no circumstances should you wait on the side of the road anywhere along Highway 447 or 34, or in Gerlach. This is a serious safety hazard and places our event at risk. The road shoulders need to be kept clear for emergency vehicles, and out of respect for the local residents please do not park in town.

Q. I hear that you sometimes open the Gate early without telling anyone. What’s up with that? A. The Gate opening time is set by our permit stipulations. In a perfect world where we could control all elements of the environment, traffic and human behavior, we would open the Gate at exactly the same time each year. But this is Burning Man. Sometimes things happen.

The Gate, Perimeter and Exodus Department of Burning Man has the responsibility and authority to manage ingress and egress of participants while also taking into account public and staff safety, real-time assessment of traffic flow on Highway 447 and Highway 34, and vehicle congestion in Gerlach. The reasons for an adjustment to the opening time are many and varied, and could result in either a delay or in us letting some vehicles in early. For the best chance at a smooth entry process, plan your arrival for after the Gate opens.

Q. What if I need to go to Will Call/Box Office? A. The following steps should help make your Box Office visit smoother:

  1. Upon arrival, do NOT proceed to the Gate to be searched if you do not have your tickets in hand for all people in your car.
  2. The exact location of Will Call changes depending on the placement of the city and design of Gate Road. But have no fear! We have set up the process such that you can access the Will Call lot from ANY lane on Gate Road.
  3. Go to Will Call/Box Office, get your tickets and return to your vehicle.
  4. Guide your vehicle back into the entry lines via the marked lane from the Will Call lot.
  5. Proceed to the Gate for vehicle search and entry into the City!

Q. Can I run and get my ticket at Will Call while the rest of my crew waits in line? A. Please don’t. We see people lose their vehicles all the time. There is a better chance than you would expect that it will happen to you too. And we don’t allow people to walk in the lanes. Take a few extra minutes to have your whole vehicle go into the Will Call lot. It beats standing in the dust for hours trying to find your ride.

Q. I keep hearing about a speed limit of 10 mph on Gate Road. Is that really true? A. Yes, it is. The faster you drive on Gate Road, the more dust your vehicle kicks up and the more your tires break up the hard packed playa, turn it into fine powder and create deep ruts in the road. Much of that dust ends up blowing into the city during high winds.

Gate staff are in the lanes 24 hours a day, breathing that dust. If you are going too fast, you are more likely to injure our crew. Please obey the 10 mph speed limit!

Q. Woo hoo, I made it to the playa! Can I start the party while I am waiting in line? A. Nope! If by party you mean break open a cold one, then “no” for sure. Gate Road is subject to driving laws like any other road. You can get cited by law enforcement for having an open container in your vehicle, even if the driver is not the one drinking. Every year people get pulled over and cited. Don’t let this happen to you.

Q. What if I am approved to enter early. What do I need? A. If you are arriving before Will Call opens (which is Monday the week before the event at noon) you MUST have a physical ticket in hand. If you show up without a ticket before Will Call opens, you will have to wait at the Gate until your manager or point of contact can deal with the situation. Sometimes this means overnight. No matter how much you beg us, we cannot let you in without a ticket.

You must print your early arrival pass before you arrive at the Gate – we cannot print it for you and we do not accept passes on your phone/computer.

If you are unsure whether you have the right credentials, talk to your Burning Man contact before you leave for the playa!

Q. Hey man, I totally cannot afford a ticket this year. But I plan to get to the Gate and see if I can manifest a miracle through generous gifts from the community. Is that cool? A. Please don’t. Please make your miracles happen before you get to the Gate. All too often people who end up at the Gate without money to buy tickets will end up trying to sneak in or will start to suffer from dehydration or worse. As much as we feel for your cause, you will not be allowed to sit at the Gate without a ticket. You will probably get mad at us for asking you to leave, but with a little bit of planning and radical self-reliance we can all get what we want.

Q. I know I don’t have the right paperwork, but it’s not very Burner of you to make me wait here for so long. I’ve been on the road for two days and I’m tired, can’t you just let me in? A. The Gate’s job is to make sure everyone who enters has valid credentials and does not possess any prohibited items. If you show up without these things, we can’t let you in no matter how much you beg.

We will attempt to help you sort out your issue and tell you what your options are. It may take a little time, especially when we are dealing with long lines and managing multiple issues simultaneously, including some that may impact the safety of our crew and other participants. Sometimes we don’t have the time to explain why; sometimes we just need you to follow our instructions at that moment. Remember, all the instructions you’ll get at the Gate are available far in advance on the Burning Man website.