So I’m standing in this bar the other night. This total stranger … never seen him before … is passing in front of me. Suddenly he stops and just swings around and looks me in the eye.

Then he starts talking … a little tipsy, British accent, and I’m thinking who is this guy?  We chat for a while, I’m making small talk to be polite, and he mentions Burning Man.  I like to hear what people say about Burning Man without them knowing what I do for a living, so I let him go on for a while without letting on.

He says Burning Man is the one place in the world — and he’s lived in more than a handful of exotic countries — where he actually felt HOME.  He came with his friends from the UK and it changed his life. He tossed it all up in the air, moved to San Francisco, and here he stands in front of me.

I finally tell him who I am, and he says: “Oh, wow!  OK, I really need to tell you this story.”

Banksy's Girl With Heart Balloon
Banksy's Girl With Heart Balloon

“You know that one Banksy stencil of the little girl with the heart balloon?”

“Yeah, sure,” I say. He tells me he was an animator back in the UK, and made a short animated film based on that image. He had a picture of it on his bedroom wall for years … it was the first thing he saw when he woke up in the morning, and the last thing he saw before falling asleep.  Then he came to Burning Man for the first time.

Out at Opulent Temple on Friday night (“The best party on the planet, mate!”) he’s in the middle of the massive crowd, dancing with his friends. Suddenly the crowd parts, and there’s this beautiful girl … and they lock eyes and move toward each other … time stops. “I look down, mate, and I shit you not … I look down, and there on her arm is a tattoo of the girl with the heart balloon!  I nearly fell over.  We ended up together for years.  So I gotta ask you, man, you gotta tell me … how does that happen?  What the hell is going on out there?”

“Well,” I say, “that’s playa magic.” Synchronicity, coincidences … it happens all the time out there … I’m always hearing stories about it from people. You could be thinking about a nice banana split, and you’ll turn a corner and against all odds there’s some dude handing you a banana split.  “Yeah, but why is that is what I want to know?”

We go through our lives with our psychic guards up, I tell him … there’s too many people and it’s too risky to be open to everything and everybody all the time. But you go out to the playa, and everybody’s walking around with their guards down … everybody’s psychically open, and the energy just moves freely between people, and well, it just happens. Whatever you’re sending out, somebody’s picking up.

And I tell him, “Now, think of what would happen if people lived like that all the time, right? What would the world look like? What would that do to human potential? That’s what we’re doing out there … the Burning Man experience shows people what it can be like, and hopefully they bring it back with them to the real world even a little bit, and it stretches human possibility that much more. It’s not just a big party in the desert, man, not by a longshot.”

He nods, satisfied.  “So, tell me,” I ask him, “why did you suddenly stop and start talking to me just now?”

“I don’t know. I just  … did.”

“Right, exactly,” I say.

If you’ve got a story of playa magic, please share it with us in the comments!

About the author: Will Chase

Will Chase

Will Chase is Burning Man's former Minister of Propaganda, working on global communications strategy. He was the editor-in-chief for the Jackrabbit Speaks newsletter and the Burning Man Journal, and content manager for Burning Man’s web properties. He also oversaw the ePlaya BBS and Burning Man’s social media presence. Will first attended Burning Man in 2001. He volunteered as the Operations Manager for the ARTery (Black Rock City’s art HQ) and was on the Burning Man Art Council from 2003-2008. He was Web Team Project Manager and Webmaster from 2004 until he transitioned to the Communications Department in 2009.

55 Comments on “SynchroniCity

  • Jon Mitchell says:

    Thanks for sharing it, Will. There’s nothing I love more on a cold, rainy night than a good story about Burners bumping into one another.

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  • graham says:

    things like thst used to happen to me all the time, but lately i have been feeling so very discinnected from my life, kind of like i am waiting for something just like that to happen. its so very fantastic to be reminded

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  • Dan Kings says:

    Well here’s a good one for you…

    I came to Burning Man last year with a group of friends, but being the social butterfly I am, I spent quite a bit of time exploring the festival on my own, drifting from one camp to another, meeting new people and generally sampling the delights that the festival had to offer. One ‘morning after the night before’ I found myself sat with the guys who ran the Decedant Oasis. It turned out that they had a few fellow Brits camping with them too so natually we got talking. One girl I felt particullarily drawn and as we both came from a similar part ofthe world. We started talking about parties we’d been to and people we knew. As the conversation progressed it turned out we actually had a few friends in common. Not that unusual of course, but then something even more bizzare happened. The girl started telling me about a really cool party she’d been to a couple of years ago. As she described the party and the location it suddenly dawned on me. She was talking about a party I’d thrown at my house! We’d actually already met but as she had come with a friend of a friend of a friend I hadn’t really gotten to know her at the time. We’ve since become really good friends and often laugh about that exceedingly random morning and how amazing it was that out of 50,000 people we ended up sat next to each other that day! Playa Magic indeed :P

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  • ChiaSnaps says:

    Two friends and I got in early on Saturday. I was a virgin for BM 2010. No idea what I was getting myself into. Scared as hell mixed with excitement I had never felt. We showed up Saturday and after dealing with some heavy wind, we headed out to see the Man. My friends’ specific instructions, “you HAVE to go say hi to the Man”. We walk out, this crisp, refreshing air feels so light as we walk towards this structure. We see the cones, and we respect that the final touches are being constructed on the Man. Sunday rolls by, went to the Man twice. Monday (from what I remember, maybe Tuesday, but who really knows what day it is out there?) rolls in and people are almost all the way settled. We walk out to the Man Monday night not expecting anything, we enjoyed just visiting and seeing it’s technicalities. As we start to walk away, we see a man pulling one of the cones away, and I assume he’s moving it to get a truck though. The man stops us and says “come on up, it’s beautiful up there”. We stop, turn around and politely walk towards the staircase, where a line is forming behind us. We had been there 4 times, at random, and we happen to be there for the moment that it had opened. Although it seems silly, I still hold this as the most serendipitous moment in my life.

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  • Will Chase says:

    ChiaSnaps: That was my friend Joe who was moving the cones … we’d just come down from the Man. I watched you guys get in line and go up, and thought “that must be pretty cool for them.” Nice to meet you.

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  • Julianne says:

    It’s late and I need to be awake to buy tickets in the morning so I’m just going to copy this story from my blog!

    Circa 2009:

    On Tuesday I met a man named Jason. Wednesday night we ran into each other again, which is pretty amazing considering we were in the desert with 41,000 people all having a party, so to make a long story short after that we stuck together. Thursday night we rode in his art car to the Raygun Gothic Rocket, which after waiting in line and climbing up a ladder you could explore. Jason went up first while I had some deep soul sharing with his friend Rick. By the time we got up Jason had finished and gone back into the dark desert. I noticed one of the flight crew struggling with his flashlight, so I offered to hold it while he prepared a mini rocket to fire. After explaining the process, he asked me to launch the rocket. After years of temptation, I finally had an opportunity to push that red button labeled “DO NOT TOUCH.” With much gusto, I made the most of it.

    After launching my rocket into what I supposed was oblivion, I climbed down the stairs and found Jason with his crew. They were all talking about the fact that Jason had caught the rocket mid-air and that he was the first person to do this. I couldn’t believe it–I thought it was pretty cool that I had launched the rocket, and it was great that he was the only person to catch a rocket, but it was pretty amazing that he had caught MY rocket… and then gave it to his ex-girlfriend so that she could skip the line for the rocket. Jason described it as “a great focus for entropy. I don’t know what it all means, but it’s certainly got me thinking.”

    Fast forward: I moved to Los Angeles from New Orleans 2 months after we met, and we are still together basking in the glow of the playa and his fabulous rainbow lights!

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  • Jadie says:

    In 2009 we came ready to spread love and create magic… We had a dome, a decent sized sound system, generators, art projects- car and everything we felt belonged on the playa… We had waited throughout the night, and had told friends the approximate location we wanted to settle, 4:30 and D. We had no idea that this address had been reserved for theme camps. We rolled in around 1:00 am and started setting up. We had squeezed in tightly, (unknowingly) between 2 full-on established camps. We erected our dome, numerous tents, unloaded hundreds of costumes and toys, and made ourselves at home. Just as I was falling asleep I heard a mans voice explaining that we had encroached into reserved space, and that more people were showing up… We needed to move. I went outside to try and work some magic, and found that the person asking us to move was a life-long friend and co-worker from the Oregon Country Fair. We exchanged hugs and smiles and soon learned out that the people who were coming to park an R.V. on our dome, had opted out at the last minute. We were more than welcome to stay and co-exsist with our fair-family. Of all of the places we could have ended up, this was the perfect fit, there was just enough space, and we were with veterans, while we had 8 virgins in a group of 10. We had amazing spiritual adventures, and powerful awakenings all week long, and the serendipitous occurrences blessed us continually! Our location provided much needed safety and support during our Sabbaticals to the outer dimensions. Every year similar tales unfold as we are open to and aware of this magic that permeates our experience. We love all the volunteers and dedicated participants that make this place so special, thank you for everything you share. See you next year!

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  • Davoid says:

    2001 was my first year, traveling from Philadelphia with some friends. There are multiple stories I could tell about this virgin experience, but the major synchronicity started with my Polaroid camera. After giving away tons of shots that year- my accidental gifting- I took one on the night of the burn of my two friends Peter and Christophe standing in the massive crowd, Man in the background with his arms up, waiting for the pyrotechnics to begin. Being a Polaroid, the shot wasn’t perfect- Peter was blobby, Christophe caught off guard, most of the crowd faded into the blackness save for one cowboy-hatted guy I could see in profile just in front of us. But I love that pic and what it represents, and for years it was the ONLY pic from Burning Man I’d had on display in my apartment. Looked at it hundreds of times, tried to remember if we’d shared that bottle of wine Peter had with that sly-smiling dude in front of us, and didn’t he share a smoke with us? Ah, Burning Man.

    I moved across the country to Los Angeles the next year, made it back to the playa in ’02 and then from ’05 onwards. It was that year, ’05, that I learned that a few workmates were also Burners, and we decided to meet up out there. As our friendship grew, we made plans to be in a new camp together in ’06. I was stoked- we’d be camping with dozens of playa lovers and seekers, and my work buddy Mike AKA Farilla was the coolest of all of them. Turns out his first year was 2001 as well, so we had plenty of notes to compare.

    It was about 2 weeks before heading out there in ’06 that I looked down at that old Polaroid on my desk once again. There were Peter and Christophe and that cowboy-hatted dude…who, come to think of it, looked remarkably like…no way. Haven’t I looked at this picture hundreds of times? Out of the 30-whatever thousand people there that year, the thousands crowded around the man that Saturday night, the ONE other guy you can make out in the picture- and only because he HAPPENED to turn his head the moment the picture was snapped- was none other than my awesome new buddy Farilla. I had just realized it! “Wow, I still have that hat!” he told me later, equally stupefied.

    Playa Synchronicity!!!

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  • Katrina says:

    My BRC friends tend to refer to it as “playadipity.” Known phenomenon. Happened too many times to remember. Even seemingly little things, like a friend who lost her goggles one day, was out in the center of the playa the next day when a dust storm rolled in. Squinting and walking around looking for some shelter, her foot touched on something in the dust: her goggles. Not someone else’s lost goggles, hers.

    Yeah, happens all the time. :)

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  • Alice says:

    Last year, I came home to our camp in the middle of the day to find a postcard shoved in the top of our cooler. It was addressed to “Allison R” – but there was nobody of that name in our camp. I thought it had been mis-delivered, so I walked across the street to ask the camp over there if they knew Allison – but they looked at the address and said “no, she’s not with us, she should be over there” and pointed back at my camp. The actual address on the card was something like “Allison R., 2:25 and K, Man side, green Subaru and such-and-such a tent”. I was just reading this through again, standing on the side of the road, when a green Subaru drove up. I waved the card and stepped in front of the car, and the woman on the passenger side rolled the window down. “Allison?” I said. “Yes?” she replied. “Here’s your mail,” I said. “Wow, that was efficient!” she replied. She and her friend had literally just arrived at BRC and hadn’t yet set up their camp!

    Also, I don’t smoke much at all (socially, and once in a while) but I had been feeling the craving for cigarettes on the way out to the playa and on the first day there I was kicking myself for being so virtuous and not buying at least a pack at one of the gas station stops on the drive out. My husband and I cycled out to Center Camp on Monday morning so I could register our location and we could get some coffee, and as we bumped over the dusty streets I couldn’t stop thinking “man, if only I had a cig to go with that coffee, life would be good!” I got in the registration line, and the guy in front of me turned around and literally the first words out of his mouth were “would you like a cigarette?” He said his name was Wino, and it was his first year, and he’d brought a carton of cigarettes to give away – so he gave me a pack! I smoked all through the burn and had a great time, and I’m quit again now so everything’s great. Thank you, playa!

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  • Kenetic says:

    Playadipity does happen!

    On Tuesday morning in 2009, I rolled out of my mini dome only to see Walter, a giant VW bus staring down on me. On Wednesday night, our camp had a party and the crew of the bus came over and joined us. I was surprised to discover the crew constructed the bus just 2 miles east of where I live in Phoenix, AZ. It surprised me because both camps were non-theme camps and were set up in open camping areas. The randomness of selecting sites which were adjacent to one another was startling until I realized, it was pure Playa magic.

    Today I am the Director of Operations for Walter The Bus. Our mission is to inspire creativity through the collaborative efforts of our local community while following many of the principles which makes Burning Man one of the most successful art projects in the world. I have a great job and I’m surrounded by very talented people who are all dedicated to our mission.

    Thank you to all of the volunteers and participants which make Burning Man what it is today. Because of your hard work and countless hours, my life has been changed in ways I never would have imagined. I’d like to challenge the spectators out there to become a participant this year and help build the City.

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  • Tra La La says:

    My husband and I call it “A Burningman Moment”! – There had to be a name for that because it is unreal how that occurs. PLAYA MAGIC – BURNINGMAN MOMENTS – but just like will story – the beautiful thing is that it doesn’t go away – it stays with you in the defalt world and keeps the spirit alive.

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  • The Bruce says:

    Double Rainbow all the way.

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  • Easy E says:

    reading all these hair-raising tales of playadipity on ticket release morning…. hmmmm….

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  • Unique Michelle says:

    2010 was my first year and it couldn’t have been more amazing. My first experience of “playadipity”( and there were many!) was I really wanted a smoothie one hot morning. Being that we were in the middle of the desert and although had an amazing kitchen and amount of food there was no blender or smoothies. Not one min. after having the thought the father of a girl I had just met came up, sat down, and the first thing he said was “I have three smoothie here anyone want one?” =) ahh that green Odwalla smoothie was the best tasting thing I had ever had.

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  • Robert Al says:

    Years ago I was part of a big chill space on The Promenade. We had an open mic and people would come in and read poetry, play music, rant, etc. One afternoon a very pretty, young and very sad girl came in and we all noticed her extreme sadness so encouraged her to grab the microphone and tell us why. She had become separated from her camp and boyfriend the morning after arriving in the middle of the night and was unable to find her camp again and had spent the last two days in the camp of strangers. She went on for some time, mostly about how much she missed her boyfriend and how he must be so freaked out and worried about her.
    There were about 20 of us in the space and we were all crying and trying to figure out how to get her back to her camp so we got in a circle and held hands and did a long chant for her. Of course we offered her space with us.
    She settled over into a corner and eventually someone else got up and started to play a guitar. No more than 10 minutes went buy when all of a sudden she let out an ear-splitting scream.
    Guess who just walked into the tent.

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  • Jennifer says:

    This is the premise of the book/movie “The Secret” Its AWESOME and it is very real.! Everyone should read it and do it! My personal “mantra”, which I share freely with anyone, …
    Excellent health, Excellent wealth and excellent love.
    Repeat it over and over as soon as you think about it, it will begin happening!
    Love to all!

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  • Arlette says:

    Like, for example, bounding up to someone while only 50% lucid to squeal “OMIGOD I LOVE THAT EXPLODINGDOG SHIRT I DIDN’T MANAGE TO BUY ONE BEFORE THEY SOLD OUT FIVE YEARS AGO AND I’VE REGRETTED IT EVER SINCE! WOW! H! I’M ARLETTE!” to someone who’d just found the shirt at an on-playa clothing swap, and whose name was my middle name, and who chased me up on Flickr six months later by searching for my camp’s name to tell me the t-shirt was being reprinted, this time in glow-in-the-dark ink?

    I mean, yes it’s a string of coincidences and those happen all the time. But most places, anyone suddenly facing that much sudden, bug-eyed enthusiasm from a total stranger would’ve taken off running instead of sticking around to find all these charming things we had in common.

    I love that shirt.

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  • one morning while waiting for the sun to rise at the temple i noticed how incredibly dry my mouth was. i was exhausted. my back ached horribly and the dust on my face made me feel like i was slowly turning to a petrified mummy. as i waited for the sun i thought to myself “man, i could sure use an ice cold drink” and out of nowhere a man walked by and offered me one single frozen grape. this tiny gift of cold nectar was the most unbelievably refreshing thing i have ever tasted in my life. it instantly brought me back to life and cued the sun’s first rays and the joy of everyone cheering.

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  • Ranger SciFi says:

    This past year my fellow Ranger and I were on shift, bike mobile, cruising along the Esplanade when a woman yells to my partner to come over. He rolls over and I hang back. I can see she’s started talking to him, at length, and being the good partner I gave it a couple of minutes before I went over to help and/or extract him from this chatty burner. The woman was bout 55/60 years old, French, and animated. I stood back and listened to her talk to my partner…she’s not really acknowledging me she’s so into the story she’s telling. There’s no emergency happening, just someone doling out a little Ranger love. But after about a minute I started getting this weird feeling like I know this woman. And then it hit me! I stopped her politely and asked: Are you a hairdresser? And she says, Why yes! I am! And then I ask her: have you ever lived in Nashville, TN? And she says, I live in Nashville!! And I look her in the the eye and I tell her: You’re name is Joycelene and you use to cut my hair when I was 16yrs old! She looked at me and in her most perfect French accent says “Fredeee!?! I seriously hadn’t seen this woman in over 20 years and would never had run into her if she hadn’t waved down my partner (not me!) and started chatting him up. That’s my playa moment of the year.

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  • “I mean, yes it’s a string of coincidences and those happen all the time. But most places, anyone suddenly facing that much sudden, bug-eyed enthusiasm from a total stranger would’ve taken off running instead of sticking around to find all these charming things we had in common.”

    Yes, and that is exactly how the magic moves and why unfortunately it seems to dissipate outside of Burning Man.

    Thank you for the reminder!
    I thoroughly enjoyed this post and the comments.
    See you all on the Playa!

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  • Naiad says:

    Such LOVELY stories! I wonder – has anyone devised a secret handshake or wave or *some*thing for burners? I see BRC stickers on cars, and I want to express my sister/brotherhood. Usually, I just go with a peace sign.

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  • affinity says:

    3 days before our first Burning Man in 2000 I learned to make t-shirt transfers, using some art I found on line after asking for permission from the artist. Iron in hand I did t-shirt transfers every day and made 2 t-shirts for the artist. In our first trip out of our camp 3 days after our arrival, we took the shirts to the artist’s camp only to be told that he had gone off, his first trip out of his camp all week. Left the t-shirts at his camp for him.

    After the Burn, we see bikes with the Man in Cool Neon and stop the rider and of course you know it was the artist. 25,000 people and not only did we happen upon him, but had enough of a conversation to know it was him. I fell in love with Burning Man at that moment and continue to have a love affair with it every day.

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  • Press Play says:

    My first year, 2008: I was walking on the esplanade and off in the distance I heard this wonderful song coming from an art car about 100 yards away. I asked myself whether I should run over to the art car before the song ends, find the DJ, and ask him the name of the song. Mind you, this was on the esplanade and in the cacophony of sounds, I was drawn to one song, one art car. Right then and there, I said to myself “hell yes!” I was on mission. So off I ran and found out that the DJ was playing Cleopatra in New York by Nickodemus. With the the newly found gem written in my notebook I headed back to Disorient.

    At Disorient, I encountered the lovely Scottish Princess who was just about ready to head out for an adventure. We decided to head out on our bikes to find a good dance party. With neither of us knowing about any dance parties happening that night, we blindly decided to go to PEX by virtue of their stellar reputation. On the way there, my subtle optimism for the night began to sour when the Scottish Princess told me, “I’m very particular about the music I dance to. I don’t like anything with a ‘boom, boom, boom, boom'”

    “Great.” I thought to myself. We’re at Burning Man and she doesn’t like boom,boom,boom,boom. Before my pessimism grew further, the Scottish Princess offered a morsel of hope saying, “Well, there IS this one DJ. His name is $mall ¢hange, he’s from New York.” So if the SP wanted to dance, there have better been some disco or $mall ¢hange on the soundsystem at PEX. As serendipity (or should I say playadipity?) would have it, when we arrived at PEX none other than $mall ¢hange was on stage dropping a phenomenal funk-laden set. After nearly exhausting myself during $mall ¢hange’s set, my jaw dropped when I saw that the next artist to perform was Nicodemus. Only at Burning Man …

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  • EZ Rider says:

    Last year I introduced a good friend to Burning Man for his first time, not knowing if he’d be smitten or want the first flight home. Needless to say, he loved it! Day one’s serendipity sealed the deal: We started off with an art tour and took a rest in the shade of a “tree” in a sculpture replicating a city park. “Wouldn’t it be great if we could play a game of Boce ball right now?”, he asked me, BEFORE I happened to turn around a corner and find a Boce ball set! To our delight we played a couple rounds, working up quite the thirst, of course. “An ice cold Corona sounds soooo good right now!”, he mentioned, despite the fact that we were quite deep into the playa and at least an hour from camp, where the Coronas were staying cold. On our way back, probably not fifteen minutes later, an art car, basically two huge wheels with two seats suspended in between, is spinning donuts in the sand only a few yards away. Spinning so fast and furiously, in fact, that the cooler strapped on the back broke open and spewed forth its contents in a wide arc: Yep, a lot of ice and a whole bunch of cold Pacificos! Now if given the choice between Corona and Pacifico, I doubt any respectable, thirsty Burner in the Deep Playa would care which one he/she were offered! At this point, Cinnamon Roll started to get nervous with the whole “manifesting” business. “I’ve got to be careful of what I wish for!”, he said. Of course we both looked at each other and read each other’s minds, laughing. Sure enough, later that night, a lone woman named Susan beckoned him away from the dance area to check out the moon. ‘Nuf said!

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  • scarabin says:

    last year i discovered that the guy i camped next to was the same guy i camped next to the year before. and the group across the street… were also across the street from me that year.

    we weren’t part of a village or anything like that, it was just an incredible coincidence

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  • Gummie Bear says:

    Thank you so much for sharing this story. Beautiful.

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  • simon of the playa says:

    too many to list. I have come to trust my Playa Sense and it has made all the difference.

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  • Lorene says:

    A story about playa names:

    I have a twin sister. We love being twins. Someone once told me that the reason twins are born is that it allows a larger life to be lived than could be lived by one person. This rings true for us because we’re very different, yet we love our differences because we get to experience vicariously the part of life that the other lives out. Ellie lives in a log cabin in the northwest, brews kambucha, and can tell you how to survive a bear attack. I’ve travelled the world and do things like advise governments on how to reduce illegal logging in SE Asia, preserve ancient temples in Egypt, and understand how the Afghan opium economy functions. These tendencies were struck at a young age. She was the horse-loving tomboy who fantasized about having an indian playmate. I was a nerdy bookworm who spent school recess time indoors, solving math problems.

    In recent years, we’ve started to consider that it might be nice to release our hold on the spheres we’ve carved out, to relax our opposite identities and allow what else might want to come in at the individual level. I’ve been thinking about creating a “twin ritual” around this. Something about wholeness and nondual nature.

    This brings us to Burning Man 2010. My first. I should mention that when we were young, our names were “Lori” and “Lisa”. So one morning I’m enjoying a cup of iced coffee at Center Camp and I’ve just about finished my drink when I glance at the name the Barista wrote on my cup. Instead of my name (clearly spoken, I thought)…he wrote “Lorissa”.

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  • Sandbag says:

    My first year on the Playa, some friends decided to have a picnic. So we took our wine, crackers, cheese and blanket out to the playa and sat under a sculpture to provide shade. Lots of random people wandered over and it was quite entertaining. We ran out of cheese, but had plenty of crackers. We we discussing this fact, when an art car shaped like a wedge of cheese driven by a guy in a mouse costume rode by. Not that close by, but he waved at us, so we waved back. He threw sometime at us, my friend miraculously caught it (it was a good distance), and held up the playa-provided cheese for us to continue our picnic!

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  • Taylor says:

    Burning man was introduced to me 3 days ago. In my own research it has touched me in such a way that I have experieneced that “meant to be” sensation so deeply that I began a blog about my life and the journey I have began to construct for myself that I will remain consistent with up to my return home from burning man. My prerequisit quest I am going on 2 months before my burning man experience. I plan on leaving July 1st to spend a month traveling Europe, then one month living in California. Afterwards I will meet a friend in Reno to embark on my first Burning Man experience. I am posting this as a sort of experiment for anyone out there who is curious to follow some strangers journey over the next 8 months of discovery, exploration and spiritual realization. My blog for those who get a wild hair. I look forward to this years burning man and am extremely comforted to know that somthing like this exsists.

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  • Boyfriend says:

    I met a girl on my first full day on playa, Sunday a week before the gates opened. We met setting up cafe. We had an intense, see-you-when-I-see-you type playa romance. Two weeks later, we’ve said our goodbyes, exchanged emails, and even cried a little. I was waiting in line during Exodus, and I see her 100 yards down the road. I ran, she dropped to her knees. We hugged, laughed and cried for at least 15 minutes straight. She ended up coming home with me and stayed. She’s still my lover.

    I love that even leaving connected us again.

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  • DustyHugs says:

    We had plans to meet another couple we knew at Opulent Temple at 11pm one night. We had taken a nap and the alarm didnt go off and we woke up at 12:45am totally missing our friends! We decided to head over anyways and got dressed, ate something, and went out. We were standing in the middle of OT’s dance floor when our friends walked up saying how sorry they were for sleeping through their alarm too. Worked out perfectly. As always ;)

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  • Lee says:

    I was visited by the Goat God – a true story from my first Burn.

    It started with an invitation to par-take in a love muffin one morning in the middle of my experience. A gentleman was passing by and wanted to have one of the poppy seed muffin, in the shape of a heart, offered by the Goat God and Goddess. First, he would have to find someone to join him and share in the experience. Coming into our camp, he asked if I would be willing, and in the spirit of YES, I said “Yes, of course.” We then entered into a ceremonial breaking of the muffin in half, feeding the muffin to each other and with blessings from the Goat God and Goddess, were told to be like the Goat. Happily amused, we parted ways.

    Now, the first of three Goat sightings came a little later on in the day. As I was “puttering” around the camp, looking for and addressing our loose ends, I noticed that the weather was starting to change. Coming from the Playa, I could see dust plumes rising up and moving about. The wind was picking up, making me look even closer at our structure. As I moved to tighten things up, I looked up to see a large column of dust forming and within it, clear as day, a Rams head appeared. “No shit! Thats a Rams head!” I said to myself. And it looks like its moving towards us. My pace quickened to try and secure what I could. Looking up again, I thought I could see another, but was it really there? Or just a suggestion from seeing the first Rams head. Yet, no time for it. Here comes a very large dust devil – mini tornado coming our way. I see it coming closer to the Gambles camp and decide that the safest place to be is standing next to the truck. Until I see the roof of our structure lifting. I then decide to grab on to two of the poles that are locked into the roof and hold on. The other poles all fly free, falling to the ground. Oh wow, we’ve been hit. After a quick check of our structure and putting the posts back in place, I go out to see if anyone else has been affected. Jeff and Simone’s camp was in the path and one of their canvas shade covers is hanging by two corners. Jeff is busy taking it down. Everyone else seems to be un-affected by this whirl of wind and dust. Yet everyone is excited by it. I find that I need to go take a walk and see what else is “brewing” and let some of this excitement have an outlet.

    Yet, this is not the end of my story. As the afternoon went along with the colorful parade of fellow Burners, a young man approaches our camp asking for a knife or scissors. He is tangled up with his bike. His skirt is wrapped tight around the gears and he has been carrying the back end of the bike, as if to not get further tangled up. He wants to cut himself loose but is not keen on the idea of cutting, as his skirt is borrowed from a friend and its a nice skirt. I see Jeff walking back to his camp and ask him to come and help us out. As the young man accepts Jeff’s help, he says that the bike must be mad at him. Its been a long time since he’s taken the bike out for a ride. Within a minute or two, Jeff has the mans skirt free and with out any need for cutting. Mean while, I am noticing that the bike has a stuffed animals head mounted on the front of this bike, affectionately named Ram Rod. It is another Rams head. So, with the realization of this continued theme on my day, I ask the man if he has time for a story? Enthusiastically he says “Yes, of course”. I proceed to tell him how my day began with the Blessings from the Goat God and Goddess and the Rams head appearing in the dust devils and now, here in this magical moment, we both realize together that I am having another Goat occurrence. With jubilation, we hug and kiss and then part ways.

    I love the magic that is Burning Man.

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  • Ladyfoxgluv says:

    Playadipity! One of the many things I love about Burning Man.

    One sweltering Playa afternoon, how I wished for an ice cold ice cream. I turned around to hear bells and out of the dust & heat the ice cream man&women with their lovely ice cream box handed me an ice cream cone without a word & walked off.


    I love you, Playa!

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  • ~lancho! says:


    Thanx for that story…… love it! Effin’ loved it.

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  • My virgin burn. Day 3 I found the ‘Name Booth,’ on Esplanade. Like a little lemonade stand in the middle of the desert. Within 2 minutes banter back and forth asking me what I do, what I like, random questions, The woman says. ‘You sound like a mirror, how about the name ‘Mirror?’. I’m thinking, thats dumb, thats not a name … and again I hear her ask, how about the name “Mirror.” I heard myself say, ‘why not, it’s Burning man, what’s the difference, just say yes.” Okay…. Ding ding – “Announement: We have a new person, here’s ‘Mirror.” I get on my bike and ride directly back to camp, talking to nobody…..but decide to go across the street to my neighbor to announce my new name. As I rode up I said….. “Hey, guess what….” And the man starts flailing his arms yelling, “no No NO – DON’T SAY ANOTHER WORD… I have something special for you” … (this guy is handicapped, had 3 TV trays at the corner of his camp and was constantly filling the trays with little gifts, bags of chips, all kinds of little goodies. As people walked by, he’d say, “Come here and take a gift…” Anyway, he was flailing his arms yelling at me, “don’t say another word “… and he started digging in a big box and pulled out a HAND MIRROR – presented it to me with ‘HERE – THIS GIFT IS FOR YOU!”
    Are you kidding me? I just came over here to tell you I have a new name and it’s “MIRROR” and you dig in your box and you gift me a HAND MIRROR. O M G!
    That type of magic kept happening every day. And, in the default world I teach intuitive development and am an expert in many forms of phenomena….(to find out more, ) … so on one level it’s not strange but the MIRROR EVENT w was totally ‘IN YOUR FACE’ – literally. Okay universe – you got me on that one!! Joy & blessings to each of you who read this! I keep that hand mirror here next to my computer and it reminds me of magic, joy and the connection we all have to a mystical power that permeates all life. I look forward to seeing that neighbor again, he said he always camps the same place – 6:30 & H, see ya all home next year. : – ) gotta love B.M. And special thanks to Parable for the best, biggest gift ever…taking me to BM!!!

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  • dragnet says:

    i have been attending since 97 pretheme, prestreetname, prevending (yes they sell stuff now) era…..originally we were one of the first burners with lighted suits at night, not much need to be lighted with fewer people…..then we created a daytime presence too, a wacky interactive camp where you come and talk to a huge joe friday from the old dragnet tv show…..i now have 700 sound bites sequenced into conversational units……people come and get grilled by an american icon….well, i brought a friend out, a newbie in 2002 (?) and we were in our rv – which would be decorated when we got there…..we had been partying a bit on the road from gerlach, ok, and maybe a little before…..we spotted the city, the anticipation kicked up, we were hyped! so i located bman local radio as we got closer…..we were even more excited after 14 hours on the road, hearing the voice of the city….. well, our 2 front tires turn off the hwy and b4 the back 2 tires hit (100% true!) the dragnet theme came on the radio….they were doing a PSA for something or other and they were using that iconic – dum de dum dum classic dragnet intro music… sent chills, our jaws dropped he couldnt believe it……i couldnt believe it! magic, ’nuff said..

    until i share a few more stories….
    smitty blinkingman camp, phenceart…..

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  • dragnet says:

    year ’97 at the old site…. blinkingmancamp roles in for the first time…..4 of us in an rv…..i climb out sit on roof once we get through the gate, taking photos….in those days the city was located in vegetation, a wise ecological move to relocate the city!….well i tell my crew to turn one way they go another and within 10 minutes from hitting the playa for the first time – our RV is stuck! we have one shovel and are dying of shame,
    thinking we would fit in to the city not become the laughingstock! well out of nowhere about 10 people appear and rock the rv and direct us to more stable ground…..ROADY was the leader of the group and he turned out to be our awesome neighbor….for years we would see each other on the playa a familiar face from our first year……about 6 years later we are racing back to our centercamp giant vcr we created making sure all was aok as this whiteout was approaching fast…winds were huge mineralites accelerating, we rode back…….as we were getting closer we saw this guy holding down a corner pole of a large tent that was about to get launched…..we threw down the bikes and jumped in and grabbed 2 corner poles holding them down as they were lifting off the ground…….i look over to an opposite corner where – who but Roady was calmly anchoring the last corner….his comment of ” it sure took you a long time to repay me for digging you out in 97″ was absolutely perfect and quick witted! 2 random acts of kindness, playa magic……..

    dragnet blinkingmancamp phenceart

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  • dragnet says:

    ok last one…….went out with my crew, one guy i had never met joined us out on the playa midweek…..he lived in manhattan beach where i reside but i had never met him……neil was a great guy who “got it” right away out there on the playa…..i get home…..a month later i am treating my 10 year old nephew to a hockey game…..get a flat tire on the way home @ 10:15 at night and dont want to pull over on the freeway so i pull into a large parkinglot….there was a wild octoberfest party at this alpine village place…well i had only had this new car for a few months and had a hard time getting these lugnut covers off…couldnt change the tire!….i went to the manual. no luck and was getting QUITE frustrated….. i know my sister was at this time panicking as this was precellphone era! no phone near, i am now under the car ……. this guy pulls up, he could not see my face, and says,” hey looks like you need a hand”……i move over look up to see who this superhero was who arrived at the nick of time and it was NEIL, my campmate who i had just met in my camp! he of course figured it out, got the tire changed quickly, and i couldnt thank him enough……his reply was ” i think i was saying i couldnt thank you enough for turning me on to burningman just a month ago!”

    more to come in the future i am sure!!!!
    smitty, blinkingmancamp phenceart – come and visit the phence this year!!!
    out past the man and temple…..

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  • Mossage says:

    I am at Center Camp doing massage in the midst of the madness, which is my absolute joy. Imagine a massage table as a raft in a swirling sea of people, with two humanimals sitting on the raft, calmly talking. My current client is a young woman named Linden, and we are discussing what is going on in her life, before her treatment. She mentions lung issues, and it seems apropos to tell her that linden blossoms steeped as a tea relieve lung congestion and promote sweating and clearing. We finish our intake and begin the session. About an hour into it, someone puts her hand on my shoulder, and smiles. It is the woman who first introduced me to the medicinal properties of linden blossoms, some 18 years before, in Germany. I have never seen her at the Burn before or since.

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  • Chris says:

    I’ve never heard of burning man before today. I was on the internet and stumbled upon a website called Street Art Utopia and was fascinated with all of the art, especially the ones done by Banksy. I was actually on the page for about an hour admiring his work and just taking it all in. The next website I stumbled upon was showcasing someones photography and in it he had some photos he took at Burning Man. I wanted to learn more about what it was so I Googled it and eventually lead me to Burning Man’s main site, I scanned the page quickly and was drawn to one part, I stared to read the first lines of this article. I was intrigued so I clicked the link and started to read more, not know what I was reading about. After I figured out the point of the story I was in shock, because one the pieces of the artist I just discovered and fell in love with was being used as an example of how random coincidences are very common with all things Burning man related. I thought this was worth mentioning. Had I not been on the previous art site just a few minutes before I would not have know the reference, and I definitely would not of been as convinced as I am now. Totally weird, I have to get to burning man!!

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  • Matthewblue says:

    SO there I was getting wasted and painting a materpiece at picasso camp during a duststorm.

    A girl comes over and tells me she loves my painting and needs help finding her friend. She left her at the gate and drove into the city with her at will call or vice versa. SO in all the excitement of being drunk and artistically inspired I promise her I will help her find her friend.

    SO I tell her to get on my back and I run her all over the playa. We go to Playa info, all the way out to the outskirts of town to check places. Dance go to bars have the lovliest time on the playa go round, sea saw of death….

    SO hours later of having fun and living it up, meeting new friends we were out and about in the city crossing a random key hole and there was her friend just crossing the same random keyhole in this random part of the city.

    How do you find a friend you lost hours and hours ago in a city of 40,000 people at night ? ……You find a stranger befriend them and have tons of fun until your friend reappears.

    Nothing is random..

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  • BGV says:

    Yeah… Playadipidy. Veteran Burner here (too many years to count).
    Was out with campmates at three in the morning last year. We were walking our newbie back to his camp somewhere around 3:30 & G. He couldn’t remember exactly where he was camped. Street is deserted and suddenly a car turns the corner (just arriving), pulls up next to us and the window rolls down. It’s my dear friend and campmate who introduced me to Burningman, hitching a ride from Reno with a total stranger.
    Hugs, greetings & much joy. He drives off to find camp and my newbie turns to us and says “does that happen often out here?” We all laugh and reply
    “All the time… Welcome home”.

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  • fr8train says:

    It almost seems as if concepts are ripening on trees to be picked by multiple people when the time is right.

    I read an interesting book about swarm consciousness. It was written by an entomologist in the 1920’s. He was studying the behavior of termite colonies. Imagine a queen termite sending tendrils of chemical command throughout millions of her children (all sisters in service); her body one hundred times in size living as head of one connected body, and in total darkness. The writer described them as a single entity unbound by flesh. The queen exists this way, unchanged, for decades. The queen of the colony he was studying was over forty years old.

    I think of the multitudes gathered in circle, each touching some part of another, pitching and swaying in singular sympathy. This is how congregation was intended; following the same basic cosmological rules as galaxies and solar systems do. The Great Dionysian Revelry!

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  • A few years ago I was at BM with my then-boyfriend (still a friend). When the open playa surface was smooth enough, he rode his bicycle backwards (sitting on the handlebars) for hours. We were riding through a dust storm and he complained about the hardness of the handlebars. I said what he needed was a foamy tube with a slit in it to slide over and cushion the bars. Not 30 seconds later–literally–this pool tube came blowing out of the dust right at us. It was exactly the length of the handlebars, had a slit already cut down the middle, and fit perfectly.

    The playa provides!

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  • danger says:

    a friend told me this one.

    he was walking alone, singing aloud..

    ‘i can see clearly now the rain has gone..’
    ‘i can see all obstacles in my wayyy ‘

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  • Rewire says:

    I read Daniel Pinchbeck’s “Breaking Open the Head” (with a whole chapter on BM) in Spring, 2003. A few weeks later, I go to visit my sister-in-law at her summer rental cabin in Tahoe. The people across the street are building some bizarre contraption in their driveway. I go see what they are doing. “We’re building an art car for Burning Man!” I tell them I’ve just read Pinchbeck’s book. “See? You were meant to help us! Do you know anything about papier maché?” In fact, I do! So I help them build their art car, and they invite me to come camp with them, and I do When I receive my “What Where When,” and what do I see? Daniel Pinchbeck is speaking! So I go up to him after his talk and tell him my story. He invites me back to his camp “Comfort and Joy” and the circle is closed. (Or rather, the spiral begins another turn.) And, yes, I get choked up every year when the greeters say to me, “Welcome home!” Indeed!

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  • NOLAslag says:

    It was the year 1996. I had been hearing about Burning Man and wanted to go. It turned out that I would have that part of the Summer off from touring with my band. I couldn’t find anyone in New Orleans able or wanting to go with me. So I contacted some friends in Dallas who did. I flew to Dallas, we rented a vehicle and drove to beautiful Black Rock City.
    At that time there was a lot less ” shape ” to the parking / camping arrangements. My friends and I see a white van, covered in grafitti with a big pink, papier mache pig on top. We decided it would be fun to camp near them. Once we began setting up and talking to them it turned out my Dallas friends knew them – a band they had worked with before.
    Later that night ( dusk ), having ” cleared ” my head some, I heard someone from an approaching car asking if they could park by us. The weird part was that the voice sounded familiar. It turned out to be a few friends of mine from New Orleans that had to decided to come out anyway to see what all my fuss had been about … they had driven onto the Playa straight to us.
    Two reunions in one widespread land of randomness !
    That was my first year. I still go. And I will be there with ya’ll again this year !!!
    PLAYAdipity has been there from the beginning !!!

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  • To me these are moments of grace. Not the boxed religion definition of grace, no. Instead, we are gifted these moments – to learn from, to inspire us, and perhaps to restore some lost faith. I believe grace is waiting to be discovered around us all the time. Perhaps out there, we just slow down & open up enough to actually *see* it.

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  • XtraSlky says:

    Our camp, the Liminal Labs, had the great good fortune of camping next to YOU ARE THAT PIG 3 years ago. We exchanged tasty bacon, cocktails and stories throughout the week and they even drove us out to the burn in their giant pig shaped art car. I was sitting around with the head of the pigs one morning, shooting the shit, and the talk turned to motorcycles. He liked to ride, so do I. He’s from east bay, I’m from SF. We start talking about bikes and i reminisce fondly about my old ninja. He enthusiastically joins in, talking about HIS old ninja. We match detail for detail and it turns out – he’s the guy who bought my ninja when my ex sold it for me years ago. We’d spent the whole week living next to each other only to discover we were joined by a motorcycle in real life. No, you cant make this shit up. Its freaking magic.

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  • wiley willis says:

    Who doesn’t love a nice big dose of synchronicity in their life?
    There’s nothing more exciting and inspiring, in my opinion.

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  • Ptorm says:

    It’s funny. I haven’t been able to access my email and see emails and instant messages that I had with a friend I recently lost. I have tried every password that I could possibly remember and haven’t been able to figure it out. Yesterday I accused my brother of changing the password because he uses my computer. I read this article earlier in the day and when I got home hit the link to Gmail by mistake when opening the browser. I randomly got the password on the second try and have found hundreds of messages I had forgotten about. Having a great time looking back on all the memories.

    My first time to participate in Burning Man and cannot wait! See you on the playa!

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  • says:


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  • Michelle says:

    I had two fantastically serendipitous moments this year.

    The first was on Sunday night (8/28) when a group of us from Reno all went out exploring to see the art. We headed over to the Temple, which we had all been watching being built in our city throughout the year, and knew several people on the crew. We ran into Kiwi out there and he said hello, gave us all a round of hugs as we congratulated him on the amazing structure. After a few minutes he bid us goodbye saying he had to get to work. We watched as he walked through the barrier to the construction lights and turned them off, signaling they were finished building.

    The second was late Burn night. I was wandering through some neighborhoods over by 7:30, an area I hadn’t really explored. I ran into this big plastic heart that I remembered from my virgin burn and my friend and I climbed up into the top chambers. Right after we got in, a couple approached and asked if there was room for them. We scooched over and made room and they climbed in. We started chatting about the anatomy of the heart, a subject I’m well versed in from having a daughter w/ a congenital heart condition. After a few minutes, I asked where they were from and when they told me, a lightbulb moment hit. I looked at the woman and said her first name. She was one of my friends in high school, but we hadn’t seen each other in almost 20 years. She and I had chatted on facebook about trying to find each other on the playa, but you know how hard that can be. Here, out of 50,000 people, we both happened to climb into some random heart on 7:30 at 3am in the morning.

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