photo: Neil Girling
(Photo by Chayna Girling)

Every year on the Playa I experience moments of random synchronicity, when something that can’t possibly happen, does. Usually it’s something minor like we’re passing a theme camp and they’re playing a song that I haven’t heard in ages, then later that evening we’re out on the open Playa and a mutant vehicle passes by playing the very same song. Or maybe we’re hot and thirsty riding around the backstreets and we just happen to find a camp where they’re making snow cones. Whatever it is, it’s usually the kind of thing that has me say to my companions with a knowing smile “Playadipity”, or even “The Playa Provides!” And strangely, it usually does. It’s also been my experience that the more I’m open to it and the more I trust it, the more it seems to happen.

This year after the Man Burn my girlfriend and I went to Sacred Spaces Village, and their super-cool dome tent (with four individual built-in temples). There we happened to catch a live performance by an incredible blonde Australian woman singer and her mind-blowingly amazing music. We were both blown away by this woman’s music, her voice and her energy, and we were just dancing our asses off in awe. The audience was also having a great time, and it was a superb night all around.

Afterwards we were walking home across the Playa, with the afterburn celebrations in full swing around us, and we talked about what we had just seen. We both agreed that she was an amazing singer and her music was unlike anything we had ever heard. We didn’t catch her name, and there was no obvious way for us to know who she was. We thought vaguely about looking up the event in the official Burning Man What/Where/When book, but that didn’t seem too promising. So we basically shrugged it off and forgot about it in the exhaustion of a long day and late night.

Fast forward to Sunday morning: We decided to visit the Café in Center Camp to get a refreshing lemonade beverage, and randomly joined one of the long lines of waiting people. As we were waiting we chatted idly about what a great night it had been and the amazing Australian singer from the night before, and how we wished we knew who she was. Shortly afterwards the two people waiting in line immediately ahead of us were joined by two of their friends, and my girlfriend whispered to me “Isn’t that woman the singer from Sacred Spaces last night?” It had been pretty dark in there the night before and it was hard to tell for sure, so when she walked away with her coffee I stopped and asked her about it. Sure enough, it was the same woman – her name is Deya Dova and she was thrilled that we recognized her and had enjoyed the gig so much. We chatted for a while and she gave us her card and a hug and went on her way.

Afterwards we were simply left to ponder the miraculous coincidence that in a city of some 68,000 people, the one person we had wanted to find quite literally came and stood in front of us in line at Center Camp Café… Seriously, what are the odds of that happening? Playadipity indeed! I can’t wait for next year’s burn to discover what random coincidences we might encounter. Or maybe I’ll just open to such things happening to me in the default world…

by Trevor Hughes

About the author: Tales From the Playa

Tales From the Playa

Tales From the Playa are dreams and memories of events that took place at Burning Man, as told by participants. Submit your story here.

19 Comments on “Playadipity

  • Shpilkus says:

    It’s so true how this happens nearly nonstop on the playa.
    Traveling in the deep playa on an artcar a few years back, we picked up a young lady who was walking. She was a bit sad because she was trying to find a friend of hers from Atlanta, but had no idea where she was camping. I only knew a few people from Atlanta, but asked her friends name. Playa magic took over and it turns out that her friend’s tent was smack next to mine back at our camp.

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  • nik says:

    Yes! I had this amazing experience with a girl in 2010 but lost track of her after the burn. In 2011, I wander from my camp in the morning, in search of smoothies I’d heard about from campmates. I arrive at the smoothies camp hours later, after taking in all the amazing things along the way; and there she is, in the line in front of me! Playadipity!

    That was probably the most “unlikely” – how many times have you tried to find somebody at burning man? No phones, and a huge mass of people make it basically impossible. But the people you are meant to find, you find!

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  • Fez Monkey says:

    So others can hear what you are talking about:

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  • Matt Patterson sks XS says:

    I’m XS from Camp Playadipity. That’s been the “magic reality” of the Burn, both on and off the Playa. This year, (2013) I had been intending on meeting my campmates on the Playa, somewhere… somehow… Didn’t have an exact plan… And we wanted to scope out a new location… Yeah. Good luck with that. My buddies Sam, and Tetley had set off to the Playa on Sat. (I had believed), and I was to meet up with them at the new location. Somehow… We’d leave a note on a specific street sign, stating the directions, based on who show’s up first and picks the location. I stopped in the the store at Empire for last minute sundries, and to visit another amiga, Babs. All the while, I’m still wondering how the hell I’m gonna find my buddies out there… Needle in a haystack, comin’ right up! So I mosey around the store in Empire, and who should I see standing in front of me?… Sam!… He says “XS?”… I said “Sam! OMG! Playadipity baby!” Then I ask “Where’s Tetely?” Sam points and says “Right over there.” So… Long story short. Playadipity! We managed to come together at the right moment, with the right people, for the right reason. Tah-dah! – XS <3 U

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  • Dactylion says:

    It’s the Power of Positive Drinking!

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  • Dustpuff says:

    A little moment of playadipity a couple years ago ~ my boyfriend and I left camp at night to go wander the playa. About a half hour later we were both lamenting about how neither of us had brushed our teeth and we really wished we had… Not more than a minute later, we happened upon a mobile tooth brushing station!! :)

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  • Oliver Harris says:

    A few years ago one of my campmates arrived in BRC with a mission; to find a pancake cart that her grandfather had made many years ago. Somehow her mother knew it was going to be at BM that year, but she had no idea where or with who. It turned out that it was almost exactly opposite where we were camped! The owners are now fellow camp members of our fledgling theme camp – The 7 Deadly Gins.

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  • pickles says:

    This year, my girlfriend lost her contact in our tent. It was her first year and she hadn’t brought another one and for a day or so just wore a bandana like an eyepatch. Turns out one of our camp mates also wears contacts, though a different prescription. A couple weeks earlier her doctor gave her the wrong perscription… and she brought it to the desert with her.
    Miracle of miracles, it was my girlfriends exact perscription.
    from then on she’s never questioned playa magic :3

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  • Thekidsparrow says:

    Late one night at burning man I grabbed my camp mates and went by foot on a long journey to find the portal which was further than the opposite side of the playa from us. We hit the trash fence and took a right which brought us the the furthest/ deepest point of deep playa. We had become tired and hungry and the boys had finished their cocktails and we’re complaining. We came upon a two story bar, which was closed, but I remembered that I had a nalgene full of cola and a full bottle of rum. A couple pulled up and made grilled cheese sandwiches on a cart. The next morning we would come to find that we missed the portal by mere feet and walked a total of 17 miles on our adventure but I would not change any of it

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  • Lube says:

    Mobile tooth brushing station…brilliant!

    I traded my bike with someone only to find the handle bars were dangerously loose….it was like driving without any brakes…. While I’m veering out of control over and over I see someone wearing a tiger print jacket which reminded me of one I had as a kid and really loved…. It was late and bike repair shops were closed….After an hour of asking everyone one the road for a leatherman, I see the man in the jacket hugging his girlfriend and just knew he had a leatherman for me – but they were deep in embrace and I didnt want to disturb. I hung back for about 15 mins, then as about to leave he looks at me and says ‘hi’, and I answer – ‘brother I got a feeling you got a leatherman in your pocket…..’
    He burst out laughing, ‘shit man, how did you know!?’

    Playadipity…. great name btw :)

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  • Lobo says:

    My mother had been traveling up in the Tahoe area some weeks before burning man, and during a phone call she had told me about this fantastic vehicle she had seen roaming the mountains. It was a massive steel three-headed dragon, with a giant tail, and submarine looking bubble, which is where the driver would sit. I told her it was definitely on it’s way to burning man, and she was like “There’s things like that there?!”
    Fast forward to my camps journey to the burn. Our car decides to completely die when we hit the truckee area, and we’re stranded for several hours. We eventually get a tow to the nearest gas station, and the tow truck driver can tell exactly where we’re going. He begins to tell us about the same awesome dragon art car, and even shows us a picture! We thought it was interesting that it was roaming around enough for two people two tell us about it.
    Finally, we get our first night on the playa, when I wonder aloud “I wonder if we’ll ever see that crazy dragon wagon?” And my boyfriend looks around, and points directly in front of us. “…That one?”

    YUP. The art car that just wouldn’t leave our side.

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  • Kismet says:

    Which story to tell? 7 years and each one has had it’s Playadipity moments. It is one of the reasons I return each year. Last year, I decided that all I wanted was to connect with others. Not which activities I’d attend, nor which artworks to go and see.
    Synchronicity has become an expected aspect of my default and burner life. As is Gratitude!
    See you all at Home in BRC.

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  • Murray White says:

    I have been to Burning Man for the past three years and will attend again this year. My wife, Linda, passed away four years ago to Breast Cancer. We were both very into the metaphysical world and believe in life -after-death. But she did have one doubt about passing was that there would be “nothing on the other side” except darkness. When she passed, with her family and friends by her bedside, a small sign saying “Believe,” that I had hung from an IV pole just that morning was swinging widly from side to side without any observable reason to do so… and continued to do so in the same way long after it should have slowed down! (All those present have talked about this since then and none of us have any explanation as to why this happened other than it did!). I continuously feel my wife’s presence in many tangible ways but particularly at Burning Man… and specifically the Temple. Playadipity! One of the ways my wife makes her presence known is I experience shivers up and down my spine (and if her presence is particularly strong with goose bumps). This year I was a particularly long odyssey into the desert which took over five hours after getting onto the Playa to get to our camp. As a result it was after 5 am that we finally finished setting up and took the opportunity to go out to see the “Man” as the sun rose. I had commented before we left that Linda would really have enjoyed the “Totality that is Burning Man”! As we were riding out on the Playa my sister (who was at Linda’s passing) said, “Oh my God Murray… LOOK!” I looked off to my right and there it was… silhouetted against the early light of dawn, the giant letters spelling out “BELIEVE”! I looked in amazement and simultaniously had unusually strong shivers go up and down my spine and unusually heavy goose bumps cover my entire body (which had never happened to that degree before!). It took a moment, but I burst out laughing with joy and said, “Welcome to Burning Mann, Linda”!

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  • Nocturnal Steve says:

    Some years ago (this 16x Burner can’t remember when) early early morning on a moonless, dark, chilly Playa;

    Me and my significant other walking hand and hand back to our camp, no one else around. On the way we spotted a random Burn Barrel flickering flame & embers. Stopped, sat near on a bench to warm ourselves.

    I felt a plastic bag with soft contents next to me, and picked it up to see what it was. Exactly, simultaneously she says “this would be perfect if we had some

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  • Banana says:

    My girlfriend was a virgin last year (not really, hubba hubba!) and was supposed to be arriving that late afternoon on the Burner Express bus. I had been there some days already and was real excited to see her and to introduce her to the playa and the camp and all the magic generally. And hours go by and no show. I assumed she missed her flight or something and was sad because who knows when she’d make it or when — it could be another full day or more, u know? :( So at 10pm or something I’m on the megaphone telling my camp that I’m about to go out for a bit but to be on the lookout for my girlfriend who is late and has never been here before and to please let her know that she found our Camposanto if she comes while I’m gone. And JUST THAT MOMENT guess who walks up with her bags and all, drawn to the megaphones sound of my voice!!!

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  • melody meyer says:

    My virgin year (2003) I arrived in Black Rock City at 2 am, with a vague plan of my campmates leaving me a sign in Center Camp. Upon seeing Center Camp I despaired of finding the bulletin board, and when I had easily (Playadipity!) found it, my eyes went directly to the paper plate with my name and our address (Playadipity!). I bravely drove off into the crowded, confusing, unfamiliar streets, and within three minutes I saw my campmates as they returned home in their art golf cart (Playadipity!). I lost sight of them a few blocks from home but found our camp (Playadipity!) on the first street I tried. AND (PLAYADIPITY!) it turns out all my campmates were there, and all had been all night.
    !!! PLAYDIPITY !!! (and goose bumps)

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  • BEN says:

    In 2009 I left my pink leopard design bike on the Playa at night, the next day I was on the other side of BRC at Pink Mamoth and there it was, parked right next to me. Odds must be 1 in 40,000 or so!

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  • BEN says:

    Oh and another one: in 2013 my friends told me in a few days some camp`was holding an event at a set time where they put sushi on naked people and you eat it off them. On Wednesday at 2pm I happen to randomly walk into that camp just as the sushi event was starting and I got to participate. Big Fun!!!

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  • harinama says:

    I arrived last year ready early, with a previously unknown-to-me rider. Come to find out his copy of a copy of a copy of a friend’s transferred ticket was rather unreadable, and he didn’t know her phone number, which the camp leader had. After a few hours at ticketing hell, i was really ancy to get to work on setting up my camp. I went to inform my rider, that i just had to leave, and enter brc.

    He turns around, and sees his camp leader standing right next to him! They were able to work out the details, speak to the transferer on the phone and get him in. Playadipity…

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