Terms & Definitions
The language of burners is rapidly evolving. New terms and expressions are created at each community gathering. This list includes the latest terms and expressions and also references to historic places and events that are a part of Burner history.
Art Car: A highly decorated car, truck, or bus, usually with lots of decorative objects attached to it.
Baker Beach: San Francisco beach where Burning Man originated in 1986.
Black Rock City: The annual, temporary city created by the community of Burning Man participants in the Black Rock Desert of Nevada.
Burn, the: Reference to the actual event, and activity, of burning the Burning Man statue.
Burner: One who has attended Burning Man, and takes the spirit of the event back with them to the
Cacophony Society: A randomly gathered network of pranksters and eccentric individuals, united in the pursuit of experiences beyond the mainstream of society.
Center Camp: Large circular area and structures located in the center of a Burner gathering.
Danger Ranger: Founder and icon hero of the Black Rock Rangers.
Decompression: A party held usually about one month after Burning Man to give participants a brief chance to return to relive the experience.
Exodus: the process and organization of the mass participant departure from Black Rock City at the end of the Burning Man event.
Fire Breathing: A technique whereby someone blows a flammable liquid across a torch or match to produce a large burst of flame.
Gifting: A core tenet of the Burning Man ethos, gifting is the act of giving something (material or otherwise) to another person without any expectation of receiving something in return.
Guru Lane: A folk-art monument-lined road near Gerlach, Nevada, built by Doobie Williams, who passed away at age 76 in 1995.
Khakis: Durable, tan-colored clothing which has become the standard uniform of the Rangers.
Lamplighters: the volunteer group who lights kerosene lanterns each night at Burning Man community events to provide illumination and navigational.
Leave No Trace: A philosophy wherein participants clean up after themselves completely.
Man, the: Term used for the Burning Man statue.
MOOP: Matter Out Of Place. Litter, debris, rubbish.
No Spectators: Another central tenet of the Burning Man philosophy which blurs the line between audience and performer.
Obtainium: Any useful and valued material which is found or obtained for free.
Piss Clear: The 2nd newspaper to appear in Black Rock City. The name is derived from the survival axiom "Drink so much water that you piss clear."
Playa: Spanish word for beach.
Playa Name: originally spawned by the need for unique names on the staff's 2-way radios, playa names have become almost ubiquitous, and are sometimes used to provide an individual with an "alternate" personality or persona. Playa names are traditionally given to a person, rather than taken on.
Poi: traditional Maori dance prop popular with fire performers. Made with a knot of wick at the end of a rope.
Potlatch: American Indian term for a gathering or festival in which gift giving is featured.
Project, the: Term for the Burning Man Project, organization name.
Ranger Station: The general, public accessible, campsite/complex and base of Ranger operations.
Regionals: the global representatives of Burning Man who help connect Burners with fellow Burners off playa.
Stick, The: Alternative name for the Burning Man statue.
TAZ: Temporary Autonomous Zone (term coined by writer Hakim Bey).
Theme Camp: A campsite which artistically presents an idea or concept and is designed to be interactive with participants.
The Center Cafe at Burning Man is like the cantina in Star Wars.