Where To Camp
One of the most common questions asked by those planning their first burn is where do I camp. A natural enough question since in the default world most places to camp are regulated in some way.
Among other things, Black Rock City is an experiment in community. Although large theme camps and other essential services may receive reserved placement to ensure they have enough room, everything else is open camping. It's a very organic type thing and neighborhoods develop with their own distinct vibe all by themselves.
City planning consists mostly of laying out the streets, center camp, porto potties, large art, effigy, temple, medical, postal, and ice services. Placed theme camps are distributed around the city.
The following may help you choose an area suited to you. Keep in mind that there is usually a bit of experimentation with placement of reserved camping areas so things might be slightly different when you arrive.
This may make more sense if you open a BRC Map while reading this (opens in a new window). Note that this is a typical map, but the shaded (reserved) areas tend to change a bit each year.
Things That Pretty Much Never Change Location:
- Medical Facilities, Post Offices, and Ice Sales can be found at Center Camp and at the 3:00 and 9:00 Plazas (at B street if I recall correctly).
- Porto Potties - each radial street in 30 minute increments (3:00, 3:30, 4:00, etc...) will have two banks of porto potties. Normally these are located between C to D streets and H to I streets. For some people, distance from the portos will be a major site selection factor. Bear in mind that being too close may cause some odor issues when they are pumping them out twice a day. Being too close will also have you hearing the doors slam all the time.
- The 10:00 and 2:00 radials are reserved for major sound camps. Some of these are louder than anything you have ever experienced or can imagine so if you are a light sleeper - avoid these areas by several blocks. The noise camps may change or be in different locations, but will be along these 2 strips.
- Esplanade - This is the innermost circular street and is main drag in town so to speak. Camps here can be quite loud, and things tend to be more crowded and busy. The entire esplanade is reserved, but I mention it for those who wish to camp as close to the big camps as possible. The theme camps may change or be in different locations, but will often be along this strip.
- Walk In Camping - The area past the last street is a designated quiet zone. No driving, generators, amplified sound, etc... A good area if you are particularly averse to loud sound or are antisocial.
Things That Change A Bit:
- G Street - For several years the Org has been trying to turn G street into a mini Esplanade with some success and I find it's getting more interesting each year. It has been a mix of reserved theme camps and open camping so far. Note: It is important to remember that unplaced theme camps can be as good or better than placed theme camps so reserved status is not a judging criteria.
- An effort has been made to make open camping available throughout the city - if you look at the shaded areas of the map, you will notice that the city planners have tried to have a good mix of reserved and open camping everywhere.
Things To Bear In Mind:
- Before setting up camp - talk to the neighbors. The time to find out if they are assholes is before you set up. This is also a good time to find out it they are setting up things you might want to be further away from such as generators, a bar, dance floor, etc...
- There is no bad real estate in Black Rock City - although there are spots you might not consider as ideal as what you had in mind.
- The closer you are to the esplanade to more crowded and loud it will be.
- The same applies to 10:00 and 2:00 areas.
- The outer banks of portos (between H and I streets) tend to get less use and stay a bit cleaner than those closer to busier areas.
- The 9:00 side tends to have more nightlife, but also has more dust issues.
- There is a large camp geared towards those bringing kids - look into Kidsville camp if that interests you.
- Camping along H street is usually a good middle ground - interesting stuff happening locally, not too far from downtown, relatively quiet when you want it.
- Note that I use the term "relatively quiet". Very few areas at the burn will be what you normally consider quiet. The city never sleeps and stuff is making noise 24/7 so if you are a light sleeper invest in really good ear plugs. Personally I sleep better with that background of techno always going, but your mileage may vary.