First Timers

Hear Ye All First Timers, Newbs and Virgins

Maybe you've heard of Burning Man. Playa Del Fuego is just like that, only smaller, and it's in Delaware, and we don't have sandstorms, and it only takes 20 minutes to get to the nearest town, and not two hours. Maybe you haven't and you don't have a clue as to what a Burn is. The following is information you'll need to know if you've been to Burning Man or not. It's loaded with tips on what to expect, what to bring and what to do at Playa Del Fuego.

First, welcome to Playa del Fuego, a biannual celebration of the Burning Man spirit of radical self-expression, community, and participation. It is the Mid-Atlantic Regional Burning Man Event, held in Odessa, DE at the Vietnam Veterans Motorcycle Club. Hundreds of people gather for the event, set up campsites, bring art, hold workshops, play music, cook, share stories as well as gifts and love.

The only way this wonderful community can exist is for all of us to respect each other, as well as the Ten Principles of Burning Man. Please respect yourself, other participants, and our hosts, the Vietnam Vets who own the land. Always respect the limits of others. If it is not yours, do not touch it without asking first. No always means No. Yes means Yes. Silence is NOT consent. Participants can be held liable for endangering or injuring other participants or their property. Please plan all projects and activities accordingly and use common sense.

The key to having a positive burn experience is to familiarize yourself with, and internalize the Ten Principals on which Burning Man and the regional events have been founded. You can find them here.

Playa del Fuego operates on a gift economy. It is expected everyone contributes to the community in some meaningful way and gives as much as they receive. There are many ways to give, so you do not have to limit yourself to material gifts.

 Please always remember that everything you do or do not do affects the event and the rest of the community. 


Having sprung from the Burning Man event, regional burns have a few social norms and traditions that newcomers may find unusual:

•It is normal for someone to walk up and give you things. Nothing is expected in return.

•People hug hello - they don't shake hands.

•Costumes are hugely popular and fun. Use your creativity and imagination but remember, there should be nothing loose that will fall off and create MOOP (that's Matter Out Of Place, also known as trash). FEATHER BOAS ARE THE WORST OFFENDERS. No matter what you do, they shed. Please leave your boas at home, and imagine a new way to fancy yourself up that won't create more work for the community. We are not your Mom - we are not here to clean up after you.


 Your Responsibilities:

• You should come prepared to take care of yourself and get by without the help of others. See Radical Self-Reliance under the Ten Principles of Burning Man.

• Playa del Fuego is ENTIRELY run by volunteers. You are encouraged to pick up some volunteer shifts during the event. Anyone can volunteer, even first timers. By volunteering, you are helping the event run smoothly and you get to interact with many new and wonderful participants.

•A burn is not a spectator sport. Jump in, give a hand, interact, and participate!

• Helping each other is fun, and gives opportunities to meet many new people. There are always going to be some odd things that you can help people with, and you are encouraged to do so.

• No means No, no matter what.

• Always ask first!


What to Bring:

• Tent/Tarps (2-one for under tent and one for on top if rainy/wet)

• Sleeping Gear (mattress, pillow, blankets, etc.)

• Camp Chair

• Water/Booze/Food/Ice/Cooler

• Plate, Fork, Spoon, Knife, Bowl, Cup (plastic ones, just rinse and/or wipe off and REUSE = no trash)

• Clothes and Costumes/Wigs/Makeup/Hats, etc. (Bring clothing suitable for inclement weather. Remember we're camping in a swampland with very poor drainage. Also bring clothing that will get you through hot days and cold/damp nights.) Also remember to bring rain gear. Emergency ponchos can be found at almost any drugstore and are very small and easy to pack.

• Hygiene Items (Deodorant, toothbrush, toothpaste, shower sandals and the like. P.D.F. does have showers, so bring shower stuff if you plan on showering while at the event.)

• Towels

• Baby Wipes (They can be your best friend at a burn, but do NOT put them in the potties.)

• Trash Bags (The majority of burners un-package things, take bags out of boxes, etc. to help cut trash down. If you don't pack it in, you don't have to pack it out.)
NOTICE: As of spring 2017 there will no longer be dumpsters at PDF.

• Flashlights and/or Lantern

• Extra Batteries

• if you smoke, bring a portable Ashtray (metal mint and candy containers work great for this)

• Lip Balm and Hand Lotion (you can never have too much of either of these)

• Any medications you take daily, Vitamins and Emergen-C (Electrolyte replacements are great for the next morning when you may wake up feeling a little dehydrated)

• Bug Spray (Sometimes we need it, other times we don't, sometimes we need more than can be found in the entire state of Delaware)

• Sunblock & Sunglasses

• Toilet Paper (The potties usually have T.P. but always bring a back up roll of Single Ply paper that is suitable for septic systems.)

• Art supplies for any projects you may want to do.

• Musical instruments that will stand up to damp or hot weather (This is no place for that vintage Gibson L-7)

• Directions

• Ticket/Confirmation Email

• I.D. (will be checked at the gate)


More Stuff You Need To Know:

•Parking can sometimes be a challenge due to weather and road conditions. Follow directions of the parking volunteers. If a volunteer isn't available, then use logic. Park in the rows already established. Do not block other vehicles. Do not let yourself get stuck in mud. Do not sleep in your car. (Our hosts, the Vietnam Vets, have established that policy for security reasons) Do not leave valuables in your car. Bring a spare set of keys in case your originals get lost.  Please consult the Parking FAQ for more information, and please consider becoming a parking volunteer once you're comfortable with the scene. 

•Stick with the main property and away from the Veterans' clubhouse and homes.

•Pitch in wherever you see help is needed.

•Ask permission before taking someone’s photo.

•Check Lost and Found and the Pavilion before you go, just in case.

•If it didn’t come from your body, don't put it in the potty and vice versa.

•Your party garbage belongs to you. Don't ask if people have a trash can, they don't.

•Bring a re-usable cup or plate with you.

•Do not bring firewood with you from outside the state of Delaware. Other states have been hit by wood loving bugs that have been very destructive. We don't want to bring these hitchhikers to Delaware. Wood is available for your use at the main burn stack. 

•If you're going to build a campfire, use a burn barrel or something else to that effect. Leave no burn scars on the land.

•Stop adding wood to burn barrels Sunday. You want cool ashes Monday, not a smoldering fire. If you can’t find the Ash Dump, ask at the Participation Station or the nearest Ranger.

•Pack it in, pack it out. Rain or no rain.

•Ask permission before touching someone.

•Help with the Communal Cleanup: help fire team clean up the burn pad or join the Monday Cleanup Team.

•You must be out by 12 noon on the last day of the event. Not 12:15, not beer-thirty. That deadline is set by our hosts. 


Read More

All of our event policies as well as what other events call a Survival Guide are bundled into one handy place, our Grand Unified Document, or GÜD. Click here.