Bone is jealous. We started out as the Horse Tribe of Burning Man. Bone reminded me that he was at Burning Man before the stick horsies were attached to our bikes and begin neighing around. And he is, after all, a horse bone
So in my mind and Bone’s mind, we are now the Horse-Bone tribe. Whether other members of the tribe agree, who knows…?
Tribes are a big thing at Burning Man. Last year’s program listed over 500… and those are only the ones that bothered to register. (We never have, for example.)
They come in all sizes. The Horse-Bone Tribe ranges from 8-12 people depending on the vagaries of any given year. Other tribes have several hundred members.
The tribes live in camps and come in a variety of flavors. Most are unique.
Their names provide a clue to just how unique. Here are a few: Academy of Fools, Arachnophobia, Barbie Death Village, Back to Heaven, Buddha Bunny Camp, Camp Making Bacon, Funky Town, Hippocampus, Jub Jub’s Plastic Circus, Picasso Camp, Reno Housewives, Space Cowboys, Twilight Over Atlantis, Vamp Camp, You Are Here… the list goes on and on.
Tribes tend to attract people of similar interests. The Horse-Bone Tribe is made of friends who have spent years working and playing together. Our group includes a bike shop owner, a restaurateur, a judge, a lawyer, an interior decorator, a writer, an elementary school principal, a psychologist, a hospital administrator, a teacher, a trainer/school consultant and other professionals.
In other words, we hardly resemble a group of New Age hippies seeking Nirvana in the Black Rock Desert. But we do adopt new personas; there is Scout, Luna, Outlaw, Sparkle, Sailor Boy, Boots, Horny Princess, Sparkle, Scottie and Ringer, plus other disparate characters.
The first thing we do upon arrival is stake out our territory, literally. We pound stakes into the ground and connect them with ropes. Burning Man has set aside vast area of the desert for tribes and individuals. We can grab as much as we need wherever we want to.
Many tribes take on projects that benefit the larger community. These range from teaching Yoga to cooking pancakes, to taking on major art projects. For example, the artist Jim Bowers along with several laser technology scientists and craftsmen have joined together with the TriBe Camp to create the World’s Largest Working Clock this year. (Lasers will project a 5000-foot wide clock in the sky that will accurately reflect hours and minutes.)
As for the Horse-Bone Camp, we aren’t nearly that ambitious. So far we have been happy to provide a home base for our tribe to share camping space, dinners, laughs, and companionship on the Playa
Beth, our bike shop owner, did set up a bike repair shop and repair bikes for neighbors this past year, however. Bone was proud of her.