On Becoming Outlaw… Burning Man Costumes

The best dressed member of the Horse Bone Camp is Ken Lake, AKA Scottie. 

I am a minimalist when it comes to costumes. In fact I am a shorts and T-shirt kind of guy. For Burning Man, I add a black hat and a neckerchief and consider myself dressed up. I become Outlaw.

Here I am in my Outlaw persona sans neckerchief. The Great Ape was part of a sculpture on evolution. Playa dust decorates my T-shirt and hat.

Everyone is allowed his or her little fantasies at Burning Man. In fact wearing a costume is highly encouraged. It is a key element in the principle of involvement and an expression of personal art. In theory, and to a degree in practice, people go to Black Rock City to participate, not observe.

Costumes have a liberating influence. They allow us to escape whoever we happen to be in everyday life and become, for a brief time, someone else. There’s a bit of the outlaw, or vamp, or siren, or shaman in all of us. One year at Burning Man, fairies and angels were in and it seemed like every other female Burner had spouted a pair of wings.

This is the most graceful pair of wings I have seen at Burning Man. Note the shadows.

Some guys like to get in touch with their feminine side. Or at least I think that’s what it is.  Dozens of men don dresses. If nothing else, their costumes come ready-made.

A manly man dons a dress.

In 2006 I was standing outside of Camp Center with my camera when the annual costume contest was going on. It’s where Burning Man’s best dressed strut their stuff. Somebody assumed I was ‘paparazzi’ and ushered me over to where participants were having their photos taken, a sort of Burning Man Red Carpet. I dutifully snapped away.

Many of the following photos are from that 2006 experience. Others are more random. I have also included photos by Don Green, a fellow Horse-Bone Camp member who is handy with cameras.

This is one of my favorite photos by Don Green. I can’t help but wonder if this is a costume, or whether it is who the woman truly is. For me, she defines exotic.

Another favorite of mine because the man absolutely bursts with personality.

This shaman represents how elaborate costumes can get at Burning Man. Think of the hours and imagination that went into producing it.

Another costume that caught Don Green’s eye. The pink tint to the glasses and the pink lip stick add a nice touch.

Henna Tattoos and body painting often become part of costumes. This woman was quite striking with her stripes.

I usually don’t post nude or partially nude photos out of respect for Burners and my readers. I couldn’t resist this cute pair of umm… kitties, however.

Purple Man.


Green man.

Yellow lady.

Age is no limit. This woman is in her 70s.

Frequently costumes are coordinated. This pair makes for an interesting fantasy.

I’ll conclude with this young woman because I like her hairdo and her smile.









12 thoughts on “On Becoming Outlaw… Burning Man Costumes

  1. It is incredibly hot out there, you said. I am amazed at the breadth of costumes… From near nothing to the Shaman (which I thought was pretty cool). I hope you were toting a six-shooter – or at least a whip. Nice character shots overall (including the beautiful participant in pink).

  2. Pingback: Burning Man Costumes | 9costume.com

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