How Not to Get Dumped at Kiwiburn
Your relationship(s) may have survived many festivals over the years but believe us when we say that this event is very different. Attending a Burn is not like your standard music festival. It takes much more preparation, packing, organising, and planning. Your commute is likely much longer and more stressful. The event itself is longer in duration. The sun is hot A.F. and very burny. You may be doing a lot of working and playing in this heat. There are a million things going on constantly. It’s loud. It’s confronting. It’s filled with opportunities that may not be readily or frequently available in the default world. It is different.
There are few environments that challenge connection, intimacy, and vulnerability as much as the Burn does. The Paddock has a way of amplifying the current state of your relationship, so if you are already experiencing some turbulence, the Burn will push you into the eye of the storm. Contrarily, if your flight path is steady, this could be your opportunity to travel further than ever before.
Thus, just as you are doing the hard work of preparing for the physical aspects of your Burn, it is important to also spend some time preparing for the emotional aspects of your Burn, such as your relationships.
What do we mean by relationships? All relationships. Whether you are attending with your best friend, your life partner, your polyam fam, your mum, your campmates, your dom, or your secret crush – a relationship of any description can go up in flames faster than a flambé if left unconsidered.
Though we are far from relationship experts, as long time Burners, T and I thought we might cook up a bit of a guide for you. So, we chucked our seventeen years of Burn experience together in a pot, gave it a stir, and then spent some time spooning out the tasty titbits we have employed over the years to ensure our relationships don’t catch fire when the kitchen gets hot.
Here is the result of that mentally gastronomic exercise:
Before You Arrive
Establish clear boundaries ahead of time. What boundaries might you need to establish (physical, emotional, spiritual)?
Discuss what each of your contributions and responsibilities are: driving, packing, set-up, breakdown, cooking, decorating, lighting, building, volunteering, etc.
Discuss how much time you want to spend together and how much you want to spend alone.
Talk to each other about other people you may want to spend time on-site, activities you may want to do, or experiences you might like to have.
Some other points for discussion:
· What do you each hope to get out of this experience?
· What are areas of this experience that worry you?
· What agreements need to be made so that you each feel secure?
· How can you make the experience better for your partner?
· How do you feel about your partner giving or receiving hugs, kisses, massages, or more from other people?
· What areas of physical contact would make you feel uncomfortable?
· Where are you in your personal growth journey?
· What demons might pop out of your closet when things get intense?
· What tools for self-care should you bring for yourself?
Develop a plan for resolving conflict when it arises.
Choose your campmates wisely.
If you are attending with a Burn virgin, remember that they may not be as comfortable as you and might need extra time to settle in. Consider giving up some of your normal indulgences to ensure they have a good time.
On the Paddock
Locate (or learn how to identify) your sources of assistance upon arrival (eg. Black Sheep Rangers, Know Your Stuff NZ, general chill spaces, camps offering self-identifying talks/workshops/community support, the Medics, learn how to report to the Consent Committee, etc.) Use the Kiwiburn Guide provided on arrival to find out more about these resources and their locations.
There is a lot going on. You are not always going to be doing the same thing as others you love. Respect each other’s individuality and enjoyment of the experience.
Balance alone time with together time. (Alone time can be quiet time and/or time to explore and participate on your own.)
Consider setting a daily check-in, such as meeting at the tent before dusk to prepare for your evening or a communication plan that involves a place to leave notes for each other at your camp. Remember though, paying attention to time can be hard on the Paddock, and expectations that others adhere to what a clock says might not be upheld.
Make time to spend with each other. Consider having a date night or two (or three!). A pre-planned evening is an effective counter for that ‘left behind’ feeling.
Make sure you are leaving enough room for yourself and your own interests.
Don’t try to plan and control your experience. Just roll with it. At a Burn, simple tasks like popping down to the port-a-potties can take much longer than you think. People get side-tracked, caught up, distracted, and too busy to keep their promises. Forgive them.
Don’t push boundaries you agreed to off the Paddock, on the Paddock.
Consider what gifts you may be sharing with your partner at the Burn. Maybe it is the experience of the Burn itself? Maybe it is participating in something they want to do that does not necessarily interest you? Maybe it is preparing most of the camp meals? Maybe it is sending them a letter in the Paddock Post? Maybe it is just lending a shoulder to cry on?
Expect that there will be problems. Sorry to report, but your Burn will not be warm and fuzzy all the time. There will be tension. The principles of Decommodification and Leave No Trace mean Kiwiburn is much more logistically challenging than attending a music festival, and trying to organise all of this with another human can be trying.
Plan for what to do if one or the other is not having a good time. Will you leave them behind? Will you give up your good time? Will you compromise?
Perform regular self-assessments by asking yourself: Am I thirsty? Am I hungry? Am I tired? Am I lonely? If the answer is yes, take a break and show yourself some self-care.
Do the above to others you love! If your partner is seeming a bit on-edge, put on a sincere and caring smile and ask them the same questions.
Hydration. Hydration. Hydration. The first sign of dehydration is irritability.
Get out of the sun. Drink some water. Eat some food. Take a nap.
And remember: “No” means NO. Inside a relationship and out. On the Paddock and off.
We hope that you ate up all this tasty advice and that it helps to make your Mythical Picnic adventure a delicious and satisfying experience for you and all those you love!