Wanna ride an art car, dance in the desert, go to an orgy — all in the same day? Burning Man is the place where sexy people meet, explore, and hook up. Even if you are not interested in a full sexual encounter, you may want to snuggle or make out and, let’s face it, you’re likely to encounter people who want to fuck you. How does a horny or not-so-horny burner navigate so much hotness, exposed flesh, and drug-induced lust?
For Burning Man to be a successful journey, think honestly about your desires. What do you want in each moment and for when you look back? Do you know how to communicate it? Can you handle offering a polite no-thank-you, or hearing someone else say right now isn’t the best time? Do you know what you would say yes to? Early attraction is often expressed nonverbally and not always clearly. To avoid confusion, unambiguously express your yum and yuck (kindly!) in the moment.
It may seem obvious, but it’s hard to be sex positive unless you feel positive about sex. Sex positivity needs constant cultivation. Feeling good about sex requires choice, and in exercising choice you will be less threatened by other people’s sexuality. Choice is something others give us and we give to ourselves. Many people still don’t recognize their options as adults. Notice if you are accessing what you want and allowing yourself choice. Are you able to verbally and nonverbally express what you want? Creating choice additionally means looking out for and avoiding people who aren’t going to give you a choice.
Attraction is also not as easy as whether you want to have sex or not. There is a spectrum of ways to be satisfied. Recognize options. If you would like to connect by holding hands and gazing into that hot stranger’s eyes rather than hugging, ask if your new comrade would be open to connecting in that way. People who respect boundaries moreover create the safety to possibly connect more deeply.
Recognize that your mind and body may also have conflicting opinions on the subject. How many times have you been physically juicy but had a zillion reasons why sex was a bad idea? Lack of a condom or birth control, relational commitments, or the lack of a recent shower may be just some of the reasons you decide against it. If your body is hot but you brain is on yellow alert, say so and avoid any confusion.
If you are heading to Burning Man and are not sure you can navigate getting the intimacy you want and avoiding what you don’t want, go to a cuddle party (www.cuddleparty.com) to practice. They are hosted around the Bay Area and other regions. The Bureau of Erotic Discourse (B.E.D.) is another organization offering “Clarity and Consent: Negotiating Sex” playshops at Burning Man. They also teach how to avoid and deal with sexual assault. See you on the playa!