Critical Tits Bike Ride – A Look Back at Burning Man

by Jane Tarzana on September 7, 2015

in ME AND..., SHALL WE?

This post was originally published on September 2, 2014.
bman 1 with eyebar
Ah the lands of Facebook, Flickr and Instagram are abuzz with the sights and sounds of Burning Man. Even Seth Rogen announced at James Franco’s Roast on Comedy Central that he was going to Burning Man this year. Yes, it’s really the cool thing to do, at least once, and yet I’m not writhing in pain that I’m not sitting on the playa right now, or sitting in 12 hour lines that is Exodus.

2007 was my first of 3 burns, The Green Man. The themed burn all about going green and powering your camp with solar and composting your hippie hearts out. Being the proactive (read: anal) type that I am, I did as much research to find out EVERYTHING so I could anticipate my every playa need, complete with vinegar to soak my feet in when the alkaline playa dust ate away at me, to solar Christmas lights to light my tent & bike, even to a plastic jug holding kitty litter for those moments when I had to pee something fierce and didn’t want to leave my tent.

But there was one thing I forgot to plan for; and that was to LET THE FUCK GO. With all my lists and reading, and watching YouTube videos, and buying fake fur bras with fringe and sequins on them, I somehow forgot that this was a PARTY and there was no way to do it wrong.

The day that stands out as one of the most pivotal in my virgin burn was the Critical Tits Bike Ride (aptly named in my case). I enjoy challenging myself from time to time with things that scare me. Well this seemed the perfect opportunity – an all female topless bike ride through the desert with a giant party at the end thrown by the men to celebrate mammaries large and small. Since I was raised with an over-active amount of shame and loathing for my body, this seemed like a really freeing and validating experience, right? Right! So getting drunk before it also seemed like a good idea. So there I was with my new campmate girlfriends I barely knew, topless, drunk on sangria, wearing only khaki shorts, tennis shoes, a red riding hood cape, and dark goggles over my eyes (to cover the tears streaming down my face) as I rode my decorated bike through a line of thousands of men cheering, videotaping, and some even jerking off to our empowerment parade. Boy was I ever facing my fears. Why am I doing this? I wondered.

bman 2 with eyebar tat removed

We got to the end; the big party commenced along with a huge white-out dust storm that swooped in and added yet another layer of filth to the experience. While I was relieved that I completed the topless ride, random people kept handing me strawberry margaritas and I pounded every glass I got my hands on. I drifted away from my friends and ended up squatting on the ground talking to a naked elderly man wearing only silver paint head to toe. Turns out I picked the perfect guy to talk to. We sat and talked about my negative body issues, yawn, through the whole dust storm while dance music thumped and everyone partied around us. Only fragments of that conversation remain in my mind, but I knew that the Silverman had accompanied me to the end of my sadness.

bman3

Suddenly I felt better about exposing myself. Suddenly a huge rainbow erupted (a double rainbow no less!) and I sped back to camp on my bike, riding as fast as my naked legs would pedal, to tell my boyfriend what I had accomplished! Hurray! I felt empowered! No one threw tomatoes at my tits after all!

I got to camp and suddenly that drunk high turned into drunk tears and I went to my tent, aka the “Rice A Roni, Boil In Bag”, stripped naked and lay down waiting for the spins to pass. The spins turned to nausea and I crawled out of my tent on all fours – naked- into the dust where I proceeded to experience my first alcohol induced vomiting – producing a whole strawberry! What a feat!

A friend alerted my boyfriend that I was naked and crawling on the ground. He quickly came to my aid and helped me back into the tent. I felt great somehow! I gloated of my horrific ride, but then my amazing talk with the old silver man therapist, and then the double rainbow that made everyone on the playa cheer and cry including me. And wow, I felt good. I did it the exact opposite and “wrong” way of what I anticipated. And yet, I was feeling good.

I look back on that experience as a mile marker for me. Not only did I force myself to bare my boobs (and soul) for all the dirty hippies to see, but also I learned the important lesson of letting go. One of the ubiquitous saying of the burn is “it was better next year,” which is a funny way of acknowledging a lack of immediacy. No matter how bad I was trying to control my burn, my experience, my fun, my evolution, it was out of my control and I needed to get out of the way. My 5 other campmates from that trip have become my friends for life. My boyfriend from that trip became my husband, and now we have an 8-month-old son. I may never go to the burn again, not precisely because I don’t want to, but because I have already received so many gifts from it already.

bman4

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Jane Tarzana

Jane Tarzana is the fictional name of the anonymous author of this piece.

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Will September 7, 2013 at 4:29 pm

Seth Rogen camped next to me in his RV this year at burning man :) Seth Rogen heard me having sex, thats awesome!!!

Swilkes September 3, 2013 at 11:43 pm

Best article I have read in a while. Thanks you for sharing all of that. I cant wait for my first Burn.

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