Glossary

Despite our fondness for plain English on the radio, the Rangers have a rich history of colorful slang. Below is a brief compendium of Ranger jargon, as well as a guide to some useful terms frequently used by Rangers and other departments.

Admin: Ranger radio channel used for lengthier, less-urgent conversations. “Take it to Admin.”

Adopt-a-Grave: Started in 2008, a program where sub-groups of Rangers agree to staff a graveyard shift (e.g., New York Rangers, Women of Khaki, Pacific NW Rangers) to help ensure adequate coverage of graveyard shifts.

Allcom: [1] Used to indicate that a department-wide radio broadcast is about to happen and you should stop and listen (e.g., “Allcom, allcom, we have a lost child”); [2] An optional email list for Rangers who want to engage in year-round conversation on a variety of topics.

Alpha: A Prospective Ranger who has passed training.

Art car: A highly decorated car, truck, or bus. Also, mutant vehicle (q.v.).

Art of Rangering: The set of mental awareness & behavioral skills that enable one to function as a Black Rock Ranger.

Agency: [1] Law enforcement or other organization; [2] the ability of an individual to make his or her own choices.

Announce: Email list where Rangers receive official updates, reminders, and information about stuff that’s happening in the Ranger Department. All Active Rangers need to be subscribed to Announce.

Baker Beach: San Francisco beach where Burning Man originated.

Berlin: Name of the Ranger outpost station on the 3 o’clock side of Black Rock City (B for bottom).

Bio-break: (also, bio) A trip into a blue room (q.v.), during which one will be off-com.

Black Hole: Gate, Perimeter, and Exodus’s headquarters, bar, and camping area on playa, located near the commissary at 5:45 and D. See Lighthouse.

Black Rock: [1] A large dark rock formation north-east of BRC; [2] call-sign for Emergency Services Dispatch, operated by ESD and available on channel BRC 911 (almost always contacted through Khaki).

Black Rock Hot Springs: Natural hot springs located near the Black Rock.

BMIR: Burning Man Information Radio, 94.5 FM, Burning Man’s public service and emergency broadcast system.

BLM: Bureau of Land Management, the federal government agency that administers public lands, including the Black Rock Desert.

Blue Dot: Member of ESD, sometimes used to request medical assistance over the radio when discretion is required. (Archaic: a Ranger with medical training, before ESD split off from the Rangers.) See also: yellow shirt.

Blue room: Porta-potty; a small, blue, prefabricated shelter containing toilet facilities.

Bonked: Did not pass mentoring.

BRAF: Black Rock Arts Foundation, a non-profit supporting community-based art that generates social participation off the playa.

BRARA: Black Rock Amateur Radio Association, a non-profit that provides year-round ham radio access on the playa.

BRC 911: Radio channel used to contact ESD.

Bunkhouse:  A quiet and cool place for Graveyard shift Rangers to sleep prior to or after their shift. Located at Ranger Camp Moscow and Outposts Berlin and Tokyo.

Burn, The: [1] The burning of the man (q.v.), usually taking place on Saturday night, with one notable historical exception. [2] The Burning Man festival as a whole (see also TTITD).

Center Camp: Large circular area and structures located in the center of Black Rock City, extensively marked with colorful flags. It is considered impolite to laugh when people ask for directions to find it.

Cheetah: Member of the Mentor team who helps evaluate Rangers returning to active duty after a hiatus.

Chooch: [1] The entropic tendency for things to break, decay, or become disordered, which is often accelerated by conditions in the Black Rock desert: “My bicycle chain got chooched.” [2] A jerk, especially one who is narcissistic or entitled: “Don’t be a chooch.”

CIT: Crisis Intervention Team, the radio call sign of ESD’s Mental Health Branch (MHB).

Com: (sometimes plural: coms) communication, or the radios by which such communication is transmitted.

Commissary: The central cafeteria where Burning Man staff eat, usually unmarked and located on the 5:30 spoke. Meal pogs are used here to get food.

Cruise Director: Member of the Ranger Shift Command Team responsible for pairing up shift teams and deploying them to an area of the city for patrol.

D-lot: A temporary parking area near the gate. Used as a holding area for staff & participants who have issues with early arrival approval and as long-term parking of mutant vehicles who have lost the privilege of driving within the city. Staffed by Gate team.

Danger Ranger: Founder and icon of the Black Rock Rangers.

Darkwad: An unilluminated participant. When Rangers find darkwads, asleep or otherwise not moving in a vehicle or pedestrian area, they often mark them with spare or borrowed glowsticks.

Depot: DPW’s material & vehicle staging area and home of DPW dispatch. Located at the end of the 5:30 road.

Dig, The: The morning-after ritual of excavating smoldering Burning Man artifacts.

DMV: The Department of Mutant Vehicles (DMV) is responsible for licensing vehicles on the playa including staff, mutant vehicles, and for disabled persons. They perform year-round activities to support this function.

Donner Award: Annual award given to the individual or group who pushes the limits of personal survival through stupidity, inattention or just bad luck during the Burning Man event.

Double Hot: A boiling hot springs located in the mountains beyond the north end of the playa.

DPW: Department of Public Works, the Burning Man department that builds the city’s physical infrastructure.

DPW Ghetto: Where many of the DPW camp during the event, located at 5:45 & F.

DV: (or delta victor) domestic violence.

ESD: Emergency Services Department.

ESD 911: [1] Synonym for Black Rock, the callsign for the ESD Dispatcher on duty.  [2] Prior to 2014, the name for the radio channel used to reach ESD Dispatch.

Esplanade: Innermost road facing the Man in BRC.

Fire jumping: A technique of jumping over a burning fire, sometimes with negative results when two opposing jumpers collide in mid-air.

Field Echelon: Provides a broad range of logistics support to the Rangers including stocking HQ and the outposts with water and electrolytes and delivering snacks and coffee to Rangers out at stationary positions like burn perimeters.

First Camp: Where members of the Org and some senior staff members camp, located in Center Camp behind the bone tree. First Camp is unmarked and not listed on maps available to the general public.

FLAME: The acronym used to describe the basic and essential Ranger approach and mediation framework: Find Out, Listen, Analyze, Mediate, and Explain.

Frog Pond: A warm water artesian pond where frogs were raised in the 1950s; also known as bordello springs by burners and the Gerrit Ranch by locals. Closed during the event.

Fly Hot Springs: A hot water geyser surrounded by several large man-made pools. Closed during the event.

F.O.L. (“Friends of Larry”): Participants who use (real or alleged) connections to senior staff to try to access perks (see above, chooch).

Gate (also, colloquially, “gayte”): [1] the entrance to Black Rock City; [2] the department that staffs that entrance.

Gator: Four-wheeled vehicle used by Ranger teams to get around the city when pedal power isn’t enough. Part of a motor pool managed by the Shift Command Team.

Greater Spire: DPW-built, Lamplighter-hung lamppost with four lanterns (as opposed to the regular two-lantern spires). Greater spires are used only along the main processional between Center Camp and the Man, and are excellent navigational devices in whiteout conditions, when intoxicated, and after the Man is burned.

Green Dot: [1] A member of the Ranger peer-counseling team. Also used generically for “mental health problem” over the radio, to avoid freaking out participants (e.g., “I’ve got a green-dot situation here.”); [2] A cocktail made with vodka and limeade frequently served at the 10-7 Lounge (q.v.).

Harvey, Larry: Late founder & director of Burning Man, radio call-sign “Swordfish.”

Hat Rack: Ranger chill space located at HQ.

Heat exhaustion: A more serious form of dehydration.

ICS: Incident Command System, an action plan to be used by the Rangers and other departments in the event of serious emergency. If you’re interested in learning more about the ICS, FEMA provides free training here. IS 700 and ICS 100 are great baseline courses.

Intercept: Ranger team that focuses on vehicle safety.

Jackrabbit Speaks: Internet-based newsletter produced by the Burning Man organization.

Khaki: [1] a member of the Ranger Shift Command team acting as dispatcher; monitors communications and coordinates Ranger activities throughout Black Rock City. [2] (Sometimes plural) the tan-colored clothing Rangers wear when on duty.

Khaki Dot: A mental point at which a Ranger understands the philosophy and concepts of being a Black Rock Ranger, i.e., “Gets it.”

Kidsville: A theme camp that works together to take care of kids. All Kidsville kids are issued a wristband that helps in identifying them and who their parent/guardian at the event is. Kidsville is not a drop-off daycare center!

LAM: Old name for your BMID (your Ranger ID badge).

LE: Law enforcement.

LEAL: Law Enforcement Agency Liaison, a Ranger team that specialized in interfacing with Law Enforcement.

LEO: Law enforcement officer.

Leopard: Member of the Mentor team.

Lesser Spire: DPW-built, lamplighter-hung lamppost with two lanterns; this is the most common style of lamppost.

Lighthouse: Perimeter’s radar tower, located within the Black Hole. Useful as a landmark, since the rotating thingy up on top of it is quite distinctive.

LLC: Limited liability company; Black Rock City, LLC is the legal entity that produces the Burning Man event and is now owned by the non-profit Burning Man Project.

Man, The: The large, wooden, humaniform statue located at the center of Black Rock City.

Meal pog: see pog.

Mentoring: The process by which Alphas are coached and evaluated prior to being invited to join the Rangers.

Moonwalker: A participant who walks out onto the playa, away from camp at night with no flashlight, usually in an altered state of mind; “wow-look-at-all-the-pretty-stars” is often heard from moonwalkers.

Moscow: Ranger camp near Center Camp (M for middle).

NATO Phonetic Alphabet

A: AlphaN: November
B: BravoO: Oscar
C: CharlieP: Papa
D: DeltaQ: Quebec
E: EchoR: Romeo
F: FoxtrotS: Sierra
G: GoldT: Tango
H: HotelU: Uniform
I: IndiaV: Victor
J: JulietW: Whisky
K: KiloX: X-ray
L: LimaY: Yankee
M: MikeZ: Zulu

Old Razorback: Distinctively shaped mountain closest to BRC on the east side of the playa, and a handy landmark for navigation after the Burn when the signs are gone.

Operators: Rangers who monitor and log radio traffic during the event.

Outposts: Ranger stations located at the 3 o’clock and 9 o’clock plazas. See Berlin and Tokyo.

Outpost Zero: Intercept’s command center, a khaki-colored shipping container located a few hundred feet off the promenade, halfway between the man and the temple, on the 10 o’clock side.

OOD: Officer of the Day.

Participant: Everyone in BRC (cf. Spectator).

Personnel Manager: The Ranger Council member who is responsible for personnel issues, including harassment.

PG&E: Perimeter, Gate, and Exodus.

Playa: Spanish word for beach; refers to the black rock desert upon which BRC is built.

Playa Chicken: A rare species of vicious, carnivorous chickens reputed to live in the Black Rock Desert. Strange or inexplicable phenomena are sometimes attributed to playa chickens.

Playa madness: A mental condition that occurs after being out in the Black Rock desert for more than a week at a time.

Pog: Ticket that entitles the bearer to a meal at the commissary; each Ranger is entitled to one meal pog after completing a standard six-hour shift.

Points 1-5: Coordinates that describe the corners of the pentagonal trash fence around the city; used (especially by Intercept and Perimeter) to describe locations on the outer playa.

Point 1: Base of operations for perimeter; staff exit controlled with exit wristbands.

Project, The: Term for the Burning Man Project; organization name.

Promenade: The spire-lined pathways that lead out to the man from the Esplanade at the 12:00, 3:00, 6:00, & 9:00 positions.

Puppy: Nickname for the old van that used to be Outpost Zero.

Quadrants: Used by Intercept to describe areas of the inner playa. Also used to describe areas of the Man burn perimeter.

Radio codes: (also called 10-codes) Numbers used to shorten and clarify radio messages. Rangers avoid using codes because they aren’t known to all Rangers and because there are English terms (“copy,” “say again”) that are just as brief.

Radio handle: A nickname used by a Ranger for radio communications.

Radio protocol: A clear and simple set of rules to make radio communications flow, even in times of high usage.

Ranger HQ: The primary base of operations for the Rangers, located at Esplanade & 5:45.

Ranger Outpost: A general, publicly accessible contact point for Rangers; see Berlin, 3:00 and C and Tokyo, 9:00 and C.

Rampart: Main medical tent at 5:30 and Esplanade.

Razorback: see Old Razorback.

Repeater: A radio system that rebroadcasts the transmissions from your radio so that other Rangers on playa can hear you.

RNR: Rapid Night Response, a bicycle-mobile Ranger team specializing in getting qualified Rangers to serious situations fast, amidst the challenging and complex nighttime environment.

Rocket run: Term used for a quick driving trip to the Black Rock Desert and then back home, usually within a 24-hour period.

RSL: Ranger Shift Lead.

RSCI: Ranger Shift Command Team Intern; pronounced “risky.”

Rumor control: The technique of managing and controlling information that may be false or harmful to the community.

Runner: Participant seeking to cross a burn perimeter to commune with the pretty flames.

SAT: Survivor Advocacy Team (previously called the Sexual Assault Team), a special Crisis Intervention subteam that supports the survivors of sexual and domestic violence, and related situations.

Sandman: A Ranger who is positioned behind the main perimeter line of a burn to stop runners.

Scanner: An electronic device used to listen in on radio communications.

Shiny Penny: Affectionate term for a first or second year Ranger.

Shift briefing: A chance for patrol Rangers and the Shift Command Team to check in and communicate about city-wide issues at the beginning of a shift.

Shift debriefing: A chance for patrol Rangers and the Shift Command Team to check in and communicate about shift issues after a shift is over.

SITE team: Set-up, infrastructure, tear-down, egress: the team the builds and tears down Ranger Outposts & HQ before and after the event.

Solifuge: A swift, non-poisonous, nocturnal insect which thrives on the playa during the dry season, taking refuge in the larger cracks during the day.

Spectator: A derogatory term for someone who has come to Burning Man to see things, rather than participate in the community (cf. Participant).

Speed bump: A darkwad (q.v.) asleep on the open playa.

Stick, the: A large, wooden effigy at the center of the city, usually burned on Saturday night (often referred to as “The Man” [q.v.]).

Stick duty: Rangering the area immediately around The Man.

Survivally-challenged politically-correct term for any participant whose judgment is impaired by drugs or alcohol.

Swordfish: see above, “Harvey, Larry.”

SV: (or “sierra victor”), sexual violence.

Ten-code: see above, “radio codes.”

Ten-Seven Lounge: Bar at Ranger Outpost Tokyo; name originates from the radio code for “out of service.”

Trego trench: A long, hot springs-fed, ditch created by Southern Pacific with a backhoe in the 1950s.

The Way It Is: (“TWII”) [1] annual staff meeting at BMHQ about how things will work on playa that year; [2] a document distributed at that meeting that describes how things will work at the event.  Available at HQ and distributed via Announce.

Trigger words/Trigger issues: Any word or situation that may result in a heightened emotional state (e.g., Bitch, stupid, lost child, etc.).

Tokyo: Ranger outpost on the north side of Black Rock City (T for top).

Troubleshooter: An experienced Ranger who has demonstrated outstanding Rangering skills in a variety of situations, selected by the Command Team to receive additional training and assist with incidents.

TTITD: That Thing in The Desert (i.e., the entire Burning Man Event).

VC: Volunteer Coordinator.

Verbal judo: A set of skills/technique to deflect verbal attacks and control verbal communications during an emotional situation.

White-out: A dust storm which produces near-zero visibility.

Yellow shirts: Name used, either affectionately or derisively, for ESD personnel.

Zebra: Member of the LEAL team.


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