Old And New Traditions In a Self-Organising Community

Posted by on 16th April 2019

Words: Eleen Polson


I was wondering about the traditions at AfrikaBurn while getting ready for this year’s clan gathering. When I was virgin to the burn, there were many questions before packing.  Uncertainty and excitement mixed with fear, made me pack a bakkie-load too much stuff. It was very helpful to hear the rumour about tutus on Tuesday and white on Wednesday. At least I had some pointers on this crazy road, thanks to the brilliant photos in the galleries. (I later realised the videos give a more accurate depiction of the glamour-dust ratio!)

Although I did see some signs of collective clan dressing, it got slightly less over the years – except for the purple wedding. I realised after one stroll on the Binnekring that it is truly about your own authentic and unique expression, whether bling, bland, bare, beautiful or bizarre.

I did, however, ask Travis Lyle (AfrikaBurn’s head of Communications and self-titled ‘Guy Whose Keyboard Has Literally Had The Letters Worn Through’) about the rumoured traditions, and got this helpful info:

“So, the ‘traditions’. It’s like this: we, as the organisation, have only ever really put into place three set gatherings / happenings:

– the Clan burn (which started out as a Saturday burn, then became Friday, and is now back to Saturday)
– the silent Temple burn (started as a Sunday thing to end the week on a gentle note, moved to Sat, now back to Sunday)
– the Gate Opening Ceremony, at 8am on the Monday of event week, at the gate

Other than those, all other gatherings & activities have been completely independently organised by the community itself. This includes:


– Tutu Tuesday (adopted by some folks from Burning Man, and other Regionals)



– White Wednesday (as with the tutu thing, inspired by Burning Man’s thing)



– Purple Wedding (this one was created & maintained by Bishop Loon of the Fornication United Church of the Karoo (who’s now no longer able to dress up & step up on account of having moved overseas, but the ‘tradition’ continues with Kardinal Koekie who presides over the purpleness at the usual time & place: 2pm on the Saturday)

– Leopard Mafia Thursday (a Burning Man gathering that’s been adopted by members of our community who also go to Black Rock City)

(see the facebook event here:  “Thursday is LEOPARD DAY…. Release the beast and join the dance party extravaganza. In collaboration with The Spirit train’s Lobo lounge, Leopard Mafia Thursdays will be bringing you the best party on the playa.)

– Critical Tits (another Burning Man activity that’s become a feature in Tankwa Town; the Critical Tits Parade originally started at BM as a way to raise awareness of breast cancer)

We’re happy for anyone to create & maintain new traditions – but we as ‘the organisers’ do our best not to set a schedule of our making that people should follow. Rather, it’s in the spirit of a self-organised community to take the initiative and run with it.”

Another ‘new’ tradition is the colour parade, not needing any outfits from home, but the one your mom and dad gave you:

Find your expression and come and play with it.   

Happy planning and packing!



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