Many of us enjoy savoring a particularly fine cocktail or single malt, and we believe that alcohol and other substances can be used responsibly. We find, however, that alcohol does not enhance group dynamics and is too often drama fuel and accident grease. Therefore, while we are not a dry organization, we strictly limit the use of alcohol and other intoxicants.

Compared to most organizations, and especially compared to most Burning Man camps, Suspended Animation is relatively strict about alcohol. If you prefer a more permissive environment, you’ll probably be happier elsewhere.


We’ll refer to three levels of intoxication:

  • Sober. You haven’t had a drink (or anything else) for several hours, regardless of your tolerance. You feel no intoxication and there is no question that you could legally drive.
  • Unsober. You’ve been drinking or using in a moderate and responsible fashion—what a responsible person might do at a cocktail party. You might or might not be legal to drive, but you aren’t obviously impaired.
  • Intoxicated. Anything more than unsober. You can’t legally drive, and it’s apparent to others that you’re intoxicated.

General principles

You are welcome to responsibly drink and use other substances at camp and at private SA events. However, all substance use should be moderate: you can be unsober but you should never be intoxicated at camp or at any SA event.

At Burning Man, we typically have a few alcohol-related pods: cocktail pod, beer pod, etc. Experience has shown that our crew are mature, high-functioning adults who can responsibly handle alcohol-related pods. The existence of those pods, however, does not imply any relaxing of our alcohol policies.

There are reasonable people who enjoy being intoxicated on occasion, and we have no problem with that. If you are such a person, you are welcome to drink or use somewhere else.

Public events

The following rules apply to all events we appear at as well as to our BRC pavilion (regardless of whether an event is in progress):

  • All crew working the event must be sober.
  • Bondage riders must be sober. Intake and riggers should both explicitly probe for substance use and turn away anyone who’s been using recently, even if they aren’t intoxicated.
  • Our intake forms ask about intoxication—ensure that each rider has confirmed in writing that they are sober.
  • If someone questions our substance policy, you can explain that we believe that intoxication is neither safe nor enjoyable during BDSM. As always, we will briefly explain our policies, but they are completely inflexible and non-negotiable.

The following rules apply to all events that we run and to our BRC pavilion at all times:

  • No alcohol or other intoxicants may be brought into the space. Door staff should feel free to smell beverage containers at their discretion.
  • Attendees may not be intoxicated. Door staff should turn away anyone who is visibly impaired regardless of whether they admit to being intoxicated, and regardless of whether they intend to participate or merely spectate.