Astral Headwash

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Astral Headwash is a long-standing Burning Man theme camp, based out of Colorado. It was founded in 1998 and is still run by Bobalicious, one of the three original members of the camp. In more recent years, his partner in the endeavor has been his wife (coincidentally named) Missalicious.

Astral Headwash offers participants a "spa" experience, in the form of the chance to lie back in the shade and relax for a few minutes as someone else shampoos and conditions their hair and gives them a bit of a scalp massage before returning them refreshed to the playa at large.

Of note, the camp is called Astral Headwash for a reason: having hair on one's head is not a requirement to be able to enjoy the camp's offering.

Purpose and operating principles

Astral Headwash is deliberately egalitarian in the treatment of its guests. During open hours, headwashes are given on a first-come, first-served basis. No appointments are made, and guests are encouraged to mingle and chat while awaiting heir turn in line.

If and when it becomes clear that washing the heads of everyone on the waiting list will run past closing time, the list is closed for the day and no new names are taken. On average, the camp washes around 200 heads every day it is open.

While camp members (called "Astralheads") are responsible for building, operating, and striking the camp, many of the actual headwashers are just volunteers, drawn from the ranks of other guests waiting in line for their own turn on the table. In some cases, these volunteers find they enjoy the experience of giving even more than that of receiving, and come back day after day (and even year after year) to volunteer in the role.

While Astral Headwash looks like a service camp dedicated to washing hair, the real goal of the camp is to encourage interaction and connection among participants through that service.

Infrastructure

The public area of Astral Headwash is made up of a series of eight 10'x20' carports, lined up to provide an 80'x20' shaded area. This area includes a front porch for hanging out and interaction with passers-by, a waiting area where people waiting for their turn can relax and chat, and the headwash area itself. On each side of this central structure sits a large evaporation pond, as well as an 8' tower topped with a 55 gallon drum of water.

The headwash area consists of six stations, three on each side. Each station consists of an inclined table with a padded headrest and a sink. Water is supplied to each station via sprayers linked to overhead plumbing and fed by gravity from the water tower on the same side.

Each sink is then plumbed to a drainage system that directs gray water from the stations into the evaporation ponds, which are carefully tended by the camp's members. The camp typically evaporates a thousand gallons or more of grey water via this system over the course of the event.

Open Hours

Astral Headwash's standard open hours are from 12 noon - 4 pm, Monday through Friday of event week. The camp's headwashing facilities are not open to the public on Saturday due to the need to ensure that all grey water is evaporated by the time the event ends.