Concierges At Burning Man: Now Made Official [Updates]

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There was a bit of an uproar last year when we shared that Festivals Concierge Service were making money from Burning Man. Well, it seems they’ve read the rules and done their best to comply with them – and no less than Larry Harvey’s words are being used to pitch their product.

As we predicted, Larry & Co’s response to last year’s Commodification Camp Concerns has been to give a full green light to concierges, commodification camps, Mistresses of Merriment, and anything else the VIPs require.

From Festival Concierge Service:

Burning Man is not a festival like no other, it is a community experience based on 10 principles that serve as guidelines.

The services we offer for Burning Man are intended to assist you in the preparation and organization of your Burn.

We do not offer on-site concierge services.

In any case we sell the Burning Man Experience. It is a unique personal experience, and is made possible only through your participation and understanding of the ten principles.

“Scan Burning Man’s Ten Principles, and you will not find radical equality among them. This is because our city has always been a place where old and young, and rich and poor, can live on common ground. The word for this is fellowship, as in the fellowship of a club or lodge whose members, however diverse, are united by common values and a sense of shared experience. But common ground is not a level playing field, and should not be interpreted as mandating equal living conditions.”

The services, which are all provided by BLM-Licensed Outside Services Contractors, include:

ACCOMMODATIONS
ON-SITE RV SERVICES
TRAVEL AND TRANSPORTATION TO AND FROM BURNING MAN
PLUG AND PLAY CAMP PLACEMENT
MUTANT VEHICLE (ART CAR) PRODUCTION AND RENTAL
SEGWAY AND ELECTRIC SKATEBOARD RENTAL
BIKE AND DECORATION
COSTUME DESIGN AND PERSONNAL SHOPER

[Update 5/21/1 6:09pm PST]
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Take a look at this. Big thanks to Anonymous Burner for sharing this. BMOrg has already known about this for almost 3 weeks, and the site is still up. And why wouldn’t it be? They are conforming to the rules. They only deal with licensed vendors who give the Feds a percentage of their sales.

The trolls have come out for us very swiftly after this post. Did we hit some sort of nerve?
Within an hour of me posting this story, James of San Diego appeared on our web page, saying:
Burners XXX of burners.me spends years talking shit and dishing out hate then gets called out and identified by Danger Ranger. Then BurnersXXX cries and whines cause he can’t take the criticism. Trolls don’t let your mouth write a check your ass can’t cash…Although many long term Eplayans are way bigger assholes and are anonymous.
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For anyone that doesn’t know what he’s talking about, or is open minded enough to judge for themselves the definition of “cries and whines”, you can read my previous response on this matter. There’s no doubt that one thing this commenter is saying is true: the officially sanctioned BMOrg forums on ePlaya suffer from low traffic, and high trolls. It’s not just that trolls are allowed to be there, abusing and bullying others, with support piled on from paid BMOrg employees: some of them think they have so many of the “suck up points” required to game the system, that they feel completely backed by the Org whenever they want to let their personal fancies assault the lives of others.
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When you see someone on the Internet saying “so and so’s a troll”, you should wonder if really it is the person named by the attack – or is it the nay-sayer accusing others of not conforming to their desired way of being.
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If you haven’t read it yet (and even if you have it’s worth a refresher) please check out our post How To Spot An Online Troll. Thanks to Jan Irvin at Gnostic Media for some of the key parts of that article which are his writing and insights.
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Spring is here and troll season has begun once more. The Ministers of Propagandas (of those organizations that employ them) are looking for things to do, victims to cyber-bully, and misinformation to sow…
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Badger then came over to www.burners.me to tell us:
I can’t believe you stooges have fallen for this faux site.
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I can’t believe there are any stooges left who are drinking the Kool Aid so much that they’d think “Larry & Co would never allow private concierges at Burning Man”…when Larry himself writes a lengthy blog post entitled “Concierge Culture” and explaining why wealth divisions have never been a problem and rich people should be allowed to ignore Radical Self Reliance if they can afford to.
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Source: Voices of Burning Man

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PDR agreed with Badger, that Festival Concierge Services is not a real web site.
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These are the same people as last year. They were in touch with us then, and they’re in touch with us now. The New York Times already wrote about it (quoting Burners.Me as a trusted source). The Key Group, private concierge service out of Luxembourg, has a highly desirable existing customer base of Ultra-High Net Worth Individuals. A-list Hollywood stars, princes and princesses, Billionaire’s Row, Mega-Sparkle Ponies, political pundits, the DEA, FBI BLM and other unnamed alphabet agencies, experimental Google technologies, even now frikking cartoon characters…this is Burning Man 2.0. Everyone requires a handler, for their Radical Self Reliance. If you handle yourself, you’re doing it wrong.

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Personally I think we should be giving FCS some props for adjusting their pitch to better suit our culture, after last year’s feedback – almost 100 comments and 1000 shares just at this site, not to mention Larry’s loqacious diatribe against Marxism. Isn’t that what we want – we complain, they listen, they remove the things we were complaining about, and from then on they conform to the rules. Is that what we’re trying to achieve? Making Burners conform to rules? Or “teach them a lesson”, is that the purpose of all this?
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I am neither endorsing nor condemning Burning Man concierges. People who’ve never had access to a concierge before probably think it’s something special. Like most VIP sections, it’s really not.
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However, when Larry & Co promote it by writing blog posts justifying it, it’s hard to rail against it very much. Go with the flow, I say…
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This is much more of a problem to me.
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Legitimate Burners lucky enough to win tickets, get them snatched away by the bureaucracy…and yet, the Concierge Commodification Camps seem to have tickets not only for their guests and entourages, but also for the sherpas, Mistresses of Merriment, and other staff.
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Every year, they make it harder and harder for Veteran Burners to get tickets. “Oh it’s a numbers game. It’s supply and demand. There’s no possible way to fix it”. I call Bravo Sierra. Problems can be solved, if there is a desire to. There’s certainly enough brainpower amongst the million-strong online Burner community.

[Update 5/21/15 7:07pm]
Thanks to FIGJAM for sharing this over at ePlaya. The latest from Answer Girl and the full complement of the 2015 Placement Team. There is no such thing as Commodification Camps – all camps are the same, regardless of how much they charge per hotel room or how many sherpas they employ. It’s just a spectrum, and everyone in the spectrum is welcome. Plug-n-plays are welcome, as long as they have an interactive component on offer to other camps. Like popsicles.
The Placement Team is up and running at full complement and the Burning Man Headquarters team is fully operational.We made some changes to our Theme Camp and Placement policies following events in 2014 involving TurnKey camps, and we wanted to inform you of them so you can plan accordingly.Definitions:TurnKey is a category of camps along a spectrum. At one end of the continuum are camps that depend on supported infrastructure to create on playa projects. At the other end are camps providing vacation type experience packages for campmates with no specific requirement for contribution.In 2014 Burning Man placed 12 TurnKey camps all of whom indicated they would offer an interactive aspect to be enjoyed by the entire Burning Man community.For 2015, all Placed Camps (other than infrastructure support camps) will be held to the same standards in order to receive placement, early arrival passes and access to the Directed Group Sale.

Theme Camp Placement Criteria / Standards:

Other than event infrastructure camps, all camps will be held to the same standards of inclusion and participation regardless of how the camp is structured. All Theme Camps requesting placement will be evaluated according to the following criteria:

1. Theme Camps should be visually stimulating, have an inviting design and a plan for bike parking and crowd management.

2. Theme Camps must be interactive. They should include activities, events or services within their camps that must be available to the entire Burning Man community.

3. Theme Camps must be neighbourly. This includes keeping sound within set limits, controlling where camp generators vent exhaust, and easily resolving any boundary disputes that may arise.

4. Theme Camps must have a good previous MOOP record (for returning camps).

5. Theme Camps must follow safety protocols designed by the organization (this includes traffic management on the streets, proper handling of fuels, and any other areas defined by the organization’s production team including alternatives to RV lined streets).

Entering BRC with Early Arrival passes:

Only Theme Camps meeting all of the above criteria and receiving Placement, will be given Early Arrival Passes from the Placement team for entry to BRC for pre-event set up

Post-event evaluation, Theme Camp Standing and access to the Directed Group Sale (DGS):

Post event, all placed Theme Camps will be reviewed on the criteria above, as well as:

1. MOOP score. If a camp receives a yellow or red MOOP score, the Placement team expects the camp to be proactive in addressing the issue.

2. Strain on resources. This refers to whether a camp requires extra BRC infrastructure support, which could include undue communication or interactions with Placement, Rangers, DPW or the playa restoration team. This could also include the processing of negative feedback from other departments. If a Theme Camp attracts negative attention by violating principles and cultural norms, this will similarly strain resources.

If a Theme Camp meets all of the criteria they remain in “good standing” and may be eligible to receive access to the DGS. Exemplary camps are the most likely to be invited to the following year’s DGS.

Good standing is of benefit as it will affect future placement.

Camps not in good standing will be contacted and will be expected to make substantial changes to their submitted camp plans to qualify for future placement of the DGS for the following year.

For most of you, this information is familiar and reflects what you are already doing. For some of you, this information means you are going to need to increase your interactivity and upgrade your public facing spaces to reflect the spirit of radical inclusion.

We are here to support all of you create an amazing and interactive city for everyone at Burning Man to enjoy.

For more information about this and other topics you can watch the Theme Camp Forum. We recorded the March 21 event.

Fuze Meeting link: https://www.fuzemeeting.com/replay_meet … e9/7113130


 

[Update 5/22/15 10:51am PST]

Thanks to Pooh Bear for bringing this to our attention. BMOrg are openly promoting one of the oldest tourist packages, Green Tortoise, which is about $1000 per head. Many major camps charge much less in dues, I am curious to know how this pricing sits with everyone.

The price of the tour is not so important. It’s nonsense to say “this is great at $1000 because they funded some art and gave people rides on their bus to Gerlach, but it sucks at $16,000 because they funded some art and gave people rides on their art car”. BMOrg have decided “it’s a spectrum” which makes all things welcome. If any Burners thought Commodification Camps would be shut down, I hope now you realize that despite whatever words were said, and however many feedback forms were filled out, that isn’t what actually happened.

The Voices of Burning Man has an official response, from “Burning Man” – yes, the symbol now speaks.

http://blog.burningman.com/2015/05/news/kicking-concierge-caboose-in-black-rock-city/

YMMV on how much actual caboose actually got kicked, and with what level of force.

They’ve said they’re trying to stop it. Even though FCS aren’t actually doing business at Burning Man…what’s next, any TaskRabbit services for Burning Man get banned? No more trunk shows?

We have contacted Festivals Concierge Services yet again, reminding them that they can’t offer “Burning Man concierge services” or use our IP to promote their business. We’re also taking a number of other steps to protect our principles and our stance on this issue:

  • Notifying participants in our Outside Services (OSS) program not to do business or subcontract with concierge companies like FCS or their clients.
  • Revisiting and revising the overall OSS program structure so companies like this can’t exploit the system.
  • Notifying BLM that FCS will not have a contract with Burning Man and should not receive a BLM Special Recreation Permit to operate its concierge business on public land.
  • Coordinating with DMV and Placement to ask Mutant Vehicle operators and theme camp organizers not to provide services or camping to FCS or their clients.
  • Working with our Ticketing Team to prevent FCS staff from acquiring event tickets for resale to their clients.
  • Communicating with YOU, our community, to keep you informed about these activities, and to solicit your help with combating the packaging and sale of our culture now and in the future.

Can anyone explain to me how BMOrg could possibly think the Ticketing Team might be involved with FCS acquiring event tickets for resale? Isn’t the event sold out, there are no more tickets?

The messages seem mixed to me. Concierge culture is OK (says Larry), and then it’s forbidden (says “Burning Man”). Shouldn’t we be focused on bringing more beautiful art into the world, rather than what things can They stop that They were previously promoting a few months back?

CrowdRX Now Hiring 120 Licensed Nevadans

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CrowdRX have already received 300 applications for the positions. 3 medical directors have been appointed. CrowdRX will have as many as 10 ambulances and 2 planes at the event “during peak times”, with one of the planes and a helicopter on standby.

From the Reno Gazette-Journal:

Although Burning Man outsourced medical support services management to a Pennsylvania-based company for this year’s event, the company intends to hire as many Silver State employees as it can.

Nevadan applicants who have experience working at the weeklong event in the Black Rock Desert will be considered before those who are inexperienced at Burning Man and are out-of-state, according to Andrew Bazos, CrowdRx board chairman… 

CrowdRx’s blueprint for managing medical support services will be very similar to Humboldt General Hospital’s and the company likely will hire nearly 100 percent Nevadans that have worked the event before, according to Bazos.

Already, CrowdRx has hired three medical directors for this year’s event.

The three directors include: emergency medicine physician Dr. Jeffrey Westin, formerly of Las Vegas and recent Reno transplant; University of Nevada, Las Vegas Chairman of Emergency Medicine Dr. Dale Carrison; and Dr. Eric Salk, medical director for CrowdRx, of Connecticut.

CrowdRx needs experienced employees given the extreme conditions of the Black Rock Desert, its isolation and the unique layout and organization of the annual event, Bazos said.

“We’re not reinventing the wheel out there,” he said…

“The comprehensive medical operation requires a large number of temporary staff. Physicians, nurses, paramedics, EMTs and non-clinical support staff treat nearly 3,000 injured and ill event participants. Given the complexity of the medical operation at Burning Man, CrowdRx is currently recruiting potential employees to staff the 2015 event,” the website said.

Interesting that CrowdRX thinks they only need to deal with “nearly 3,000″ patients, when according to BMOrg 6,100 patients required medical treatment last year. And this year is likely to be even bigger than last year.

CrowdRx is asking that only applicants with current unrestricted state licensure/certification apply.

Medical staff treated more than 6,100 patients in 2014, according to Burning Man’s 2014 Afterburn report. The majority of incidents involved people with minor injuries, such as scrapes and burns, as well as dehydration.

Note this, plane owners thinking about flying their own aircraft out there for a week:

CrowdRx will have a maximum of 10 ambulances and two airplanes on the playa during peak demand times, though one of the airplanes will be on-call at times.

A helicopter also will be on call, though it will not be on-site unless required because of the helicopter’s vulnerability to damage in such an extreme environment.

Shifts will be longer, but fewer. This is to prevent medical staff wandering off, and getting lost in the Carnival of Smoke and Mirrors.

One of the changes that medical staff will notice this year is that they will be working fewer, longer shifts, as opposed to more shifters for shorter periods of time.

“In the past, people have done a shift and wandered off,” Bazos said.

With longer shifts, staff will be able to work their shifts and then spend the remainder of the time enjoying the event without the concern about a quick return to their post.

BMOrg, as usual, have decided to be less than transparent:

Burning Man has decided not to discuss the rest of the contract in detail.

Burning Man officials in April said that the contract amount would likely be in the same ballpark as the $455,000 contract that it had with Humboldt General Hospital, according to the 2014 Afterburn Report provided by Burning Man. Burning Man officials also would not disclose the length of the contract with CrowdRx.

Read the full article at the Reno Gazette Journal.

Previous coverage of the changes to the Medical team from Burners.Me:

Humboldt General Reveals Details of Medical Split

BMOrg, Humboldt cut contract early

Don’t Hate the Plug-n-Player, Hate the Game

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A guest post from our reader Kestrel about last weekend’s Further Future Festival.


 

ROBOT HEART’S SPIN-OFF DUST-UP: A Report From the Further Future -aka- “Don’t hate the plug n’ player…hate the game”

…My first year on Esplanade our camp was woefully undermanned, and the couple who organized it didn’t really even have an hour off to get in some of The Awesome until Saturday night, at which point they left me in charge and went off to find “The Bus.” This was back in 2010, before Robot Heart had acquired their giant sign, and you actually had to go out looking -and listening- for the THWAP. I still remember their words as they biked out into the Tron- “That bus,  man…it doesn’t look like much, but it’s what’s UP.”

I’m a bit of a camp rat, and in the years since then, Robot Heart was my reward to myself whenever I felt like it was time to get out. There’s just something about the look of that thing, with its ratty graffiti, minimal lights and drivers cantilevered ridiculously out to the sides. It’s been known to sound pretty great too. I also appreciate the fact that the Robot Heart crew documents and publishes the entire week of music, so that later in the year you have a kind of auditory postcard to reference. When they announced that they were doing their own festival in the desert outside Vegas I was curious. There was more than a little hatred directed at FF at the Burning Man GLC last month; when the topic came up at a breakout session, I didn’t feel comfortable admitting that I was planning to attend.

A few years back, one of the Playa news outlets ran a hit piece on Purple Palace and Robot Heart, accusing them of being art cars that only let pretty girls aboard. I thought there was a logical fallacy in the article: RH isn’t an art car. Its a delicate stage, and I have just as much a right to demand to touch their steel as I do to touch Dr. Kilovolt’s. Robot Heart took the high road and instituted a yoga and speaker series the next year. But I digress…

How I Got my Invite Code:

I sent the Further Future Facebook page a simple message explaining that I’d had a blast in the past dancing to their music and offering to bring my Playa install. I got a response within hours with 2 codes and a message telling me “thanks for the offer,” but that all I should bring with was an “open mind and good energy.”

The Location:

The festival was originally supposed to take place on public land near Fire Valley State Park. This is a very beautiful setting, with red, striated rocks. Having never camped in a Moab-like desert, I was sold. Apparently the BLM permit for the road to get there fell through, and the Robot Heart team had to go with plan B – rent a couple hundred acres of land from the Paiute Indian tribe, who control the Moapa Valley reservation. Among other things, the Paiute produced Sarah Winnemucca, probably the most well-known female Indian writer, and also handed some miners their asses to them at the start of the Pyramid Lake War (Hey, isn’t that on the way to a rave somewhere?)

This reservation was at one point down to a thousand square miles, but during the Carter administration the tribe was granted 70,000 more, and they have spent much of the time since then fighting efforts to place the Yucca Mountain nuclear waste repository on their land. This fact added a certain irony to the Further Future website, which depicted waify looking models emerging from smoldering pods in the desert. To quote Gary Farmer in more than one Jim Jarmusch film: “Stupid fucking white man.” (FF sent out a media bundle with a ton of free music from the fest, and it came with a reminder not to bring anything remotely resembling an Indian head-dress.)

I flew into Vegas Thursday night, having found a cheap rate at the Silverton Hotel and Casino, which has a free airport shuttle and contains the world’s largest Bass Pro Shop, where you can pick up pretty much any last minute camping supplies you need. Further Future offered free transportation to and from the airport, but I caught a ride in with a couple New Yorkers who had rented an RV. The drive was really quick- about 45 minutes from the strip. The gate was two big LED F’s on either side of the turn off and the greeters station was four dusty Chromebooks. Gate swag consisted of a slick, brushed aluminum FF water bottle (hydrate nudge) and a schedule. No map. Registration was a snap, and all told it took just under an hour for me to get from hotel to campsite.

This is where it gets a little weird, and I could understand if some people won’t read past this paragraph. The festival grounds looked uncannily similar to Playa: dark mountains surrounding a long valley filled with brush under that amazing Nevada desert sky. The ground underfoot was uniformly sandy/dusty, and at first I thought they had trucked in sand. Turns out the festival had simply bulldozed several hundred acres of brushland, tilling the desert into a smooth surface. Here and there some scrubs had been left to provide a little shade for a sound board or vendor. On paper, the idea of some rich guys from Buffalo bulldozing Indian land to stage a rave seems (insert Gary Farmer quote about S.F.W.M. here.) But of course it’s up to the tribe to decide how to use its land, and who to rent it to. (Lord knows they need the money to fight Uncle Sam’s efforts to fill their land with spent fuel rods.) The result of the landscaping was an environment eerily similar to the Big Burn, complete with winds powerful enough to send a ten-by-ten tumbling, brief whiteout conditions, nice wide hurricane-shaped dust devils and water trucks spraying down the streets. I brought my goggles and I used them.

The layout seemed like a rough circle but again, with no map it was hard to tell. We were allowed to venture out into the sagebrush, but were told that it contained both rattlesnakes and “bigger snakes that eat the rattlesnakes” so understandably very few Further Futurists wanted to fuck with that. Once my shade was up I went for a walkabout and took in my surroundings. In the middle of everything was the Mothership stage which was a run-of-the-mill silver truss rental stage, though they had started to build some pretty impressive organic panelized deco around it. This was the setting for Warpaint, Damian Lazarus and Bob Moses, and then guitars sounded right. At one point there was even a Hammond B3 and Leslie up there. I have never seen a Hammond on Playa! They never had time to finish decorating this stage, though a few guys worked until Sat pm and got it half done. Nearby was the Void, a kind of disco with Red Bull branding that I mostly avoided (thus missing Body Language’s set).  I should say, the Red Bull branding was very minimal, just on the draft pulls. Every other vendor had a hand-written chalkboard sign.

At the North end of things they had placed the speaker/lecture series stage, oddly named “Booba Cosmica”, whose backdrop was the Moapa valley extending for miles and miles. At the West end right next to camping was a little quad sound situation called the Gypset stage, with 4 speakers arranged in a 30 by 30 square. This stage had no lights or deco, and the backdrop behind the DJ was seven miles of Valley. This was also a moonset stage, and the desert moon behind the DJ was a more beautiful backdrop than any screen I could imagine. Nearby they had placed three super-neat laser cut polygonal steel sculptures lit from within. There were two areas of RV parking and two boutique AC camping zones of the Caravansicle variety, cut off from the rest of the festival and guarded by doormen. So. Weird. There was a main vending area, and apparently food was ten bucks. A few other pavilions, RFID top-up stations (cashless festival, unlike BM – your CC-linked wristband buys your ice) and a couple of art installs peppered the grounds. No signs, no info booth.

While there was no real central shade to speak of, RH had provided dozens and dozens of beautiful wicker and steel chill-out pods, each containing a circular mattress, and pillows, still shrink-wrapped. It took five or six people to move them and it became obvious that we were encouraged to just take them to camping. (A crew near me forgot their tent, and was saved by these pods.) These things were beautiful, and must have cost a fortune. It was the only real public infrastructure at the event that wasn’t a rental stage or pavilion, but they were really cool. You’ll no doubt see them out at 10 and K this year. There was also a yoga sanctuary, which was yet another rental stage outfitted with potted plants.

Last but not least was the bus itself, placed at the extreme Eastern edge of the area facing dawn (away from the fest) flanked by giant storage containers on each side. The thing is, the heart structure looks the same from the back, so while the star attraction faced away, it still was basically the Man here…the neon logo we all knew. I walked over to the bus and I would be lying if I said I didn’t have goosebumps. I fuckin’ love that object, and it triggers memories of some of my happiest moments. I shadowed a sound guy as he ran from sweet spot to sweet spot tweaking the mix. His baby is Basscouch, and he started explaining RH’s unique crossover to me and the search for a better onomatopoeia than “Thwap” to describe its super tight bass. I had a “there is no Santa” moment when he explained to me that there are actually TWO Robot Heart buses (one stays in Nevada). Soundcheck was Tycho’s Awake (foreshadowing?). Standing there, next to that bus, well…I felt happy to be there.

You could walk anywhere in five minutes, there were no bikes, trikes or streets, though they put out lawn lights the second night. There were no Thompson portals, no Flaming Lotus Girl builds, and no fire of any kind, at the Paiutes’ insistence. They simply cannot fight fire in this valley so we weren’t even allowed to bring camp stoves. If fire is a deal breaker this is not the fest for you. Other things conspicuously absent: cops, dreads, DPW, propane tanks, Rangers, dubstep, headlamps, projection mapping, theme camps, gifting and a temple…but then wait, slow down…this wasn’t a burn. Portos were clean, and water and showers were free. There were a lot of drones.

A Few Words About the Theme:

One of my very favorite writers is the Italian futurist/fabulist Italo Calvino. I brought with me his Complete Cosmicomics, which is a series of short stories inspired by scientific facts. Calvino’s main creative output was between 1965 and 1969, when the world was looking towards the moon. A cornerstone of Futurism is optimism based on human technology and ingenuity. This puts the theme directly at odds with the post-apocalyptic “Mad Max” aesthetic of the big burn. Now that California is dying of thirst and we don’t even have the space shuttle program to look up to anymore, RH’s celestial vision seems pretty exotic, and also retro. But it’s also very Robot Heart: the bus is almost always placed facing the rising sun. Reference the epic 2012 sunrise “Time On the Fucking Moon” mixes and remixes, their “Halloween On the Moon” party in New York and FF’s spaceman logo. People wore a lot of silver, and the largely undecorated rental structures actually fit in.

Celestially Oriented Placement of Stages:

This is where the RH crew really showed their cerebral approach to staging. At first, the stages seemed placed kind of randomly, and not optimally for sound bleed. But it’s all about the heavenly bodies, and I’m not talking about the girls climbing the heart (guys were allowed too this time, in fact anyone was allowed up on the bus). The fest took place under a worksight-bright full moon, which tends to detract from blinky stuff… But here it worked to their advantage. Robot Heart faced the sunrise, the Gypset stage had the moonset AND sunset as a background, the mainstage had the moonrise as a backdrop. The program had a section labelled “Key Times” and they were 6:07 AM and 7:13 PM…sunrise and sunset. My favorite art install was a piece inspired by the Voyager plate, placed by the Black Rock Observatory crew (Desert Wizards of Mars). Late Saturday night, looking at the bus from the East, you could see the beginnings of dawn, a blue-purple sky, three planets, and the full moon setting over the heart, with all the silver structures glowing in the moonlight behind the bus. It really was epic, and all the light was coming from outer space, not LEDS, fire or work lights. Again, I can’t emphasize enough how much this place resembled Black Rock. It looked more like Burning Man than a lot of Burning Man does, and with up to five stages bangin’ at once, you got that special moment where you walk away from one system and towards another and your feet are the fader.

The Crowd:

…Overwhelmingly consisted of impossibly attractive white hetero couples, gay guys and French people. Hard to tell how many were Burners. I saw a lot of money. Airstreams. Porsches. Airstreams hitched to Porsches. The whole place had the distinct flavor of wealth and civility. The open camping felt a little more down to earth, though very international. We were packed in tight, which was good for wind deflection and conversation. No grid, and mostly store bought tents and pop-ups. My neighbors on one side were a very cool couple who got a babysitter and flew in from Hong Kong for the weekend (!) and a crew of six French people were on the other. I speak a little French, so this was great for me. People were friendly but not outgoing like on Playa. I spoke to a Paiute tribal cop for a while and he couldn’t believe how little he had to do. He mostly drives around responding to domestic battery calls (“Indians like to drink” he said).

I didn’t see a single shitshow moment, argument, fight, injury, party shrapnel, O.D. or anything. Turns out a couple thousand white people will treat each other pretty well, left to their own devices. People mooped, but there was a clean up crew working so it felt like you were doing someone else’s job. I spoke to a few artists who had placed pieces and they all agreed that the organizers had been very helpful and on point. I can attest to this – when their third party ticket agent tried to mail me my will call ticket, I got a personal email from Benjamin Alexander (who rocked the bus Saturday night) fixing the problem. These guys are ultra-pros, and it ultra-shows.

Speaker Series:

Saturday afternoon featured a series of talks TEDx style. The Soundcloud guys talked about the future of listening and got my attention when they started talking about biotech enhancements increasing the range of human hearing to the point where we can start to hear light. Tony Hsieh talked about his downtown Las Vegas urban renewal project, and Carter Cleveland got everyone’s attention when he suggested that like Warhol, Kanye West be hated during his time but then later revered as a great pop artist. Other topics included space travel, consciousness hacking and why Elon Musk believes that we are already living in the singularity. The talks ended with cello looping by veteran Burner and one-woman orchestra Zoe Keating.

The Music:

…was outstanding. I got to see Warpaint from five feet away. Weird seeing America’s best current all-female band – called Warpaint – on a rezz. Damian Lazarus & The Ancient Moons was a really special moment, with four vocal mics going at once. Bob Moses basically headlined the mainstage, bringing one of the best performances I can remember, with the live vocals, guitar and samplers mixed perfectly. (If you know who Robert Moses was, the whole bulldozing thing takes on a deeper meaning). Twenty minutes into their set the full moon rose behind them. All in all, the sound quality at each stage was first-rate, and the depth and variety of music made other small festivals look like big festivals. Other highlights for me were Kiasmos, Little People, South African DJ Culoe De Song, and the topper was a surprise encore Sunday on the Robot Heart bus….a DJ set by Tycho.

I won’t really delve into describing the proceedings on the bus; if you’re reading this, you know what that consists of…though I will say, I kinda missed BOTH dawns. Saturday AM was their fault, as the bus ran out of diesel just before sun up, and by the time the sound guy I met earlier was done doing the fuel crew’s work it was daytime. (The scene: he’s balancing on a Kubota, heroically trying to fill up the worksite Genny hidden in the bus through its little feed tube, while models with glazed eyes watched from above.)

The second night culminated with an epic Thugfucker sunrise. As the magic moment approached, JLG lifts appeared out of nowhere and a three man film crew started taking an epic boom shot. There were so many cameras I would’ve felt really exposed without my Wasteland cowl. The whole thing started to feel a bit staged, like they were recreating the magic dawns from 2011-2013 on Playa but for the cameras.  To block the blazing sun they stretched a long run of aluminet between two JLG’s, creating the Giant Deep House Badminton Net of the Future, but I couldn’t tell if it was for us or the shot.

I got kinda down on it and walked away, so I missed the – wait for it – champagne and caviar toast at dawn.

Yeah.

It was as if the Robot Heart I knew had turned itself inside out…what used to be a secret party miles from Centercamp had become Times Square. I walked away, feeling pretty shitty about it all.

But my way back to my tent I found about eight people dancing at the quadsound stage and stayed there for hours. Kind of like a few years ago when I was feeling burned out and went for a walk in deep Playa and found this weird bus with the big speakers…so that’s a full circle right there (Orbit?). I don’t know who the DJ was, as the Gypset stage had a secret lineup – just as Robot Heart used to. By the time Bob Moses took the mainstage I was in better spirits and the Tycho surprise set sealed it.

The main reason I went to FF was out of curiosity, and the desire to be at something at its inception – my first burn was Larry’s twenty-fourth. This is a really interesting moment in the evolution of our culture; here we have a theme camp that isn’t even really a theme camp putting on a regional that most definitely isn’t a regional. What will be the next Robot Heart? It sure isn’t Mayan Warrior, though that’s pretty much a direct copy of what the bus is. And the bus itself is an homage to the T.A.Z. soundsystem movement in the UK back in the 1990s. I’m also curious what’s going to happen to the parking lot we made on Paiute land. It’s a great place to stage a festival and an excellent training ground for people who haven’t made it to Playa yet. It will be interesting if other legacy theme camps rent this land to have a faux burn. I can just imagine what some Greg Fleishman installs would look like here, or if it could be used to stage a “Building Man” type gathering a la the Jenkstars. Or maybe the land is cursed now and we’re all going to hell and the boys from Buffalo will lose their fortunes and join the rest of us looking for a cardboard box to contain our Aldi purchases.

The Bottom Line:

I shelled out $250 for a second tier ticket and another $75 for a camping pass. I ate out of a cooler and skipped vending and all the other amenities. The price is steep, but to put it in perspective, the hotel BM chose to host the GLC charged us $240 PER NIGHT for a motel-quality room with no bathroom fan. To camp in a gorgeous natural setting like that would cost you more per night than would the price per day at Lolla, Coachella etc. There was a $40 early arrival pass for sale, but shuttles started friday, and my RV ride was a surprise. You could stay until Monday AM, but I felt a need to get to the hotel and start writing this while it was fresh.

They must have lost a TON of money on this. Who’s to know is they even got deposits back on the original spot? The location went through; it was the access road that didn’t, from what I gather. Word on the street was that the population was at about 2.5k, but it seemed even lower. By Sunday night there were about 600 people left max. But the fact that they were able to pull it off at all, considering the venue change a mere days before gates is pretty astounding, and something I just don’t think a non-burner crew could have accomplished.

A final note on the money issue- Robot Heart dug deep into their pockets to finance a new Nevada desert festival in May. Unlike a private yacht, the rest of us get to enjoy this too. I can’t afford to live in Midtown Manhattan, but I’m not gonna boycott MoMA. I did boycott “The Fight” because honestly, I’d rather eat caviar with people who love music with every fiber of their being than eat McDonalds with people who think its worth $100 mil. to watch minorities beat each other.  FF speaker Tony Hsieh gave away three hundred million of his own dollars to revitalize a once-dead Downtown Vegas. It’s clear that our Congress is incapable of passing laws that would save the world, so what we need now more than ever is rich people who are also good people.

One thing that stuck out to me was the public water. Burning Man’s character building exercise of bringing your own water in has the unfortunate side effect that thousands and thousands of plastic bottles are purchased and then driven in separately, wasting carbon. BMorg should address this moving forward as BM’s population increases and California’s water disappears. Moreover, from ancient watering holes to water coolers, communal water is where animals and people have congregated to drink and mingle. How do we maintain the values of radical self-reliance and cut down on bottled water at the same time?

Its also really interesting doing the desert thing in Spring. The Baker beach burns were a Solstice affair, and while Labor Day is more convenient for more people, it’s a totally different vibe.

Sidenote: In the Further Future, the portos have a sign that says “close the toilet lid.” If you do this, the little shit-exhaust chimney creates a shit-Venturi or whatever and the shit-smell goes out the top, instead of cooking the Porto. Why people don’t do this at BM I simply do not understand. [Shit rant over.]

On a more personal note, this was the first festival I’ve attended alone, and if that’s something you’ve ever considered, or if you suspect yourself of being an ambivert, I say “Do it!” You’ll be on your own timetable, and you won’t disappoint anyone or get annoyed by anyone. I met some cool people and gauged their impressions of this boutique non-burn.

So what’s the Further Future? According to the Robot Heart crew, it’s got a lot of live PA and guitars in the mix, and an almost defiant sense that we’re free to pick up parts of the Burn culture and run with them and leave others behind. Its not quite radical exclusion – call it liberal editing of the principles. If their bulldozing virgin desert leaves a foul taste in your mouth, consider that the Burn takes place on Paiute land as well, except it is land Sam hasn’t given back yet. So by trekking to BRC every year, I’m sorta financially rewarding my government for its greatest crime. Who’s the S.F.W.M. meow?

The music was great; the celestial orientation of the stages leveled the music up cosmically. The Robot Heart crew have a reverence for the cycles of sun and moon that verges on a kind of neo-paganism. FF didn’t convince me I was gonna travel to Mars listening to Bedouin anytime soon, but they definitely had me looking towards the sky.

-Kestrel

****

Discussion question: When does awesome design become a logo? Or a brand? What defines a logo?

FINAL FURTHER FUTURE DISCLAIMER: I intentionally avoided the Robot Heart guys, although I basically know what they look like and where they camped. I wanted to bring back an objective report, so I talked to Indian cops, security, artists and festival goers but not the RH crew, and although I was tempted to go up on the bus, I didn’t want to sway my experience one way or the other. They’re Burners, after all, and they probably would’ve gifted me something awesome. Or maybe I would’ve caught them in a WTF moment after what must have been an insanely stressful week of location switch. Either way, we’d all do well to remember to try to give each other some breathing room as this fire spreads…we’re all just trying to get our camp up, after all.

Image: Stacie Hess/Fest300

Image: Stacie Hess/Fest300

Burning Man Spin-Off Makes Solid Debut

Further Future, a festival in the Nevada desert put on by the crew behind the Robot Heart art car, happened last weekend about 40 minutes outside of Las Vegas.

It takes a lot of time, effort, money, and logistics to get a major sound stage to the Playa every year. In the case of Robot Heart, the situation is even more complicated because the stage moves around. Once Robot Heart parks and the music gets going, it’s kind of stuck – because of the crowd of 10,000+ people and 100+ art cars surrounding it. It’s hard enough moving out of there on foot, let alone turning the main stereo off and driving away.

What do these sound camps get, from bringing what to many is one of the fundamental elements of Burning Man? Nothing. No money. Barely even thanks. Instead they get Larry & Co bitching because they posted DJ set times, BMOrg complaining about the infrastructure headaches (for example, large numbers of people far away from portapotties), and they have to pick up literally tons of MOOP left by the Bucket List Broners.

Given all that, it’s not at all surprising that sooner or later sound camps say “we might as well do this professionally, with higher standards of safety and sanitation, and get paid for it too”. There is a long history of sound camps throwing year-round events off Playa to raise funds that facilitate bringing their equipment, DJs, and crews out. In this sense Robot Heart are no different, and have been throwing parties for many years.

Further Future went, well, further…with a selection of luxury amenities on offer for those who could afford it. The Robot Heart camp contains several billionaires, but you don’t have to be one to dance at their bus or attend their festival. Some of the online detractors have made a big deal about the “invite-only” nature of the event, but that seems to me a wise move to keep initial numbers controllable. For a first-time event, anything could go wrong, and probably will – better to have 3,000 disgruntled patrons, than 50,000. Although there were some hiccups, Further Future generally went pretty smoothly, and was very much enjoyed by most of the attendees. It was not difficult to get an invitation, regardless of body type or financial status.

The venue was changed at the last minute, after the Bureau of Land Management rejected a permit to use a access road to the festival site “out of the blue”. They chose the same medical provider as Burning Man, Humboldt General Hospital – who then got ditched by Burning Man, a decision that also came “out of the blue”. We know that BMOrg have a cozy relationship with the Bureau of Land Management in Nevada, who they pay millions of dollars a year to. BLM Special Agent Dan Love, who has a long history with Burning Man, appeared near Las Vegas running the historic Bundy Ranch Standoff. Apparently there was more than a little hatred directed towards Further Future at last month’s Global Leadership Conference.

Were these two surprise decisions – that occurred at about the same time and both related to possible competition for Burning Man – completely unrelated coincidences? Or was there some behind-the-scenes Nevada politicking going on?

On April 21 the Reno Gazette Journal said:

Burning Man CEO Marian Goodell and other top Burning Man officials this week are speaking on behalf of the Burning Man nonprofit while in Washington, D.C.

Officials are meeting with both federal and state BLM representatives, asking that they consider issuing a permit that would allow for an increase in attendance starting in 2017.

On April 18 the Las Vegas Review Journal broke the news Further Future Festival Scrambles For New Location. So in the same week that BMOrg are meeting with BLM state representatives and their bosses in DC, the BLM decides to make life hard for Further Future. Hmmm…

Luckily for Further Future, the Moapa Indian tribe stepped up, and provided a site that was bulldozed flat in 10 days for the event.

The festival received a lot of publicity, the reviews were mostly positive:

LA Times: Further Future Goes Deep Into The Desert For A New Kind Of Festival

Las Vegas Weekly: No Sleep Till Further Future: My Night At the Electronic Music Festival

Vice: Further Future’s Debut Proves You Can’t Buy Instant Vibes

Mixmag: Snapped: Further Future in the Nevada Desert

Forbes: Burning Man’s Cool Kids Break Off To Mix Music And Tech At New Festival

The Huffington Post published an interview with FFFounder Robert Scott:

Tell me about the inception of Further Future. Who’s the core team? How did it come about and what inspired the name?

Robert: The main members of the core team with whom the public and industry will generally interact are Jason Swamy, Michael Calabrese and Benjamin Alexander and I. As individuals our team members generally prefer to remain somewhat in the background, with our focus being on benefiting the development of the endeavor and the community over our own personal status, if that makes sense. The Further Future concept is something that we have been talking about and evolving for several years. A Further Future event aspires to be a gathering of people with the common goal to spend time together celebrating the infinite possibilities of the future, without necessarily being shackled to the dictates of the past or the cycles of present-day society. We want to combine the connective power of music and art to bring people together in a place where they can shed their anxieties and fears, and touch a natural state of happiness. This, while immersing ourselves together in a culture of open thought and inquiry sharing ideas and aspirations with leading minds in the fields of art, business, science, technology and thought.

We feel there is a yearning in our world for a mindful and directed optimism, the sort of self-belief that empowers a society to transcend its flaws and scars and make great leaps into the future. We have also in our own lives been drawn to and awed by great thinkers and dreamers, artists, scientists and entrepreneurs, who can see past the future and beyond the horizon (into the Further Future). If we could bring such minds together in that environment, just think what amazing conversations and ideas we might witness and what new possibilities might be born.

Morena: Is the goal for Further Future gathering to expand or do you want it to remain small and intimate?

Robert: We have quite a few ideas for what we will do next with Further Future, although it’s not our intention to ever build this into an enormous event. We definitely value the intimacy and community that comes from a smaller event comprised of people who are truly invested in what we are all trying to do.

Las Vegas Weekly noted that there was a large amount of live music, for a crew known mostly for progressive house DJs and that “Robot Heart sunrise sound”:

Its chief component and draw was its music slate, one of the most progressive you’ll find for an American festival. Given the Burning Man pedigree of promoter Robot Heart, Further Future could have exclusively booked DJs. But instead, it booked a considerable complement of live acts, a decision that showed depth for a new festival, cultural relevance given the slowly building trend of electronic musicians opting to perform rather than play their material as a DJ (see: this year’s Coachella and Ultra Music Festival) and a commitment to being more than a party.

The festival was marked by tragedy outside its gates, when Fest300 co-founder Art Gimbel was killed in a car accident on the way to the event.

Our condolences go out to Mr Gimbel’s friends and family and the Fest300 team. Fest300 gave Further Future a glowing review despite the death, describing it as Beautiful People Partying On Mars:

Further Future, the invite-only, first-year Burning Man offshoot that was once shrouded in mystery, pulled off a stunning debut this past weekend in the Nevada desert. Straying far from the see-and-be-seen vibe of Coachella and the opulence of the likes of TomorrowWorld or EDC, Further Future curated an intellectual aura, featuring an eclectic, cool array of musicians (Com Truise, Damian Lazarus + The Ancient Moons, Warpaint, Nosaj Thing, and more showed) who played well past sunrise, a selection of high-minded speakers (like Zappos head Tony Hsieh, the founders of SoundCloud, Google [X]’s captain [Astro Teller], and Zoe Keating) and luxury accommodations like a gated campground called Habitas, spa treatments, and gourmet feasts – all in a Mars-esque setting full of beautiful, well-accessorized partiers.

As the world becomes more and more saturated with corporate-run behemoth festivals, boutique fests will continue to pop up all over, in order to offer more intimate, bespoke experiences. Despite its infancy, we think it won’t be long before Further Future becomes a leader on the new festival frontier

Image: Stacie Hess/Fest300

Image: Stacie Hess/Fest300

Gypset Glamping Tents

Gypset Glamping Tents. Image: Stacie Hess/Fest300

It seems like those who made the trek out to the Moapa Indian Reservation generally had a good time, and were prepared to forgive a few teething problems in a first-time event.

pink_panther said:

Spinoff gatherings like this are becoming more common now that Burning Man has reached capacity and become more mainstream. Each one has its own unique vibe and offering. Further Future was the name of this one, and is clearly a Robot Heart creation, but there’s also Envision, Lightning in a Bottle, and many more.

The burn has been a big part of my life, but going forward I would rather take the time and energy it requires and direct that to international travel to my bucket list of exotic locations. These simpler gatherings offer a great way to keep the flame alive, so to speak, and to try something new.

Further Future apparently signed a 5 year lease with the Moapa River tribe, so this event will likely grow quickly. This year was about 2,500, but I bet next year is closer to 5,000. The event was far from perfect, but it has a lot of potential. I imagine I’ll do it again next year.

teo said:

I really enjoyed this festival, it was small very intimate, the weather was fantastic, and the food was excellent… those Tacos were out of this world. I think it was a very interesting experiment. It was great that no mainstream artists where there. I hope they can keep Skrillex and Diplo away from this festival and all the mainstream artists. It was a very convenient location driving back and forth from Vegas only 40 minutes, no traffic and overall and despite that they were finishing the setup on the last minute, I never felt this level sensation of freedom before in any other festival as I did in Further Future. Kudos to the organizers.

Scott had some constructive criticism:

A few off the top of my head notes and opinions…
-It felt like an album from a band that needed to focus on doing less. Don’t make a “meh” 20 track album when you can focus on doing 10 really good songs.
-It didn’t feel like a rich-guy festival it was accused of being although it had a very different feel overall than on-playa. Generally more serious and reserved, but not bad. Still great things and people.
-With all the open space compared to the number that went, it felt barren.
-Clearly, the most social and bubbly people in any of the camps were those in the self-camping area. Those in the paid-for tent camping often looked… Well, unhappy.
-The music should have been going before the event even started on Friday, but barely any was going until late late into the night/early morning (Or when it was, there were long breaks in between). Further, no disrespect to the DJ or artist at the time, but there was head music on the main stage when it should have been good beats. So many were wandering around looking for thumpy beats.
-The fact that they were behind schedule was obvious from the get-go. It seemed that instead of focusing on getting multiple stages going at the same time, they should have been focusing all the manpower on one, then the next, then the next…
-The supplying of water and showers were both great. The water truck guys were great too.
-The police presence felt almost non-existent.
-Nobody I met, including myself, was ever asked to show a ticket/parking pass/etc. to get into the event.
-The taco/burrito truck in the self-camping area was serving up decent stuff at a decent price.
-For how many comfy couch-like seats were provided, they didn’t provide shade. it would have been nice to have more shade and community structures around the event.

The day beds were comfortable, but not very shady

The day beds were comfortable, but not very shady

shadow_billionaire shares what it was like to attend the festival in style:

The helicopter access ran pretty smoothly, in a brand new Eurocopter. Further Future had even provided a sound-track for the ride, a classy touch. One of the co-passengers did not have their wristband on them, so after landing they had to arrange a ride out to the gate to pick it up. A minor inconvenience, but the last thing you want after an expensive chopper ride in is to leave the event to go line up at Will Call, this defeats the purpose.

We had a brief wait in line at the reception desk to find out which tent was ours. It took about 20 minutes, so much faster than Burning Man’s Will Call line. At one point a beautiful girl wearing very little came up and said “we noticed you guys standing in line, so we’ve arranged to have some day beds brought over if anyone would like to sit down”. I thought this was very considerate, and indicative of the attitude Further Future showed to their customers: they cared. 

The glamping tents left a lot to be desired. Perhaps we should have chosen the more expensive Gypset option. On arrival, the canvas structure contained a lamp that didn’t work, an empty mini-fridge, and a cardboard box with a strongbox inside. Later, some pillows arrived. Guests were required to track down their own inflatable mattress, and carry it to the tent once it had been inflated. A topsheet appeared at some point during the night, but there was no blanket or pillowcases. They managed to get the lamp working, but then the air-conditioning failed. The A/C consisted of a large plastic tube filled with air, with a couple of holes ripped in it with a knife. There was no lock on the door, and people kept opening the tent flap constantly – perhaps because they were still trying to finish the rooms off. There was also very little privacy, you could hear every word in all of the neighboring tents. 

All of this could have been manageable, but unfortunately a communication breakdown between the helicopter company and the event’s organizers meant the luggage that we paid extra to have follow us out in a car never showed up. No blanket, no pillowcases, no door, no A/C – OK, we can try to make a go of it anyway; but having no luggage either was just too much. We took a limo back to Vegas on Friday night, rather than sticking around for the return chopper we’d booked the following afternoon (since there was nowhere to watch the fight at the festival).

We did not sample any of the spa treatments, but it looked like many FF-ers were. The organic smoothies were delicious, it was nice being able to get food and drinks whenever we wanted. The music was varied and interesting, underground rather than mainstream. I heard no dubstep, no Diplo and Skrillex, although we did leave early so maybe that came on later. The Robot Heart stage was open to anyone who wanted to climb up on it. There was no feeling of “exclusion” at the festival, despite the high-end amenities on offer. It was not like you could order Cristal and lobster there though.

The cashless system generally worked well. It was useful the way you could link multiple wristbands to one account, and automatically top them up. It was somewhat strange the way your remaining account balance was displayed with each transaction, and the tipping was awkward. A fixed 20% gratuity would have been easier for everyone.

We did not notice any bad attitude from anyone, workers or patrons. Everyone was friendly and seemed to enjoy being there. It was clear that the organizers put a great deal of effort into the festival, and probably were prepared for a larger crowd. This did not seem to be a one-off, and we would definitely go to check the event out again. Next time, we would stay in an RV rather than a “luxury” tent.

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The glamping tents are to the right. The lit up tent to the left is maybe the spa; not sure about the chopped-up container

2015-05-01 19.44.01

The A/C vent

2015-05-01 19.42.04

Secure your valuables – if they made it off the helicopter

2015-05-01 19.41.47

Pillows, but go find your own mattress

We also have received a quite detailed review from Kestrel, that will be published separately as a guest post.

Is Further Future a threat to Burning Man? It doesn’t seem so, since it is on at a different time of year, in a different place. The experience is not the same without all the art cars, bicycles, fire, and the massive city of home-made art. Many Burners insist that Burning Man isn’t even a festival. As an EDM festival, Further Future has many things it offers that are better than Burning Man. It seems like there is plenty of room for both events to flourish in this big, wide, world.

My impression is Robot Heart put a lot of effort into this festival, and did pretty well for their first time – especially given the last minute shafting on their permit. The vibe of everyone there was very friendly and cool, not exclusive at all. The music was great. Sure it did not have 70,000 people, but that was never their aim – Burning Man took a decade to get to 4000 people.

Is it a “transformational festival”, where people can go to act out a different version of themselves, and perhaps come back as a changed person? Probably not – but neither is an official Decompression. Can you enjoy music, art, Nature, and meeting cool, like-minded new people? Absolutely. Is it only for rich people? Definitely not, it costs less to attend than Burning Man.

Since Burning Man has accepted a higher percentage of virgins than any other group of Burners (around 40% for the last 4 years), it has become difficult for its experienced fans to return. So the culture needs events like this, in order to keep growing around art and passion. There was a lot of love at Further Future, as opposed to how corporate and elitist the nay-sayers complained that it would be. Kudos to Robot Heart and their team for trying something new, trying hard, and making it really good. Attention to detail, quality music, quality art. Sure there’s room for improvement…and their attitude suggests that they want to improve. Can we say the same about BMOrg?

Thanks to Peter Ruprecht for these great photos.

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furtherfuture2015 ruprecht robot heart
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DEA Approves Ecstasy for Clinical Trials [Update]

E Ecstasy pills or tablets close up studio shot methylenedioxymethamphetamine. Image shot 2004. Exact date unknown.

From YourNewsWire.com:

The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) has approved the first clinical trial of MDMA to treat anxiety and other psychological illnesses, amid a growing resurgence in therapeutic psychedelic drug usage in the medical community.

Aljazeera.com reports:

“The tide has changed for psychedelic research,” said Brad Burge, the communications director for the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS), a California-based nonprofit research group that studies medicinal uses for psychedelics and marijuana and is sponsoring the study. The DEA approved the project on Friday, he said.

Unlike Ecstasy or Molly — names for MDMA sold on the street and often mixed with dangerous adulterants — pure MDMA has been proved “sufficiently safe” when taken a limited number of times in moderate doses, MAPS says on its website. The DEA did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

MDMA can be useful in psychotherapy for people suffering from anxiety due to life-threatening illnesses because it produces in users a sense of calm, trust and confidence, Burge said. Unlike psychedelics such as LSD and psilocybin, MDMA does not produce hallucinations, he added.

The clinical trial will be held in Marin, California, in a psychologist’s office, as opposed to a hospital setting, Burge said. The patients will lie on a couch with a therapist nearby for support and conversation.

In the trial, 18 subjects diagnosed with life-threatening illnesses will attend months of psychotherapy, with MDMA being used in a few sessions in order to facilitate the process, he said. The outcome will be measured by whether using the psychedelic helps reduce people’s anxiety, which will be determined at the end of the sessions by the patient’s feedback and the therapist’s assessments.

Researchers hope that using MDMA alongside psychotherapy will let subjects confront their situation more clearly and allow the positive steps they take during the therapy to “stick,” Burge said. “It opens them up and makes them more comfortable with the therapist while reducing fear and making them more able to talk about difficult emotions.”

If the pilot is successful, MAPS plans to continue with further studies involving more subjects and different approaches. For now, researchers hope to establish basic safety and effectiveness, he said.

The trial is part of a larger $20 million plan to make MDMA an FDA-approved prescription medicine by 2021, Burge said. MAPS is the only organization in the world funding MDMA-assisted psychotherapy trials, he added.

The institute has carried out successful pilot studies of MDMA-assisted psychotherapy for post-traumatic stress disorder, adding to the drug’s scientific credibility, he said. Other research by the institute includes ayahuasca-assisted therapy for drug addiction, LSD for cluster headaches and psilocybin for nicotine addiction.

Researchers hope to back up growing evidence that psychedelics have legitimate therapeutic uses — and to counter the narrative that has demonized them as mind-destroying drugs.

That’s what the really good science shows, despite decades of propaganda and government misinformation,” Burge said. “Just a couple weeks ago, a phenomenal study showed that there are no long-term associations between psychedelic use and mental illnesses.”

That study was published this month in the Journal of Psychopharmacology. In addition, a recent report by Johns Hopkins Medicine, a leading U.S. medical institution combining the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and the Johns Hopkins Hospital, showed that the use of psychedelic drugs — primarily psilocybin and LSD — could reduce psychological distress and suicidal thinking.

[Source]

ecstasy tongue

No link between psychedelics and mental illness? Tell that to this guy...

No link between psychedelics and mental illness? Tell that to this guy…

[Update 5/5/15 1:54pm]

This post is generating a lot of comments on Facebook, mostly positive but not everyone is supportive. Thanks to Maistresse Sybs for sharing this documentary. “This is a major event in drug history…the facts about ecstasy use are astonishing”.