Burners Against Scalpers

At this site Thomas Hunt, rumored to be the great cousin of Michael, has kicked off a petition, trying to get 10,000 Burners to express their disgust at scalpers.

What they hope to achieve with this, is questionable. Scalpers are not politicians, so why would they be swayed by a petition? If they are sitting on large numbers of tickets, the lamentations of a few hippies in the Burner community about “injustice” are unlikely to move them more than the massive profit$ they’re looking at. Especially when price$ keep going up every week on the secondary market.

The whole “blame it on scalpersattempted excuse sounds to me like the old “bait and switch“. Distract the community with an illusion, so they don’t see the way they’re really being fleeced.

Whether you like it or not, right now scalpers are providing the only way for Burners to get tickets to Burning Man – just like any other event in America, except maybe the Oscars. It’s clear now that STEP was a flop, it was shut down in 20 minutes with less than 200 tickets going through the system. It seems that even the most “altruistic” of (non-)Burners did not want to take a 3% loss on tickets that they could make a 400% profit on. It would’ve cost BMOrg a mere $14,000 to pick up the handling fees on the 2000 tickets they were expecting to go through STEP, but no, their preferred solution is that the community must pay the price for their frivolous entry of a lottery for an event they now don’t want to attend. And BMorg did not want to listen to the almost unanimous cry from the Burner community to solve the scalping problem by linking tickets to IDs – something done all the time, all round the world, and surely possible to organize in the 6 months remaining until Burning Man.

All BMOrg has done – whether deliberately because there’s tens of millions of dollars at stake; or through ignorance and incompetence of their huge team of paid workers, volunteers, and game theorists, who only have to handle one relatively small event per year – has been to create the line outside the club, and run the guest list. Scalpers are like the promoters selling VIP tables to a sold-out event.

I’m struggling to understand the underlying logic to the argument that scalpers hurt the Burner community. It appears to be based on the idea that if scalpers were to sell tickets to Burners then in the future, ticket prices might go up. Never mind the fact that BMOrg has continually increased ticket prices since 1995, without any input from scalpers…it completely ignores the other expense$ that the more generous members of the Burner community put into making a great Burn for all the rest of us. The price of a ticket on the secondary market is nothing compared to an hour of fireworks, or even one wheel of a giant Trojan horse.

We need the high rollers! How do you get a Trojan Horse or a big fuck-off duck, without some whales?

For some, radical self-expression is fulfilled by how much they selflessly give. This is what the true gift economy is all about – those who can afford to give unconditionally, doing so; not those who can afford nothing, having a great party at the expense of everyone else, and leaving with a whole bunch of swag.

BMorg claim that Burning Man is not about money. But, seriously…can you imagine a Burning Man without rich people underwriting it through patronage? How much gifting, how many sound stages, how many art cars do you think there would be – if it was all people on food stamps, catching the bus from Reno?

6 comments on “Burners Against Scalpers

  1. So if person X is willing to pay more than person Y then person X values their ticket more. Yea right. That hasn’t been my experence on the playa. In my experence person X stays in their $50k motor home all week and complains to their neibors about noise.

    • my neighbors complained to me last year about having a conversation with my friend. “Go away, people are trying to sleep”!, they said. “Can’t you talk in your RV?” It was 3 in the afternoon on the main Saturday! There will always be that annoying noise complainer, whether rich or poor. These particular ones were in a tent

  2. one more thing…Those BIG art projects like the Lotus Girls fireworks, the Trojan Horse, and the Fuck Duck ALL were funded by the community. Either art grants or fund raisers. Also think of it like this, those BIG camps and Art Projects got the “dibs” on tickets this year too. So the said whales are getting face value tickets from the BMORG while the scalpers STILL charge you 4x face value. I think you are just trying to make yourself feel and look better when you scalped your tickets. No true burner would view or support scalping or over face value sales in a positive way.

    • I know people who have spent $200 a ticket, and people who have spent $5000 a ticket. I know people who wrote personal checks for $50,000 towards art projects, in addition to their camp expenses. I know people who go to Burning Man for 3 months and volunteer. In my opinion, all of those people are true Burners. Call it “radical inclusion” maybe? You seem to have resentment for those who choose pre-organized accomodation, while being ignorant of the money and time people spend from their own pocket to entertain everyone. Most of those art cars are not funded by the BMorg. Neither are most of the art projects and camps. BMorg has provided minor funding to less than 50 art projects, all of which will require community funding to get to the Playa. I love the US, where I can go to any event thanks to scalpers. Laker games, the Grammys, Dave Chappelle, MMA. Am I “against basketball” because I bought tickets outside the Staples Center for above face value? It’s time for Burning Man to stop pretending they’re different. The ticket lottery system has clearly been a scalper’s wet dream, the BMOrg supported that to the hilt…so perhaps the BMOrg aren’t true Burners either?

  3. “I’m struggling to understand the underlying logic to the argument that scalpers hurt the Burner community.”—Are you serious? Burning Man is not about letting vendors profit off the citizens. So why should a scalper or a “ticket vendor” be allowed to do so as well with out BMORG consent?

    • err…because it’s a free country. If you have a ticket and you want to sell it to person X for price Y, then you can do that. I don’t see why your doing so hurts the Burner community, since person X obviously values the ticket more highly and therefore wants to be there more. I certainly don’t see why BMOrg has to consent for anything I do, especially transactions taking place in the Default world.

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