Gawker wrote this article after last year’s Burn – although it seems to mostly quote Rupert Murdoch’s Wall Street Journal. It’s not plagiarism if there’s attribution! Personally, I’ve seen how some rich people do Burning Man, and this article barely scratches the surface. Let’s hope things stay that way…
How Rich People Do Burning Man
Unless you’re wealthy, you’ve probably been spending Burning Man Week moping about how you couldn’t afford tickets to America’s favorite festival of radical self-expression this year. But make no mistake: Those rich people touring the playa on their Mad Max cruisers are suffering, too.
As the Wall Street Journal tells us, many of this year’s Burners With Money to Burn are doing all they can to avoid the heat, food shortages, and other potential inconveniences of Black Rock City life by spending shitloads of money to recreate the comforts of home. Reps from the RV rental company Classic Adventures RV, for example, tell the WSJ that Vanity Fair New Establishmentarian and Tesla Motors CEO Elon Musk hired them to set up “an elaborate compound consisting of eight recreational vehicles and trailers stocked with food, linens, groceries and other essentials for himself and his friends and family.” That’s not all:
[Classic Adventures] charges $5,500 to $10,000 per RV for its Camp Classic Concierge packages like Mr. Musk’s. At Mr. Musk’s RV enclave, the help empties septic tanks, brings water and makes sure the vehicles’ electricity, refrigeration, air conditioning, televisions, DVD players and other systems are ship shape. The staff also stocked the campers with Diet Coke, Gatorade and Cruzan rum.
But isn’t part of the point of Burning Man to “rough it,” radically? Perhaps in the olden days this was true. But rich people bring to the festival their own values and beliefs:
- Sleeping in a tent sucks
- Being really hot sucks
- Making your own art is hard, especially when you have no artistic skills or actual creativity whatsoever
About that last item: The WSJ tells us about one San Francisco real estate mogul who either didn’t feel like or lacked the capacity to construct their own sculpture, and therefore they hired a “team of artists and metalworkers” to built one on their behalf. The mogul wasn’t available for comment, but a chef who cooks up gourmet meals for Burners with refined tastes explains: “People have less and less time to be radically self-reliant.”
Despite their relatively resplendent accommodations, upper-crust Burners can’t shield themselves from every hardship:
Adam Stephenson, a 40-year-old marketing director for Symantec Corp., says that even though he is paying a premium for RV service, he put a lot of work into building a shade tent and buying costumes and supplies. And the RV isn’t the Ritz. “It’s not super easy,” he says. “The air conditioner is not on all the time.”
And when the A/C does break, the rich people sweat just like the poor people sweat. The sun treats everyone the same. This is one of the lessons you learn out there on the desert, when you’re not mastering leadership and contemplating how creativity can bourguignon-beef up your bottom line.