Opulent Temple pulls out of Burning Man

Opulent Temple recently celebrated their 10-year anniversary at Burning Man. They have rocked the Esplanade as one of the major sound camps, with world class DJs, pyrotechnics, lasers and a great crowd. Here’s their self-description from their web site:

Welcome to Opulent Temple, a leading not-for-profit electronic music stage production emerging from Burning Man and based in San Francisco. We operate by volunteer effort and are funded solely by supporter donation in large part through fundraiser events all year round. The trademark DJ booth known as the O-pod is comprised of artfully twisted steel details, designed and welded by the OT resident DJ’s themselves. The stage is illuminated mainly by firelight from DJ controlled flame thrower effects. The sound is raw, unexpected, full-bodied and visceral. The iconic symbol of the Dancing Shiva has been emblazoned at a wide array of events across North America and Europe. What they find at Opulent Temple is a peak experience of sacred dance to world class music.


Unfortunately for us Burners, and for the party in general, Opulent Temple will not be at Burning Man in 2013. They say they are taking a break, which we hope means that they will return in 2014.

As you may have heard this year marks our 10th annual camp at the Burning Man event. After 10 straight years of going big, we’re going to take 2013 off from doing the big camp on the playa and take our toys to other settings. (Right after Burning Man at the Audio Circus festival in Utah, for starters).

This is not unprecedented, Root Society was not there in 2011 but they came back this year.

However the description of this YouTube video suggests that Syd Gris’ last sunrise set was closing the book after 10 great years at Burning Man.

Earlier in the year, Opulent Temple was badly affected by the ticket fiasco. Not sure if the rumors we’ve been hearing about BMOrg’s desire to repeat the lottery system again next year have had any impact on their decision to stay away. Here’s what Syd Gris had to say on that at the time:

“Like most camps, only about 25% of our returning members got tickets in the lottery. Even before the announcement regarding the 10,000 [tickets] set aside for theme camps, etc, we never doubted we’d be there. 2012 makes our 10th camp in a row, so we’re set on making it special. I don’t know yet what they’ve allotted us to buy, but I’m confident it will work out. I am concerned about tickets for artists who want to play our stage, but we’ll see how it pans out.

Opulent Temple has played some great music over the years. This year, Opulent Temple brought out Carl Cox, Christopher Lawrence, Stanton Warriors, and many other famous international acts. This might not mean much to the hippies, but it’s a big deal to the ravers.

We can still catch Opulent Temple at other events. Syd Gris spoke out earlier this year about how San Francisco city’s “War on Fun” was going on as strongly in 2012 as it was in 2006.

Opel event producer Syd Gris has plenty of grievances he plans to address on Monday. Gris, who will be speaking on the panel for the first time, said what the Guardian coined as the “War on Fun” in 2006 wages on in 2012.

Gris plans to bring up June’s Opulent Temple Massive on Treasure Island, which was designed to be for visitor aged 18 and over, but the San Francisco Police Department captain that oversaw the event insisted it only allow in those of drinking age, “despite ample precedence of events in the city being 18 and over.”

“For them to deny us the ability to do something that happens all the time in the city just because one captain didn’t like it was unfair and had a huge economic impact,” Gris said. “It’s a great example of what’s wrong with how certain things work in the city. Arbitrary decisions that are inconsistent, unfair, and have a deleterious impact on an event producer can be made by small groups of people.”

His was not a stand alone experience, but part of a broader, Gris said. The mellow Fillmore Jazz Festival had to have beer gardens for the first time this year, Power to the Peaceful was cancelled last September, as was LovEvolution this year after the SFPD places onerous restrictions on it.

“I am certainly glad that the conversation is happening with people that need to be hearing about it,” Gris said of the Summit. “Will a real change come out of it? I’m not optimistic but I certainly hope so.”

Burning Man’s ticket system is already responsible for attendance being less than last year, despite a population cap increase and 10,000 extra tickets being approved in a special permit from the Bureau of Land Management. The already shrinking event has now also lost one of its major drawcards.

Syd, Opel Productions, and the whole Opulent Temple crew, thank you so much for everything you have given us over 10 years in Burning Man. Please come back once you’ve had a break!



54 comments on “Opulent Temple pulls out of Burning Man

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  5. It’s all over for Burning Man !!!! It’s a drug infested VD giving hell Hole … Opulent !!! Good choice !!!! I will follow you …. F paying 400 bucks and fighting for ice and water while some 61 year old Woodstock wanna be tries to show his little dick to my girl !!! I’m Done with BM …. And it’s hippocrit s

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  8. OT, Thanks for the fun and memories. You added to the vibe, but are not the reason people come to BM. It the whole experience. I’ve had a blast at OT, but also at smaller clubs/camps with some incredible HOUSE music. Understand the break, and enjoy it. It will give the playa a whole new flow. Others will step up, and the obscure less heard DJ’s will rise up as well. The band plays on and o and on.

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  12. This string is cool. Six months of comments of all shades.

    Large Scale Sound Art Installations(What they were called before it was popularly stripped down to ‘Sound Camps’) have always been an easy target. But now that Opulent Temple has for ten straight years repeatedly hosted Dj guests of the absolute *HIGHEST* caliber, added flamethrowers all over the place, shot lazers everywhere and play their music louder than most human ears can tolerate – you don’t even need to aim.

    I love the perspectives shared here, so I thought I would share.

    I think it’s fair to say the heyday of the hippy, small art and acoustic bands have dwindled (if you read the posts here…). drowned out by BIG ART and DJ’s. Welcome to the modern transition of an event originated by visionary hippies, a culture now clinging on to a nostalgia of nearly 50 years past(I have nothing to back that up).

    The small art does still live in Black Rock Desert. But those artists aren’t the pumping heart of the event as they once were – Burning Man is now driven by an amazing show of DJ AMBITION. <– that is not a person, it's a statement worth reading. I'm willing to bet that 60% of the BM population are building some sort techno fueled, ipod ready, bring your headphones type of mutant vehicle, dj booth, musical outfit, renegade rave throwing something-rather. It's become insane! By numbers we are seeing multiple art cars linking sound systems together and growing louder and bigger throughout the night, each night! Worldwide fundraising, club nights and fire dancing in each their respective nations. Big cities, small towns, kickstarters for smaller camps with dreams of making it BIGGER in the desert like Opulent Temple.

    Why? Because it's NOT a club or rave. It's different, it's organic, it's temporary and it's still special. That tribal sensation we all feel when we see the drum circles at the ashes of the burnt man – many will only feel it at Burning Man. Some while dancing in our circle of flames at night.

    We create that whole place together. The product reveals to me that collectively we are ALL clinging to a past culture. The tribal sixties (not the 1960's) where the hippy, the artist and the dj (the guy hitting the deerskin drum) likely danced around the fire TOGETHER.

    • well said, Bustin Jeiber. Very well said. It’s temporary, it’s special, it’s a spectacle – and it’s techno. If we can do this with technology, surviving in the desert is almost an afterthought. And stay tuned, to back up those links of the last 50 years from the Bay Area hippies to the Burning Man of today.

  13. I am in no way saying opulent temple isnt awesome. but what i want to argue with is the next to last sentence of the blog, about the ‘already shrinking event losing one of its major drawcards’.

    If the ONLY reason your attending burning man is for opulent temple, then i would prefer you saw them elsewhere. burning man is about more than ONE camp, no matter how you slice the cake. we have way too many burn virgins that are there to explore what burning man is about to show around, we dont need any more sparkle ponies or hipsters coming to just eat drugs and listen to djs, they have events for that (not just talking about OT), go to them, you’ll probably feel more part of the crowd there.

    now on the other hand, i can understand being ‘upset’ because you were hoping to ALSO see OT and they werent coming. but just upset. There is way cooler stuff to see then sitting at JUST ONE theme camp for a week.

    my opinion. im sure someone disagrees. lol.

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  16. Dear Beautiful People,
    The Playa is HUGE, There is no way that it will be all acoustic, sorry ( that’s kinda like believing that “2012 is BM last year!”). However I would love to dance with a 1000 person Klezmer parade! That can make you wiggle! A return to small art would be stunning, heartening and is needed.
    I have only been going to burning man for 8 years. The art is key, and the sense of community is the only thing holding us together. When the camps get big and anonymous they are hard to clean, thus true LNT is almost impossible. Its hard to have a sense of community in a 400 person camp.
    Part of Community anywhere is accepting that what you personally think the point is about, is not what your neighbor thinks the point is about. Thus camp “Happy Love Love Day” can joyfully be next to “Camp go F* yourself.” One can give kisses and raw macaroons to passing lovers, and the other can catapult full PBR cans to parched Bicyclists. They are equally important to the experience.
    I hope that anyone, who would like to, can just take this example and use it for anything they like or do not like about BM or community.
    Lets stop sniffling and pointing fingers. Be the change you want to see at BM. You want acoustic music, make some. You want small art, make some. You want different mindset, change your mind.
    Diversity is linked to survival.
    Boom shakalaka.

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  20. nothing compares to the energy and vibe of the playa. It cannot be recreated and therefore OT will be back….another sound camp will fill the void while they are absent and they will come back with a vengence!

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  23. R.I.P., O.T.. For me, the OT had some of the best vibes and sounds on the playa last year… I mean its pretty hard to beat a dance floor surrounded by flamethrowers! Im sure the old days of burning man were awesome, and next year the void will surely be filled with something great, but regardless, their 2013 absence is bummer news!

  24. Syd and the OT crew will be missed !! They rocked the Playa for a decade. Thanks for the great memories guys. I know we will see something cool come out of the time off. Maybe a new camp ?? New name ?? New designs ?? Who knows. I do know that OT throws some of the best parties on the Playa. Cheers =)

  25. As a 12 year burner, I would like to see Burning Man get back to its roots, big sound camps have changed the event for the worse IMHO , that said, leave the club scene back in the default world and get back to community and art. ~)'(~

  26. IMHO , big sound camps have taken over burning man, not a welcome change. As a 12 year burner I would like to see the event go back to it’s roots….. Art and community …… Leave the club scene in the default world. ~)'(~

  27. Been going to burning man for a few years and Im psyched their not their. I felt that any camp that brings the same set up every year is a bit lame. Could you imagine if the temple or man was built exactly the same the last 10 years? I hope them the best and if they return I hope its something refreshing and new…

    • could you imagine making a new camp every year… and who would pay for that… some burner, its not about the camp itself but the vibes and all that hippie dippy stuff.

    • And it sound like you are clueless to what it takes to deliver a world class sound camp…the $$ involved, the fundraisers needed each year, the positive energy needed from all it members to build and tear down the camp.

      FYI, the MAN was basically on the same pedestal for many years genius…BALES OF HAY.

      OT evolved each year into a wonderful camp. It wasn’t an overnight thing. I remember the 1st year they were on the Playa…Sandra Collins was there. It was fun but it wasn’t like it was currently. They added new stuff each year from a bar to dance platforms to FIRE.

      Just curious Hawkstarr, what exactly do you bring to the Playa each year ?? Please tell.

  28. Gonna be a rough one for big sound camps next year – with PEX and Robot Heart getting a bad LNT score, Area 51 pretty much not going next year, and Opulent Temple taking the year off, there’s going to be a lot less HUGE sound systems.

    I’m part of one of the East Coast sound camps (PLF, baby!) and am well aware of the challenges of running a sound camp. Camped with Area 51 this year, and the amount of work between Fractal Nation and Area 51 to pull off that stage and the art domes was insane, and burned out a number of people.

    I loved being part of that huge push to build out the stage and camp, but I have a feeling next year’s gonna be disappointing for the raver set.

  29. Personally, I think with the year round funding machine that Opel / Opulent has compared to other camps, their same setup got old and stale. Not to mention with the number of camp members and the proximity SF has to playa, they could have used some imagination and built some new setups.
    Alas, the demise of Deep End gave rise to Distrikt. And so I am sure that Opulent will spawn some equally good offspring.
    And also when Root Society took the year off, Disorient stepped up and put on a sick show.

  30. I went to OT in 2010, didn’t go back in 2011 or 2012. Looking forward to seeing what creative camp will replace them 🙂

  31. Those djs are some of the worlds best, most well respected artists of their genre. I wouldn’t make them the sole reason for attending BM but it sure as hell is a big draw, considering how rarely they play in other parts of the country.

    All music today is manufactured, btw. If you’ve got a problem with it, don’t ever turn the radio on ever again.

  32. What a bummer! OT is a wonderful wonderful music mekka and will be sorely missed I am sure. As far as being a major draw card for Burning Man, I doubt that. Most people go to Burning Man for the whole experience, not just to rave. Heck I haven’t made it to OT much in the last few years because there is just so much other things to do and be a part of. Watching this video I am a little sad I didn’t make it. This DJ sounds frickin awesome and the playa floor seems vibed up nicely. Kudos for all of the hard work.
    I would hope that the city infrastructure and experiment as a whole is the main draw for most Burners or else it’s just a dirt rave. A damn fine one at that 😉

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