Burning Man Sucks! 10 Reasons to Stay Home

[We’ve been copping a bit of flak recently in some online comments, for being crusty old vets who are overly negative on Burning Man, compared to the dewy-eyed Virgins and wannabes. Not true – at Burners.Me, we all love Burning Man, that’s why we write about it. Loving Burning Man is not the same as loving the company that owns and operates it, this party is unique in that it is created by the audience, not the ticket-sellers. This isn’t a marriage – we’re free to criticize any aspect of the party or BMOrg we don’t like. You are too, and you’re free to disagree with us. As eloquently as you choose. “Freedom of Speach”, as Burner Crystal aka Nezgod calls it. Anyway, in the face of all this criticism against us for too much negativity, Burners.Me is happy to bring you this guest post from Whatsblem the Pro…]

porta-potty-blowdownWith each passing year, more and more people hear about Burning Man in glowing terms that convince them that it’s something they’d like very much to experience for themselves. This gives rise to tongue-in-cheek threads in online communities in which participants claim that Burning Man is canceled, or that bicycles are banned, or that there will be no porta-potties this year.

Why don’t vets want you to go to Burning Man? Isn’t it a place of radical acceptance where all are welcome?

Yes and no.

Burning Man isn’t just an annual party, it’s a year-round culture. That culture has to be successfully transmitted to new people in order to survive, so of course new people are welcome. Unfortunately, the maximum allowable population of Black Rock City is finite, while the word-of-mouth about the event is more like a geometric progression. If the influx of new people overwhelms the vets’ ability to transmit the culture to them, the culture will perish along with an inordinately large number of dehydrated first-timers, and Burning Man will indeed become just another party (some say this has already happened).

We got a taste of that problem in 2012, when the ratio of fresh new burners to old hands threatened to become completely unmanageable due to the ticket lottery. Steps were taken to adjust that ratio, and in February of that year Marian Goodell wrote on the Burning Man blog:

“There are indications that a large percentage of people attending Burning Man this year will be first-time Burners. As eager as we are to welcome our newest citizens into our community, it’s crucially important that we have a solid foundation of veteran Burners in Black Rock City to meet, greet and acculturate these eager new participants, ensuring that they not only survive the elements but also fully participate in the Burning Man culture.”

In the interests of preserving a healthy ratio of new burners to veterans, here are ten good reasons why Burning Man sucks and you don’t want to go:

1. It’s dangerous.

ticket 1998If you look at the back of any Burning Man ticket, you’ll find a disclaimer that varies slightly from year to year, but remains crystal clear: YOU MIGHT DIE at Burning Man and if you do it’s all your fault for showing up. People die in Black Rock City every single year, although you don’t hear much about it. There are plenty of injuries as well, some of them very grave. There are accidents. There are rapes and other forms of assault. People might kill you; you might enjoy a momentary lapse in good sense and kill yourself, and like the ocean, the desert itself stands a good chance of killing you if you fail to respect it and prepare for it. If you have any kind of medical condition that could bring on an emergency, you could find yourself having that emergency a million miles from the help you need. Nearly everyone around you will be intoxicated, and some of them will be operating incredibly dangerous and highly experimental machinery designed to be maximally destructive.

2. It’s dirty.
shower camp 1996You’re not likely to get a shower at Burning Man unless you’re DPW or hooked up with a camp that has its own shower equipped with the best shower filter. If you’re squeamish about being filthy, that alone might make you want to just quietly erase us from your bucket list. Some people run behind the water trucks that spray water on the roads to keep the dust down, but don’t do it; that water is non-potable and much dirtier than the dust and mud you might have caked on you. Speaking of the dust, you’ll have a hard time appreciating the thoroughness with which the dust infiltrates virtually everything until you’ve been to the playa yourself. I guarantee you’ll get playa dust in your vag even if you don’t have a vag. It might wreck the electronics and any vulnerable moving parts in your car, your phone, your camera, your watch (why are you wearing a watch?). If nothing else, it will be with you (and your car, and a lot of the things you take home from the playa) for a long, long time. People are not exaggerating to you when they talk about how insanely problematic the dust can be. . . there is just nowhere and no way to hide from it, and if you get yourself caught in one of those sudden dust storms that kick up out of nowhere, unprotected and with no shelter available, the dust could easily kill you.

3. It takes a lot of hard work in a dangerous, dirty environment.

reading roomIf you’re looking for a vacation, Burning Man will certainly improve your attitude and give you plenty of opportunities for recreation and cutting loose, but relaxation? Forget about it. This is the hardest-working vacation on the planet, if you’re not just being a tourist (and tourists in Black Rock City are despicable). If you want to kick back and have people waiting on you, if you want to catch up on your sleep, if you want to finally read that novel you haven’t had any time for, then go someplace else. Burning Man is not the place for you, and if you manage to go home happy it will only be because you’ve been through profound and possibly jarring changes in your worldview. This is the vacation that you come home from filthy dirty and profoundly tired, having stretched your own physical capabilities to the very brink and maybe a little beyond.

4. You might end up in trouble with the law.

cops ponyEvery year, the ratio of law enforcement officers to burners on the playa gets worse. Some reports claim that between 2011 and 2012, the number of cops in Black Rock City doubled or tripled. We’re talking about all kinds of cops here, from at least six different agencies: the Federal Bureau of Land Management Rangers; the Pershing County Sheriff’s Office; Washoe County Sheriff’s Office; Nevada State Department of Investigations; Nevada State Health Division, and the Nevada Highway Patrol all have a presence among us during the event. Undercover officers are abundant, and a lot of them don’t seem to care much about anti-entrapment laws. You’re liable to get a little more leniency in Black Rock than you will from the same cops elsewhere, but you’ll still get fined, get stuck with a criminal record, and possibly go to jail.

5. It’ll ruin your relationship.

1995 mud orgyBurning Man can be poison to relationships. It’s incredibly unlikely that anyone on the playa is going to keep to whatever schedule you might propose, and that alone is enough to push some peoples’ buttons. Add to that a tantalizing smorgasbord of available sex, unprecedented feelings of freedom and hedonism, and the strong sense of complete personal transformation that your first burn is liable to inflict on you, and you’ve got a recipe for pissing off someone you love and driving them away forever. If you’re not polyamorous, or at least willing to give the love of your life a vacation from monogamy (and the feeling is mutual), then you might want to go without that person . . or stay home and let him or her go without you.

6. People at Burning Man can be really mean!

It’s true. “Fuck Yer Day” is an oft-heard phrase in Black Rock. Burning Man is not based on anyone’s notions of peace ‘n’ love, and radical acceptance doesn’t mean everyone has to like you, or even pretend to like you. If that bothers you, better drink more water (or maybe just go somewhere else). You have to prepare properly, and show that you’ve received enough of the culture to be some kind of asset and not just a tourist, or you’ll run the risk of being openly mocked and derided by the burners around you (or worse, DPW) for your inevitable massive faux pas. Bellying up to the Black Hole bar and loudly demanding service and a cup, for instance.

7. It’s expensive.

On a per-day basis that includes your ticket and your food and other basic supplies for a week on the playa, Burning Man really isn’t that expensive, and in fact would be quite a good vacation value if those were the only expenses you might incur. However, if all you’re doing is surviving and spectating, then you’re doin’ it wrong, jack. Being a part of it all is essential, and that takes a lot of hard work and maybe quite a lot of money, which needs to be factored into the cost as well. Plus, as you get involved, your participation will rapidly begin to demand more than just a week out of your year. Even if that’s all the time you actually spend on the playa, be prepared to find your burn preparations annexing your leisure time – year ’round – like Hitler pouncing on the Sudetenland.

8. It will make employers think you’re weird and on drugs.

Granted, this can actually work in your favor if the person making the hiring and firing decisions is either a burner, or is weird and on drugs, or both. Your strategy would best be determined by your intended profession; it’s probably not going to be an issue if you want to work in a piercing parlor, medical cannabis dispensary, or fetish webcam modeling agency, but it might put a damper on your work if you teach at a Mormon high school.

zombie unicorn9. It will ruin you for other festivals.

Seriously. People who work at other festivals, people who work on road tours with major musical acts, people who are major musical acts, people who are at festivals all the time and don’t even get much out of them anymore aside from a paycheck. . . those people go to Burning Man to unwind. It’s not like other festivals and it will make every unrelated event you attend seem like a delicious dish with some vital ingredient missing.

10.  This list of reasons isn’t a joke.

OK, sure, it’s a bit meta, but it’s an important point. A lot of people hear about the conditions that prevail out on the playa, and fail to appreciate the sheer severity of it all. Maybe they think their friends are exaggerating, engaging in hyperbole, or just plain joking. The fact is that the playa is a howling wilderness that will make you monstrously uncomfortable if you’re not prepared, could change your life in ways you haven’t anticipated and aren’t ready for, and just might maim you or kill you deader than a very dead thing.


246 comments on “Burning Man Sucks! 10 Reasons to Stay Home


  2. John Waters tells the Animal Farm story, with an early direct reference to Burning Man. Ironically enough, that reference is to the old eglitarian Burning Man, while the rest of the story better matches today’s greater among equals Burnt Man, and good reason not to go.


  3. I am dissapointed .I thought maybe something intelligent might be said in the article, but everything about the article is obvious redundant and hardly a deterrent to eager fest goers .I was hoping the hippocritical nature of Bm might be addressed . Burning man is a walking contradiction ,and is flawed like any other human endeavor
    . Burning man is first and foremost a temporary city with all the beauty and baggage of any other city .The BM organization seems to me to be in a continual state of defineing it’s culture .This is a trap , culture is not your friend .Giving poeple ten guidelines to live by is retarded thinking . You don’t have to look very far into he past to see these kinds of structures and guidelines used for anything but there original intention . Look what the ten commandments have done for us ..It’s not that the ten principles have no value ,it’s just that if folks don’t figure it out on there own how lasting will the message be . There are a million reasons not to go to burning man ,but none of them can be decided intelligently unless you have been there before . I have a hard time knowing what is right for me in many situations ,and have no idea what is right for anyone else.Some people just might need a good kick in the ass ,burning man will give them that opportunity . Should I stay or should I go ?

  4. Spirituality has a hard time at burning man. If you are approached by a pair of porn stars who recently projected astrally through the dual thrust of colon stretching boosters, don’t be surprised to get laid and HIV, crabs, gonorrhea, herpes simplex virus and maybe a broken dick.

  5. Burning man is occult. If you’re fortunate to go to the fucking chore. Go and score $100 . of MDMA eat it and fuck every hole for the rest of your pathetic excuse of an existence then expire on the playa and die. That’s the plan . You’ll be jogging around the camp naked with your inflated genitals hanging down with dozens of freaks just like you and expect your anus to be stretched out after day one.

  6. I went alone to burning man in 2003 in a 1979 Ford F-150 that barely made it out of the soda hell after four days. Overheating issues. I had a great time. I didn’t get laid and I never scored any meth. I actually bonded well with the bartender in Gerlach. He or she could tell that some go to the festival for the gang bang. Some don’t. The coffee was good at the tent. Beyond Belief. Did they recycle that? Porn star paradise and some born again Christian types videoing the tent scene against the rules.

  7. I agree. Take a lot of water. Per day per person plan on ten gallons. Don’t worry about food. You won’t be able to cook. Take food that contains no meat. I guess about one hundred jars of peanut butter. Dry oats. Molasses. Spices. Sugar in dry form. Canned or bottled jams, beans, ground barley, oats, slim Jim’s for the drug free wankers. Thanks

  8. If you are a hormone drive person with a drug and alcohol addition, I think you would fit in just fine. It seems to me that it is the 1980’s nightclub crowd without the nightclub. Hey we are untitled to our own version of HELL.

  9. Working, building a life and not experimenting with drugs are the true things that expand your mind. People who do drugs are fools who live in an illusion of grander.


    “1. It’s dangerous.” See (3.)
    “2. It’s dirty.” See (3.)
    “3. It takes a lot of hard work in a dangerous, dirty environment.”

    Only if you invest yourself in the experience, and that’s why I like it. If you just invest money, and fly in to accommodations prepares by others, you get to skip most of the danger and dirt, as well as the opportunity for personal growth.

    “4. You might end up in trouble with the law.”

    Only if you run that risk in your everyday life. The only “added” risk is serving alcohol to minors, so ask for IDs; and in doing so, you contribute to (6.).

    “5. It’ll ruin your relationship.”

    OK, here is the rocket science: don’t come with your SO. It is a personal experience. Coming with your SO or date will only be a problem if there is a personal incompatibility.

    “6. People at Burning Man can be really mean!”

    Actually, they are usually pretty nice. Aside from a reaction to all the LE entrapment narcs, most problems come from people who are not self-reliant, have no healthy shame about it, and try to take advantage of others. True quote: “Can I trade one of these warm beers for one of your cold ones?”

    “7. It’s expensive.”

    Depends on how much you have to buy there (as with flying onto RNO or LAS), compared to bring with you if you drive. Don’t agonize over where to sleep: rent a van, sleep in the back, and experience the people; if you are trying to impress people, that’s your own issue. The only really expensive thing is getting to be the tickets, and the amazing time and agony now required to get them.

    “8. It will make employers think you’re weird and on drugs.”

    It won’t if you don’t tell them. Keep you mouth shut. If you can’t, I am sure this will not be the only thing that make employers think you’re weird.

    “9. It will ruin you for other festivals.”

    Only if you don’t know what to avoid at other festivals, like lists of performers and DJs. There are lots of festivals that now do Burning Man better than Burning Man.

    “10. This list of reasons isn’t a joke.”

    No, this list is repetitive, obvious and silly.

    Here are some real reasons not to go:

    A. ENABLING THE RICH SPECTATORS. Used to be that Burning Man was a personal discovery experience, and I am sure it still is for some. But this does not include those that use money as a fungible substitute for personal commitment and involvement; those people come to “look at the naked hippies in the desert.” No, it does not count if you are rich and naked unless there is no evidence of the former when you are there. Hippies also means the equality and sharing of the Diggers: https://vid.me/jLhu#2s

    B. THE WRONG PEOPLE ARE COMING NOW THAT IT IS SO POPULAR. Ten years ago, the burners were pretty much individuals seeking a new shared experience. But now, a significant portion of those who come to take advantage of the burners. Now theft and rape are all too common. That’s the way it always seems to go: https://vid.me/PKiz#158s

    C. THE TIME AND EFFORT TO GET A TICKET. Ever since the sellout, just getting a ticket has become a major investment in time. Unless you are rich and can drop around a grand for a ticket, you have to invest time to get a ticket, and odds are you will not be successful. The “regular” way is to register with the Borg and get an invitation to just wait in line for a ticket. Others can finagle or buy bulk tickets, all again at the capricious pleasure of the Borg. They have killed the spontaneity and creativity that was there ten years ago when I went. The Borg could have used legacy ticketing, where veterans could use or transfer invitations to return, or sought new venues each year to allow unlimited ticketing (like the Olympics), but that would surrender control and attention that they have found and desperately seek to keep:

    D. THE BORG IS PROFITING OFF THE EVENT WHILE KEEPING OTHERS FROM DOING SO. The Borg treats the event as if it was their corporate property and creation, when it always was the creation of the burners that come each year. Now they are curating not only the art, but art cars and who gets to come (C.), and the Borg sell the event to those that provide the social and/or monetary capital. Ironically enough, it is the non-fungible burners that are the very event the Borg are selling. The Larry Harvey March sets the mood for better understanding:

    Well, at least those are the reasons I don’t go anymore. None of them were issues ten years ago. Sure, I still work our theme camp at other burns. Those may still have (1.-10.), but they don’t have (A.-D.). Do some research here: https://burners.me/burner-burns/

    Good luck.

  11. Pingback: Burning Man to create giant permanent sex city at Fly Ranch - THE LONDON WORLDWIDE JOURNAL

  12. To each his own, It looks exactly like something so far removed from the original idea most of the people who attend just go for the booze,drugs,sex and or easy prey. Corporate ownership were net profit is all that matters ? Rapes,assaults and any other flavor of crime you like best ? Is being a victim the purpose of attending ? Sounds exactly like one of those places you have no choice but to educate predators and make them wish a trauma center or med evac flight was available for THEM.

    • Pretty sure those low-lifes would not have a wristband, and would not be allowed in your camp nor allowed to get that close by security. Besides, the wristband says messing with me has consequences and helps ward those people off.

  13. My business partners were looking for TX Form VTR-346 earlier today and used a great service with a ton of fillable forms . If others are wanting TX Form VTR-346 too , here’s https://goo.gl/QH0Zic.

  14. Oliver Bonins awesome 2009 Burning Man documentary Dust & Illusions – link Any person whom might desire to be involved with the Burning Man Organization must view this video prior to doing so. This film was made prior to the Burning Man Organization jumping the shark.

    Dust & Illusions is a balanced view of the festival, IMDB rates the film 8 of 10. It is on Vimeo and Netflix.

    «Love the humour and brutal honesty. Amazing collection of footage and interviews.»
    «I was glad to see some balanced criticism, even though I fully support Burning Man.»
    «The films stands solidly as a historical documentary.»
    «This is an excellent documentary, as it’s not all starry-eyed and uncritical»
    «More than a history: a well-constructed story, a daring statement, but gracefully done without anger.»
    «Dust and Illusions is the only worthwhile documentary about Burning Man. Most are navel-gazing, utopian affairs.»
    «I am impressed with the way this film presents its criticism. It is both tactful and nuanced.»

    User Reviews – IMDB

    If you ever dropped a dime on Burning Man, this is the 1st real accounting, you gotta see it.
    5 May 2009 | by kevin mathieu (United States) – See all my reviews

    This is a must see film for anyone into Burning Man and art subculture.

    If you ever have gone to Burning Man or ever heard anything about it, this tells the full story of its origin, its founders (known and unknown), and has amazing footage, interviews, and images. Really well done that ties all the elements together in a tight seamless weave.

    Having been close to the event for 14 years and knowing nearly all the interviewee’s as well as so many back stories that never can or will be told I was completely stunned by this documentary.

    I think it hangs those that deserves hanging ( by their own words and deeds mind you) and gives credit and props to those that really make the event, what was (and sometimes still is ) a unique life changing event.

  15. The famous 2015 Quiznos Waze Runner Burning Man parody video with 2,681,011 views – link. The BMOrg was most pissed in regards of this video in due of the video is a most brilliant parody of Burning Man.

    What happens when you send the characters from The Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials to an overcrowded music festival in the desert? You’ll have to witness it for yourself. Things will get toasty on The Playa. Welcome to the #BurnTrials!

    Quiznos and The Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials bring you the latest Toasty.TV original parody.

  16. Heres a question-if Burning Man is so horrible, and youre encouraging your readers not to go, then why do you go ??!!

    • I question experiencing anything that you can experience thought the media, unless the personal element is an essential part. For example, I don’t need to see a presidential debate or football game in person. The old Burning Man had to be experienced personally, and I am sure the real thing can still be found infrequently at the NV burn. But now that the media is defining the NV burn, people come with that redefined perception. If it is a music video to you, then you don’t need to be there. As those with tickets seek the media definition, the original experience is lost, if for no other reason that people are now coming with a preconceived notion, and seek that out. They look for the music video that is the NV burn. Burning Man is not a music video.

  17. Two years ago there was an article in the Reno newspaper about a drug dealer from Chicago that was busted on the way to Burning Man. The police pulled over a van with a broken tail light, smelled pot and searched the van. $250,000.00 dollars worth of drugs were discovered. The list included 1 kilo of heroin, 2 kilos of cocaine, 50,000 tabs of ecstasy, 20,000 hits of LSD, 20 pounds of pot, a whole host of psychiatric drugs and others. Burning Man is a fragment of the ecstasy rave drug culture that spun out of the 1980’s… these people must be on drugs? Yes they are.

    “Every crowd has a silver lining.” BT Barnum

  18. Pingback: Deserts - Caustic Soda

  19. Most of these problems are avoided if you buy a $10,000+ place at a PnP/Commodification Camp. )$( You also avoid most of the reasons for going, including testing your metal against these challenges. Might just as well stay home and watch the video feed of the burn.

  20. Beware of Douglas Bosworth- Thief, ruins lives, con-man, abusive to women- CHARMING/ TALENTED guitar player- run, don’t walk…

  21. Great article. And it is all so very true. I have a rental business located south of Reno and cater to burners. The difference between first timers and vets is like night and day. It is a very harsh, raw environment. Playa Dust invades every crevasse, the dust storms consume everything, and amenities are non existent. What a great place to have the time of your life!

  22. Pingback: Participer à Burning Man | Manlyst Up

  23. I absolutely can’t stand how people are using the word “epic” to describe everything lately…. but I will use that word to describe burning man. I went for the first time with ignorant preconceived notions, but ended up having the time of my life. It was beyond “epic” and heading back for round II.

  24. Ten reasons was a explicitly succinct.
    I would like to step closer mmmm?
    I love to give with out getting run over
    I love to love with a firm defense
    I love dirt when it is part of my shelter.
    I love as much as a mans body as I do a woman’s.
    I am a self made Shamon.
    I love this country and fly the flag. What is at Burning seems a parody on our true blue capitalist society, which I live for the freedom we have. Nothing different . so we hit the hard to live homeless dirt eating, drop in daily value , free man woman, in the virtuosity of helping you out to survive and chill Mon.
    Never been there, think it will work. Do we have an infectious disease camp… Ones who can openly test and report to those in need. ie, if my wife asks me to find 7 good men to pull a train cause that is her mood at the moment. Is there a camp we can barter for tests. ?
    Pain means your alive.
    Even with the growing peace officers there and I’m sure many are revenue hunting. Are common good things readily available. I say that cause similar to our everyday life where we don’t visit each day is the police find the hookers cause they know the drugs are close.
    I would hate to this as a full blown illegal drug camp ,but somethings one feels part of the experience.
    Secret of life: pay attention

Leave a Reply