Over at the official Burning Man blog, John “Halcyon” Styn has shared a post about radical inclusion. I haven’t always been a fan of his style in the past, Burning Man is not the Care Bears after all, but in this case I can put aside possible past pink hair prejudice because I like this message. He addresses the celebrity factor which has always been there, but strangely this year seems to be an issue for some Burnier-than-Thous.
Like me, Halcyon’s first burn started on the Thursday, 1998.
My first burn was in 1998. I showed up Thursday afternoon, late in the week. I avoided most responsibilities and did very little to help with the camp breakdown. I took much more than I gave. I bet a veteran would have considered me a tourist.
But it changed me. I started to learn more about the event. I started to learn more about myself.
I learned what my gifts were.
I learned to start listening for, and listening to that voice that steered me towards my Joy.
It changed my life. It changed my world. It changed my burn.
So when I hear that Zuckerburg helicoptered in, or that P. Diddy was seen at Robot Heart, do I worry that “Burning Man is over?”
The opposite, actually.
Burning Man changes people. When it changes people who have control over significant resources, that bodes well for the planet. I want every CEO and Prince to experience the Playa. I want them to dance on an art car, be gifted pancakes and say what P. Diddy said upon returning from the dust: “#BurningMan Words cannot explain! I’ll never be the same”
This is not a silly idea. More and more I have been asked to speak to business people about the value of Burning Man ideals. They may not even know that they are BM ideals, but they know that being in alignment with integrity and purpose is important. After long careers where the bottom line was everything, they know, deep down, that it isn’t enough.
When I was recruited for my current job, it was based on videos I did about Burning man. The CEO told me, “We are are group of people who have had successful careers. We have built our empires…but now we want to build our legacy.”
So bring on the ravers, frat-boys, tourists & elitists. As each one of us gets in tune with who we truly are, it benefits us all. As each cell gets healthy, it advances the health of the entire body.
We’ve built an empire of dust…now we build our legacy.
The reason this is a big deal, is that Sean “P.Diddy” Combs is one of the world’s most powerful and prominent tastemakers. The richest person in Hip-Hop, he commands an audience of hundreds of millions of fans around the world, far more than little old Burning Man (or Burners.Me). Like, this guy is too big for Coachella. He’s probably one of the most famous people on the entire planet, who could do anything he wants at any time. For someone like that to express that he had a “life changing experience” at Burning Man, shows us there really is something very unique and special and precious here. Something that could be harmed if Burnier-than-Thous start hating too much on celebrities.
Everything we hear about Burner Sean is that he nailed it on his first burn, he was a consummate Burner helping out his neighbor’s flat tire with a Portable air compressor, bringing Playa gifts for his camp mates, and rocking it hard at Robot Heart and Pink Mammoth. The Daily Mail has some positive coverage. I know where he camped and some more personal stories but this is not TMZ, we welcome Diddy to the Burner community and he should be able to get down as he sees fit without it being a big deal to anyone. He’s one of us, makes me want to buy his tracks even more than I already did. We do hear that he wants to bring a major sound system next year and as old skool ravers we welcome that. I predict a Diddy and Daft Punk track, he invented the remix after all.
there’s a story attached to this glove. Here’s Diddy’s actual tweet:
#BurningMan Words cannot explain! I’ll never be the same. Do u see the glove?
And here’s the story behind the glove (and Robot Heart medallion), from Melody at Instagram:
Other celebrities spotted this year? Oscar winner Susan Sarandon (rocking it with blinky lights), Stacey Keibler (famous for dating George Clooney), Seth Rogen (who said “now I’m off to Burning Man” to Andy Sandberg at the end of the roast of James Franco). I’m sure there are many, many more, and trust me – the harsh environment of Burning Man is a great leveller for celebrities. It’s still dusty. Their RV might be on the other side of the Playa, and they might have to use a portapotty. It might be gnarly and out of paper and water, maybe it’s really hot and they’re thirsty and there’s a dust storm. None of those things care who you are.
The Daily Swarm proclaimed this as the Death of Burning Man.
Diddy has confirmed what many critics have been saying for the past few years: Burning Man is dead. Ok, maybe that’s being a little dramatic for a psychonautic retreat for yuppies, but now that the revered gathering has officially become fashionable on a Coachella level it may be time for someone else to step up. Of course, Diddy claimed he had a life-changing experience like any virgin Burner would, but damn if this doesn’t just take the dusty wind out of our sails.
Also, it seems as though Burning Man attire has taken on a noticeably calculated level of “weirdness” in recent years. There was a time when Burner fashion was completely nerdy in aMad Max sort of way, but now it looks as though it’s more of a farce. And at the same time, there are still those out there rocking the goggles and raging at Robot Heart (though, Diddy is noticeably rocking a necklace featuring the installation’s logo) like it’s 2002. There’s still the hardcore contingent, but we predict some impending questions of identity in Burning Man’s future.
We disagree. It’s really nothing new. We’ve had plenty of celebs before, and we’ll have plenty more in the future. We’re all Burners together, and celebrities are people too. Bring it on! When else do they get to truly express themselves as people, away from their jobs and the machine they’re all a part of to get paid enough that they can afford Burning Man?
I like Halcyon’s question, about what legacy are we leaving – “our job is to be stewards of that magic, to keep re-aligning it with that integrity, to hold that integrity within ourselves as this magic starts to become part of popular culture“.
Kudos to whoever thought to create “Diddy Goes to Burning Man”, a new Tumblr site along the lines of Burning Man Problems.
Playa haters get away! It’s all about the Ben-J’s.
I just wanna hear good music…