Feather Ban Lifted?

So says a store called “Screaming Mimis” in New York, where Wall Street Executives have been slapping down their Black Amexes for $1500 purchases of kilts, goggles, head-dresses and vintage-looking clothing. From Paper Magazine:

WALL STREET GUYS ARE DROPPING $1500 FOR BURNING MAN COSTUMES AT SCREAMING MIMIS
by Abby Schreiber 
burningmantile2.jpg
Though money’s not allowed when you get to Burning Man, there aren’t any rules about how much change you drop before you head to the playa.

As is so often the case when festivals become popular, the original stash of artistic, perma-shrooming, ambiguously-employed “Burners” who flocked to the Nevada desert every August for the last decade or two has become cut with more and more corporate honchos looking for an excuse to become “unplugged” for a week. And, apparently, many of these 1%-ers are hitting up New York’s legendary Screaming Mimis vintage store for their costuming needs, spending the equivalent of four round-trip tickets to Reno, Nevada for furry headdresses, steampunk goggles and leather gear. Basically,Mystery-chic

“It used to be arty types [coming in the store],” Screaming Mimis owner Laura Wills says. “Now it’s everyone from financial consultants and Wall Street types to PR firm directors.” 

Wills says she and her team first started noticing people coming into the store in search of Burning Man outfits five years ago and, since then, she and her buyers will specifically search for Burner-appropriate looks during their buying trips. “It’s become an amazing phenomenon. It’s totally word-of-mouth. Somebody posted on Foursquare that ‘Burners’ should shop at Screaming Mimis and after we tweeted a ‘thank you,’ it just spread like wildfire,” Wills says.

The store’s staff research Burning Man’s theme up to a year in advance (this year’s theme is “Cargo Cult“) to better plan their merchandising and monitor announcements and news from the festival. “Feathers were banned from 2008-2012 because they were called M.O.O.P. — ‘Matter Out Of Place’ — but this year they lifted the feather ban,” Wills says. “So feathers — and leather — are definitely a theme. But we won’t sell them cheap-o [pieces] because they have to be well-constructed so the feathers don’t fly all over the playa.”

And her customers appreciate the store’s efforts to find quality, often one-of-a-kind pieces — and are more than happy to use their Black AmEx cards to spend as much on a Burning Man outfit as they might on a Tom Ford blazer or Céline dress.

“We had somebody yesterday spend $1500,” Wills says. “Another — a video director — spent $1000 and is planning to parachute into Burning Man.”

One CEO who’s giving a TED talk at the festival stopped in to buy a kilt, top hot and goggles to wear during his presentation. Another customer had his pseduo-personal assistant call the store to “vet them” for their inventory and whether they could give him personal assistance. Perhaps not surprisingly, a chauffeured car idled outside while he came in to scope out the headdresses and leather vests. “He was actually a really wonderful guy and was so excited and into it,” Wills remembers.

The best thing Will says she’s noticed is that her Burning Man customers — whether art students or hedge funders — are “the most fun people.”

“A completely conservative guy came in wearing chinos and an oxford shirt and bought a headdress, goggles and an astronaut jumpsuit and helmet we had. But when we were ringing everything up, he said, ‘One second,’ and ran over and grabbed a bright electric blue tutu,” Wills says. “he plunked it down and said, ‘Yeah, I’ll probably just end up wearing this the whole time.'”

Tutu Tuesdays? If you have to helicopter in for just one day, like Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg or former NATO boss General Wesley Clark, then Tuesday’s not a bad one. Although “if everyone’s wearing white, it’s wednesday, if everyone’s wearing tu-tus, it’s still only Tuesday” is one of those Burner maxims that may lead to you being in the wrong place at the wrong time – which is probably exactly what you want at Burning Man, where time IS a place.
mohawk
The Feather ban was lifted? We didn’t get that memo, and nor did newly indoctrinated Burning Man fans Business Insider, who have decided this issue is important enough to the business people of the United States for them to give it coverage.
Feathers were a huge trend at this year’s Burning Man festival.They were everywhere: on bicyclesheaddressesskirtstops, and skimpy showgirl outfits.But when we posted a slide show on “The Craziest Costumes At Burning Man,” commenters went berserk.Apparently, feathers don’t fly at Burning Man.

According to the official festival website and packing checklist, it’s true — feathers are the number one item listed on things you’re not allowed to bring:

Read more, including outraged tweets from Burners: http://www.businessinsider.com/feathers-not-allowed-at-burning-man-2013-9#ixzz2enXSn3AP

Feathers don’t fly at Burning Man, huh? You heard it here first. Playa Chickens: just say no! Why? Because some of the DPW crew are paid to be there for a month cleaning up after this $30 million party with 70,000 people, and they have to pick up enough stuff as it is. Feathers would make their lives much harder, and Burners can’t be trusted to Leave No Trace all by themselves. Better to just ban things and hate on people who break rules.
Waste from the 2013 Reading Festival in the UK (Daily Mail)

Waste from the 2013 Reading Festival in the UK (Daily Mail)

This is what every other festival has to deal with (Daily Mail)

This is what every other festival has to deal with (Daily Mail)

[Update 12:03pm]: Whatsblem, ever The Pro, has pointed out that there WAS a memo:

Volume 17, Issue #30 of the JRS, dated July 20, 2013, carried the following item:

FEATHERS ARE BAD BAD BAD, RIGHT? WELL … MAYBE NOT.

Back in the day, folks would show up at Burning Man with cheap feather boas, and they’d inevitably fall to pieces and blow all over the playa, get stuck on the trash fence, and generally be a super MOOPy pain in the butt for everybody.

So we’ve kept a warning in the Survival Guide for years to not bring feathers (primarily this was directed at cheap boas, as this predated the headdress and fedora fads), and even had the Gate confiscate feathers and boas and whatnot from people as they enter, to prevent a MOOPocalypse.

But here’s the thing … some feathers are super MOOPy and others, well, aren’t. So use your head. YOU ARE RESPONSIBLE FOR MAKING SURE YOUR STUFF DOESN’T BECOME MOOP.

Whether it’s a costume, or a vehicle, or an art installation, your food, your camp, your bike, your trinkets, whatever, YOU ARE RESPONSIBLE FOR MAKING SURE YOUR STUFF DOESN’T BECOME MOOP.

So be smart. Be self-reliant. Use good judgment and be careful about what you do and don’t bring (and wear) to the playa. If you want to wear feathers, OK … but make sure they’re attached in way that won’t fail, and if you can’t do that then don’t wear ‘em, because it’s on YOU if they become MOOP.

And that goes for anything you bring to Black Rock City.

The Jacked Rabbit hath spake, and feathers are now OK as long as you take responsibility for the MOOP. Woo-hoo! Maybe BMOrg is softening a little, and listening to the thoughts and feelings of the Burner community a bit more. We applaud their wisdom in resolving this issue fairly. Burnier-than-Thous, stop hating!
cute feather girl white
feathers-in-showgirl-costumeseveryone-used-bikes-to-get-around-the-burning-man-desert-but-that-didnt-stop-people-from-breaking-out-their-best-costumesfeathers-on-heads-and-skirts
this-group-had-matching-feathered-mohawks

36 comments on “Feather Ban Lifted?

  1. Pingback: Mic Checks the Headdress | Burners.Me: Me, Burners and The Man

  2. there are more cigarette butts than feathers – trust me we have 10K+ people on our dance floor every night. We should ban cigarettes too right? Also zip ties, et.

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  5. My partner and I spent hours picking up moop on the Playa on Saturday (our annual custom) and while we were pleased at some improvements (only 10 ciggie butts versus 70+ in prior years) but we were surprised to find a large number of feather parts (strands from those big fluffy feathers like the chick in the carnivale headdress AND hard strong feathers that probably just fell out of their costumes)

    We also found many lime wedges all over the playa, what is up with that trend?

    I still agree with the feather/sequin avoidance on the playa, it would have been even worse in a windy year.

    Bossypants and Smartypants

  6. Everytime I saw one of these brainless twits, all proud of their big feather war bonnets; one word always came out of my mouth: “Amateurs”. I just get the impression that along with this huge influx of Virgin-Burners, a complete disregard for the Playa came with them…they are there to party and don’t want to hear about anything that gets between them and impressing some stoned chick. Next year expect a boat-load of vapid celebrities with boa’s.

  7. Interestingly, the woman in the white “feather” headdress is not wearing any feathers. Cut and worked leather and fur, which end up looking kind of like feathers but don’t have the moop problem. Look closer!

  8. This year I wore a very well-constructed feather earring and checked it often to make sure the feathers weren’t falling apart. It came home in perfect condition. I hardly saw any feather MOOP, and believe me, I was looking for it. On the other hand, I picked up *countless* cheap glowsticks and little broken plastic connectors over the course of the week… Those abominations are a much larger problem.

  9. The “feather ban” wasn’t lifted. Your report is not on some kind of ban being lifted, it is actually on entitled, thoughtless “burners” who don’t give a shit about it. Please correct the title to something like “Let’s make our bad choices somebody else’s problem” so you don’t give others the wrong idea. I’m sick of picking up your feathers.

    In general it’s not about “banning” some specific thing. It’s about thinking a little bit about the people that have to clean up after you. Wear feathers if you want, or anything for that matter, as long as you can keep them attached or are willing to clean up. Spirit, not letter…

    • To be clear; the big feathers are easy to pick up. It’s the pieces, dug into the sand, that we’re hunting for in a line sweep on Wednesday after the burn, hoping to pull another green on the moop map, when all we want to do is finish packing containers, go home and take a shower. Yes, that happens. People *do* have to clean up; not to mention the restoration crew that sticks around for months afterwards sifting through the dust for everything you brought in but didn’t leave with.

    • Bull, the feather outrage was totally corrected in Jack Rabbit Speaks. Headdresses are fine now (as they always have been).

      Things like crappy feather boas have ALWAYS been outlawed…rightfully so… leave a feather boa in your living room for a day. Pick it up a few times. watch feathers everywhere.

      a few years ago people went anti-feather crazy and started saying all feathers were banned.

      This is EXACTLY why JRS published the correction, and spelled it out nice and clear. Well made feather items like headdresses where the feathers are secure are fine. Leave your crappy boas and cheap feather items at home.

      • EXACTLY why…because of the comments from a few years ago. And not anything to do with the coverage of the issue on Burners.me last year. Good one JRS, you ignore us and pretend we’re meaningless, but come over here to talk yourselves up anyway.
        Make sure your 4000+ volunteers clearly understand your clarification.

  10. I understand Boas, but I had a feather headdress as well as my friends and didn’t lose a single feather. Ease up, people. We also pick up zip ties, bottle caps, cigarette butts and no one is banning any of it.

  11. Bitch bitch bitch. One thing is consistent. People love to bitch about everything under the sun at Burning Man. Keep it up guys. Yet another amazing piece of journalism from burners.me…

    • what part of “woo-hoo!” and “stop hating!” do you think is bitching? I thought this article was pretty positive. If you want amazing journalism about Burning Man, go to, ummm…

  12. I think I have to agree with Whatsblem the Pro. Feathers can be moop and we should not compromise on that principle. However, burning man is built on principles, not dogmas or rules, in fact, anarchy coupled with basic principles are a core part of burning man and the reason why magic can happen in this place. Respecting the spirit of a rule of law rather than the rule of law for its own sake.

    So I don’t know what is more annoying, the moop, or the self righteousness snark of those who heckle and shame others as a means to spread principles. I don’t think we have room for either, or at least, in radical self reliant manner, *I* will do my part to bring neither to the playa. And it is up to you what you will do.

    If you see someone with feathers, it sure won’t hurt to remind them and tell them to make sure they are firmly attached and to keep an eye on moop potential, and if they are obviously falling all over the place, some snark is clearly in order. but let’s not forget to use reason. We’ve all been the playa virgin, we could all appreciate gentle persuasion to learn that our actions could burden others, but if there is nothing but suspicion of someone wearing feathers, who the F am I to reprimand them for spreading moop? maybe they haven’t!

  13. It’s not that hard to forego feathers for the burn. Ten principles are the main thing, obviously, but feathers=annoying moop. That’s it. There’s nothing else to it. Just don’t bring them. They look cool – but it’s not the place. Wear them the next time you are in Vegas on a stage…or anywhere but BRC if you must.

  14. Volume 17, Issue #30 of the JRS, dated July 20, 2013, carried the following item:

    FEATHERS ARE BAD BAD BAD, RIGHT? WELL … MAYBE NOT.

    Back in the day, folks would show up at Burning Man with cheap feather boas, and they’d inevitably fall to pieces and blow all over the playa, get stuck on the trash fence, and generally be a super MOOPy pain in the butt for everybody.

    So we’ve kept a warning in the Survival Guide for years to not bring feathers (primarily this was directed at cheap boas, as this predated the headdress and fedora fads), and even had the Gate confiscate feathers and boas and whatnot from people as they enter, to prevent a MOOPocalypse.

    But here’s the thing … some feathers are super MOOPy and others, well, aren’t. So use your head. YOU ARE RESPONSIBLE FOR MAKING SURE YOUR STUFF DOESN’T BECOME MOOP.

    Whether it’s a costume, or a vehicle, or an art installation, your food, your camp, your bike, your trinkets, whatever, YOU ARE RESPONSIBLE FOR MAKING SURE YOUR STUFF DOESN’T BECOME MOOP.

    So be smart. Be self-reliant. Use good judgment and be careful about what you do and don’t bring (and wear) to the playa. If you want to wear feathers, OK … but make sure they’re attached in way that won’t fail, and if you can’t do that then don’t wear ’em, because it’s on YOU if they become MOOP.

    And that goes for anything you bring to Black Rock City.

  15. I am thinking of saying to anyone with a lot of feathers “You look Mooptastic and Thank you for all the moop you contribute to this beautiful place.”

  16. I remember reading something put out by the org this year that said it was only certain kinds of feathers (the ones that shed like ostrich) that were banned and if you had feathers that didn’t blow apart of come off the costume, they would be fine.

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