Watching the UStream feed, it looks like the gate may be open again for people who have been waiting there all day. There are vehicles are coming in. If we get an official announcement we will let you know. All Burning Man’s official channels are silent, piecing things together from Facebook we can tell you the highway patrol are still turning people back, BMOrg just let some people in who were stuck in line at the Gate and Will Call. More rain is expected tonight. The gate is still scheduled for official opening at noon tomorrow. Will update as we hear more.
[Update 8/25/14 9:30pm]
Although there has been no word on the official Burning Man social media channels for 8-9 hours, BMIR let slip that the gate was open – then didn’t mention it again. Cars were seen on UStream driving into Black Rock City. A few Burners between Gerlach and the gate have reported that cars are moving again. Peter Hirshberg told us:
“Gate is open. The road blocks are still in force, but being stood down town by town heading south. Here in empire we are being told that the highway patrol will give us the go signal within the hour. As the backlog clears, towns further south will open . We’re being told not to proceed until the highway patrol says go, Or “you’ll be turned back as a matter of policy” The whole thing looks pretty well coordinated between bmorg and law enforcement .”
John Curley continues his excellent reporting from Black Rock City on the official Burning Man blog.
Burning Man pressed the “pause” button today, as heavy rains and hail prevented people from getting in and out of Black Rock City, caused widespread power outages, and intensified the misery of people waiting in the “will call” lines at the box office.
The gates to the city officially opened at 10 am on Sunday, and for most of the day it seemed like the event was off to a pretty good start, despite harsh weather during the build that forced everyone to hustle to catch up to schedule.
It seems there were quite a few problems in the Will Call line, before the weather forced them to hit pause.
Things got further off track as Sunday progressed, though, with horror tales of people spending as many as eight hours in the will-call line. The scene at the gate last night was unprecedented. As people wound round and around waiting in line on foot to pick up their will-call tickets, there weren’t any cars ready to be processed through the gate.
It almost seems like there’s a new challenge in the ticket system every year, and this year it has been the backlog at the will call window. Nimbus, Burning Man’s ticketing manager, said in her seven years with the organization, she’s never seen so many people arrive at the will-call window in such a short time frame.
…Megan Miller, Burning Man’s director of communication, said, “There are a lot of factors that we’re looking at. Some of it is in our control, and some of it isn’t.”
The contributing factors include the number of tickets that are sold electronically and require a check-in. Those include the 3,000 tickets that were sold in the “oh my god” final sale in July, the 4,000 low-income tickets, and the increasing number of tickets sold to international participants, who now are about 20 percent of the population (the organization does not ship tickets internationally). Plus, all the tickets re-sold through the STEP program also require a visit to the will-call window.
And then there are the vagaries caused by dependence on technology: If the wifi is down or bad weather is affecting satellite signals, the check-in process is slowed. It’s still the desert out here, you know, and things just don’t work they way they do in the default world.
20% of the population is 13,600. Add that to the 8500 OMG-STEP-LI tickets, and it seems that about a third of all tickets were at Will Call. What a nightmare. Maybe BMOrg should start mailing tickets to Burners in Canada, Mexico and the rest of the world. The $14 handling fee should more than cover a dollar or so of postage required. You’d think that since 1986, an event that boasts its own rival postal services would have figured out how to send a letter to another country.
Burners responded jovially to the wet conditions.
…The good planners knew that plastic bags wrapped around your shoes prevent “playa platforms” from building up on the soles of your shoes. That was really only the beginning of it, though.
There was the simple approach to getting around: no shoes at all. (The mud doesn’t stick to your feet.) Then there was the utilitarian approach: Black or clear plastic bags, zip-locked or taped. Then there was the fashion-forward approach: White plastic bags arising to mid-calf. And then there was Helen Hickman, who took advantage of the weather to invent a new genre of playawear: the trash suit.
“I must say, it’s very becoming,” Larry Harvey said as he walked around Rod’s Road, sidestepping the muddy clumps and randomly talking to people hoping to start their burn.
Helen had a message: “I have to tell everyone, trash-bag wear is going to be the thing this year.”
Larry agreed: “Fur is out, trash bags are in,” he said. “You’re the harbinger, you’re ahead of the game. By the time people catch up with it, though, you’ll be out of it. … You’re a finder, not a flounder.”
Larry continued: “You know, I tell the people, sometimes, some of the things we might want to do, and they get a little ‘founder-itis.’ And I tell them, you know, sometimes we’re founders, and sometimes we’re flounders. … But on our best days, we’re finders. And so are you!”
“We have a transformation quota, you know” he said. “We say, ‘How many lives have you changed today?’ And then we keep track of the salesman, you know, who’s the best salesman of the day…
“Well,” Helen replied, “I was raised a Catholic, but I can sell like a Jew.”
So there you have it, campers. Lives transformed with trash bags.
…the rain had one other significant impact, especially on Burning Man staff: the meeting schedule was positively in tatters. Somehow, all the acculturation training and process mapping would have to be rescheduled.
“We’ll have a meeting about the meetings, I’m sure,” Larry said. “We may have to send out for extra whiteboards, though.”