Halcyon and Fest300 Defend Plug-n-Plays

haclyonIn our post Selling Out Part II, we mentioned that BMOrg has been silent on the erupting Commodification Camp Controversy. Well, they’ve issued a response – of sorts. While not quite official, pink-haired guru John “Halcyon” Styn, a regular contributor at burningman.com, has written a piece at Fest300, the new web site being promoted by Burning Man Project Director Chip Conley. Some Burners have described the story as “damage control”.

The title is “Don’t Hate The Plug And Plays” – isn’t it great to be told how to think by BTT’s?

There have been reports circulating about the elitist, lavish accommodations at Burning Man that come with a price tag of $17,000 and at the cost of oppressive work conditions for those who set up these “plug-and-play camps.”  The thinking is that  the plug-and-play experience is in direct opposition of the spirit, rules, and magic of Burning Man.

While a “pre-fabricated experience for sale” does conflict with most interpretations of Burning Man’s radical self-reliance principle, I believe the current concern is misdirected. 

Is this an attempt to “re-direct” the concern of Burners? If so, it is being presented to the community as an independent social media message – rather than something from a deep insider on a BMOrg Director’s site. The content is certainly toeing the new corporate line.

Halcyon loves plug-n-play, he’s a huge proponent of it:

I’m actually a huge proponent of creating easily accessible Burn experiences for the super wealthy and influential. I want the movers and shakers of the world to have a taste of true Gifting. I want P. Diddy and Zuckerberg to experience soul-deep joy as they give pancakes to a stranger. I want those experiences to affect the people who truly steer resources in the default world.

A plug-and-play experience lowers the barrier to entry. And in certain scenarios, that is a wonderful thing. For some people, we should make it as easy as possible to welcome them “Home. “ Apparently even Mark Zuckerberg (after helicoptering in) pitched his own tent and took his shift making grilled cheese. 

My mom is another example. 2014 was her first year. She cruised in on Tuesday and flew out on a charter plane (like a boss!) on Thursday. I took care of her set-up, breakdown, bike, air-conditioned lodging, and meals. I have zero guilt for setting my mother up with what was essentially a plug-and-play camp. The challenges to attend Burning Man serve as a highly functional moat for most people—keeping out those who are not yet ready to be here. But these barriers can present insurmountable obstacles to others who deserve to attend Burning Man, they simply need a little help.

…My mom’s experience was admittedly plug-and-play, but she worked hard to be a contributing member of the camp and what we gifted. She served ice cream. She worked our water bar. She even went on an ice run. 

an "Art Cart". This guy is a true Burner

an “Art Cart”. This guy is a true Burner

I think Halcyon may be missing the point. Being able to fly in for 24 hours, hand out some grilled cheese sandwiches, then tell everyone that you’re a Burner IS the problem. We want citizens, not tourists. We want selfless gifting and spectacular art, not spectators and daytrippers on a safari of freaks. We want to party with other Burners who are mad enough to trek out to the desert for this bizarre event…not have to turn the stereo down because your Mom wants to sleep in at 11am. Just because there’s one principle that says “Radical Inclusion”, does that really mean the festival has to become as similar to the Default world as we can possibly make it? Will we soon have a Jail and a Senior Citizen’s home? Homeless Burners? Welfare recipients? Gangs? Google bus protestors? If we have to include all these Default world things, then how about a freaking garbage man?

“Zuck worked a shift! Mom went on an ice run! Grover gave me a Cuban cigar!” wow, look at what amazing Burners. Where would Black Rock City be without them? Let’s all invite more tourists who fly in, take a selfie and tweet it from the Playa, gift something, and fly out again. Because nothing says “radical” like partying with your parents.

According to Halcyon, the issue is not:

  • wealth
  • plug-n-play
  • radical inclusion
  • radical self-reliance

The issue is Gifting and Participation.

In this new “burn for the century” vision, sound camps bringing in the world’s best DJs to gift us is wrong. 5000 people came to your sound camp? That’s not participation, compared to someone’s Mom doing an ice run or Dennis Kucinich giving speeches about Obamacare.

From where Halcyon sits, if Burners want to fly in and stay in $17,000 private rooms and call that Self Reliance, that’s just fine. And just because it’s called Self-Reliance, doesn’t mean you actually have to rely on yourself:

Radical self-reliance means taking care of your shit—or finding someone who will. Sometimes that literally means you find a service to take care of your shit (i.e the saints who empty the Porta-Potties). But it could also mean that you buy pre-made meals or pre-made outfits. We all have our own line of what we consider self-reliance. If you want to mill your own flour and weave your own fabric, my hat is off to you. Self-reliance to me means that I find a great hat to bring to Burning Man. I may pay someone to bring it onto the Playa in a plastic bin so that I can fly to Reno with minimal luggage and then take the Burner Express bus to the Playa. As long as your shit is taken care of, nobody can decide what the degree of self-reliance is right for anyone else

He pays someone to bring his hat? That doesn’t sound real self-reliant to me. That sounds more like a sherpa.

Halcyon wants the elite Commodification Burners to feel ownership of the city. If they didn’t get the chance to Gift enough, it’s the camp organizers fault.

It is a disservice to any member of a plug-and-play camp to give them an experience where they do not have the feeling of being a co-host and being able to offer a gift to the city. I don’t care who cooks your meals or what extravagances you receive. I care about what you give.

I care that you feel ownership of the event. 

 …The true gift is feeling like this is your city. This is your family. And at any given time you will act as a janitor, security guard, therapist, architect, carpenter, and occasionally, king.

That’s the true gift of Burning Man? To be a janitor and security guard? So how does Caravancicle giving its guests popsicles to hand out help – they feel it’s their city because they’re acting as the ice cream man?

Frozen Irony: '...the kids all run up when they hear the music, then I hurl Ice Cream at them 'till they run away.'

Halcyon ends his piece by jumping on the Playa monetization bandwagon and advertising his services. Plug-n-play camps can now employ him as a consultant to help tailor the Burn experience of their tourists guests. Otherwise, they could feel like a king but experience a shallow version of the total package:

If your plug-and-play experience only provides you with the experience of playing the role of king the entire time, then sure, you’ll have a blast—but you will have an extremely shallow version of the total possible experience

…I maintain that there is a place for plug-and-play camping at Burning Man. Those camps simply must work extra hard to integrate their members into the community experience so that everyone understands and embraces the Ten Principles. It is definitely possible. In fact, I will publicly offer my pre-event consulting services to help create optimally integrated experiences for any of these camps and their members. 

But I should warn you…I’m really freakin’ expensive.

Hey, everyone else is getting paid! Might as well advertise your services while you’ve got the chance. Next year there will probably be dozens of highly paid “experience integration consultants” competing for the Commodification Camp dollar.

121 comments on “Halcyon and Fest300 Defend Plug-n-Plays

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  2. I was camped at 9 and H. Close enough to visit the ahhmazing Cirque Boutique Hotel. Totally accepting of our love of their beautiful hotel lobby. All guests were quite lovely. My issue was the “Bonanza Fresh Produce” half-semi delivering what I assume to be frest produce to this camp and the other’s next door. 1. It was as if the default world had entered my escape. 2. It created a class system. WTF??? I have to figure out how to keep my spinach and tomatoes fresh until the end of the week, and oh shit! now I have to eat canned soup and pineapples because the ice fairies forgot to bring ice. Radical self reliance not “Bonanza Fresh Produce”. And my last rant is DECORATE your fucking segways! It’s as if your lazy ass who can’t walk or ride the playa can’t even get enough imagination to DECORATE your fucking segway. And get off your iphone!!@!!! I had an amazing burn this year because of my peeps and the art. xoxo

  3. Halcyon

    Burning Man culture is being sacrificed on the alter of radical inclusion. Radical inclusion is being put ahead of all other Burning Man’s principles. It threatens to destroy our community.

    We are losing the one thing that sets us apart from all other events and places in our culture: Decommodification. No one is trying to sell you something. Knowing that somebody doesn’t want to buy/sell/promote, changes the way people interact. I’m making this explicit, but I know that you understand this.

    Radical Inclusion:
    Anyone may be a part of Burning Man. We welcome and respect the stranger. No prerequisites exist for participation in our community.


    But what about people who do not want to be part of our community? What about people want to actively destroy it? Should these people be radically included? Really??? Are we really *that* radical?

    We are including people who believe that anything can be a product. They believe that anything can be monetized. Some even think that everything *should* be monetized. Many of these are the “important” people who you refer to. Monetization is why they are “important” so it’s something they do instinctively, maybe not to consciously destroy our culture, but destroy it they do. Their intent does not change the result of their actions.

    Yes you are all about love. I admire and respect that in you. But there are other people who are not all about love. Many people are about money, only money. Radically including them in Burning Man threatens corrupt our principles and our culture.

    Thanks for reading.


    Paul (Paulio)

    • you make some good points. Money doesn’t have to be evil. Really, it’s the idea of camps having Public and Private areas that needs to be clearly addressed. If artists and sherpas can get rich from Burning Man, hopefully they will give some of it back and fund even more art and cool stuff out there.

  4. This is buried so far into this blog it will make little difference. But here it goes.. this was my 8th year and the first I left the fancy RV at home, pitched a tent, and spent just enough on food to make it the 5 days I was there. GUESS What, it was my BEST Burn EVER!!

  5. Pingback: Halcyon: What I Learned Defending Plug-n-Play | Burners.Me: Me, Burners and The Man

  6. I would like to clarify a process of logic in this ongoing debate. Many seem to be missing the specific point of protest. I think both Halcyon and Burnersxxx would agree that it’s impossible and unethical to discriminate against the existence of Plug and Play camps at Burning Man. Likewise, you can not discriminate against the ultra wealthy from attending, or enact rules against that. If they make it into the festival, and exist at the event, so be it. The issue at hand is as follows: To what extend is the Burning Man organization facilitating and encouraging it, at the expense of the rest of the community, in violation of the 10 Principals, and in a manner that commodifies the festival? If the camps in question (Plug N Play, Turn Key, whatever you want to call them) are receiving their entry tickets (enough for hundreds of paying tourists, sherpa’s, chefs, event planners, etc) through any dedicated system other than the standard on-line system available to the rest of us, than I hope every contributor in this blog string has enough common sense to be offended, and see the crime being committed. That goes for all of you- including you cynical nihilists who dismiss those who protest plug-n-play camps as “hypocritical bleating sheep”. Radical Inclusion should not be given a warped level of priority over the rest of the 10 Principals, any more than Radical Self Reliance, or De-Commodification. Please everyone, can we employ some common sense and balance here. If the Burning Man Org facilitates these elite camps with dedicated ticket supplies that are not available to the rest of you, or generous placement on the Playa (when these camps close off their facility to the community at large) then there is a very serious problem. My camp worked hard and we were not given enough space for everyone, so why are these luxury camps not having trouble being allocated whole city blocks. Theoretically, group tickets that are available in the camp portion of the online sale are made available to specific camps based on a camp’s merit and history with the festival. Taken into consideration is that camp’s contribution over the years, and their history of compliance with the 10 principals. It is a waste of time to suggest that we govern actively against these camps, or against tourists, or against the ultra wealthy. You can’t govern that. But you can refuse these entities special treatment from the org that facilitates their practice.
    To whatever extent my opinion matters, I think it is beyond opinion (it is fact) that if the experience of Burning Man is increasingly sold as a resort experience to spectators, then the festival experience will cease to be what made it so desirable in the first place. Cynics suggest change is inevitable. Maybe so, maybe not. But the Org has no business facilitating this sort of change. The Org members, above all others, has the greatest responsibility to uphold the 10 principals and support Burning Man’s identity as an experimental community with its roots in counter culture. If Burning Man is to be assimilated as a mini replica of main stream society, it should not be with the assistance of the Org.

    • I am hearing a lot of sadness and disappointment from people weighing in on this topic because they were sold the idea that Burning Man was supposedly the one place where the commercialization and social strata of the default world was suspended for a one week a year. This land without branding was many people’s idea of utopia and Larry and the pink hair guy were preaching it in a messianic way. You could see that Larry thrived on delivering the message and Burners really responded to it in an ecstatic way.

      Of course this wasn’t entirely true and people are really waking up and facing the fact that they have been lied to. It is a lot like the feeling a child has when they learn that Santa Claus isnt real.

      I think that the ultimate result will be just like it is in the default world. People will accept their lot in life and those in power will do what they are compelled to do. Burning Man is no different.

  7. Wal to wall 40′ $500,000 motor homes, Larry raises the ticket prices to $1000 plus $500 vehicle pass. Plug and play is the norm.

  8. I read Halcyon’s piece, and your summary/response is (ahem) a little short sighted and kinda a cheap shot, intentionally avoiding the point? I mean, its your rant blog right? But, you made the silly decision to leave it open for comment so, you know…

    The playa started getting sullied for me when the art application included 50 pages of safety shit… and folks on playa shouted “where’s your lights?” when I was walking.

    WTF? Your mom has been running the playa since the Borg gave in to litigation BS allowing personal responsibility for my life/death to be stripped from me and given to ‘the cheap easy way out’.

    BRC is suitable for families and seniors, who in my experience have contributed massively to art and interaction. Ravers… can mostly suck my ass. I can go to Ibiza or any big city and hear “great DJs”… what I can’t find is temporary large scale, interactive art, lamp lighters, Rangers who actually give a shit about their community, random moments of “Crazy Walk Zone” and other such tomfoolery. And once, long ago… there was a time when most things would actually be set on fire and burn to ground by Monday.

    So, curmudgeon-ing bitch that I am, can go on for hours about how great it was when firearms were still permitted and people actually paid attention to what went on around them (or died-without suing anyone) and the playa was a more participatory place… however, it seems maybe more useful to suggest ways in which the invasion of “people I should learn to tolerate” can be more bare-able and maybe even turned into something culturally productive.

  9. You can not grasp Burning Man when you are too rich or too good to put up a tent and participate in building the city. You can “find other people to do shit” but you have to do some other shit for other people not just show up and serve cheese sandwiches. It compares to celebrities at baseball games that throw the first pitch. When you are not participating then you are a spectator. Burning Man has become a spectator sport for many not just the 1% and their cronies. This is the same way that the (1% + C) have shat on the default world. They are here to do the same to Burning Man. They are bringing the self serving mentality and along with it comes their army of cronies who lick their asses for them. It sucks in the default world it will suck worst at Burning Man because this was supposed to be the counter to the default world. Their influence along with their army of defenders will slowly chew away at the fiber of Burning Man until Burning Man becomes another rave full of trash and spectators. Already the influence is apparent after just a few years. More trash and moop, I mean bottles and cans left at the playa “discos” type of trash. People wearing genuine fur coats at the Robot Heart and posing in photos with it. I hate to say it but their influence is stronger than ours, they are a plague and Burning Man has already been bitten! All organisms will self correct or die off. So far no sign of self correction.

    • Just ask the Sherpas, cooks, bartenders, artists and builders who worked for the Plug-n-play camps what the rich are bringing to the playa!! The same crap as the default world. they are working people like slaves so they could come over and serve their cheese sandwich. The same slavery system like the one they have created in the default world, where the minimum pay is barley living wages while they collect billions in offshore accounts.

      • In fact, I think Burning Man is a prototype for a new, hive-based control system, which is substantially worse for workers than the old, pyramid-based one. In the latter, work hard and you can be promoted. In the former, you’re either in the 1%, or the 99%, there’s nothing in between and there’s no pathway to move up.
        Workers organized labor unions as a response to the Industrial Revolution. As a result we have things like minimum wage, required break times, and Occupational Health and Safety. It seems that these Sherpa camps disregard all of this because of the “Temporary Autonomous Zone” nature of Black Rock City. Perhaps a Burner Union and DPW Union are required.

    • I disagree with the last sentence. There are clear signs of self-correction. Unfortunately, it is in the direction of more plug-n-play, more things for sale, and more commodification. The Org seems to keep correcting itself to move it further along this path each time they throw the party.
      If Burning Man is mainstream, doesn’t that make it a commodity by definition?

      • it will be the new business model. Imagine only plug n play where now you have to be above middle class to be able to afford it or you go as a worker bee for the rich and affluent. here are the accounts of a Sherpa in case you haven’t seen it. I personally know her and this is in no way exaggerated:


    • Of what I do not comprehend, is the contract with the Sherpas of the plug and play, was $180 of each day of labour, in addendum of a ticket and food, for 8 hours of labour each day, or, for whatever hours of labour might be desired by management. Might management not be happy, the food ceases, and the Sherpa is removed. Commenters stated this is not legal, labourers must be paid of cash for hours laboured, and of other items not legal.

      How is this of difference from the contracts the awesome Burners of DPW pen, at least of the fortunate DPW paid for their labours towards the for profit BRC LLC, other of they do not obtain near of this $180 of each day of labour, and their food ceases during the week of the burn?

  10. One thing you missed: FEST300 is founded by the owner of Joie de Vivre Hospitality who also has ties to AirBnB.
    He has a vested interest in publishing a fluff piece promoting plug and plays. They also have ties to The Confluence Group, another festival marketing corp which were involved with Sinbad’s Oasis.
    Festivals are big business- everyone knows that. The question is- does this big business belong at the Burn?

    • You can not grasp Burning Man when you are too rich or too good to put up a tent and participate in building the city. You can “find other people to do shit” but you have to do some other shit for other people not just show up and serve cheese sandwiches. It compares to celebrities at baseball games that throw the first pitch. When you are not participating then you are a spectator. Burning Man has become a spectator sport for many not just the 1% and their cronies. This is the same way that the (1% + C) have shat on the default world. They are here to do the same to Burning Man. They are bringing the self serving mentality and along with it comes their army of cronies who lick their asses for them. It sucks in the default world it will suck worst at Burning Man because this was supposed to be the counter to the default world. Their influence along with their army of defenders will slowly chew away at the fiber of Burning Man until Burning Man becomes another rave full of trash and spectators. Already the influence is apparent after just a few years. More trash and moop, I mean bottles and cans left at the playa “discos” type of trash. People wearing genuine fur coats at the Robot Heart and posing in photos with it. I hate to say it but their influence is stronger than ours, they are a plague and Burning Man has already been bitten! All organisms will self correct or die off. So far no sign of self correction.

      • Dude does have great hotels, though. My wife and I love them. Dammit, do I have to boycott them now? Come on, Chip, get a clue! Don’t make me have to stay in a Best Western.

  11. I do go out and labore for free, and do consider myself something of a cultural representative because I’ve been there since the early 2000s. If I get the feeling that I am an animal in a zoo and my efforts are spectacle for sightseers rather than being part of a communal effort, Then I shall walk away and not look back. Admittedly there may be a ways to go before this happens, but the trajectory appears to be plotted.

  12. Who appointed all of you to “guardians of who should and should not” and “how exactly the “correct” way to participate is”? Whatever happened to live and let live. It seems the Burn was awesome, people had a blast and everyone went home happy. Including all styles and all people seems a way “Burnier” goal than arbitrary rules about who gets to go…..and how you get to go. Spreading the Burner Culture beyond the 70K that attend is fantastic! Any speck of that that lands in mainstream America will make it a better place…no doubt.

    • Why have 10 Principles, if “Radical Inclusion” overrides everything and means anyone can do anything, and we just have to shut up and welcome it? Why go so far away from mainstream society, just to recreate it exactly as it is everywhere else?

    • I agree Margaret, that’s why I buy extra tickets and sell them to the highest bidder and as long as my trash is not big enough for anyone to trip over I don’t have a problem with throwing it on the ground, afterall who is anyone to tell me what LNT is to me.

  13. What I felt like I read in that Fest300 article after I was done reading it….

    [sic] I like the rich people coming to BM and I would never want to alienate them, on the contrary, I feel they are my kind of people, I don’t mind if BM rules are bent to attract rich people, rich people are good for BM and the richer the better.
    Plug and play camps are at BM are here to stay and will probably increase in numbers next year and I expect they will also get bigger and better for rich people. BM needs rich people, BM likes rich people. BTW- If you are a rich person and you would like to try to make a couple of Million Dollars next year running a BM plug and play camp and selling tickets to it for $20,000 (or heck why not $30,000 per person) I am all for it. As a matter of fact you can hire me to do it, In fact, I will publicly offer my pre-event consulting services to help create optimally integrated experiences for any of these camps and their members. But I should warn you…I’m really freakin’ expensive because I have paid my dues for years at BM and it is now time for me to cash in, like i see others are doing.

    ….in other words, his article sounds like an ad for his services.

  14. Nice work, my friend. 2003 was my first burn and BRC was mostly tents, as I remember it. The more motorhomes and trailers there are, the more people show they want it both ways..wild playa and home sweet home. They hope to get the same joy that they experienced when the circus came to town, by bringing the town to the circus. I’ll be 67 next month, and I have always said that I’ll keep coming to Burning Man as long as the effort involved to be a part of that great adventure is substantially offset by the joy and satisfaction of being a part of something so powerful and spiritual being built, from the ground up, and then cleaned up with the same joy and play and teamwork and ownership and sense of “that damn party was a job well done!” I can’t imagine Bman without the work, and the living out in the open. Why bring walls out into the desert? Why bring gates and doors and “security” guards? Live out in the open, be nice to your neighbors, and they will provide all the security you need. Excellent work, my friend. Keep on probing and questioning. Keep the faith, baby! Peace, Olskoo

  15. Jeepers, there’s a big difference between sorting your mom out and running a camp that you charge people to access for no other reason than profit.

    It’s disingenuous to conflate the inerrant intentions.

    Personally I don’t care if the rich plan their burn through a burn planner, buy in their art car… Hell, they can do what they want.

    But I do dislike, very very much, the morally weak ass neo liberal market creation that appears to be happening just to squeeze a few extra bucks out of the burningman name.

  16. Burners.me = Hypocritical Bleating Sheep.
    Do nothing but piss and moan about how bad things are but do absolutely nothing to make things better (bleating) but attend anyway (hypocritical) because all of their friends are going (sheep).

    Love the quote in the article:
    “isn’t it great to be told how to think by BTT’s?”
    As opposed to burners.me telling people how to think…

    Radical Inclusion. Ever heard of it? Anyone can attend and in any way they want.

    Best online quote I ever read:
    “There’s a lot of judgement from veteran burners that other are ‘doing it wrong’. They can fuck off…its your burn…”.
    This quote is now painted on the door of my travel trailer.

    How about this, worry about your own burn instead of what other people (who you don’t know and have nothing to do with you) are doing instead of being a “Westboro Burner”.

    • 🙂 If you are writing things that are pissing them off enough to reply like this, you are doing right, Keep it up and it will get this sorted out.

    • If we do absolutely nothing to make it better, then why did we write this post? Or the 1200+ others? Why are we even having this conversation?
      Are you truly not worried about BMOrg selling out the event? Bringing in directors who run massive hospitality-oriented Commodification Camps? You think if we all just shut up and let Larry sort it out, everything will get better? I wonder, how many Burns have you attended?

    • Would you continue to be part of an organization that actively discriminates against others just because you don’t associate with “those people” anyway? At some point the principles of an organization have to matter more than keeping your head in the sand about the pissing on those very principles that you allegedly hold so dear.

    • “Anyone can attend and in any way they want.” – So why bother trying to change the world if we don’t have any standards that we as a community want to uphold? So giving anything to the BM Project other than the cost of a ticket if one wants to attend is a rather stupid idea.

  17. It’s not about the rich – the rich will always be with us. It’s not about comfort – some desire higher levels of comfort than others, and choose their on-playa accommodations accordingly. It’s not even about the amount of participation – some work their asses off for most of the week to help make the event what it is, and others just come and exchange a few hugs.

    It’s about justice. It is unjust to run a camp for profit selling an experience that is created by the gifts of others. It is unjust to sell seats on an art car that cruises the public space and refuses rides to others. It is unjust set up a “theme camp” that enjoys all the privileges of placement and entry and then completely excludes non-paying “guests” from enjoying their space and offerings. I am not especially concerned about these PNPs “ruining” the event – they are, by definition, the 1%, and their numbers likely never will be large enough to significantly affect the overall atmosphere. But the injustice does rankle.

    As for Halcyon, he is simply wrong. The wealthy who choose to go to the burn will go to the burn, in their own way with their own resources, and they least of all need any help in getting there. Sure, welcome the Medicis, but don’t support providing resorts and safaris for them. They’re smart, hard-working people (most of them are, I suppose) and they’ll figure it out on their own.

      • Thank you for saying so. I don’t know how important it is that we agree on anything. I do know that it is important to send the message that seeking to profit from Burning Man by exploiting the gifts of participants and by excluding citizens from fully engaging with the sorts of things that traditionally have been gifts to the community (such as theme camps and art cars) is wrong.

    • It is also unjust to make a profit off of selling services around the Burning Man experience while preventing artists, photographers and other contributors that actually create that experience through draconian copyright terms.

      Halcyon is absolutely wrong about this and this burner will not drink his cult-like kool-aid or cucumber water. The vibe I have always gotten around his Pink Heart camp feels creepy and artificial; similar to his arguments in this article.

  18. Halcyon, I don’t have a problem with the rich and influential attending burning man, or even “plug and play” (up to a point) but this idea that the wealthy and “influential” should get a special boost over “the moat” because they are higher value participants?
    Fuck that.
    Some of these uber elite VIP luxury camps have gone too far. They are all-inclusive luxury resorts complete with tall walls and paid help.
    What makes Burning Man so unique are the cultural values. And yes, reasonable flexibility is important. But when certain camps ignore or even blatantly go against the shared values of the community, the community is going to react.

  19. It’s easy to dislike rich privilege, and it does no good whatsoever. Some of the wealthier burners in my city have amazing talents and resources, and contribute quite a lot. I don’t care how fancy their RV is or whether or not they fly to the event.

  20. Hello. You sound bitter.
    Are you sad because you feel you are losing the joy and connection you’ve found at burning man?

    I am sad that you seem to be attacking Halcyon, as a proxy for your anger towards plug-n-play camps. I believe he is owed more respect than that. Far from promoting an actual plug-n-play consulting service, he was more than likely joking, as evidenced by his final warning of being freaking expensive. And he never said he pays someone else to bring his hat; he was giving an example, a hypothetical. I’d request that you lighten up a bit and take it more as a joke and not so personal.

    Your calling Halcyon a “burnier-than-thou,” says more about how you view your own burniness. So, you’re saying he is not “burnier” than you? Which would make you,… burnier-than-…? Arguing about who is living up to which of the ten principles misses the point that all of those principles are much easier to live by if one *does not go to burning man*. Leave no trace? How about don’t bring camping gear and your body to the high desert? Radical Inclusion? By holding the event in a remote inhospitable desert? Non-commodification? With that much gasoline and propane being used? Etc.

    As for me, I have been a theme camper for ten years, and every year, I always plead with my land-lubber friends to come out to my camp, and we will treat them like kings. If they can make it to the playa, we will provide shelter, food, drinks, clothing, entertainment, the works. That’s just basic hospitality, but the same spirit as plug-n-play, just not on as grand a scale. Sure, if I could afford it, I would love to provide AC, jacuzzis and lobster dinners for all my family and friends on the playa, so why begrudge that to those who can afford it?

  21. One cannot participate if they never leave their comfort zone to interact with strangers, whether it is never leaving the exclusivity of a camp, art car or segway.. It is not participation to dress in over-the-top outfits put together by a stylist or hand out gifts selected by an “experience manager”. Nor is it participation to spend every waking hour of the week drugged-up, photographing others and dancing at sound camps every night.

    Selfish pursuit of prefabricated experiences that require little to no individual contribution is not only boring and encourages conformity, and is it what every corporation that runs a resort, club, theme park or attraction is doing in the default world. It is the packaging up and selling of an artificially created experience to the masses for the right price levels; including exclusive VIP access for those that are willing to pay for it. By supporting such a low bar to access the magic of the playa, how is it really any different than the default world? What is left that can not be experienced in places like Vegas or Disneyland?

    Once the uniqueness of any thing is commodified, it loses all of the intrinsic value which made it unique; that value should be protected, not watered down to make it easier to distribute. This is not supposed to be the Walmart of experiences, or is it?

    • well said, Bob. The issue is Commodification Camps, not wealthy Burners. All Burners are wealthy, they’re pissing away hundreds or thousands – in some cases, hundreds of thousands – just on personal entertainment. A culture based purely on Gifting, with no commerce, would not exist without wealthy benefactors. If it was solely made of poor people, it might still be a great party, but there won’t be all those art cars and camps handing out free booze and food.

    • “Selfish pursuit of prefabricated experiences that require little to no individual contribution is not only boring and encourages conformity, and is it what every corporation that runs a resort, club, theme park or attraction is doing in the default world. It is the packaging up and selling of an artificially created experience to the masses for the right price levels; including exclusive VIP access for those that are willing to pay for it. By supporting such a low bar to access the magic of the playa, how is it really any different than the default world? What is left that can not be experienced in places like Vegas or Disneyland?”


  22. I remember going to pink heart, and seeing a woman wearing a Tshirt that implicated she was Halcyon’s mom.
    Who the fuck feels the need to wear a label like that at BM?

    A fucking plug and play helicopter in type that’s who.

    Fuck burning man.

    • I made my mom that shirt. (I was showing her pics from 2013 and there was an older whote haired man who dressed in pink, dyed his hair and had a t-shirt that said Halcyon’s Dad. It was NOT my dad. But the pic of the shirt is what started the conversation that got her to the playa.) And mom’s shirt sparked some truly amazing connections.
      p.s. I hope you enjoyed your time at Pink Heart!

  23. Great discourse, I will continue to do what I feel is right, and if shallow experiences are the norm I am certain others will feel I could do more.

  24. What’s the big deal. Billionaires need fun too, right? What’s the ‘solution’ to plug-n-play, more rules or exclusions? There is no way to exclude them without breaking the burn’s social contract fatally. Thou shalt only be radically included if you behave according to these set of rules before you set foot on the playa…1> you cannot pay people to set up your camp before you arrive or on the playa.
    It’s ridiculous to consider this.
    The BMORG probably gets huge income from the plug-n-play camp. You might as well tell people to go kick themselves in the ass as deny paying customers (oops…burners) their tickets.
    Hey, Sergei and I did the zip line together and the Zuke makes a mean pancake. At least Zuckerberg put up his own tent.

    • I agree. This is a battle that can’t be won, so it’s pointless to fight. If Burners don’t like it, protest towards BMOrg. Otherwise we will have a lynch mob mentality of drugged up douchebags dispensing what they think is Playa justice, looking to sign-stealer Kiss Ass as their hero.

  25. Sorry but plug n play is all about profits, zero radical self reliance and exclusivity as well as not participating and.the worse and unhelatjiest aspect is your plug n play camps are basically selling all the hardwork and huge love the average burner artist and creator work on all year and bring, plug n play people bring nothing, have zero understand ::) ng of the dynamics of respect for ling term artist, art cars and camps or any clue how much work, blood, sweat and tears go into what it really. Takes to be a participant at burningman. Thumbs down, just rent.an rv if you wanna invite mom. Poorly written defense for the 900 n k camp vamps

  26. I wonder how Halcyon feels when a presidential candidate goes down to the local food kitchen and serves the hungry for a photo shoot? Are the people being served soup affected at all by person with the ladle? I mean they are serving soup and experiencing community. Even if it is only for a few minutes. Does anybody care that his mom served them an ice cream? An ice cream that probably required 6 months of planning and hard work by scores of other people to get there. How would BM be if this all we all did? I guess we’re going to find out.

    I’m also bothered by “creating easily accessible burn experiences for the super wealthy and influential.” When most wealthy travel to third world countries they stay in the nicest accommodations, travel by chartered guide and eat at the nicest restaurants. They are not experiencing the country that they visit. The are seeing it. That is what is happening at BM. If you aren’t broken down emotionally and physically by the experience of getting you, and your shit, and your art, or your ice cream to BM you’re not going to be much affected by being there. So how much are these “influential” going to be bringing back with them to affect change in the default world?

    I’m not going to step up and say who should and shouldn’t go to BM. I don’t think anybody has that right. But ‘ll gladly stand up and say who I don’t think is adding to the experience for all of us. In fact I’ve been known to do this out with a megaphone now and then.

    • If a politician truly participates in a Gifting experience and feels the Joy of it, then I am all for it it. Unfortunately, the photos – like money in other arenas – becomes an overpowering motivator and the LOVE/JOY of service may be missed. 🙁
      I actually created a “plug-n-play” homeless outreach program to facilitate the Gifting experience in the default world. Join us in San Diego every 1st Saturday. 1stSaturdays.org

  27. I thought back in older times, the high barrier to entry was what made it so special? that’s what I remember the attitude was when I first started attending, a special bond because we all knew each and every person put up with the same difficulties in setting up your own meager luxuries, and contributing much more than prefabricated goodies as promised in your vacation brochure.

    this pink hair dye model is showing the hand of the bmorg up his ass controlling his actions. I guess its pretty tough to choose who will bring your hat out for you though, so he has difficulties of his own (also I’ve never seen this man wear a hat, people might not recognize and worship the almighty halcyon if he’s covering his signature hair).

    but good pr was needed, so of course the man with the pink hugs was called in. who can resist the pink hugs?

  28. Radical self-reliance means, “Don’t be a burden on your neighbor.” That’s it. Any attempt to turn it into a religious principle with value beyond the above is an exercise in hypocrisy unless you made your tent, grew all your own food, and extracted the oil to turn into gasoline to power the vehicle you got there in (that was made by a multinational giant corporation).

  29. Woah, Halcyon, you have now shown that you are (what we all knew any way) merely a mouthpiece for the org. How about the guys who currently come to take out the trash. Hey, did you know that these PnP camps have trash pick up already? Yep, they pile their trash out by the street and pay someone to come by and pick it up, take it away. I saw it with my own eyes.

    • wow. I did not know that.
      Since this practice is there, though, rather than fighting it – let’s keep it. Let’s all have it. Seriously, waste has got out of control, if BMOrg collects it then they can make sure it is recycled properly. Just create a Commodification Camp tax that is high enough to pay for trash removal services for the whole city. $1000 per head ought to do it.

    • Similarly, I’ve watched, with my own eyes, camps show up at Arctica and literally whip out cash to buy ice. Disgusting. Obviously Burning Man is about to implode because once open, unabashed commerce like that is allowed it’s over.

      There’s no difference between paying to have your trash picked up and paying to have your ice chest filled.

  30. If I was held to your definition of a Burner my first year (1998), I would not have been welcomed. I was wide-eyed and took far more than I gave. But I was touched by the experience and it changed me.

    • you’ve certainly given more than your share to the event. And clearly you sincerely care about it. I am not saying you’re not a Burner.

      It has definitely changed since 1998. Every camp welcomed every Burner, back then.

    • sorry, Halcyon, but are you actually saying that only rick people come to Burning Man and bring their art. Because I can provide 100 examples, of the top of my head, that will prove you wrong. That was a mean and asinine thing to say.

        • Then let it be. You said, “Only with significant surplus time & money (and questionable sanity) would anyone ever build and transport large-scale art to the middle of the desert. ” Yes you said that. That is a slap in the face of those of use who work our asses off to bring art to the playa, and without significant surplus time and money. You said it, own it.

          • You create and transport large scale art without time and money? Can you explain that more so I can understand? I didn’t say artists didn’t struggle. (FYI, if you are experiencing a “slap in the face” sensation it is because you are angrily running into things. We can discuss calmly if you like.)

          • I’m calm. It’s just more than a little infuriating when you don’t won what you wrote in black and white. But whatev, you don’t have to be rich to bring art. and in your article you did not specify “large scale art.” Many camps pool funds, have fundraisers, crowd source. All of thiat means that art, even large scale art, can be brought out without being wealthy or having a wealthy backer. Secondly, this year you could say more wealthy people were out there thab ever, yet there was less large scale art than the previous few years. So how goes that fit in with your equation? When each of the regionals brought their art, was a wealthy person behind each of those? To say that artists can make a living because wealthy people buy their work for a high price is true to an exent, in the default world, but that ignores all the millions of artists who are driven to create their art out of passion and are living on a shoestring. That is most of us, and that has always been the beauty of BMan to me, that we are able to come out and create what we can’t (due to codes and other restrictions) in the default world. And most of us do it without a wealthy backer. You would be amazed at what a group of people can do, and without a lot of money too. Your article seems to say that only by allowing the rich to come to the playa by way of purchasing a packaged experience, will art exist. That is blatently wrong, and although I have no expectation that you will own your own words, that is what you said.

          • From article (and your comment quoting me): “Only with significant surplus time & money (and questionable sanity) would anyone ever build and transport large-scale art to the middle of the desert.”

            I still feel this is true. Anything else you want to read into that, just assume I own it. Judge me as you will. Lets just agree that we are both passionate about an experience that is sacred to us – and agree to disagree. Goodbye.

    • Shoulda been there in ’92 or ’93, kid. Although you may not have liked it — no social stratification, no “insiders” (whatever the fuck that is), and no self-appointed patchouli-gurgling gurus perseverating on how many years they’ve got, as though that grants street cred. The drive-by shooting range was awesome.

        • OK John, so lemme see if I understand your point: although the Man resonated in the bones like a spiritual tuning fork for all the folks who chose to be there in the day, and who kept on coming and kept on creating year after year, thereby making it possible for you have your first Playa experience the in the late ’90’s — you’re saying you don’t imagine it would have been as meaningful as what those same folks had created years earlier?

          wtf dude.

          • What in tarnation is “JuPlaya?” I’m talking about Burning Man. And if you’d been there you’d know that there was no “chaos” (whatever the hell you mean by that), and there were no firearms to be seen in camp — the DBSR was miles and miles away.

    • So Hal, are you going to turn your back on the worker abuse going on in these camps? Is that OK with you since it’s only a small percentage of all Burners? I suppose you thought Shooter was wrong trying to get minimum wage for DPW? How about rape/sexual assault on the playa? Is that OK too, since it’s only 12 out of 67000 people? And we should just ignore it because it doesn’t man anything to the larger population?

      • Say what now? My role is OBVIOUSLY not as a muckraker or investigative journalist. I speak mostly to the transformative possibilities of Burning Man. But you can search the burning blog for my post about Sexual Assault.

        • You said “We need to be careful not to let the small things consume all of our attention and cloud our perceptions of the entire experience.” So does that apply across the board, or only to rich people?

    • “creating easily accessible burn experiences for the super wealthy and influential.” Hey how about creating easily accessible experiences for those of us who are poor and bust our asses to create art and gt to BMan because we have a deep and abiding love for the event? Where’s the easily accessibility for us? Do the rich have to go through ticket hell? Um, NO. You are full of elitism and classist blindness. I used to really respect you for your perspective. No more.

      • Sorry to disappoint. I’m trying to visualize world change, not just next year’s headdress. People with resources fund art. So get the Medici families to the Playa, by any means necessary.

        • Oh Hal, you are so wrong and I think deep down, you know it. We all SHOULD be thinking about next years headdress. The truest, most life-changing experiences on the playa just happen. Serendipitously and Beautifully. Your talk of TRYING to “visualize world change” is just you hiding behind ideological ideas to mask your real intent.
          I, and every burner (commoner) I know, realize your true passion is to make money.
          I’m saddened by you Halcyon. You sound like a pink-haired car salesman.
          You’ve betrayed us all.

          • I wanted to respond to what I meant by visualizing world change – and how we are in agreement that the magic happens when you surrender and allow. But “You’ve betrayed us all” is kinda a conversation stopper.
            I am curious as to what you think I’m selling?

          • In response to the “what do you think I’m selling?” – I believe the correct answer would be (from your own website) “paid consulting, coaching, & speaking engagements”; also “‘Adventure Coaching’ & ‘Bliss Journey’ packages”. Is that ironic as well?

        • I honestly am really disappointed that you think Burning Man needs rich people out there “by any means necessary”. If they won’t come unless it’s a luxury resort vacation… then maybe they shouldn’t come.

          • On reflection (and sobering up) I’ll admit that “Any means necessary” was an exaggeration for poetic purposes. But I do believe that a BRC visit can only have positive effects on how people designate & distribute their resources.

          • I too think that the best possible outcome for a person who attends a camp with 13K in dues is that they would experience something that changes their behavior in the default world. I think that this is what the founders are hoping for when they give them preferential treatment.

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