Comfortably Commodified

Trends-hunter has hunted out the latest trend for the ultra-rich: Commodification Camps at Burning Man. They have interviewed a personal “festival concierge” who gives us the low-down on the 10 or so “Super Luxury” Sherpa Safari camps that charged up to $25,000 per person.

(note: just because an image appears in Trends Hunter’s story, doesn’t mean Burners.Me is accusing that person/camp of being about Commodification. Readers, please understand blogging, it is a technology to discuss what people are saying at other sites on the Internet. When we quote someone, it’s them saying it, not us).


Burning Man 2014 the playground for young billionaires

For the past 5 years the most influential men of the Silicon Valley have elected Burning Man to be there new playground, investing millions of $ in extremely conformable camps, Art Cars and grandiose musical stages. Burning Man has become the must-attend event for the the young billionaires of the Fortune 500 companies…The pioneer of these luxury camps was the Robot heart camp which was setup by a hip New York based radio station, it has now become the place to be for sunrise after parties in the Burning Man desert, inviting great names such as Diplo, Skrillex, …

Once again this year Burning Man has shown it is a true representation of modern day society, with novelties in terms of outrageousness well illustrated by the White Ocean camp launched by the young russian billionaire Timur Sardarov and his friend Paul Oakenfold the well known New York DJ. The budget of the camp was far above $1 million with entry fees at $25,000 a head. About ten or so of these camps were grouped together at 10 o’clock at the extreme end of Black Rock City, and challenged each other with amazing DJ sets to the great pleasure of the rest of the Burners community. These self-financed camps by the participants have invested over the past years tens of millions of $ in the event. Burning Man has become a certain piece of the show-up for these young billionaires, [whose] means are unlimited.

When the sun sets on the playa we find the Art Cars of the biggest camps, some of them can even take aboard over a hundred passengers on three levels, cruising along, throwing flames, laser and light shows in an ongoing hubbub of raging decibels. With one objective in mind surpass your neighbour in size and creativity. These vehicles are straight out of Mad Max, Star Wars or even Disney…The arrival of these billionaires has created some unrest amongst the events traditionalists. As they setup their camps on very high comfort levels to satisfy their needs for services in a somewhat awkward setting. This is why we [find] ultra luxurious camping cars, countless sherpas, cooks, make up artists, masseuses, costume makers, mechanics, sound engineers, body painters and even luxury concierges to satisfy their needs and coordinate and guide these very wealthy burners. And obviously guarantee they enjoy the experience with maximum comfort.

[Trends-Hunter] were lucky to hook up with THE luxury concierge who is a specialist in this event and it’s Project Manager “AS”

What is a luxury concierge for an event such as Burning Man?

Our objective is to guarantee a high level of confort for our clients, that will allow them to enjoy the festival in ideal conditions.

One should not forget that the festival is set in a desert at an altitude of 2’000m that day temperature easily rise to 40°C and drop to 10°C at night. There is no running water, no electricity no cell-phone network, add to that the occasional mini sand storm, they are truly rough conditions, and it takes precise preparation to accommodate the confort required by our clients. This is precisely where our expertise in this event comes in to cater our services to our clients.

After a one to one briefing with each one of our clients we define their needs depending on the way they want to experience the Burn. It is truly a unique experience that every person likes to live in his or her personal way, we don’t want to interfere or influence the way they want to experience the Burning Man festival. We simply come in to set up the infrastructure they require. Once on-site our clients are like all other burners and are on their own. We happily assist them if needed but in no ways do we babysit them.

Whatever the level of confort you are in Burning Man remains a tough experience on an emotional and a physical level for every person that lives it.

How do you arrive at the BM?

Originally everyone arrived by the road that comes from Reno, but because of the sheer size of the festival the traffic can become a serious issue and the last 100km can take from 8 up to 16 hours to reach the festival.

For the past few years the festival has set up an airport and therefore we recommend our clients to arrive by the air, private plane or helicopter. By the way the sky view of Black Rock City when arriving is truly stunning.

What are the living conditions in the camps?

The ten or so comfort type camps you find at Burning Man offer many different services to make the lives of their members easier, but they all carefully select their members to avoid having “tourists” amongst them and to make sure they keep a good atmosphere.

Most of the camps are equipped with RV, more or less luxurious and some of them are very large with many people aboard…The camps also provide running water, electricity, and waste water treatment facilities to guarantee the renters a high level of comfort in their new “home”. The vast majority of the RVs on the festival site don’t having these services and thus are only used for lodging purposes…

These camps also provide cooks, with for some true gastronomical chefs. Having a warm meal at Bruning Man is a real plus to keep a high level of energy. The majority of the big camps have a bar which is obviously free for the camps members and their visitors. Again all this depends on the each camp, in most extreme cases we will find sushi chefs and sometimes…. Caviar!

In some very geeky camps often setup by members from Silicon Valley they setup very expensive Satellite internet networks which they generously share with there new neighbours.

There are also more personalised services. Some rich burners require Sherpas, masseuses, make up artists and hairdressers and even personal coaches. The services are truly endless some get their RVs regularly cleaned and the same for their clothes.

What is luxury in the desert?

Judging by the fact that there is no water or electricity, that temperatures range from 40-45°C at day and 10°C at night with sand storms, and that there are no stores closer than a 3 hour drive… an RV can already be considered a luxury…

Therefore the above mentioned services are to be classified in the category of “super” luxury.

And the costumes? Who was the most beautiful?

A good wardrobe for burning man has to be made up of at least three costumes for the day and the same for the night. For daytime something light is great but a pair of goggles and respiratory filter can come in handy due to the frequent sand storms that kick up the Dust (really thin sand haze).

At night time indian costumes and fur coats are very trendy. Many female burners wear very edgy lace, latex and leather costumes which is very fetish style. All means are permitted to highlight the often siliconed physique of the female clubbers with amazing bodies.

It is key though to have something that doesn’t look like a dress up costume, and very often the ensembles are made to measure and one should set aside between 1000-2000 $ for a nice costume.

If I would like to come, how should I proceed? what is the minimum budget?

First and foremost get your hands on a one of the very rare 70,000 tickets. this year they were sold out in less than 30 min. You really need to be lucky to be amongst the happy few. Otherwise you will have to rely on the secondary market and prices can easily quadruple.

The minimum budget to go to Burning Man from Europe is 3’000EUR but that is going it roots style. You will need to spend 5’000 EUR to share a small RV with 4 people and in a camp with basic confort level. This for me is the minimum level to enjoy the festival.

On the upside there are no limits, budgets can easily surpass 50’000 EUR per week.

If you want more info, you can check

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52 comments on “Comfortably Commodified

  1. Pingback: Turkey Answers, But Silence On Commodification Scalper Tickets [Poll Added] | Burners.Me: Me, Burners and The Man

  2. Pingback: BMOrg Continues to Cover for Commodification Camps | Burners.Me: Me, Burners and The Man

  3. $1000-$2000 per costume!? You have got to be fucking shitting me!! That’s how much I spend on my whole trip for the week, I spend less the. $40 on my sat night wears and less the. $5 for every other day. I have two outfits for 24 hours. These people are fucking stupid and have more money then they know what to do with. Imagine how many family’s they could help In a 3rd world country with just the price of one of their costumes they were for a few hours seeing as 4 a day is suggested! Sickening.

  4. Burning man is not just about party and costumes you dumb dorks– there are higher ideals like community sharing and self-responsibility (meaning CLEAN UP YOUR GARBAGE at least)– billionaires welcome but get a clue! Regarding the headdresses though, ask an American Indian if they’re insulted. many people wear those as homages so….

    • Perhaps their used to be higher ideals…or at least they were intended to be shared by everyone, but no more. When the very directors of BMOrg are commoditizing the playa experience their own profit while specifically preventing the artists, performers and other people that actually create the Burning Man experience from profiting on their own works, then these higher ideals you speak of have been dumped into the porta-potties along with all of those baby wipes.

      And since you seem confused about the wearing of headdresses and cultural appropriation, try educating yourself before calling others “dumb dorks”.

      You need to get a clue and to take responsibility for your own ignorance.

  5. Hello??? What is up with the feathers. The least these camp organizers can do is make sure their customers are aware of the damn rules. I feel so sorry for the volunteers who are out there mooping up endless amounts of feather particles left behind by these dweebs.

  6. The PnP camps are at least actual camps, unlike the type of tourists who arrive in the thousands in their RVs rocking the rocking Tevas and taking picture of tits all week. They’re easy to ignore when you’re insulated by your own large camp of actual particpants. But I ventured out a few years ago, and camped solo with my art car, away from everyone I knew – just to try something new.

    What I found was that I became a sort of magnet for the real, honest to god tourists. They were nice, but they became overwhelming. I became owned by them, as well as my art car. It was a thoroughly lackluster experience, and I had to devise ways to escaping – ways of sneaking out of my camp without a load of Teva Rockers every night. Then having to make excuses the next day as to why I wasn’t around to give everyone rides. If it wasn’t for their hot daughters lavishing me with affection, it might have been a bad burn.

    All I’m saying is, at least the PnPs do *something* as opposed to a whole lot of nothing coming from the thousands of hard-core tourists.

    • My experience with the Teva-rocker crowd has always been positive. (For one, I was a Teva rocker my first year.) Most of the time, they’re there to party with their friends and are amazingly friendly, in my experience. My favorite year, we camped across from a camp full of them. Hardly any of them dressed up, but man were they fun. Sunset cocktail party every night, a blast to have on our art car. Also, it was their 15th burn. Totally welcoming to whoever wandered by. Those are my favorite types of camps, actually. Nothing fancy, maybe a clever little gimmick set up roadside, mostly couples in their 40s just chilling. Love it.

      • True. Of course I’m generalizing. Many of the obvious tourists are much nicer than than your average look-at-me-look-at-me Burner. They don’t have big egos and are approachable. I rocked the Tevas my first year, so being a member of that club I like to poke fun at them. Worse than looking like a dork out there is being a costume-nazi.

  7. How the fuck did my Pilot Fish make it into this article? You have a bunch of pictures of douchebags in head dresses, and then a picture of my labor of love, very much NOT paid for by douchebags in head dresses.

  8. If people are getting caviar in their camp, it takes away the magic of someone offering them caviar in deep playa in the midst of a dust storm.

    If they have air conditioning at home, it makes the air conditioned tea house, or the misting hammock garden that much less special.

    If their bike is pre-decorated for them, the compliments they get from people on the street mean less.

    I’m not so much upset that this ruins MY Burning Man experience. Rather it bothers me that this is ruining THEIR Burning Man experience.

    BMOrg won’t do anything about this, so that leaves it up to us. Make life hard on the people running Plug ‘n Play camps while at the same time put extra effort into luring their guests out into the open and teaching them about the culture. We need to do it ourselves, Larry et al. are too busy doing speaking tours and photo ops to care about BRC anymore.

    • Actually Larry was busy at the Souk this year with his art project, if you took the time to explore he was easy to find and you could spend time talking with him.

  9. Distrikt, White Ocean and Robot Heart are all awesome participants. It definitely takes money to bring what they do to the Playa for everyone to enjoy. The bar at Distrikt is dispensing drinks at a breakneck rate all week and for that alone, I say Thank You.

    Mixing these camps up with exclusive Butt-Plug & Play camps that wall themselves into tourist enclaves is a real problem and should be an affront to every Burner.

    Combining the two as “rick people camps” is discriminatory and misdirected ire.

    • Bs, distrik is a bunch of pompous club assholes. I went there in 2012 and was made fun of and was look at like a piece of low class fat shit.
      Most asshole camp I have ever been to.

      • Excuse me! What does being a bunch of pompous assholes have to with an article about PNP camps? DISTRIKT campers work their asses off, so that you can have a cold drink in your hand and music to dance to. Is that so bad? By the way, your not low class.

  10. Pls stop showing pictures of real burners and real camps in connection with plug and play camps. A) it is not fair B) it is not proper C) you make your self look like u do not know what are u talking about and finally D) for a fact Distrikt or Robot Heart you have here in pictures are for sure valid and legit hard working camps who make BM better experience, have some RESPECT!!!!!

  11. @Eric – few if anyone cares how the rich spend their money out there. What pisses folks off is people bringing their shitty default-world attitudes to BRC, not owning the cultural mores of the Burn, doing nothing but thoughtlessly mincing about, leaving their camps a cesspool of MOOP because they can’t fathom having to do any kind of menial work themselves and turning the Burn into a beer commercial for their schlocky DJ videos.

  12. I don’t understand why people even care about how people with greater means than them spend their money. No billionaire has ever ruined my time at burning man. Does looking at an amazing art car, playing on an art installation, dancing at White Ocean, or watching a sunset at Robot Heart piss you off that much because they are provided for your enjoyment by someone with more means than you? Would it be better if everyone were forced to camp in minimum standard tents, use porto potties, and sound systems were limited in cost to an ipod and a set of $99 speakers? People need to quit their whining and just enjoy the event for what it is. Yes, some really rich people are trying to out-do one another, but you know what? YOU get to enjoy the benefits of that as you participate more. I for one am grateful that they are providing something I could never afford to do.

    • Eric – let me put a finer point on it: The city’s core energy has always been – until, it seems this year – creating something and *sharing* your creativity. In 1996, my first year, burners were whinging about how all the magic had gone, it had grown too big, it had lost its meaning. That same refrain has been in the air ever since. When I came back in 1997 and 1998 and saw it had grown from 10,000 to 15,000 people, they were bitching, but I thought – the more the merrier. Art continued to abound and astound. By the time we returned in ’05 (with the two kids we had taken time off from the playa to create – who quickly became busy, creative, hard-working, self-reliant burners in the next 8 burns), the city had grown to something like 40,000, and was more beautiful, overwhelming and vibrant than ever. We came back in ’06, ’08 and every burn since ’10 and watched the city grow in beauty and participation and interactive richness to 70,000-plus. Older burners (of which I was now one) continued whining – and I continued to ignore them because – overwhelmingly – still nearly every Black Rock citizen hewed to the only rule about participatoin that had been stated in ’96: “NO SPECTATORS.” People designed, built, performed and gifted with glorious abandon because that was THE WHOLE POINT OF COMING: To participate in (not simply gape at) the greatest creative environment on the planet. You felt entitled to enjoy the multi-hundred-thousand-dollar burn of Uchronia or ride on the Purple Palace or join in a monkey chant in center camp or sit on your ass and watch the burn because you had played a set in Center Camp or made and handed out darkwad kits or served waffles to hungry strangers or helped wire an art car or just gone to the trouble to hang some glowsticks from your own tent to make it look cooler. The people who helicopter in, get pampered hand and foot, wear pre-fab costumes, ride pre-decorated bikes, eat catered meals and do little more than dance and party are – excuse me (no, don’t) FUCKING TOURISTS. The more fucking tourists and fucking tourist culture that creeps in, the less art, participation and creativity there will be room for. Do the math – would you rather your ticket go to a do-nothing asshole in borrowed clothing who contributes little more to the city than some mad drinking skillz, MOOP that they pay to have cleaned up and a huge fart of jet exhaust on departure? Because that’s where this is headed. WAKE. UP.

    • I guess you are not offering to help clean up their mess – which is indirectly ruining things for everyone – and I am sure you just have yet to be excluded from something on the playa that is supposed to be about Radical Inclusion.

      Keep your head buried in the sand and watch as your precious Burning Man turns into another Vegas-like theme park.

  13. People in custom paid-for costumes may look great but they look like they belong in a fashion show, not Burning Man. I have NO respect for them.

    • You have no respect for someone who wears something that makes them happy? Wow that is a great burner attitude. Who thinks they’re better than whom now?

    • Fashion is an art form (Im in the biz.) Many of those too-clean and sparkly people may actually design and sew their own creations or have designers help them realize their vision. I’m all for it as a means of expression, especially if you look as good as the people pictured in the article.

      • Yes, fashion is an art form, but as a professional in the business you have to admit that there is a big difference between wearing personal fashion and wearing a costume. The former is usually true self-expression, while the latter is more like an escape from one’s self expression to that of another. Do you think all of those witches and monsters at Halloweens are people expressing their true desire to be those characters in real life? I think not.

        The principles of Burning Man as many interpret them are to go beyond “looking good” and to allow one to comfortably express themselves as they see fit without having to look good or live up to someone else’s judgement. The use of designers or costumers to aid in this process is more about driving personal ego and up’ing the game to dress/look better than others; which is not only boring, but alive and well in the default world.

    • Where he is born, may not be where he lives right now – do you have any information on that? Should they have called him a Las Vegas DJ?
      Does it really matter that much? Seems kinda beside the point to me.

  14. this article is such horse shit… The people have no clue, they are trying too hard to look cool in thier LAME outfits. They look stupid. Yeah its nice to have $$$ and be comfortable, but there is a point where you just can’t buy the authentic experience. It’s all a just a flock of assholes and a crock of turds!

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