When news came out that Dancetronauts had been banned for at least a year for being Too Loud For Burning Man, we wondered if there might be more to the story. Was this part of a bigger pushback to exclude “Broners” from our culture, an attempt to differentiate Burning Man as “more than just another EDM festival on the circuit?”
Well, speculate amongst yourselves, Burners…meanwhile, the coincidences continue to mount. Now we hear that Playa stalwarts Opulent Temple have been denied placement. Why? For not being interactive enough.
This is a sound camp with at peak moments more than 10,000 people being entertained. By the world’s best DJ talent, for free.
From Opulenttemple.org (emphasis ours):
2014 saw us go big once again. We produced and gifted our 11th incarnation of the camp, doing so for our 7th time anchoring a corner spot. We built a new (partially) crowd funded DJ booth we called Armagan, aka OPod 3.0. We also built new 3D screens for visual mapping known in OT slang as the snowflake screens, new I-beams and support structure to put the raised stage platforms together, and a custom made 3 shower stall on a trailer. We moved warehouses, did upgrades on our fire effects manifold, built a paneled LED light effect DJ booth for indoor events, threw 16 fundraisers, and we bought a swing set. We also founded a new 501c non-profit organization called Sacred Dance Foundation to formalize with the IRS what we always been in action, a non-profit community, gifting an experience in the hopes it will do a small part to plant seeds of goodness in troubled times.
So yes, we’ve been extremely busy, expended a high amount of financial and personal resources last year to make it all happen and ended up with a considerable amount of debt. It took us quite a few events just to come back from the deficit so we head into this year’s burn needing a different and less risky experience. Our core team has never had a year since starting or joining OT where we haven’t produced a large sound camp. It takes a massive coordinated group effort each year to raise enough funds to bring our production to the desert and I’m sure you know that we, like every other sound camp, do it all with only the support of our community, without any help from BMorg. We attempted to apply for a grant for our large-scale fabrication projects last year but were denied because sound camps and music are not considered art that the powers that be wish to support. While other art installation projects have access to almost $1 million in grant money, free tickets for crew and validation from BMorg, sound camps get no support even though we also contribute a highly interactive and memorable experience to tens of thousands of burners every night of the week at BM and beyond. It would be safe to say that sound camps play a big role in why many of the BRC population make the trek each year so the lack of support and respect from the organizers is disheartening… so much that they didn’t even assign us a placement for our camp this year.
So now the plan is to step back and have a different BM experience while still maintaining an OT presence and vibe in Black Rock City. There will still be a great OT camp that will be close to the many dance floors in the 10:00 and Esplanade vicinity, and we’ll still do a number of events, but they just won’t take place in our own sound camp and dancefloor. We’ve asked why we’re not getting placed and were told our camp is not ‘interactive’ enough since most of the events we’re doing are mobile. We’ll be announcing our events here in the coming weeks but definitely keep Wednesday night open for us with your creatively fabulous white attire for our annual Sacred Dance ‘White Party’, but this year on the open playa, stationed around the Flaming Lotus Girl’s Serpent Mother. We hope to enroll as many art cars as possible to link up and add to the epic party. Please contact us if your art car would like to join that sonic train and participate in the overall experience.
Thank you for the ongoing support to help us do what we do. Seems like the community based sound camps (in contrast to millionaire funded ones) are dwindling; many of the popular sound camps from years past will be absent this year: Roots Society, Osiris, Dancetronauts, Digital Apex. At this point we don’t really know year to year where the wind will blow us, but you can certainly bet whichever direction that is, we’ll be forging ahead with fire, beats, community and a mission, forever purposeful.
See you in the desert!
The only major sound camps we’ve heard that got placement are billionaire camp White Ocean and Disorient. Burners this year will also have to make do without:
If you’ve heard of any other sound camps that won’t be returning this year because they were denied placement or couldn’t get enough tickets, please let us know and I’ll update the list.
When the Founders first announced their retirement and transition to a non-profit, then followed it up with an Anti-Burner ticket lottery, we speculated as to their motivation. Was there some perverse element disgruntled at Burners, and actually trying to destroy Burning Man from within?
I’m not sure what the motivation is, maybe you guys have some ideas. The decisions they’re making at BMHQ in the Mission just seem to be getting worse and worse, the older the Founders get. A tragedy, really.
[Update 9/13/15 5:25pm PST]
Thanks to a source for sharing this. From OT’s recent email to camp members:
This year is a unique year by OT standards because for the first year since our inception in 2003, we are not building a large sound stage / camp-central dance floor. After 12 straight years we decided this was finally the year to step back and have a different BM experience while still maintaining an OT presence and vibe in Black Rock City.
So, there will be a great OT camp…But please be clear, though there will be many dance floors in our immediate vicinity, most of the time it won’t be our own.
The camp will have limited space this year for ~120 people, including no more than about 20 RV’s. (for comparison, last year we had about 275 people by the end of the week). So by our standards will be on the mellow / intimate scale. The requested camp placement is 250 feet back from 10 & A (so essentially behind whatever sound camp is on 10 &A). That puts us well behind the usual loudness that’s generally been part of the OT camping experience but still close to the Esplanade and the action.
So that’s all they were looking for – somewhere to put less than half of the previous year’s camp. That’s the placement that was denied them, for not being “interactive enough”. So do the camps behind the 10 o’clock sound camps all have to be interactive now?
They were going to have events every night which were all open to the public.
Party wise we will do 5 events (only one of which is a full on OT scale blow out.)
-Tuesday Sunset: OT Happy Hour – Meet and greet for all camp members and open to the public to invite friends, live DJ’s and drinks.
-Tuesday Night: OT partners with an Art Car tba for an OT vibe and DJ mobile party.
** – Wednesday Night: our biggest event of the week – our annual OT Sacred Dance ‘white party’ – open playa locale TBA.
-Thursday Night: OT hopes to partner with a placed sound camp to synergize vibe and talent with our crew and theirs.
-Friday Sunset: OT Happy Hour – Meet and greet for all camp members and open to the public to invite friends, live DJ’s and drinks.
Would it have been so hard to reward their loyalty with placement? If not where they requested, then anywhere?
Burners on social media are saying that MOOP is the “actual reason” Opulent Temple were denied placement. This allegation has now been completely debunked, see below.
In other veteran news, Dusty Rhino was denied placement on the Esplanade, for not being interactive enough.
Let’s hope this means there will be incredibly interactive camps along the Esplanade this year, and in the back streets behind the sound camps.
[Update 7/11/15 6:34pm]
Opulent Temple themselves, perhaps fearing further ire from the Borg, have moved to downplay the situation, and distance themselves from any speculation about motivation.
Hey folks, OT here. We know people love getting drama-tastic about Burning Man, but while we appreciate Burners.me a lot for their support of music at BM, we feel this headline is a bit sensationalized. We don’t want to get pulled into some conversation about ‘war’ on EDM music, because frankly we don’t see it that way. Our scoop is in the web posting and we encourage people to read it on our site. Again in a nutshell – Unlike previous years, we don’t have our fixed stage. We never planned on having it for the reasons outlined in our post, which has nothing to do with placement. We are doing a number of OT events though, that will be at various spots around the playa, and because our camp itself did not have an interactive element, but is more of a base camp for our events around BRC, we weren’t placed. We’re still going to be there, it just makes things harder for us than we hoped it would be. We thought and wished partially based on legacy and previous contribution we’d get a reserved spot, but we didn’t. We’re not trying to call victim, it is what it is, we’re well versed in being disappointed in decisions from the org and we choose to be there with open eyes. It had nothing to do w MOOP either, for the record… There was zero mention of MOOP in their reasons for their decision. Thanks for everyone’s support and we look forward to seeing everyone out there, especially Wednesday night at the Serpent Mother. Peace.
[Update 7/11/15 7:00pm]
Thanks to MzFit for helping clear this up. Despite the haters’ claims (which we can put down to disinformation, or maybe familiar smear campaign tactics), OT was green for MOOP last year. They had a single red dot, which presumably was dealt with. It was a lot less than most camps, including most camps that only had one MOOP mark.
[Update 7/14/15 9:03am PST]
White Ocean got placement. Dancetronauts and Opulent Temple got punishment. One is a billionaire camp (the founder owns 50 private jets), the other two are long time Burner camps who have put years into the event. Draw your own conclusions…welcome to Burning Man 2.0.
[Update 7/14/15 11:28am]
Someone suggested that 300 camps were denied placement this year, but officially it was 95. See the comments to this story for details.
From Opulent Temple:
For the record – 95 camps that asked were not placed (not 300). From our placement communication: “More camps requested Theme Camp placement than we have dedicated space for and as a result, we were unable to place 95 camps. Unfortunately your camp is one of these unplaced camps.”
Secondly, though yes – our in-camp interactivity was low (we know), it’s not like it was non-existent. Our interactive elements in the camp will be a large & plush public shade area open to anyone to come enjoy. (The same we always had on Esplanade for anyone to come chill) + 2 public sunset happy hours with guest DJ’s and drinks. + we’ll do 3-4 ‘mobile’ events and out about BRC, with Wednesday being the biggie. We’re doing more at our camp than some placed art car based camps that do nothing at their camp except park their art car when not in use.
Lastly, having some time to reflect, we say the reality of the placement thing is not that serious, it’s just been blown up because some have thought our normal big sound camp wasn’t placed, and we never intended to do the sound camp. It’s just the redundant, and consistent illustrative principle. We were, admittedly, hoping and assuming that our years of huge output of contribution was good for something in the consideration. Now we know it isn’t.