El Sherpo: Latina Labor Abuses At Plug-n-Plays


(NB: the Burner pictured is a full participant, not a sherpa in any way)

A guest post by Buena Chica. This first appeared in the last edition of this year’s Black Rock Beacon.


Everyone has their breaking point – when we sit in silence, break down, and cry on Playa. Sometimes we cry out of gratitude, in awe of the beautiful installations and experiences that have been so laboriously created for our entertainment. And sometimes we cry at the realization that we have been doing it all wrong for so long in our lives.

My own tears this year had a completely different base. I had long heard about those plug-n-play camps: Building a compound surrounded by giant RVs to keep the “peasants” out of the decked-out “members’ only” elaborate amenities. Considering the “Sherpa” phenomenon of last year’s burn, and the promise by Bmorg that these camps would align to our Ten Principles, I was shocked to encounter the construction of one such camp during my own Early Arrival on August 21st.

Let me be absolutely honest, my fellow Burners, and tell you that even now I am crying as I write these words: My shock quickly turned to horror as I observed that this particular plug-n-play camp was being built by Latino laborers. Every day, as all the Early Arrival Burners went on building the city for you, these Latino laborers worked from early morning through the night to build a camp for people who are obviously oblivious of the Principles that have taken so much time to establish in our temporary city.

It took me four days to build up enough courage to talk to some of the laborers to learn about the appalling conditions they contracted to: Low pay and no leaving the camp nor being present on the rare occasion the camp opens its doors to the general population. As more and more Burners started arriving to set up their own camps, I was further appalled by the comments they would direct to these workers. From my own tent I heard on more than four occasions passengers of art cars driving by hurling insults such as “How does it feel to work for rich people?”, “Fuck your Burn, Sherpas,” and “Get out of my city.” So not only were the Latinos brought in to serve a particular kind of people who do not abide by our Principles, but now they were being abused by our fellow Burners who did not understand the situation: They are NOT Sherpas, as at least Sherpas are invited to entertain at parties. The workers were particularly selected to build these kind of camps then stay out of view and not partake in the rest of “our” Burner experience.

We hear it every year: Why are there no minority Burners? Well, here is one answer for you: You bring people who look like me to serve you but not to be seen or integrated as equals.

Just yesterday I walked around Center Camp Cafe to see the amazing artist murals. There is a display of colorful pictures. As I stepped closer, I observed that everyone in those pictures looked like me – Latino, African-American, minorities – who had been killed by cops in the Default World. I turned around to see Burners in various getups and outfits on bikes going in every direction. Nobody looked like me. I turned back to see the mural again; everyone looked like me. And then I remembered the 15 or so Latino laborers at the plug-n-play camp hidden away from view not far from the 9:00 Plaza.

Why are there so few minorities on the Playa? The answer lies within. How do you see me? How am I included in your own lives in the Default World? Am I just your hired help? Or do you include me as a participant in your own community? If you do not ask these questions, then you are Doing It Wrong, not only these abhorrent plug-nplay camps.

This article was written Saturday morning and published in Sunday’s edition of the Black Rock Beacon. On Saturday evening, Buena Chica was at The Temple of Promise and observed the BLM arrive in a procession with pictures of fallen comrades.  A crowd of Burners started chanting “All Lives Matter” which is a total indignation and insult to the “Black Lives Matter” movement in the default world……. but as the BLM receded, Buena Chica finally read the message written by the BLM upon the Temple’s entrance: Police Lives Matter.  She is grateful for the Burners who stood in solidarity and acted with IMMEDIACY to remind the BLM that they are Doing It Wrong and do not fully follow our Principles as well.

83 comments on “El Sherpo: Latina Labor Abuses At Plug-n-Plays

  1. That’s really fucked up. I’m Mexican and don’t take that kind of shit laying down. I like to think I stick up for those who can’t stick up for themselves. I look all over for other Mexican and Latino burners but didn’t find any camps like the Russian camps French camps I even ran across a Lithuanian camp but no Mexican based camps.
    It sucks and I can’t believe other burners were talking shit and degrading what I can only imagine obviously look like migrant labor.

    • Hey Lorenzo…… here’s a funny story: My second Burn I found SEVEN MéXiCANS at a bar having shots of Tequila! I thought it was a mirage to find so many Latinos at the Burn all at once! I was invited to have taquitos with them, abuelita was making them back at their camp! SO there you have it: A THREE GENERATiON Latino Burners! Now my friend holds a bar called CANTiNA ViDA out of the Death Barby Camp. Let’s meet up there next year! In the meantime, let’s see what else we can do about these Plug-N-Play camps and other Burners degrading the laborers! WE can do better!! )'(

  2. I also had an experience at Cirque Gitane and can corroborate much of what BuenaChica is saying about the paid workers being Latino and some of them being disgruntled.

    First, I should say one of my most interesting interactions at Bm15 was at Cirque Gitane–when I met the performer Toledo before he performed. He was fascinated with the creativity he was seeing just by sitting in front of Gitane. Their performance was open to all and it was exceptional, plus they served wine to all.

    I also had the opportunity to meet several of the men who built the camp because they would cross the street to eat dinner at my friend’s camp who happens to be a great cook (and Latina). One particular man definitely had complaints and wasn’t happy but others seemed to think it was an interesting gig. I do think the ORG could put out a statement to PnP camps that all paid workers should be encouraged to get involved in the event when not working. Also their camps should provide them with bikes and some information on how BM works. Maybe the ORG can even have one of their staff members from communications reach out to camp workers. Isn’t that what radical inclusion means; aren’t we hoping to spread this culture beyond the educated, wealthy and already enlightened willing participants? About 1/8 of all attendees are being paid to build our City, shouldn’t some of these paid people be people of color? But her point is important–that the paid workers at PnP camps are not ALLOWED to participate and therefore are being marginalized in our City just as they are in the default world — and that is a serious issue.

    • “Their performance was open to all and it was exceptional, plus they served wine to all.” > This implies that this was a special event, rather than normal operations. Should this be the exception? It was the rule when I would go to Burning Man.

  3. I would tend to agree with other commenters that on the surface it seems that there is little merit for the accusations of racism or abuse, but what the author described is simply a case of the plight of hired day laborers that happen to be Latino. I have worked on many university campuses where similarly, day laborers are paid to setup and tear down for functions that they are not allowed to attend and almost universally these workers are also minorities. This seems to be a very different situation than was described from the caravancicle camp in 2014 where the treatment of the staff was so egregious and it would seem many standard state employment laws, like for over time, breaks and fair pay were ignored and probably broken. I had always hoped the Attorney General for the state of Nevada would have investigated those claims for such serious violations and unfair treatment of workers as would be the case for any state, county fair or other temporary event.

    There are many that will never consider paying to have a camp built/torn down is representative of an act of radical self-reliance. In their mind, this only happens if one builds everything on their own, but I am not sure how driving a rented RV onto the playa is any less self-reliant than paying to have a camp built. Both are essentially the result of writing a big check, which is incredibly self-reliant compared to the countless hippies I see begging for the universe ( or in reality others ) to provide them a free ticket or ride. So it seems that self-reliance does include ensuring all of your shit is safely brought out, erected and then removed from the Playa; so how does paying for some help to do so make this any less of an expression of self-reliance?

    However, there still remains a distasteful and hypocritical part to this story. I constantly hear from the believers of the Burner cult that the Burner community is better than the default world; perhaps this used to be the case, but I don’t see it very often. It seems to me that all Burners, including those from that camp and the yelling, self-righteous cowards on the art cars, could have demonstrated how the Burner community could be better than the default world by having practiced immediacy and radical inclusion through the acceptance of these workers as part of the community and inviting them to experience the activities of the overall event. Instead, the exclusionary principles of class hierarchy, white privilege and celebrity culture that are so prevalent in the default world, continue to be expressed on the playa as a poor substitute for the principles that Burners allegedly hold so dear. Talk about a missed opportunity to practice what you preach. Not sure this is really much different than the hypocrisy demonstrated by most groups that define themselves as Christians.

    To provide a better experience than what is found in the default world, means to behave better toward others; and not just to those that you already like, covet or are just like you. It also means doing things that have real meaning in someone’s life. Gifting free drinks, Playa trinkets, whippet hits and hugs are nice, but they are no substitute for an act of real love towards another; otherwise it is only a modern day version of the Emperor’s New Clothes.

    • You equate using an RV with building your own camp. I have done both. They are not the same. I would never bring an RV (or a tank) to a burn.

      At Transformus there is a special area for the people who bring RVs. A solution exists.

      • Not really; I questioned how using an RV on the playa and “paying someone” to build your camp is any different. I have done both as well. Very different experiences.

        Most of the smaller events I have been too locate RVs in a separate area away from the camps.

        • As long as you recognize that it is not a continuum like Larry LLCabal says. You are going beyond the Tin Principles when you: a) exclude the BRC experience by holding up in the commodified environment of an RV; as well as, b) when you rely on money and the labor of others instead of relying on yourself and your camp mates.

          You are not doing Burning Man; you are abandoning the unique experience.

  4. do you have ANY contact info for Any of these workers? this is an EXTREMELY serious allegation. what brought down tennenbaum / caravancicle was the first hand testimony from INSIDE the camp. absent that – it will be almost impossible to hold anyone from cirque gitnae accountable in any real way.

    • The only accusation against the the camp is that they hired Mexicans/Latinos and didn’t let them play in the Reindeer Games, That’s the author’s ‘racism’ charge. The abuse charge is against fellow Burners for simply being douchebags.

      • There were no abuses, obviously. The workers were paid to build and tear down a PnP camp, and had set hours when they were expected to be on hand. Sounds like a standard-issue “job”. It appears some burners gave them shit for working at a PnP camp. Isn’t that in line with the general attitude towards PnP camps? Seems like it to me. If these workers were unfamiliar with the context in which they were working, then I feel for them that they got razzed a bit, but I’d hardly call it “abuse.”

        To the author, again I ask, in between your hand-wringing and bouts of weeping, did you contact a ranger to let them know of your concerns? If you didn’t, then you have ZERO credibility with me, and I think a lot of other people. You blew a chance to engage with a PnP camp and have their methods questioned and dealt with by the BMORG during the actual building of the camp on the playa. Golden opportunity WASTED.

        Your accusations of racism are unfounded. The mere fact that the workers were Latino and they got the ol’ DPW “fuck yer day” treatment means to me they were being treated like anyone else out there. No racism. It’d be patronizing if they were handled with kid gloves. And your lament that minorities are underrepresented on the playa is noted, but I’ll say it again: there is NOTHING stopping minorities from coming to Burning Man. But they didn’t come much when it was free, they didn’t come much when it was 50 bucks, and they don’t come much now. Should there be an outreach program for them, maybe hedging a bit on the radical self reliance thing? Seriously, this is a voluntary arts festival, not higher education. Most of us would LOVE it if BRC was more diverse, but also ain’t gonna bend over backwards for people who don’t show some interest and initiative in coming.

      • Are you really that clueless? In an event that is around let’s say at least 99% white you don’t see a problem with a rich white camp hiring ALL MEXICANS to work for them? Why not hire a white person? Burningman is supposed to be an inclusive event – surely they could’ve included a white person as well. I’m sure you could find a lot who would jump at the experience. It’s not good enough of an answer to say ‘its just is a coincidence’. It shows a flagrant middle finger to the BM ideology. No it’s not in the 10 principles but it still has a human decency separate from the default world.

    • Absolutely agree, the “Sherpa” phenomena came to our attention with that incredible first person testimony last year. I truly wanted to protect the worker’s privacy at the time that I wrote the article on Playa. Perhaps now, YOU WiLL ALL HELP and reach out to the workers that build these camps and treat them as we do all Burners. That is my ultimate wish! And in the mean time, YES, I would LOVE to hear what Cirque Gitane and the Medusa people have to say…….. may they be reflecting on the ways they ostracized these people from fully integrating into our Burning Man Culture! THANK YOU to all who care enough to comment about this negative aspect of the Plug-n-Play camps. THANK YOU!

      • What were the actual abuses? You’ve made claims of abuse and racism with no evidence aside from that the workers were Latinos and weren’t allowed to participate in the camp (which is true of most PnP camps). It’s not abusive and it’s not racist to hire Latinos for a job that doesn’t include partying with their employers.

        What were the actual abuses?

      • The organizer of Cirque Gitane commented on our Facebook page in response to this story about the camp:

        She insisted that it was NOT a plug-n-play camp.


        It was organized by Stefan Ashkenazy, the owner of the Petit Ermitage hotel in Hollywood for his friends. In 2014 the Petit Ermitage boasted on their Facebook page of their success at creating a pop-up hotel at Burning Man.


        • The argument that it’s not PnP because they didn’t make profit is pretty soft. Also the soft corporate branding of Petit Ermitage Hotel, no telling what that’s worth to the company to be associated with BM.

          In 1999 my whole company built a camp because we were all friends. We made damn sure not to mention our company name or even talk about what we did. Years later I quit a camp because they were planning to be soft-sponsered by a major drink company. The community came down on them hard after that burn and the camp changed its name out of embarrassment. But now all that’s cool to do. How things change.

        • WHAT?? No airport pickup? I am shocked.

          …But somehow people have this weird rationalization of how they are not bad because they don’t make a profit. Give me the books for any enterprise and let me set salaries and I can kill the profit. No biggie.

          The issue at hand is IF PEOPLE ARE BROUGHT IN AND PAID TO BUILD THE CAMP. And how can this happen without the Borg knowing?

        • I had a first hand experience at Cirque Gitane on Thursday Night. Myself and a buddy opened their massive wooden doors and felt like we were just time warped into another dimension. Beautiful carpeting, chandeliers, a statue of a little boy pissing into a fountain, I didn’t know if it was a welcome invitation to relieve myself into the fountain as well but did feel uncomfortable looking at for more then a second with fears that Chris Hanson might appear from around the corner and ask me to take a seat. Everyone in that tent was just beautiful with a steampunk feel, It didn’t feel awkward and was a real contrast to what was outside just a few feet away. I took my own tour and walked back through the curtains and looked around the camp area admiring the work that went into the entire build. Was I miffed that someone spent so much money to build this? Was I sickened that people paid so much to stay there? Not in the least bit. It actually enhanced my Burning man experience. Burning man is an experimental city, show me a city that doesn’t have cultural variety. I thought it was great plus they served great drinks. Kudos Cirque Gitane. Keep being awesome. I see nothing wrong with what they are about.

        • THANK You for the research there Burnersxxx. Let the dialogue continue….. and those who answer, like Mr. Mike Cee below, does it make any difference that this truly beautiful Camp was build by laborers who were NOT included in any camp activity? A ‘second class citizenry” is being created by these Plug-n-Play camps by bringing in laborers to build their cams and Not integrating them as Burners. Please, I continue to ask you BURNERS to reflect on this issue! And investing….. further investigate!! It is my hope that Camp Gitane, as well as the Medusa Artist who employed Latino laborers as well, come forward and comment as well! THANK YOU BURNERS for keeping this issue alive… until the Borg responds!!

          • Does it make a difference? Nope, not in the least bit.

            At this point we are taking your word that paid laborers were brought in to build the camp. I paid a hotshot hauler to tow my art car to burning man. We had to pay to have the hauler drive through the gates and drop our rig at our camp. He then drove his rig alllllllll the way back home. Are you crying yet Miss Chica? that poor driver who accepted my offer on USHIP.com had to come alllll the way to burning man and was not allowed to participate as a burner. How about all of the drivers who drive the shit trucks and pump out those portapotties? guess what… they’re paid laborers as well.
            For fucks sake, you’re wining because they HIRED Hispanic Workers? Guess what sweetie, they are getting PAID! What do you consider to be “low wages”? What did they actually get paid? Minimum Wage? Salary? do you have any photos of these poor second class Hispanic workers in their less than adequate housing? Maybe they should have included Chocotacos huh?
            I can count hundreds of Hispanic day workers that sit out in front of Home Depot that would jump on the opportunity for a paid gig to do anything…I guarantee those workers you shed a tear for all thought this was a freak show and couldn’t wait to get paid and get the hell out of there. If these poor latino workers really wanted to participate and be a burner, they would have purchased tickets like the rest of us…. Before they were hired to set up a camps infrastructure they had no idea what this Hombre Ardiendo thing was.
            You have zero facts to your bullshit claim, if this was such an issue, why didn’t you contact the BLM? First camp? Center Camp? Rangers?
            So, listen up everyone… do NOT employ Latino workers or you’ll be labeled a racist….
            This whole blog is a joke. If the Borg does answer, it will be to laugh at your ridiculous accusations.
            oh and fuck your burn ;-p

    • But isn’t most of the city built by hired and paid labor; as well as most of the moop patrol after the fact? Why is one ok and the other not? Who decides this; the high priests of the Burning man cult?

      • I agree and I find it hard to find the racism here. DPW get cut off from the canteen once the gates open, that is treating them like second class citizens also.
        I see greater racism in BMOrg singling out the art car who said they are going to showcase musical talent from their country, for public shaming. This had never happened before. Buena Chica thinks this was not racism, but paying workers to make Cirque Gitane and the Medusa was. YMMV – I am not Hispanic but I do believe that all lives matter.

  5. According to comment by author, it’s cirque humane, Susan sarandon’s camp. Goes against her high and mighty personal BM media campaign. Why doesn’t someone put this info out there.

        • No. Don’t give up! Please help me reach out to her….. Please do forward the article to Susan Sarandom…. or ANYONE ELSE you may know Camped at Gitane. We are in this together. Please do help! We owe it to each other to make our Burns better….. even Susan needs to know that she is “DOiNG IT WRONG” as we Burners like to remind each other often! please do help…………. that is why I wrote this article, so I would’t feel so alone…… to see that more Burners would care about this sad side of Burning Man.

  6. To the topic at hand, it’s pretty clear the BMORG is doing fuck-all about truly cracking down on PnP camps. But I wonder, how would the BMORG be able to tell that these workers were merely hired hands and not participants before entering BRC? And, how would they police it during their camp build? It would be a delicate situation, coming into a camp and questioning the people building the camp mostly due to their ethnicity and maybe primary language. To the author of this article, in between your hand-wringing and weeping, did it ever occur to you to report your concerns to a ranger?

    As for the people yelling “Fuck yer day” and whatnot to the workers;, well, isn’t that how we’ve been encouraging people to act when confronted with a PnP camp? And also, isn’t that kind of fuckery pretty much standard operating procedure on the playa anyway? I don’t blame those people one bit for acting how they did. If those workers were young white dudes in dreadlocks, we’d all be applauding the people for giving them shit.

    • “I don’t blame those people one bit for acting how they did.” > Well I do. Bad vibes are bad vibes. It was said to the wrong people. Reminds me of the rationale in the 70’s to blame the soldiers for the war in Vietnam. Has nothing to do with ethnicity; has to do with being paid day labor where there should be none. Money should not be leverage in place of creativity and volunteer commitment.

      As you suggested, I would have done a video and then gone for the RBC Rangers to establish just what was going on. And I would have recorded the Rangers, too. It’s too easy to document this stuff, now. Like the guy with pink hair said: Complaints without action are boring. Pretty sure locking your bike would not solve this one.

      • I highly doubt the people yelling “Fuck yer day” knew the conditions the workers were hired under. And since when is yelling “fuck yer day” considered “bad vibes” at Burning Man?

        • I am sorry. My mistake. I was not talking about your entirely unrelated tangent.

          I thought we were discussing the post, wherein she writes, “I was further appalled by the comments they would direct to these workers. From my own tent I heard on more than four occasions passengers of art cars driving by hurling insults such as “How does it feel to work for rich people?”, “Fuck your Burn, Sherpas,” and “Get out of my city.” ”

          Don’t think I have heard “sherpa” ever used as a term of endearment.

          • Yeah they knew they were hired hands, but not of the kind of near indentured servitude that the author is describing. That’s what I mean by writing “the conditions the workers were hired under.” Again, if these workers were white dudes, we’d all be cheering the hecklers.

          • [From above…]
            “I don’t blame those people one bit for acting how they did.” > Well I do. Bad vibes are bad vibes. It was said to the wrong people. Reminds me of the rationale in the 70’s to blame the soldiers for the war in Vietnam

    • “…how would the BMORG be able to tell that these workers were merely hired hands and not participants before entering BRC?” > I dunno. Maybe have everyone with a ticket fill out an online profile? But limit it to the DS and VIP tix – those are how you would get tix for your day labor workers. And empower the Rangers to investigate any complaints in BRC – make them file a form for each complaint.

      Regardless, maintain a ticketing legacy database for DS and VIP tix to keep track of who is breaking the paid labor rules. Don’t give them DS or VIP tix in the future; make them get tix like the peasants do. And require a named individual for each DS/VIP tkt, not just their corporation du jour. Also cross-check phone numbers and addresses. (Make them rent new POBs and new burn phone SIMs. Gotta make it hard for them to get repeat business, and admit they are skirting the rules.)

      But that all presumes the Borg does not want these paid laborers, which of course is not the case.

  7. “We hear it every year: Why are there no minority Burners? Well, here is one answer for you: You bring people who look like me to serve you but not to be seen or integrated as equals.”

    Bullshit. While I don’t doubt your story about the workers hired to set up this camp, I’d be willing to bet almost no one has seen Hispanic laborers working but not participating at Burning Man. So no, this is NOT a reason there aren’t many minority burners. You know, there is NOTHING stopping minorities from coming to Burning Man. But they didn’t come much when it was free, they didn’t come much when it was 50 bucks, and they don’t come much now. Should there be an outreach program for them, maybe hedging a bit on the radical self reliance thing? Maybe some kind of affirmative action? Seriously, this is a voluntary arts festival, not higher education. Most of us would LOVE it if BRC was more diverse, but also ain’t gonna bend over backwards for people who don’t show some interest and initiative in coming.

    • And this:

      “Why are there so few minorities on the Playa? The answer lies within. How do you see me? How am I included in your own lives in the Default World? Am I just your hired help? Or do you include me as a participant in your own community? If you do not ask these questions, then you are Doing It Wrong, not only these abhorrent plug-nplay camps.”

      Bullshit again. NO ONE is discouraging Hispanics or members of any other minority from coming. Mere non-representation does not equal racism. I have ZERO obligation to make any extra accommodations for anyone to attend a voluntary arts festival. And again, most of us would LOVE it if more minorities attended, but they don’t. Not my problem nor the BMORG’s.

  8. Do folks of Asian descent not count as minorities? Because there are certainly a fair few folks out there who fit that profile.

    • I didn’t want them to get further harassed at the Camp they built while we were out there. And also, because MORE CAMPS are being called out now for the same mistreatment of laborers. But this particular camp was Cirque Gitane at 8:15 & G. And I can personally confirm that the Medusa head with all the snakes located at 6 & Esplanade was also built with Latino Labor and they also confided inmate about their mistreatments.

  9. Attending BM for 14 years: Yes, some Burners are racists. Yes, Burners don’t go to the Playa to engage in political dialogue, but it happens. The expectation is, at least for me, that one becomes a better listener for the concerns of others. Radical inclusion is not easy folks. We are the sum result of our race, historical memory, and upbringing, and then add politics and economics. It’s a thick damned shell to crack! It can be done. It’s happening little by little. May in thick dust we’ll all meet! Burn on!

    • Thank you! Apparent racist acts are often just one way some people prop themselves up. This situation is more elitism or the darker (no slur intended) side of free market capitalism. I thank Latina chick for demonstrating her narrow focus. The problems of plug-n-plays, and the human trait to ignore everyone else’s problem are complex ,but “thought police” are part of a cycle that eventually leads to popular uprising. Please give the BM ideal time to work. Remember that the first sell-out was 2011 and Borg is struggling to stay on top of production logistic issues. I volunteered this year (0 dollars per hour) which increased the cost of my burn. What I got for my money was the realization that sacrifice, commitment, and unyielding determiation by volunteers is what makes the event happen, priceless. If there were more volunteers they wouldn’t have to insult people with low wages.?????????? 😉

  10. The importance of keeping the pigs in good health was all too obvious. So it was agreed without further argument that the milk and the windfall apples (and also the main crop of apples when they ripened) should be reserved for the pigs alone.

    – ihearthud
    September 15, 2014 @ 11:09 am

    • I don’t understand this comment. If it’s about the police (the pigs), we can’t have the event without them. They make demands. We have to provide what they ask. Or we don’t have an event, period. It sucks, but I assure you no one is enjoying “keeping the pigs in good health.” If you’re talking about the plug and play camp attendees, though, yeah, then I agree with you.

  11. wow, this statement is racist itself: “We hear it every year: Why are there no minority Burners? Well, here is one answer for you: You bring people who look like me to serve you but not to be seen or integrated as equals.” Other statements by author confirm she’s a racist. Probably thinks minorities can’t be racists.

    • In PC-land, only white people can be racist, all other races can be racist against each other (including against whites), but that’s not racism. It’s just a symptom of their oppression under their racist white overlords. Basically, white guilt in a nutshell.

      Same thing with sexism. There is no sexism against men because of the evil patriarchy that has always and will forever oppress women. Sexism against men is seen as justice served, and not sexism.

      • completely agree, great points in the broader discussion, thank you.

        These people booed police who fell in the line of duty? We should be celebrating that the cops want to use the Temple the same way we do – surely that means they get it?

        I don’t see the link between “black lives matter” and “Latino lives matter”, and I don’t think politics belong at the Burn in any way. If you have to have it, let’s have irony and parody, like “McSatan’s” and “Costco Soul Mate Trading Outlet” and “Baal Mart” and Toasty.TV.

        If the cops want to use the Temple we funded 80% of to honor fallen heroes, let’s encourage and support that. No cop has ever died at Burning Man, but that doesn’t mean Burners are indifferent to the risks these people take every day to keep society safe for everybody.

    • Mayan Warrior were certainly treated like second-class citizens by the Org this year. Their crime? Doing something that dozens of other art cars and sound stages have done every year before them. AFAIK they were the first Mexicans to do this, and (perhaps related, perhaps coincidence) they were the first art car ever to be publicly called out by the Org for this “cultural sin”. Robot Heart can do no wrong…


      • Wow there- the Mayan Warriors printed a list of their DJ’s before hitting Playa, that is in direct violation of Principles, etc…… NOT AT ALL to be taken into the same Latino labor abuses of my article at all. Just because there were a lot of Mexicans in that Art Car and Camp does not mean the Org zeroed in on them for being Mexicans. ***Your comments takes away the focus of the issue I wrote about: Latinos being brought in to serve and not to be integrated as equal participants. This is what makes these laborers “second class citizens”…………. not another pesqui entitled DJ Camp!! It is just unfortunate for The Maya Warriors that they were the first Art Car to be called out for indeed a common violation by sound camps. Please, do not confused these issues!!

          • And there was nothing racist about the Org calling out an Art Car/Camp about listing their DJ’s….. just because many of Maya’s Art Car/Camp were Mexicans doesn’t make it a racist act! That is the difference………. SOOOO NOT RELATED to the points I wished to address!!

          • So mistreatment of Latinos is deliberate racism when it comes to theme camp workers, but merely coincidence when it comes to discrimination against art cars?

    • That was part of my intent for my first comment on this post. It is one thing to stand up for injustice, but not giving any details that could provide consequences is not standing up. Nothing can change, it just makes you feel better, as well as reinforcing the us/them rationale.

      • Glad she reported the camp: “…this particular camp was Cirque Gitane at 8:15 & G. And I can personally confirm that the Medusa head with all the snakes located at 6 & Esplanade was also built with Latino Labor and they also confided inmate about their mistreatments.”

        • I worked union and non-union construction in the great “right to work” (for less) state of Nevada. I’m willing to trade stories about work environment with any unaware Californians that feel abused. Taking advantage is not racist- it’s business. Would you keep a worker who went back to the shop to get a ladder to do a 10 minute job, rather than borrowing one from someone else on the job.

    • Jizzepi, please explain as to WHY would my words be racist. It is a statement of facts which I experienced happening at BRC. Please re-read article, i.e. these workers where brought in to set-up camp but not invited to partake in the camp’s activities. SO they were not seen nor integrated as equals.

    • Jizzepi, please explain as to WHY would my words be racist. It is a statement of facts which I experienced happening at BRC. Please re-read article, i.e. these workers where brought in to set-up camp but not invited to partake in the camp’s activities. SO they were not seen nor integrated as equals.

  12. How were the laborers actually abused? I don’t agree with PnP camps, but the Org does, so I guess they’re here to stay (evolution and all that). It sounds like they were hired to do a build and they did it. We don’t know if they were being paid illegally or otherwise mistreated. Hotel staff isn’t usually invited to hang-out with the guests, so I don’t see that as abuse. The verbal abuses from Burners is something else, and is indicative of the cultural transformation over the last few years – sophomoric megalomania is rampant out there (burnier-than-thous with less than 3 burns under their belts).

    If the laborers were Chinese, would it be a problem?

    • Either we have separate labor camps (like Dubai, or Mumbai), or the laborers are Burners too. Seems pretty simple to me.

      “oh we have a free bar, but none of the workers who constructed it or the bartenders working shifts or their friends can have drinks from it”: totally against Burning Man. That’s an example from the BMOrg Director Camp Caravancicle, BTW.

      Look at Distrikt as an example of doing it right: free bartenders work their ass off as a Shift Gift of their time to the rest of us…if at any time they want a drink themselves, they can just pour it.

      If we must have labor camps, then:

      1) pay DPW (at least minimum wage)
      2) have different tickets for sherpas, so Burners aren’t losing their place
      3) Chinese sherpas are as welcome as Tibetan or Nepalese or Mexican sherpas. Which, to me, is WELCOME (Radical Inclusion)…but to some of the Burnier-Than-Thous, seems “unwelcome” (radical inclusion of the correct people)


    • The Borg obviously knew about the camp – they provided placement, tickets and advanced admission access. Since the Borg did not hire the workers, they can wash their hands of the CCamp labor violations, unless some clever agency wants to put together a conspiracy charge.

      This discussion was interesting on Voices in the BREAKING: Shameless Marketers are Shameless thread:

      ” Sippy Cup says:
      September 17, 2015 at 8:09 pm

      “……. clever unfortunately doesn’t trump our commitment to protecting our community from commercial exploitation.” How about all those plug-and-play camps? Our community is being exploited by for-profit commercial vacation enterprises and BMOrg supports this commercial exploitation by granting theme camp placement, tickets and garnering fees for commercial flights into the playa airport. All of those people who create the airport and tend it are VOLUNTEERS and yet these companies are PROFITING from Burning Man and taking up prime real estate and tickets for their ‘sherpas’ who wait hand-and foot on their customers. They are not burners, they are customers and employees on an all-inclusive vacation package. It’s not Quiznos, but it certainly goes against the decommodification principle. Talk about shameless flouting of your own principle, BMOrg.”

      “Will Chase says:
      September 17, 2015 at 8:29 pm

      Well, you’ll be happy to know that we are doing something about turnkey (aka plug and play) camps that erode our culture. We already did, in fact. Here’s our policy for turnkey camps: http://blog.burningman.com/2015/07/tenprinciples/heres-what-burning-man-is-doing-to-end-turnkey-culture/ and how we handle outright concierge services: http://blog.burningman.com/2015/05/news/kicking-concierge-caboose-in-black-rock-city/

      “Nomad says:
      September 19, 2015 at 7:12 am

      Will, how did all that work out? Did landings at the BRC airport fall off? How about the traffic from the airport to the (non-existent) CCamps?

      I mean really, how do you fly in without having someone drive all your stuff there? You can’t spend a week in BRC with just a suitcase or two without some help.”

      “Sippy Cup says:
      September 19, 2015 at 4:36 pm

      Thank you for the response and links, Will. I read some of those before the burn this year and was hopeful that the issue was being addressed in action as well as in words. It seems to be a work in progress that I hope will continue. My own experience was in talking with a long-time airport volunteer who comes in several times before the event to survey and create the airport. His own words to me were that it used to be some burners with small planes would fly in and many would also gift rides to fellow burners. Now there are many, many commercial flights with entitled passengers being overly upset if there is a wait to get on-playa and *gasp* they are made to wait in the sun because the shelter is too small to provide enough shade for all of them.

      I did a little volunteering so was permitted EA on Saturday and almost camped right next to a PnP camp. Luckily some friends were already set up and warned that their generators were running 24-7 while the “sherpas” set up the camp. We moved further down the road and, sure enough, we were told by less fortunate campers that those generators were running the entire burn to provide A/C for the individual little white tents which continually pumped A/C into them day and night. We also noted heavy equipment on that Saturday and Sunday used to set up the camp and I can only assume that it belonged to BM. I don’t know how that works, whether a camp pays BM or if it’s a matter of who you know to get use of it.

      The camp had two gorgeous art cars with seating for about six, so needless to say, no one outside their camp were gifted rides that I am aware of. The driver of one of the cars told us he was to be paid $7000 by the owner of the camp to build the care and drive it around for the week. (He noted he had not been paid yet.) On the last Monday he commented that now was “his time” to do what he wanted.
      So, the issue remains of the camps getting placement and tickets for workers who are being paid to be at BM to build and support these PnP camps. There is also the even larger issue of companies profiting from providing these all-inclusive vacation packages to their customers and fees being collected by BLM and Burning Man for airport privileges and who knows what else.

      So, yes, thank you for listening to the not-so-privileged Burner about our concerns for upholding the 10 Principles. We love our neighborhood and are accustomed to feeling welcomed by all camps around us but this corner of PnP was a bad fit for us. As a 10-year burner, I can certainly appreciate that things change and this still was one of my best Burns ever, but I hope you will continue to keep these profiteers from stomping on our beautiful culture and principles. Thank you.”

      Apparently Sippy Cup and me did not understand The Minister’s order, “you’ll be happy.”

      Bottom line: The CCamps are here to stay. You can see how far the Borg is willing to go, as per The Minister’s own link: http://blog.burningman.com/2015/07/tenprinciples/heres-what-burning-man-is-doing-to-end-turnkey-culture/ They are falling back on that, and that should be good enough for the faithful, with obligatory hand-ringing for show or self-satisfaction.

      CCamps provide money or NPD supplies to the Borg. That trumps all the Tin Principles. http://burners.me/2014/09/14/commodification-camps-and-the-tin-principles/

      Get used to it.

  13. I agree with the concerns expressed about plug n plays creating a “hidden servant” category of attendees who are enjoined from experiencing the city they helped build a part of, as well as about the ignorant intolerant comments directed their way by spoiled entitled child Burners. If “work for pay” by contract workers is to be allowed at all, I hope BMO can require placed theme camps to adopt a labor code for paid workers that prevent such abuses. There should be no place for serfdom at Burning Man!

    On the other hand: All Lives Matter. That is the vision Martin Luther King strove for and the goal we must continue pursuing. It is important to call attention to the problem that African Americans seem to be at greater risk of excessive use of police force than members of other ethnic groups. Black Lives Matter. It’s also important to call attention to the recent spate of assassinations of police officers solely for wearing their uniform and doing their jobs and the year-on-year rise in the number of police officers murdered on the job. Blue Lives Matter. Police Lives Matter. And the most inclusive way to articulate the value and sanctity of human life is to utter what should be a transparently obvious truth: All Lives Matter. Only in a topsy turvey environment of extreme political correctness (which is a polite term for intolerance of freedom of speech and thought) do you find people arguing in total sincerity that it is right to say Black Lives Matter but wrong to say Blue, Police, or All Lives Matter. BLM had every right to memorialize their fallen within the temple under a Police Lives Matter if others had the right to memorialize their fallen under Black Lives Matter. (If they placed their memorial in the wrong location–in front of rather than within the temple–then the correct response was to politely ask them to move it inside. Haven’t heard the details of the incident either way.) All Lives Matter. It is true and it is right to say it. Those who think we must address one kind of injustice and somehow remain silent about other kinds of injustice become the unwitting enablers and accessories to some kinds of injustice instead the opponents of all injustice that we should all seek to be. All injustice is wrong; none should be privileged from being witnessed. To remain silent in the face of any kind of injustice is to countenance injustice. To try to prevent others from speaking out against any kind of injustice is also to countenance injustice. Speak out against any kind of injustice you choose to focus your energy on and permit others to do the same. Black Lives Matter. Blue Lives Matter. All Lives Matter. All Injustice Matters. I stand with all victims of any kind of injustice and support all who speak out against any kind of injustice.

    • The reason Black Lives Matter became a focus is due to the fact that they are the group most heavily discriminated. To take away from it is an insult and takes away the focus of “let’s help this group.” The BLM could come up with their own slogan… of course we all love it when they participate on Playa ( Beyond ‘GIFTiNG’ tickets!)… but in using a variation of the same slogan, they minimize and ignore the racism issue of the original Black Lives Matter.

  14. Come in Europe Buena Chica!
    No racism, no turnkey, no plugn’play in our little community 🙂
    … Then most of us can speak Spanish 😉
    Love & Love.

  15. Glad there’s someone else who like me is bothered by the lack of non-affluent white people in the burner culture. It’s an outrage that there are “burners” who practice the same evils on the playa that make the real world so unjust. Such people should be banned from ever buying tickets again. I guess in order to maintain the integrity of Burning Man we need to invest people (perhaps the Rangers?) with the power to investigate camps that look like plug n plays, and if that’s what they are, remove them from the playa. I hear people say we don’t have the right to control how others burn. Well, I say that we shouldn’t let people do what they please to the point where our Principles get trampled upon right and left. Our festival was meant to be different and operate on certain higher values and someone needs to stand up for that.

  16. Thank you for writing this article! I am a Latina who many many years ago was also an illegal immigrant. It is just disgusting that things like these are happening and I think we. true burners, have the power to change things.

  17. According to Will Chase, I would bet none of this happened. Also pretty sure Levar Jones was not shot by that trooper for getting gas, and Eric Garner was not choked to death for selling lucies. …A video makes all the difference. Hard to spin a story if you have something that can’t be spun.

    • I don’t mind you being a skeptic, but actually answering for someone when they have not ,and then falsely equating it with recent racial news events make me think you came from the Faux news dept. The straw man stuff is especially egregious .

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