Doofnado [Update]

This past weekend Australia hosted the country’s oldest and best bush doof (outdoor dance party): Earthcore. Despite being nearly 10,000 miles away from the Playa, revellers at “Australia’s answer to Burning Man” experienced their very own dust devil. Forget Sharknado: meet Doofnado…

The appearance of this familiar Burning Man elemental spirit, so far from the dust, suggests to me that there is something a bit more magical going on – a higher consciousness manifesting before us, perhaps. A wondrous willy-willy.

Image: Ari Adar via Facebook

Earthcore 2015, Pyalong, VIC.  Images: Ari Adar via Facebook

earthcore 2015 2 earthcore 2015


I first attended Earthcore in 1997, and Burning man in 1998. It’s interesting to compare and contrast the progression of the two events. Earthcore took a break from big outdoor parties for many years, allowing rival festival Rainbow Serpent to spring up. Now both events happily co-exist on the Australian outdoor party calendar. When Earthcore returned to business, they offered the same thing as in the past: great music, great people, attention to detail in the setup. If I went to Earthcore last weekend, I probably would have seen many of the same people from the 90’s – older, and some now able to rent camper vans – mixed in with a new, younger crowd. People would be doing the same things, in pretty much the same way.

Burning Man, on the other hand, has changed dramatically since 1998. Sure, many of the elements are the same: the dust, the outdoor camping, the porta-potties. Musically, rather than developing and diversifying, Burning Man seemed to become obsessed with dubstep in the Noughties, and more mainstream “progressive” EDM sounds in the current decade. You may hear some of the best music in the world at Burning Man, then again you may not. It’s pot luck. Wanna know who’s playing? BMOrg are fighting tooth and nail to prevent you. Managed to find out from the Burner underground where and when your favorite musician is playing a set? Good luck catching them; welcome to “Playa time”.

At Earthcore, you are guaranteed to hear some of the best music in the world. Got a favorite? Go see them at a specific place and time.

Some would say that this reduces spontaneity; but you can still choose to ignore the lineup if you want. You can still drop acid and give shit to people and have a transformative experience; but you won’t come home with cracked feet coughing for a month, and 10% of attendees don’t need to visit the medical tent.

Despite an official musical lineup, curated by the promoters, the point of the 5-day Earthcore event is still Community. You are in a remote location, camping with others who have also made a pilgrimage to nowhere just to party. A concert is something you attend, then go home at the end of. A festival is something you live in for several days, with thousands of others.

The main difference I see between these two multi-decade events is the mission. The mission of Earthcore is to give their customers a good time, and they succeed in that. The mission of Burning Man has changed over time, it used to be “we create a city together, there are no spectators” – and that was a lot of fun. These days it is “we’re changing the world” and “transform your personality into something else” – marketed not to the Burners who have made Black Rock City internationally renowned, but instead to the new generation: Oprah and Dr Phil viewers looking to deal with grief at the 2015 black lives matterTemple, #blacklivesmatter protestors and Presidential candidates seeing new political indoctrination opportunities, wealthy Wall Street and Silicon Valley donors lording it over their neighbors with sherpas and wristbands and RV compounds, gold digging sparkle ponies looking to meet socially awkward billionaires, and safari tourists looking to cross the Burning Man spectacle off their bucket list.

bm shark jumpingThey fucked with a winning formula – and if you ask BMOrg, they’ll tell you that they’re still winning. More people want to come, at higher prices: winning. If you don’t like it, start your own! That’s their definition and they’re sticking to it. “People have been telling us we’re doing it wrong for thirty years and we’re still doing it, therefore we are obviously doing it right”. This argument can be used to justify the Wars on Terror and Drugs, too. “We’re still in the war, so we must be doing well at it”. The only losers in this picture are the Burners, who gave so much for so long only to find that sucking up to the Ruling Group is what gets rewarded in the non-profit world, not how the community values your contributions.

Earthcore: keep giving the people what they want. Happy people, consistent product, incremental innovation: winning. Something’s not working? Let’s fix it and make it better.

BMOrg: the more we push the Burners out, the more we can charge for tickets sold to the newbies. Sold out? Winning. People unhappy with gate, Will Call, and Exodus lines? Who cares? Jumped the shark? Who cares? Ten Principles? Don’t worry about them, they were only ever meant to be guidelines, not rules. Bring all the sherpas you want, buy them $1000 tickets.

bm_oz_logo_colourIt’s a big world, and there’s plenty of room for lots of different events. Australia can have Earthcore and Rainbow Serpent, surely it can have Burning Seed and Blazing Swan and Modifyre too. Many will tell you that “Burning Man is not a festival so you can’t compare it”. But most Burners can’t go to Burning Man any more. The tickets are sold out in seconds, and yet BMOrg are still chasing new blood. This seems a doomed strategy – the more BMOrg rejects established Burners, the more irrelevant the Nevada event becomes to Burner culture. Perhaps that is just fine for the Ruling Group, who have their sights set on reshaping mainstream culture. Pesky Burners with their silly Principles just get in the way. Soon only BMOrg and their hand-picked minions will be allowed to burn stuff at an official Burn.

What does the future of this “social movement” look like, beyond the Black Rock Desert? Are the Regionals supposed to be all like Burning Man, but not like festivals? What does that actually mean? Temples? Survival without stores? Themes? Philosopher-kings? Is there a global demand for this?

As Burner culture spreads around the world, it encounters pockets of young people who like sex, drugs, and rock and roll doof. They already do stuff, it’s not like the whole world is sitting around bored waiting for the Burning Man circus to come to town. So what do the Regionals have to offer, compared to well established existing competition? Is it the Ten Principles that are a drawcard, or the music and dancing and fun?

Or…is it the Doofnado? Is there something deeper, more spiritual, more cosmic going on within this movement? If so, then our future is in the hands of the believers – not the church.

[Update 11/30/15 11:45am]

JV in the comments here makes the point that Burning Man is not trying to be Earthcore. I agree, I’m not saying it should be. The question to me is more, if you are going to go to the trouble of putting on a Burner event in your local area, do you want it to be large and successful (like Earthcore and Burning Man) or small and struggling (but pure and true to the Tin Principles). Popular DJs go a long way towards turning the latter into the former. Or maybe the smaller Regionals don’t have enough blowjob workshops yet, or something.

This story has been making news all around the world. It was the BBC‘s “Must See” feature story of the day. It’s in the Daily Mail and the International Business Times. The Doofnado has made a miraculously magically timely appearance, what with the Paris Climate Conference going on and the world looking for some good news stories.

The photographer who took the pictures above, Adi Adar, has some beautiful words on his web site that really gel with the spirit of this story. #PLUR.


Dear friends,

"@[1656649511219514:274:The Spirit Of Doof]"

One of my absolute joys as a doof photographer is meeting you all along my travels and hearing your stories. From the inspiring, to the magical, to the outright hilarious, the one common theme that comes up in your stories, time and time again, is how doofing has had a *profoundly positive* influence on your life for the better.

As doofing continues to grow, the question however, that inevitably needs to be addressed is: how do we keep the essence… the heart… the soul… the spirit of what doofing is all about, intact, so we can sustainably grow our community and our movement, so we can foster more positive energy, and attract more beautiful souls to join us in our collective journey?

To address this challenge, I am super excited to announce: The Spirit Of Doof! 🌈🔊🎶😍👌

Similar to the ‘Humans of New York’ photography project, The Spirit Of Doof aims to use social media to encapsulate both the magic and spirit of doofing, through your stories and photos. In turn, I hope that you and your stories, will resonate with those new to doofing, and in effect these will become an educational resource to promote the core values, the spirit, of what doofing is all about.

I would be absolutely honoured for you to be part of this grassroots project of social change in some way no matter how large or small. This project isn’t about me… this is about all of us!

So whether you are a doofer, a performer, an artist, a photographer, a DJ or a doof promoter… you all can make a difference. If you are a doofer, and would like to share you story, and promote your values and energy that you bring into the doof movement, please get in touch… If you are a photographer and would love to shoot photography for us, please get in touch…. If you are a doof promoter, and would like The Spirit of Doof to interview people at your doof to promote the core values of what your doof represents, please also get in touch…. The possibilities here are endless, and it all begins with your contribution.

My vision is: I hope The Spirit Of Doof not only makes a difference to attract a beautiful quality of person and energy to the doofs we all love to attend, but to more broadly promote doofing as a social vehicle for elevating human consciousness to society at large, and in turn promote our core values of ‘one love’ and ‘one planet’, beyond our traditional social circles.

I admit this is a huge vision, but it begins by the small individual contributions we all can make…Thanks for taking the time to read this. I can’t wait to read your story. smile emoticon Thanks for embracing The Spirit Of Doof! Love and light – Ari Adar

"@[1656649511219514:274:The Spirit Of Doof]"
"@[1656649511219514:274:The Spirit Of Doof]"

Benzodiazepines : Socially Acceptable Drowning

As many people reading this have been with their families long enough at this point to start taking sedatives or hypnotics to cope, I figured that Black Friday’s harm reduction post should focus on benzodiazepines. They were developed early in the history of pharmaceuticals, with the first going on sale in 1960, becoming the most prescribed medication in 1977, with numbers dropping since.Benzos have a long  history. Which I have no part in, so I won’t be taking time to explain it here. As some of the people reading this have giant chunks of those memories voided by said benzos. Continue reading

Why We Burn – Eric

(For your Turkey Day delight, I bring one of the newer local producers of note. He’s one of the mad geniuses (genii?) behind The Bleachers, one of my favorite art cars. Deploying a group called Treetops, he’s putting on an event for any of you strays that find yourself here in New York, two nights after Thanksgiving. It’s a bit more whimsical than most of the NYC scene, so if you’re around, drop in on them & tell them Terry Gotham sent you. ~Interview By Terry Gotham)
1. Do you think you throw “Burner” parties? How would you classify Treetops?
Fun Question! I’ll start with the second part first…I would call Treetops “parties directed by whimsy, creativity, and curiosity”. We try to combine renowned musical talent with mini-improv pieces and various silly bullshit in a way that gets people laughing and engaging with each other. Something different from most of what I’ve seen in underground events, where seriousness and a sense of “I need to be cool” can take over.

At our Back to Work party, the main entrance mimicked an office receptionist’s lobby, and guests went through an absurd “job interview” when they arrived. Admittedly a little risky because you don’t know know how people will react to that in a party space, but it ended up being hilarious. Everyone picked out a tie as they walked in, handled party business in the Board Room, and watched the Power Point presentation projection art. The place was full of people at play – making jokes, smiling, dancing, and laughing.

We definitely pull from the Burner community in audience, and many of the people that are involved in production have been to and love Burning Man. We consciously try to do something that touches on a specific part of the Burner world that isn’t noticed as much in the more dance or yoga oriented community of today – that is, interaction and engagement through humor. Dance is a big part of what we do, but even if it’s just decor that plays with thoughts and normalcy, our goal is to use art to set a tone that is more playful/thoughtful/silly than it is sexy/shiny/dramatic. Things are going to get weirder in 2016, with more non-dance elements present like presentations and interactivity. So I guess the answer is.. sort of?

2. What is the favorite project or art piece you’ve worked on and brought to the playa?
I was/am co-producer of The Bleachers, an art car built in Vancouver by an amazing crew including my friend Neil and a number of really awesome folks from Vancouver, throughout Canada, and other New Yorkers. It looks like a mobile set of Bleachers (predictably enough). Neil and I speak from the booth and essentially announce BM as if we were sportscasters or radio DJ’s. It started out with an idea Neil had playing on the “No Spectators” rule, and after some late night bantering sessions, sounded like it’d work well with both of our narcissistic asses yammering away as it cruised around. It was a really interesting experience – constructing it was incredibly emotionally taxing, and some really amazing people worked their asses off to get it physically put together in Vancouver. Everyone involved learned a ton, and I’m proud to say that the end result, even if you correct for Playa Hyperbole, was received well beyond our wildest dreams. People absolutely loved it, chased it around, and it was constantly full of smiling, laughing, comfortable people.

The neatest part of it, to me, was that it managed to become not just a funny joke machine, but a comet of absurd joy. Driving around in something that focused positive-oriented “looking at stuff” on whoever was in front of the 80 or so spectators on the vehicle was incredible to see. So many smiles and laughs, and a feeling of actually putting joy into the world and maybe making people think a little bit about the paradox of Spectating and Creating, and the interplay between the two.

I’ve also supported and spent a lot of time on the Mobile Boardroom, known as “Driven by Profit” – a Vancouver project done by a creative badass named Sean, which has been around for about 10 years and is an absolutely hysterical experience.

3. Have you always been in NYC? If not, where did you come from?
I’ve bounced around a lot. Missouri, Illinois, Upstate NY. College in Montreal, Peace Corps (briefly – I didn’t finish my tour) in Benin, West Africa. Then to San Diego where I got an MBA, little time in France, then, finally, New York. Been here since 2007, and there’s no place in the world I’d rather be.

4. How do you support your Burner lifestyle & trips to the playa?
You know those little ads on webpages? I sell those for a big company. It’s a fun job, although not one that has a ton of emotional resonance or sense of connecting to something greater than ourselves. Corporate. Which is a lot of why I throw parties, work on art projects, and try my damnedest to connect with the people I love and foster a sense of community.

5. Do you have any thoughts on the debates raging on decommodification & the presence of the 0.1% on the Playa?
There’s a very interesting conversation I once had with a friend about the presence of police on the playa, which related to the fact that Burning Man should, in some ways, pull in the reality of the world outside of it. If it were completely removed from the outside world, it would have less inborn conflict and so less energy and less inspirational power.

In this respect, the presence of the wealthiest folks on playa is almost necessary, along with the financial imbalances present. The biggest problem I see with the .1% is any ticket acquisition issues that come from raw wealth. If they are able to get better access to tickets based on their dollars and associations, then I think that is unfair.

Outside of that, Burning Man as we currently know it, including the insane level of spectacle and momentary events, came on the backs of those same .1%. Almost every major art project on the playa – and especially the big sound cars/camps – wouldn’t exist without the help of individuals who are very very wealthy. Burning Man is one of the most insanely expensive events on the planet, and you can’t crowdfund Robot Heart or the Mayan Warrior.

That being said, class conflict, especially given the social context of this time and the socialistic and generally left leaning perspective of most burning man attendees, is inevitable. I think if the bmorg works hard to keep separation between themselves and giving of benefit to individuals based on their financial status, that’s the best we can hope for to address the issues.

6. Where does Burning Man go from here? Are there any regional burns you particularly enjoy?
Burning Man, from what I understand, has been changing dramatically since its creation. After the first sellout in 2011, and the massive press boom of the years following, there was no question that things were going to be different. Add into that the explosion of festivals and electronic music in popularity, and Burning Man is guaranteed to become more like a gigantic awesome rave and less like an art festival full of artists and nutters every year. It’s still the best party on the planet, but it’s leaning a new direction, and that’s one that is more mainstream. Which is fine, but it’s going to be another adaptation of the event, and lead to people putting more emphasis on creating their own events that put their specific subcultures and interests in focus. It’s a natural progression.

7. As a dance party producer, how did you react to the creation of the “EDM Zone” (as it were)?
I was actually in favor of it! For the past 5 years, the open playa has become louder and louder, and it often feels like there is no place for even a moment of peace to be found on the entire playa. Music is a major part of my party experience, but I think the more we can try to keep BM a balance between art and music, or communal and individual experience, the more rich the event will be, emotionally. What I read about the rules themselves is that they were mostly focused on keeping there from being massive moop and/or poop piles all over the deep playa.

8. Some people are saying that it is becoming difficult to produce relevant art or countercultural experiences in the increasingly expensive New York City. As a producer, do you think they’re correct?
I view the increase in cost as cutting down on the number of viable venues. Pair this with the crackdown since NYE 2013/2014 on semi-legal warehouse spaces, and you’ve got a situation where doing something different gets hard, because you just don’t have as many options. I think this is going to be slowly corrected over the next bit, but for now it’s definitely a challenge.

9. Favorite Burning Man memory?
One morning in particular sticks out from 2011. I was riding the Mobile Boardroom at sunrise with a number of amazing new pals, and we’d been cruising the playa all night, playing, laughing, fucking around. There were probably 5 or 6 of us standing on top of it, and I had put on Need You Now by Cut Copy on the little system on the vehicle. It felt like we were on a gigantic surfboard, looking way out into a gorgeous warm and shining future. I’m not sure I’ve ever experienced such an ecstatic sense of excitement, possibility, comfort, joy, and gratitude. It was magic, and helped to change the way I viewed my own life, friendships, and creative possibility.

10. Favorite thing(s) about Burning Man? I’ll give my two highest minded points:

1. A friend of mine once said that there were two major parts to the social identities of Burning Man – New Age and Punk. I like the punk side: The fucking around, the messing with each other, the humor and the challenges to our comfort and self-seriousness.

2. I view BM as a gigantic blank canvas. Everything about the event, from the open white landscape to the swirling dust storms, and the many people who are being broken down to their core just as you are – it asks you to create something. Maybe that thing is internal, maybe it’s external, but the momentum towards finding a truth is like nowhere I have ever been, and changed my life. It’s not “home,” though.

Have a Transformational Thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving, Burners. Here’s a guest post from AleXander Hirka to amuse you

Chanting “You will be transformed!” from his perch on the right arm of The Man Float, its founder and marketing philosopher Larry Harvey brought The Burning Man Global Transformation Movement ®™ to New York City’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.


The Burning Man Global Transformation Movement ®™  float at the Thanksgiving Day parade, 26 November 2015. Riding on The Right Arm Of The Man, in a typical Burning Man uniform, is founder and zen marketer Larry Harvey.
Photo by AleXander Hirka, 10x ex-Burner.


Harvey, along with other members of the BMorg, spent the previous evening inflating their massive float balloon with inspirational and transformational hot air.

Holding the balloon strings during the procession along Central Park West were a who’s who of celebrities including Katy Perry, Susan Sarandon, Dennis Kucinich, Karlie Kloss, Suki Waterhouse, Grover Norquist, P. Diddy, Elon Musk, Larry Page, Jeff Bezos, Sergey Brin, and Mark Zuckerberg.

The Weez Burners Marching Band kept a groove going by playing “Get Lucky” a hit made famous by Daft Punk, who regularly play at Burning Man, usually near the “trash fence” perimiter art.

Comments from Burners:

“We are all completely transformed by this amazing experience in the desert.  All the things we did before we see in a completely new way. The old patterns are broken, The Default World is altered.  I mean, like before Burning Man I was just a tech geek who wanted to make a lot of money by controlling FaceBook algorithms  so more people would get hooked on the experience and buy more product a-and . . .well, after Burning Man I’m a completely transformed person.”
~  Mark Zuckerberg (as he was heading into Macy’s for a bit of Black Friday Xmas shopping after the merchandising parade)


“Once a guy wears a tutu he’s changed forever. There’s no commerce there at all.  You just shop for months in advance and lug it in and lug it out.  Radical. huh?  That guy goes back to what we Burners call The Default World and where once was a suburban consumer of mass produced capitalist media product there is now an enlightened Burner.  So different. You can just like see it in his eyes.  He knows. We know. We are Burners. Yeah, everyone who goes understands because are transformed inside; even if they look the same standing in line for the latest Star Wars franchise hit at the Cinemaplex.”  ~ Hopsing Bonanza (playa name)

“You’ve seen how Scientology and est have transformed the world for the better. Well this is even bigger than that.  Yeah sure it’s a wild party in the desert, but it began in California so you know they’re going to add that special New Age level; what those snobs in New York call woo.  So now it’s really all about spreading the Burning Man ethos, the ten principles, which are like the commandments, but different.  It includes things like: rich and poor people are the same, share your water, and pick up your trash or you’ll get poor placement next year.  And don’t get hung up on commodities and do stuff, participate.  I participated in airport arrival and departure. Gifting is great – which is why the float in the parade this year, because it ends with Santa, who is the biggest gift giver ever, right?!  Truly original and groundbreaking view of reality – things that will transform the world once the Burners reenter the Default World and Burner Consciousness transforms it from within.” – Denis Kucinich

“Being a Burner is adding the ultimate Imprimatur Of Cool to the resume of your life.  A whole new network of extra evolved humans.  Beyond Deadheads and PhisHeads.  And it’s a place that hipsters can wear colors.  I’ll never be the same.  I can promise you – you’ll never be the same.  Can’t define how, but you’ll be transformed. There are websites and videos to tell you all about it and what you need to get to radically survive, even where to buy the uniforms. It’s all part of this MSTFest300 thing where people going to festivals will change the world.” ~ Madame Psychosis (playa name)

Cheers to Broke-Ass Stuart for this bonus image. Someone’s giving a lot of thanks in this parade!

spiderman uncle sam