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.
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 Temple, #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.
They 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.
It’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.
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