Backstage Flare-Up at SF Decom [Update]

john goodwin camp

Fire dancers are not all warm and fuzzy. It sounds like some shit went down backstage at last weekend’s officially sanctioned Decompression party in San Francisco – an assault, or nearly one. The Black Rock Rangers who were volunteering in a security role and the event managers refused to call the police, preferring to downplay the incident.

“Safety third” used to be a funny Burner saying, but this year we have had to deal with the tragic death of a Burner who was crushed by an art car, and several suicides of Burners – 1 who jumped into the fire in front of 1200 people at Utah’s Element 11 Regional Burn, and 2 (or is it 3?) DPW workers since the Man burned. Safety and mental health issues are extremely important. Maybe it’s time to put safety first, instead of third.

In every story there are usually three sides: his side, their side, and the truth. I am publishing this story because a reader asked me to, and we encourage the whole community to share their opinions here. I believe it highlights some safety issues that might otherwise remain un-addressed. Other people involved in the incident have come forward to describe a slightly different version of events. Usually, in this type of incident, if someone was drunk they don’t turn around the next day and say “it was all my fault because I was drunk”. Denial is a common strategy. If there were any other witnesses to the event, please comment. I’m presenting both sides, I trust that you can make up your own minds, readers.


john goodwinJG: My name is John Goodwin and I have been a fire performer for 18 long years. I performed at Burning Man as part of Fire Conclave in 2011. I have been a part of the fire stage for Unscruz, the Santa Cruz Regional. I have been a fire performer and worked hard part every part of the fire stage and back stage facilitating others’ performances for the San Francisco Burning Man Decompression event 2010,2011,2012,2013 and my final year this past sunday october 12th 2014. I’ve been a part of the Union Square Fire Dance Expo the past 3 years. I worked from around 1p to 10:30 this year back stage at sf decompression. I helped build out and tear down the fuel spin out structure and with the fuel depot. I have also been to a lot of renegade fire and spin jams and watched a large community of fire dancers grow and develop in the San Francisco Bay Area. Most fire dancers are warm, overly nice open-minded people. Unfortunately that means that they don’t always speak out when they see a problem that might stop their fun. Many times these illegal renegade spin jams happen because permits or safe private property with owner’s permission is expensive. They’ve been wearing out their second chances and warnings from the police and fire dept. in San Francisco, so they come to the ghettos of Oakland or by Lake Merritt. Drinking and drug use are both serious problems that no one wants to address in the fire dance community, even though everyone gives lip service to not drinking and doing drugs as a part of safety. I left the last fire conclave I practiced with, because they had a nasty habit of proving themselves unsafe,untrustworthy, smoking by fuel, drinking and playing fire and occasionally starting fires that they couldn’t put out or hurting each other. Every time somebody gets hurts, they say that’s what happens when you play with fire and don’t address the issue. These include their leader, [name removed] and others who volunteered to be fire safety for the stage the day of. That’s because the stage manager did not line up any professionals long before hand! That means I had to explain and argue with her twice, that no you don’t put everyone at risk by having untrustworthy, dangerous criminals in a position to do the most damage as “safeties”!

Other serious problems including the fact that they kept removing the signs that said no smoking or drinking, that meant chasing drunken smokers away from where we keep all the white gasoline, lamp oil and propane tanks. We also had big black cables from the generator and extension cords all around near the fuel area. I’m thinking that’s bad and having to explain we couldn’t have a fuel depot or spinout area over the black cables was really bad too. That’s super dangerous and we learn day 1 not to smoke near the twirl john goodwin I would say or do absolutely anything to ensure the public safety of our audience because I love them and I would  do the same for my brother and sister performers. Later that evening before show time I had a drunken, crazy asshole get in my face and question that decision, trying to intimidate me by getting too close when its not crowded. I told him that I didn’t know him, would not be questioned by him and we don’t let drunks back stage and walked away to get help. No help for over 5 minutes as he chased after me starting when he again tapped me on the shoulder and got in my face. Once again I made it clear he needed to leave me alone and go home, you’re drunk. At the time I had a fire staff, with worn padded wick covers in my hands. This crazy drunk chased me around backstage while I dodged his attacks, danced or just ran away the whole time screaming for help and police and security. There was some shoving with hands and gentle prodding with the padding end of my staff and warning that I’d defend myself and still the drunk kept coming.It really doesn’t have to be an epic battle, where some one gets hurt to be harassment and assault, the fact is self-defense is avoiding physical violence usually and I used all my skills doing exactly that. I regret not hitting him now, because he isn’t facing consequences. Maybe next time he’ll hurt someone!john goodwin fire stickI understand that at some points even though I was defending myself and standing up for what is right and actually doing everything in my power to not come to blows with this thug, sent by [name removed] saying he’s from FAC or FAFC the group I knew to be unsafe and did not trust and wow did he prove my decision right, still I may have looked like the angry violent burner all armed with weapon. Even if that’s so, why was there no police or security called on me either?To be fair the last I saw the villain he was with 2 rangers in khaki, but when a ranger in black finally came to help me backstage, thing is they refused to let me talk to the police and make a report!  I was also prevented from talking to the on site Fire Marshal responsible for the permit. I think she needed to know! The fire show went on while i hid backstage because there is only 1 of me and the only way out was through the front. Performers that saw the incident stayed away and did not get help. Some now even blame me. Stage management, burning man org and a lot of idiots ruining my beloved arts are now trying to sweep it under the rug. I did get an escort out to a cab after insisting on it and after still working to do tear down and clean up. More unpaid labor, replacing skilled workers by the way.They don’t like being called out for the drunken hooligans they are. They don’t like it when I point out just how quickly fire arts can turn to arson and are unsafe! I’m already being accused of slander just for speaking the truth. If they were really good, they wouldn’t do that, they would clear their name by disassociating themselves from unsafe and violent people. The Burning Man people, the Special Events team that put it on are horrible for putting seriously important things like event security and fire stage safety in the hands of unpaid volunteers. The stage manager [name removed] was exceptionally disorganized and it put the general public, the show and everyone at unacceptable risks!I would gladly share my story and expose the madness because I won’t be there to prevent them from burning the place down. They just don’t understand why I refused to compromise with safety or use some hippy conflict resolution or de-escalation when I had a drunk after me backstage where there all kinds of torches and tools that double as melee weapons, hazardous fuels and wires everywhere. Sometimes the conflict only ends when the problem people are removed. I agree completely with what you published recently: Burning Man is like modern Roman Orgies celebrating at the fall of western civilization complete with a zombie apocalypse of humans so degraded by drugs that become zombies and they’ll eat the brains of fools who keep their minds so open that they are failing out.We had serious safety issues with fire stage this year and lots of unpaid volunteers replacing the paid positions of skilled labor, nearly had the opposite of fire safeties between the fire stage and audience, I was assaulted backstage and they are covering it up. More over my “friends and peers” are protecting who ever attacked me and pouring on the hate, because I speak the hard truth and stand by my principles. I’m no great journalist and writing this all out is very upsetting. is obviously dedicated to blowing the whistle on Burning Man and Burner related problems, please help me blow the whistle now. I’m getting betrayed and ganged up on, by people that should really be supporting me on this.Thank You


I have also been emailed some of the counter-arguments:


Hey there, I would like to reach out and make contact because it has come to my attention that one John Goodwin, is making allegations that certain groups at SF heat the streets decompression fire performance stage were under the influence of alcohol, and are criminals…..

Well I was present, and witnessed a good deal of how John claims to have handled the situation.   I was filling in as center safety, as the one who volunteered did not show up.   While I was backstage, I witnessed John yelling and moving around aggressively some dude in a red shirt.   now  I have been apart of the Bay Area fire scene for some years now, and I have noticed this kid likes to stir up drama, and cause conflict when his views are not accepted by everyone.

I have studied and practice de-escalation techniques to resolve conflicts, and what I witnessed from Johns actions of yelling in the guys face, and poking him with a fire staff as opposed to just walking away and getting security (before security was called on him for being aggressive to others)  Is a joke to me being present when the event happened.  Then to make sweeping generalizations about the the “criminals” working safety can be offensive.  I for one was not intoxicated in the least as fill-in center safety for the performances.

I am writing on my behalf as well as my friends with the FAC and Ministry of Flow, that we put safety first when it comes to public/private performances.   While John Goodwin is going around blocking people who disagree with him on social media, Facebook, i just wanted to put it out there that a vast majority of the community realizes his tendency to cause drama, and would like to have both sides of the story present.


Hey just wanted to let you guys know that the story that John Goodwin is writing to you is all fabricated and full of lies. He was the instigator with his situation, threatened to beat people of with his fire staff, is lying about FAC, and everything else. We have multiple witnesses who saw what happened and were backstage. [libellous statement removed]. If you would like anymore information please feel free to contact me. 


There has been quite a bit of discussion about this on John’s Facebook page. His wife RL was traumatized by the incident.


JG: at one point he asked all stupid are you really going to hit me with that and I had to say “yes! If you come near me and make defend myself” All my fire dancing was spent keeping from not fighting him, because a staff is also a pretty serious melee weapon. I wouldn’t let myself get hurt, and the charges are the same even in self-defense. So, seriously all just dancing away and gentle,gentle pokes with a padded end, a couple shoves with hands while yelling for help. Danced and yelled around backstage like that, easily 5 minutes, definitely longer than my stage in time was meant to be all used in gracefully avoiding a serious fight against a determined assailant while calling for help.

[name removed] witnessed at least some of this. He told me to put the staff down and I would not. He criticized my self-control. I did not actually come to blows with my assailant, I did not swing on him with my staff, all my martial and fire dancing arts were instead used to avoid violence – the essence of mastery according to my traditions. Of course i will not disarm before such an enemy, however I would not seriously hurt such a drunken fool either.

Carolyn:  You should never have been put in that position. Back stage is supposed to be a safe space.

Isa: Sorry this happened but good for you for not working free. I gave up performing at Decom and BM events years ago in part for this reason.

John Z: I stayed away this year, for the first time, partly because of the negative comments about the producers of Decompression I’ve read from [a sound camp]. Stage security is so important at any event, and relying on volunteers to maintain the peace is asking for trouble. Getting paid to perform is a step in the right direction towards professional productions, which take the safety of their talent seriously. Needless to say, consider the drinking establishment before you say yes to performing. Sorry you had to suffer a jackass to cement your resolve.

Bekka: I’m glad you’re ok, John. I didn’t see this happen, but I do know the person you’re accusing of attacking you and his account is drastically different than what you describe here. I’m not saying he’s right or you’re right. I care about both of you and am ultimately glad that nobody got hurt. I’m sorry we didn’t get to see your performance and that your night was disrupted in such an extreme way. I do know that this person was sober- at least most of the night while he was working backstage, certainly when he and his wife gave me a ride home- and had a very good reason to be backstage. Whoever claimed that only performers should be backstage is forgetting about the multitude of crew members (from stage hands and managers, to emcees, to djs/drummers/sound and light crew, to fire safeties) that actually facilitate the execution of a show. Performers would not be able to perform without these hidden hands making it possible. This person facilitated a lot that happened that night by helping to set up and strike as well as carry the massive drumset for our drummers in his truck. He wasn’t some vagrant off the street that randomly snuck backstage. As to the fire safeties, they were respected and very experienced members of the fire community and I’m not sure what makes them criminal, but I certainly admit I don’t know the full story as to why you dismissed them, so perhaps something happened I’m unaware of. I do know that they have been spinning and teaching for years, run a collective and have organized conclave multiple years, host fire jams regularly, etc so they seemed qualified to safety and like you, they were volunteering their time to do so and had nothing to gain other than making a contribution to their community. Another thing I know is that you, John Goodwin, and the other person involved in this encounter are both well respected long standing members of the Burning Man community- you as a fire artist, he as a welder at American Steel and member of DPW and he is often volunteering his time and energy to the fire community via his wife who performs (and she performed with us last night). I don’t think either of you are bad people, and suspect that there was a misunderstanding, and we all know tensions are always high during performances. I just feel compelled to offer my perspective that both of you are unique talented individuals who were both trying to contribute in your own way last night. It really sucks this happened, and I’m sorry you had to deal with the stress. I have a lot of appreciation for the many hours you volunteered to make the show happen last night, John. I also think it’s totally acceptable for anyone to draw the line and reject unpaid work at any point in time. I do, however, feel it’s worth noting that this was a charity event. We weren’t just performing for free for kicks… we were donating our time and passion to raise money for the Burning Man Project and you can read about the awesome ways they make art accessible to the public on their website and I think that’s a cause we all cherish. Thanks again for all your hard work John. I hope I get to see you perform soon. You are an inspiration to many. Much love.

JG: No, that asshole was a crazy drunk that got in my face to start a fight back stage you want to name him [name removed]? Because I want to press that charges on that guy,he was crazy! As for FAC my advice is to stay away, they proved crazy, you will get yourself hurt and get involved in arson or other illegal activities. As far as I’m concerned, they are a gang of criminals, not artists. Also fuck the big, well funded Burning Man Project that ain’t why volunteered my time.

If that guy wasn’t a drunk that snuck in, that is so much worse! His coming to fuck with me back stage only proves what I say is right! No way he wasn’t all kinds of drunk, if he was not, that also only makes it so much worse, because that must mean he is always so violent and stupid! Also, he didn’t have shit to do with our backstage, i was there all day and night, because I don’t just perform I do a lot of other work facilitating others’ performances.

RL: What kind of thoughtless jackass considers a situation like this “just a misunderstanding”? It’s not a misunderstanding when one guy has to be fended off until the second guy can get away, leaving the second guy feeling so unsafe he can’t even go onstage for his set. This was a giant fuckup on the part of the stage manager, security and the drunken asshole who tried to start a fight. John was not at fault, he was trying to get away from a violent piece of crap. I also don’t understand those who want to stand back and criticize how John handled this situation, and call that “helpful”. It’s not helpful. It’s victim-blaming. Fuck off.

JG: He got into my face, stepping in so close as to be touching me and spitting in my face to argue about our decision to not let untrustworthy people “help”. Like waaay to close in my face, trying to be intimidating. I was busy and in no mood to have stage management decisions questioned by a crazy drunk ass hole I don’t even know, so I told him so. We don’t let drunks backstage anyway or shouldn’t. I moved away after telling him as much and he chased after me. There was lots of him chasing after me. There were times he lashed out trying to punch me and he simply couldn’t land a hit on me because i kept dodging and moving away and keeping him back with a staff. It wasn’t much of a fight or an assault, however he definitely attacked me and chased me around over 5 frustrating minutes until security came, they didn’t act like real security either, wanting to talk instead of do their jobs. i get really upset just thinking about and trying to type it all out.

Thing is it didn’t have to be an epic battle with someone getting hurt for it to be a fight or an assault. Touch when someone doesn’t want touch, move in too close when its not crowded, keep messing with someone who doesn’t want to talk to you, thats assault and harassment and fuck conflict resolution, that shit gets resolved when dumb drunks get bounced, preferably in handcuffs.

Andrew: I was backstage when it happened. I feel raising your voice and holding up a prop is the opposite of de-escalation. Walking away works pretty great. From my point of view I only saw you moving around agitated making loud shouts. I don’t have a judgement, just what I saw, and then chose to walk away from the area.

JG: So you saw and you did not get the police or security? That’s bad! Walking away didn’t work with that crazy drunk violent asshole! He needed to be ejected or better yet, not allowed backstage to fuck with me in the first place! That’s “de-escalation” not being attacked by an angry drunk in the first place!

Andrew: I thought you were the instigator from my point of view, I didn’t hear what you were saying i just heard yelling and felt aggression.

JG: Mostly I was yelling “Help!” and “Police!” and “Security!” and ordering the drunk to “Get away from me!” I can see how it may have looked from your point of view, because I was armed. That’s one more reason I didn’t lay him out cold like [name removed] suggests and instead poked him back very gently all things considered with the padded end. I trained in 5 different martial arts and a shitload of fire dancing to be able to dodge and run away and keep out of reach, instead of escalating use of force. That’s how come i’m sitting at home explaining to you that the next time you see some shit like that -“yes get away is right, and then do the right thing and get a police officer or security to sort it out!” instead of my being with a police officer behind bars along with that asshole.

Next time you sense that much aggression the back of a fire stage or similar setting, seriously be safe and get security or the police quickly, it is too dangerous to mess around.

Bekka: I do not know his last name but even if I did I feel uncomfortable stating names publicly without prior consent. I don’t think a mediated (non-violent) encounter would be a bad thing if that’s something you desired. If you’d like to reach this person, I’m sure I can link you to people who can help you do that. PM me if interested. I am not trying to make light of the stress or trauma of what you experienced. I am not saying you are in the wrong. I am only saying that it’s possible that this man’s intentions were not to physically assault you, and perhaps he approached you more aggressively than was necessary or appropriate and things escalated from there. I think both of you had high emotions about the topic at hand, and neither of you understood this about the other (as the FAC safeties were his friends and they were only fulfilling their volunteer shifts they had committed to [which they actually thought were greeter shifts, not fire safety shifts, and somehow they got reassigned to fire safety] and he was trying to get answers as to why his friends were being blacklisted from an event that, as far as he knew, they were qualified to work for). I also feel that it’s not accurate that he wasn’t supposed to be backstage… he was assisting, and did facilitate [name removed]‘s performances. I honestly have the utmost respect for every single person who was backstage, and both of you are included in this. I hope you can find a way to recover from this and move forward in a direction that’s constructive for your life -whether that’s reaching out to confront this person in a safe, non-violent environment, or discontinuing your participation with Decom if that’s what you desire, or whatever else- and I encourage you to discuss this situation with any other organizers involved with that stage so that such encounters can be prevented in the future. Perhaps something as simple as backstage access passes (which would have alerted you that he was not a rando off the street but someone there helping one of the groups), or each group providing their own safeties (so that you would not have to rely on whatever volunteer coordinator’s decision it was about assigning safeties), could have prevented this situation. I am sorry this happened, and don’t let it get you down. I know how much you love your art and this community. Your passion for fire arts is very obvious and appreciated. I know how much you contributed Sunday by organizing the fire stage, not to mention your contributions throughout your many years as a fire artist. I support you, and let me know if there’s anything I can do to help.

RL: How long would this asshole have had to chase John around before you actually got it through your head that he was the aggressor, caused a problem and should not have been there? Is five minutes not enough for you? Where’s the cutoff? Ten minutes? Or does the aggressor have to actually have John’s blood on his fists before you finally understand that he’s not a nice person? Why is John being chased from backstage and feeling so unsafe he had to be escorted out not enough for you? Because the bullying drunk who did it is your buddy? Nobody chases a guy around and has to be fended off with a fire staff for five whole minutes because he’s “looking for clarification”. Stop minimizing what this son of a bitch did to John and the stress we’re both under as a result. You have ZERO idea what it was like for him, or for me for that matter. Your buddy’s “innocent” actions left John enraged, bitter, scared for his personal safety, and completely alienated, and left me having anxiety attacks at home as I worried for his safety. This is not a matter of “misunderstanding”, unless we’re counting your total inability to understand that your friend wronged John and put us both through Hell.

RL: It makes me sick how many people will attack someone for getting justifiably angry and kicking up even a small fuss about it. It’s like they expect you to just help them cover up the situation, avoid rocking the boat and never seek any kind of justice or vindication. I guess they don’t want their fun interrupted by inconvenient realities–like needing to rein in a small but very troublesome group of aggressive, booze-loving idiots. Or needing to make sure security isn’t so fucking lax that a guy can get chased around by an angry drunk for five minutes before any of them notice. Or that job you ended up doing a lot–keeping idiots from smoking while standing over the damn fuel depot. These are all common sense things that responsible people would see to. But being responsible takes work and effort, and that distracts from funtimes. So I guess it’s just more convenient to them to try to silence the person making the complaint.

JG: Rangers as event security was the worst, they would not get the police and help press charges when they had that bastard in custody! They prefer to sweep problems under the rug and don’t like enforcing rules or harsh consequences like when a violent thug needs to be arrested because he’s chased a performer all around a dangerous back stage area! They sure weren’t preventing drunks and smokers from getting backstage!

RL: I’ve been crying off and on at work because this is just so much like what happened to me with the Pagan group where I was sexually molested. The people in that group acted just like the people in this group. They denied, minimized, called me crazy, claimed I was overreacting and otherwise made a million excuses why it couldn’t have happened and I didn’t deserve help. They picked at my responses to being molested. They claimed I was “just sexually uptight”. They did everything they could think of to ignore and dismiss the problem so they could go back to their fun. And when I wouldn’t let it slide like they wanted, they ostracized me. These people defending that thug are just as terrible, and I’m really glad that we’re going where we won’t have to deal with them any more.

JG: they are just mad that I blow the whistle, that I stand firm by my beliefs and decisions and I don’t just cave in. I went to extreme lengths to avoid hitting or being hit by a determined assailant. It is the height of irony that I am now being lectured on de-escalation and avoiding conflict. I was running away, I was looking for help. Why not tell that to the drunk who kept chasing me, determined to fight about that hippy pacifism crap?

Why did event security and others prevent me from making a police report?!

[Update 10/16/14 6:35pm] Bekka has provided further details, an alternative perspective on events from someone who was there.

I am writing from the perspective of someone who was present backstage during all of this, who has been at least casual friends with John Goodwin for years and who is also the close friend of his “assailant’s” wife. Therefore, I don’t have a personal bias and wish both parties involved nothing but the best.

John had a falling out with the people assigned as fire safety a long time before this event. I can’t speak much to that as I wasn’t involved, except that it had something to do with accusations about lapse in safety standards from both sides. When he found out they were assigned as safety, he was upset and claimed they were not qualified (despite that these people are well known in the community [have run conclave multiple years, host fire jams, teach classes, safetied for many events] and all the other performers felt either honored or at the very least neutral to have them as safeties). If John truly felt unsafe, he certainly had a right to express that and I don’t fault him for that (though I don’t agree with his assessment), but for the other members of the community who disagree with his judgment and in fact have high respect for these safeties it is difficult not to view this as a personal vendetta rather than truly a safety issue. Personally, I feel if he truly felt endangered by these people (again, this is not how I felt) then making mention of this is the right thing. What I found frustrating was that he did not have a solution to the problem- he had no replacement safeties lined up. His interests seemed much more aligned with causing drama about these people he didn’t like, than ensuring that a safe show continue to go on as planned. Luckily some of the performers volunteered to safety when they weren’t onstage, so this resolved the problem.

The encounter happened when the husband of my good friend, who was backstage WITH permission to assist in setting up the massive drum sets for our performances with Aries Fire Arts, approached John to ask why he made such accusations about his friends who had been assigned to safety. And just to be clear, they had signed up for greeter shifts at Decom, but upon arrival found that they were reassigned to fire safety. This was not their request- someone (presumably a volunteer coordinator who knew of their qualifications and involvement in the fire community) had reassigned them. My friend’s husband has known these people for years and felt strongly they were qualified and good people, and did not know of the drama from the previous year between them and John Goodwin. Frustrated that the show at this point had no safeties due to John’s allegations (and a fire show can’t occur without safeties), and further frustrated that John’s opinion was evidently not shared by anyone else there and wanting to defend the integrity of his friends, he approached John and asked why they couldn’t safety. John, of course, is not obligated to answer such questions, but it’s not surprising that he was asked repeatedly when refusing to answer.

I did not observe the actual interaction of this man asking John questions. I was, however, (like about 50 other performers) standing about 10 feet away. Therefore, if there had been an assault I’m pretty sure I would have stopped what I was doing and looked at the commotion- which is exactly what I did when I heard the screaming, which I only heard from John. Not a single witness saw any of the things John claims to have happened. We were all right there next to it, and nobody saw this man threaten John, assault him, or touch him, or even scream at him. ALL OF US however, were well aware of John screaming for 10 min or so for security and police and help. I personally approached John to see if he was ok, not knowing what happened. I found him (in the midst of what appeared to be a panic attack) behind a structure backstage hyperventilating. I asked what happened, and he said he’d just been attacked by a drunk man. I offered him some water and asked if I could help, and he waved his hand to dismiss me, as it was clear he was so agitated he could barely speak. Security/rangers DID come promptly, as John requested but John either refused or was unable to speak with them so they were only able to speak with the other person involved. The determined that the situation had deescalated and left. I do not think John’s claims that the rangers prevented him from filing a report with police or speaking to the fire marshal are accurate, as I was told that the rangers weren’t able to speak with John despite their attempts. I didn’t even know that my friends’s husband was the other person involved until the end of the night when he and his wife gave me a ride home. I can tell you that he appeared to be very sober throughout the entire time, as did the people assigned to fire safety. I also witnessed nobody moving any smoking signs. I did not hear my friend who approached John when it happened so it’s hard for me to believe it was truly an attack or assault as John claimed (besides the fact that I don’t believe my friend’s husband would do that). I don’t doubt that he was emotional and defensive of his friends when he approached John, and this may have appeared aggressive and made John feel attacked and unsafe. This probably triggered panic in John, so I am sure John’s feelings are valid. However, his description of the story simply is not accurate, and the multitude of witnesses confirm this.

Regarding safety at the show, it all seemed well organized and safe to me (as someone who has received a lot of fire safety training years ago when I started spinning from Temple of Poi, have worked volunteer safety shifts repeatedly at fire spinning festivals such as FireDrums and Pacific Fire, and as someone who has performed locally and also 3 times in the Great Circle at Burning Man in conclave so I feel pretty competent in assessing safety). The fire marshall was present and inspected every performer’s props before going onstage. The fuel was contained in an area greater than 25 feet from the performance space, as per regulations. There was a temporary drywall structure erected for spinning off fuel from props before lighting up, which prevented fuel or flames from dripping onto the ground or onto other performers. There were multiple safety persons with flame-retardant blankets waiting to put out props after I walked offstage, and I felt safe trusting them to put out any accidental igniting of clothing/performers that could have occurred onstage. Every performer was experienced with their props. Security was called when John requested it… I’m not sure what else you would have happen to boost safety and security, though (as you can see from my comments you copied and pasted) I encouraged John to discuss his concerns with the stage managers and Decompression organizers rather than publicly complaining on facebook about it. Also, I don’t personally feel that the event was unsafe or insecure and I don’t think anyone else (besides John felt that way) and I personally had a great time and felt honored to be there. Safety and security can always be improved, but just ranting about it to cause drama isn’t going to do that. It would be much more productive for John to work together with his community and with the event organizers to ensure that, rather than divisively ranting and making extreme accusations that nobody else can corroborate.

I would last like to attest to the characters of both parties involved. My friend’s husband accused of attacking John is a good person. He has been a longtime member of the Burning Man community, member of DPW, welder with studio space at American Steel. He supports the fire arts, not as a spinner himself, but as an appreciator and via his wife who has performed with multiple conclave groups and been in the community for years herself. He has welded props for us, helped backstage, and put a lot of love and sweat into the performance at Decompression as well as many others. John Goodwin is also a good person. I think most would describe him as very very eccentric. He has some very extreme opinions about a lot of things, and he is often described as volatile, easily agitated, and very difficult to work with though I personally have experienced more good than bad from him. He is a talented spinner and cares very very deeply about his art and his community, even if his behavior occasionally isolates him from that community. I believe that John FELT attacked and physically threatened, but I do not believe the other man involved actually threatened John or assaulted him. This whole situation is very very unfortunate because I don’t like to think of anyone I know feeling unsafe, especially doing something they are so passionate about. I wish there had been a way to handle the situation better but I’m not sure what could have really been done differently. I also wish that John felt comfortable asking for help with this situation, rather than lashing out in a public forum. I think a lot of us (certainly myself) would have been willing to help both during and after the fact if he’d been capable of communicating better about what he was feeling. As I told John on the fb thread, I would have happily linked him in contact with the other person involved if John wrote me a private message about it, but I wasn’t going to publicly implicate that person on Facebook. That’s just inappropriate and not constructive towards any resolution- even a legal one, if that’s what John truly wanted. John never wrote me a private message to get that information, so it was clear that moving forward to resolve things (legally or otherwise) was not his interest- but publicly flaming this person was.


Burners.Me writing now:

Bottom line? I wasn’t there, I don’t know what happened. Decide for yourselves. It sounds like security and safety were pretty lax, and arrangements were changed at the last minute. Having backstage passes on lanyards (like other events do) to indicate authorized personnel in areas that are restricted for safety reasons seems like a pretty basic idea to me – with all this money, you’d think someone could arrange it. I guess this is one of the big problems with a de-centralized do-ocracy – when something goes wrong, everyone points fingers at each other, while BMOrg stays stony silent, hoping it’ll all blow over. I don’t expect them to make a comment on this, any more than they’ve done with Commodification Camps, safety-last promo videos from their Directors, or the poor track record of their charities.

Of course, if some Burner comes up with a good idea to improve safety and security, they will be quick to claim credit for it and point out how clever their model is.


South Bhak – Burning Man and South Park S18 Connection *Again*

Bhak Jolilcouer may have a point. He saw a lot of parallels between last week’s South Park Season 18 premiere, Go Fund Yourself, and his situation with a trademark that was in the public domain in Canada. It inspired him to create a Gofundme looking for help in his battle against the mighty BMOrg legal machine. Please give him some support, he’s about half way towards his modest goal. He can’t afford an attorney so he is looking for legal assistance also.

redskinsAnyway, I went back and watched the episode again after respected commenter Nomad Traveler separately told me that he too saw a lot of parallels between Go Fund Yourself and the Burning Man situation. The second time round, I was convinced that they were both right. The episode could absolutely be a metaphor for Burning Man, and their trademark wars.

Episode 2 of the latest Season just aired tonight, and I’m now more sure of this connection than ever. Watch Season 18 Episode 1 and you too will probably notice the many parallels between Burning Man’s trademark fight against the Canadian Burners who are battling to keep the term in the public domain (as it has been up there in the North for decades), and the South Park kids’ fight over the Washington Redskins. The cultural sensitivity issues of feathers and head-dresses obviously resonate with many Burners, and the idea of making money for doing nothing via crowd-sourcing is somewhat reminiscent of Burning Man.

Marketwatch had an article about the episode entitled “What South Park Can Teach Us About Silicon Valley’s Bro Culture” (Burning Man IS Silicon Valley, remember…):

The show pokes painfully overt fun at the American sociocultural niche that is Silicon Valley. “It captures a lot of the way the rest of America views what’s going on in this small corner of capitalism,” said Josh Brown, a New York–based financial adviser at Ritholtz Wealth Management and writer of the well-known blog The Reformed Broker. “Outside of that [tech startup] space, people don’t have the luxury to build companies that are made to just sell to someone else.”

cartman 4 point plan“South Park” character Cartman lays out a four-point plan for startup success: start up, cash in, sell out, bro down.

“By pledging just one or two dollars,” Cartman urges potential investors in a mock Kickstarter video, “you are helping us in our fervent quest of not having to do stuff.”

This, of course, is an exaggerated portrayal of reality…But, as with any satire, this parody is laced with truth.

Well-known venture capitalists…have criticized the culture of modern-day startups, particularly regarding so-called burn rates, or the speed at which new companies burn through the cash they have raised.

Broners, dude?

This week the idea that South Park may be giving us a timely message related to Burning Man continued. Either that, or both Bhak and I are going mad and thinking the TV is talking to us…you have been warned!

Without giving too many spoilers away (but I will further on), an awesome party that everyone was looking forward to was cancelled. And the people couldn’t believe that the decision makers just gave up. Cartman goes tripping in the desert and saves the day.

South Park is made in about a week – an astonishing accomplishment, and most definitely Bad Ass Burner-worthy. I recommend the documentary on the making of it, 6 Days To Air. I know that people involved in the show at a high level are veteran Burners, and love Burning Man.

The show is made in LA. This week, the LA Decompression party was cancelled. The LA Decom organizers decided a week out from the event that they wanted to take a year off.

Dear LA Burner Community,

 There will not be an LA Decom this year. We are officially taking the year off. 

We honestly and very sincerely tried. The park is closed for renovation (this we knew a year ago). We found a new location that we were very excited about but then management changed and so did the terms of the agreement making the location no longer perfect for our event.  So we went on the search for a new location. For months, we made numerous phone calls to venues, talked to city officials, and went location scouting. And we did find a wonderful location right in downtown LA. But the date when we want to use it, backs up to another production already there shooting. It is a less than ideal situation that could easily be disastrous for us if that production runs late by one day. And it probably will.

towlie-south-park-videoSo the bottom line…We’re tired. Exhausted really. And we honestly need to take a year off from producing this event. And we know many on the team feel the same way. At the Town Hall meeting in February several theme camp and art installation leads expressed similar feelings about taking a year off. So we are throwing in the towel and finally listening to you and probably also the universal playa dust. It is time to take a break.

We highly encourage your participation in San Francisco Decompression October 12th and YOUtopia in San Diego October 16-19.

Locally, we have monthly Burner Meet ups the first week of every month. Wednesday at Barbara’s at the Brewery in Downtown LA, Thursday at Roosterfish in Venice, and Sunday at The Other Door in North Hollywood.

December will bring the White Blissmas Charity Ball and March is BEquinox.

Thank you for your participation and contributions to the 12 years of LA Decom. We will come back in 2015 for our 13th year rested up and stronger. Ready to burn brightly and shine on! 

The LA League of Arts and Your LA Regional Contacts

South Park are some of THE most talented and cherished artists in the world, and most especially Los Angeles. I could easily imagine the Burners on their team feeling bummed to lose their Decompression at the very last minute, because the regional contacts were “tired” and knew about a problem for a year but just decided to take this year off “in case” their venue cancelled on their (existing, paid-for?) booking? There are a lot of Burners from LA, 16618 at LA Burning Man, 4329 at Curious Josh’s LA Burners,  and 2879 at Burners.Me’s Facebook.  That’s 23,826 people, just on our three groups. There are a lot of LA Burners, including many who didn’t go to Burning Man this year but were looking forward to hearing all the stories about it when they met up with their friends at Decompression.

Many of my LA Burner friends could organize a party for several thousand people at the drop of a hat, so cancelling like this with a week to go is pretty lame. Couldn’t they at least hand it over to a club, so they didn’t have to do anything and Burners can still attend? If Burning Man was owned by the Community, that could happen; in Decommodification world, this is the result. One wonders if there is some other, unstated reason, behind this cancellation – a request for insurance or a royalty payment from BMOrg, perhaps?

Watch the episode for yourself and see what you think. Spoilers ahead…

ebola suitsI’ve watched it a few times now, the more I see it the more connections I see to the Burning Man story that we’re all part of right now. The transition to a non-profit, presented as a benefit to the community, has instead led us to Commodifcation Camps and the classy spectacle of charity-on-charity lawsuits. What that means for the future of the community is uncertain. A huge influx of virgins every year seems to be an indication that pleasing the Burners who built the city and brought the spectacle out there on their own dime for so many years, is less important to shark-jumpers BMOrg than preaching the Gospel of the Principles and social engineering to an increasingly mainstream audience of misty-eyed first and second timers.

Some of the links I see:

The kids want to throw a party, it gets cancelled by the suits. Turning the pyramid upside down, things aren’t going to get better they’re going to get worse (according to Cartman), the big fuss about nothing, the fear that something bad might happen which is kind of ridiculous. All the rule makers getting involved and trying to spoil the fun and ruin the party.

south-park-s18e01c02-furry-balls-plopped-menacingly-on-the-table-INC_16x9Epsiode 1 of Season 18 – Go Fund Yourself – saw the kids having a good time on top of the world, as they used crowd-sourcing to get rich off the efforts of others; and ended with them bummed. “I guess we gotta go back to school”, sighs Cartman. This aired on Comedy Central tonight immediately before Episode 2.

Episode 2 of Season 18 – Gluten Free Ebola, or GFE – begins with everyone remembering stuff from the week before, which in my memory hasn’t happened before in South Park (although they’ve had several multi-part episodes). The boys comment on it. It builds a link to Go Fund Yourself, which will also be repeated later in the episode.

Someone has set fire to the gym. Since it burned down, the kids are bored and have nothing to do. The other kids won’t talk to them after last week’s adventures. They need a big fucking party that the other kids can go to as well, so everyone thinks they’re cool. They need a cause to throw the party for, because they can’t throw it for themselves.

They go to the media to promote the most epic party ever.

“Get the party started”, sings Pink leading them in.

Stan: “It’s going to be this weekend”. LA Decom was going to be this weekend.

Cartman: “we want to give back to the community and show everyone a good time”

Later, the party gets shut down because of the rules changing.

The rule-making suits talk about Poppycock and dough.

gluten free ebolaThe parents – afraid that gluten is like the Ebola virus – take all the pizza and cake, preventing the kids from throwing the party. They throw the goodies in a big bonfire, and stand around it in a circle yelling boorishly. The grown-ups look very much like the Default world, not the happy joyful world of the party the kids wanted to be in.

Men in black sweep through the fields of gold (wheat), Burning everything in sight – destroying it. The scorched earth policy, show no mercy.

The suits from their strategic command center say they’ll do whatever it takes to stop this crisis, but it’s too little, too late for the kids. Their party is cancelled.

Cartman, falling asleep: “The world is upside down guys. Things aren’t going to get better, they’re going to get worse”

In a dream sequence, Cartman hears

Clyde: “you fouled at the party. Your party sucks”

Token: “c’mon guys let’s go”

Jimmy: “no food at a party? And I thought I was handicapped”

Voices: “what’s up with this party? where’s the food? What a loser!”

Cartman then meets Aunt Jemima on the porch in a magical forest.

Aunt Jemima: “There’s people in trouble Eric. They need to be shown the way. You need to get to the USDA child. They looking for a sign”

Cartman eats Aunt Jemima’s pancakes, and starts tripping in the desert. Aunt Jemima tells him to look for a sign from the USDA. By this time the Feds have got involved with the labcoat suits.

Aunt Jemima: When you’re stuck, look to the pyramids. They got it wrong child, the world is upside down

Cartman: oooo …tripppy

Day goes into night, while Cartman is tripping balls in the desert.

Aunt Jemima: tell ’em they gots it backwards.

Cartman: “they got what backwards”?

A big white explosion of light happens at the climax of his trip.

A golden triangle that looks just like the face of the Man appears, shining. There is a white line running across the face of The Man/side of the triangle. The white line intensifies, and the face cracks then explodes.

Jason_friend_iconDistorted, disappointed, Disoriented faces of some of the kids appear, amplified in mirrors. One of them looks like a character from the awesome South Park PS 3 game The Stick of Truth who I’m sure is based on a certain real-life Burner I know and love.

I can’t make out everything the kids say, “adventure!” and “party!” and “fun!” sound like three of the words.

Then Aunt Jemima’s head explodes, and is replaced with the golden triangle with the white line across it – the face of The Man atop a humanoid body, holding a tray of the magickal pancakes.

When Cartman wakes up from his dream, ending the scene, his first words are “Fuck I want pancakes”.

Once the triangle appears as the face of Aunt Jemima, I think they are making it pretty clear that it is meant to be a face. So its similarity to the face of The Man is striking. The white line…well, make of that whatever your mind conjures up. Playa caterpillars.

They cancel the party because of stupid rule-making decisions by the bureaucrats.

randy papa chicken johnsRandy and Mr Garrision get seized and taken to Papa John’s (pizza…Chicken?)

“This whole thing was a setup”.

The older Burners characters end up isolated in quarantine at Papa [Chicken] John’s.

Randy: “they don’t care about us any more”

“Maybe Papa [Chicken] John can help us”

The boys go on a radio show, hearing angry calls from the people about the cancelled party.

“This is not a time to party. This is time to get serious”, says Stan, always a buzzkill.

Clyde: “I knew you guys were going to bail on the party”,

Jamie in Como: “you say you’re going to throw the most epic party of the decade and then you rip it away…it’s kind of like telling everyone to go fuck themselves” – which is another reference linking this episode to Season 18, Episode 1.

Wendy: “why are you doing this party Stan? Was it because you made people mad in school, or because you just wanted to be a big shot?”

Stan: “we wanted to bring people together and help [a cause]”

Wendy: “so then in the time when people really need to come together, you cancel on them. I’m pretty sure [the cause still exists]…When things change or things come up, you don’t forget about everything you promised people”

Cartman calls in, sounding like he’s still tripping, with the answer from the pyramids.

Suits: “the pyramid? That’s ancient stuff you’re talking about, are you sure?”

Suits: “the pyramid doesn’t work, we’ve already tried it”

Cartman: “the pyramid is upside down”

When they flip the pyramid upside down, putting all the naughty things first, the people rejoice! The triangle shape appears again, stabilized in green light.

The kids’ party is a huge success. The Fun booth is crowded.

Token: “Well I got to admit, you guys throw a pretty sweet party”

The boys accept the praise humbly: “We’d do anything for our bros man”

“I’m glad people aren’t mad at you any more“, Cartman tells the USDA suits.

Randy sings as tranny Lorde. The suits take photos on their smart phones.

“I loved him and he needed me”, Stan tells Wendy

“You’re so transparent Stan”, replies Wendy… “You wanna dance?” She takes his hand and leads him to the dance floor.

What does it all mean? Well, Music Times sounded baffled:

So what are Trey Parker and Matt Stone trying to get at here? We have two theories: 

1) News networks are flipping out regarding Ebola and the possibility it may come to the United States. The South Park honchos might be mocking the paranoia and general ignorance displayed by panicking Americans. Ignorance is playing a huge role in the spread of the disease in Africa and this might be a subtle shot at that. Of course, Texas just got a confirmed case so hopefully Stone and Parker don’t look stupid come next month (for the sake of the world). 

2) Last week’s episode unexpectedly ran into this week’s episode…could it happen again? Perhaps the inevitable side effects of eating straight butter will play into next week’s plot. Stay tuned. Either way, we refuse to believe that South Park would make as little sense as it seemed to have at first watch this week, especially after last week’s tight and seamless master satire. 

Read more:

It also made little sense to IGN.

Let me propose to you an alternative interpretation, Burners. When seen through the lens of Burning Man, and the cancellation of the LA Decompression, this episode can be easily understood, and is hilarious. Cartman tripping in the desert – could it be any more obvious? The new South Park season started a few weeks after Burning Man ended. Did anyone on the production team go? I bet they did. And I bet they’re talking to us through their show.  It’s not just a mindless cartoon, there have always been very strong, deliberate (and awesome) messages in South Park. As an interesting side note, the Daily Show is also at Season 18 on Comedy Central.

aegean turkeyIs this episode about a party that gets cancelled actually a reference to the cancelled Decompression party, and the lack of effort by the owners of the Decompression trademark to support the very strong and vibrant Burner community in LA? All they had to do was let some other Burners throw the party instead, and use the Decompression name. Burners NEED to decompress, we can’t all take luxury yacht cruises along the Aegean coast as our recovery from Burning Man. Many Burners need to get back to work, and find adjusting to the Default world again hard – they long for Decompression. “Go to San Francisco or San Diego instead” is pretty lame when you consider that LA is the 2nd largest metropolitan area in the United States, and 13th largest in the world. It’s about the same distance driving to Burning Man headquarters as Burning Man itself is, it’s an hour flight. 18.2 million people, and they couldn’t find one person who could be bothered to throw a party for Burners? Methinks they doth not try very hard. Maybe it’s not too late, if anyone down there wants to step up please comment.

Decompression is no longer owned by BMOrg, it’s now owned by the 6 founders of Burning Man. They would rather have official (Law) suits against people who’ve been promoting the Burner scene for 20 years in foreign countries, than a simple fun party for everyone in LA. Like the folks in this South Park episode, they don’t care if the everyone is mad at them about Commodification and all the stupid rules; they don’t seem to care that their rules lead to a cool party like LA Decompression being cancelled.

Are South Park telling us that Decommodification LLC have it backwards, suing Burners for trying to keep Burning Man in the public domain? If they don’t turn the pyramid upside down, the white lines are going to make the whole thing explode?

Non-profits suing non-profits does sound to me like they have it all backwards.

Decommodification LLC own the trademarked term “Decompression”, so that they can control Burning Man Decompressions. So any Decompression has gotta be either theirs, or nothing. As we can see from the current lawsuit against Napalm Dragon, they believe that ownership extends everywhere in the world – and owning a trademark for the term in your own country means nothing to them. Wanting to keep a public expression based on a non-unique phrase in the public domain, within the laws of that country, should be over-ridden, the name seized, and the charity should be punished to the tune of $40 grand. That’s about 100 tickets to them, meaning they give away more than that to their friends. It’s not clear whether Decommodification LLC is paying for their own lawyers, or using the Burning Man Project’s attorneys – a $1.4 million annual budget item for the group.

Burning Man’s LA contacts were too tired this year to throw a party. This was officially announced on Monday, but the word about the decision may have got out earlier. The party was supposed to be this weekend, October 5, so this is pretty abrupt notice.

I see both episodes so far of South Park’s Season 18 as very much talking to all of us about Burning Man – or at the very least, teaching a lesson which is particularly relevant to our community at this point in time. Perhaps this is a sign of support for the cause of open-ness and public domain. If you truly believe in Communal Effort and Civic Responsibility, then Free, Open Source software and hardware systems and transparent, efficient, and pleasant government should be the goal for how your city is run. The public domain, the Creative Commons, benefits all of us – and especially at Burning Man. This is the very essence of the thing, it’s raison d’etre, the pure spirit of Burning Man. That’s what it’s all about, sharing our gifts with each other. We all gift our art and performances to each other, for the benefit of all. It is difficult to see how Decommodification, LLC benefits more than a small cabal of 6 owners and their retinues of retainers.

That’s why I’m supporting Bhak, and – even if the TV’s not really talking to us – I hope the Burners at South Park studios and all their fans will help out too. If anyone from the South Park team is reading, please comment – we love you guys.

Free Burning Man! Radical Inclusion, Participation, Gifting, Communal Effort, Civic Responsibility, Immediacy, Leave No Trace, Radical Self Expression, Radical Self Reliance, Anti-Commodification – they all support a free thing that we make together, not an EDM festival that a handful of people monetize and sell as a commodified package to high rollers.

Thanks to Burner Paul for sending in Why You Should Care That Lady Gaga’s Suing Me For $1.4 Million , an interesting apertif for readers who’ve enjoyed this story.

Late-Breaking Update: SF Decom 2013

$teven Ra$pa -- PHOTO: Chronicle / Mike Kepka

$teven Ra$pa — PHOTO: Chronicle / Mike Kepka

The Org’s own Steven Raspa has just released detailed information about this year’s Decompression in San Francisco!

Burning Man Presents, for the benefit of the Burning Man Project. . .

San Francisco DECOMPRESSION Heat the Street FaIRE! 2013

Sunday, October 13th, 2013

Starts at Noon!

Outdoor sound ends 10pm, except Mariposa which ends 11pm

Indiana St between Mariposa and 22nd St in San Francisco, California

Public Entrance: 19th St. & Minnesota; 2nd entrance at 20th St. & Minnesota from 2:00 – 7:00pm

$15 donation before 4:00pm; $20 after; free schwag while it lasts

All ages (under 12 free); 21+ inside Cocomo

Food and beverages available with sales benefitting public art and culture programs. Eat for Art!

See full schedules and map at:

For the quickest updates and info visit (Facebook event)

PLEASE TAKE MASS TRANSIT, BIKE and CARPOOL: (Muni bus #22, #48 and BART connects with the 3rd Street T-line), ride your bike and avoid driving on Minnesota St completely! Inexpensive parking available at UCSF lot (3rd St at 16th St). Or park on Terry Francois Blvd.

Welcome to the 14th Annual Decompression Heat the Street Fair!   
This year is explosive with creativity! Come at Noon SHARP to enjoy all the installations, performances, fire, dance, theme camps, circus arts, live music, DJs, Burning Man 2013 imagery, and MORE!!! All six blocks, the park, and stages will showcase a stunning variety of creative expression! Bring your imagination to share and BE the art you wish to see in the world!!! Full Schedule and partial list of pARTicipants here.


  • 50 Dancing Dragons
  • 9 Energies
  • Airpusher
  • Black Rock Scouts
  • Burners Without Borders
  • Black Rock Arts Foundation
  • Black Rock Solar
  • Burning Man Regional Network
  • BMIR
  • Bubble City
  • Cuddlefish Productions
  • Costco Soulmate Trading Outlet
  • Disco Knights
  • Desert Pearl Chill Zone
  • DMV
  • Everywhere
  • Flirt Camp
  • Friends of DPW
  • Gate, Perimeter, and Exodus
  • Gender Blender Camp
  • Hiney Hygiene Station Tattoos
  • Hooptopia
  • Interactive Photo Booth
  • Jerk Church
  • The Kazbah
  • Kidsville
  • Mission Country Club
  • Party Jitsu
  • PlayaTerps
  • Rangers
  • Shipwreck Tiki Lounge
  • Skinny Kitty Tea House
  • SunShrine
  • Tactile Meditation Dome
  • The Black Rock Beacon
  • The Klownge
  • The Painted Pygmy
  • Twilight Spaghetti Theatre
  • World Hoop Day
  • WOW! AND MORE!!!


  • Angler Fish Disco
  • Apis Inlusio
  • Beezus Christ, Super Car
  • CDC (Cat of a Different Color)
  • Co-Exist
  • DFT Whale
  • H2O-pache
  • Janky Barge
  • Landau the Dragon
  • Nautilus X
  • The “Electro Bounce Chariot”
  • The Dusty Rhino
  • Rub a Dub Dub 3 in a Tub
  • Second Frumming
  • Psychic Taxi
  • Area 351
  • Wet Dream


  • A Vortex for Vultures
  • Psychic Taxi
  • The Chakraland Game!
  • The Critical E.E.A.R.Z. (Experience/Expectation Adjustment/Realignment Zone)
  • Art by Rez
  • The Ha Ha Box
  • Man Pavilion Zoetropes
  • The Light Orchestra
  • Bossy Dice
  • Fire Dance
  • Pimpsnaxx
  • The Story Portal
  • The Aspiration Wall: Collaborative Interactive Art Creation
  • Man Pavilion Murals
  • Helix
  • Zonotopia
  • You Are The Key
  • Line of Fire
  • Spawn of Dodgasourus
  • Into the Flame
  • The Union Mural Team
  • AND MORE!!


  • Beautiful Machines
  • Brass Band: Mission
  • Burning Band
  • Chance’s End
  • Gamelan X
  • Materialized
  • Megaflame
  • Papa Bear and the Easy Love
  • PiNeal’s Intergalactic Cultural Exchange Program
  • Pixel Memory
  • Priize
  • The Shape
  • CelloJoe
  • Fontain’s M.U.S.E.
  • International Human Color Wheel – A Dance 4 Positivity
  • Jade Foxes
  • Samba Stilt Circus
  • Slinkycat
  • Third Seven
  • TrashKan Marchink Band
  • Ziggy Dayz
  • Tamo
  • Dex Stakker
  • DJ Loomer
  • Anthony Mansfield
  • Be Calm Honcho
  • Dane Jouras
  • El Jefe Rojo
  • LT.D
  • Galen
  • Sesh
  • M3
  • Ed Mazur
  • DJ Dane
  • DJ Alvaro Bravo
  • DJMK
  • DJ Clarkie
  • Nugz
  • Snarkle
  • Phleck
  • Matt Haze
  • MoPo
  • Shouts!
  • AIRsmith
  • Alex Kane
  • Borris
  • Conandrum
  • Dave Mak
  • DJ E10
  • DJ Feral
  • DJ Valarien
  • DJ Loomer
  • Everett Wayne
  • Grumples Z Clown
  • Holly Rich
  • Kaweh
  • Michelangelo
  • MotorHome Music
  • naudible
  • Nerm
  • SenedracHunter
  • Shissla
  • Kapt’n Kirk
  • ShOOey
  • Brad Robinson
  • Mancub
  • 8Ball
  • Chemical Ali
  • David Gregory
  • PapaLu


  • VJ CaroLuna
  • Diana Maxwell
  • Hugh Kimbrough
  • VJ Maliepono
  • Mark McGothigan
  • VJ Musashii
  • Ron Halbert
  • AND MORE!!

Email SEvolunteers(at)burningman(dot)com or complete this form.
We also need volunteers to come back 11am Monday, Oct 14th to Indiana and 19th for our annual neighborhood clean up so we can leave the neighborhood cleaner than we found it! We’ll have donuts, coffee, great thank you schwag, and new friends!
EVERYONE should read the Survival Guide before you come.


  1. ARRIVE EARLY! Enjoy the full day & keep the line shorter
  2. Take mass transit or bike; bike parking at 19th & Minnesota; No driving on Minnesota between 19th and 22nd this year. PARK cars at UCSF lot at 16th and 3rd — discount rate till Midnight!
  3. Respect our neighbors, no loud noises entering or leaving, don’t block driveways, use OUR toilets.
  4. NO boom boxes, renegade sound systems or unapproved fire and keep noise down after 10pm!
  5. Pack out all trash you bring, properly separate any discards you get from the event by putting them in the right bin, and LEAVE NO TRACE! We have 70% waste diversion and want to do even better!
  6. Come back Monday at 11am to help with our neighborhood-wide clean-up and help leave things cleaner than they were!
  7. Read the DECOMmandments/Survival Guide below.

FYI: Smoking is now prohibited on any open air public property in the city of SF, including the park as per Article 191: Prohibiting smoking in city park and recreation areas.

THANK YOU for your part in bringing the spirit of Black Rock City to SF and for making this a year-round community! Special thanks to ALL the artists, performers, theme camps, volunteers, our neighbors in the Dogpatch, Dogpatch Neighborhood Network, SFFD, Bayview Police Dept, ISCOTT, Entertainment Commission, and others involved with this day. Thank you and HOORAY!!!