Radical Inclusion Party Foul

A guest post by Mayor of the Techno Ghetto Terbo Ted TerboLizard, the founder of doof at Burning Man. Ever wonder why there are thousands of massively popular raves in the world, and yet the Cacophony Society didn’t really grow beyond a few groups of a couple of hundred weirdos? In 2017 They are still promoting the idea that we should glorify the Cock’o’phonies while demonizing the ravers, which shows how out of touch the Burning Man Organization has become from the community that creates the $40 million cash cow/ party arts festival for them for free every year. It’s tax-free for them, but Burners still pay a 9% tax on their tickets. And bring the food, the bars, the music, the DJs, the art cars, and so on.

How many people at Burning Man like the music coming from the art cars and big camps? Half? More than half? Personally I would say 95%+, YMMV. If you didn’t like that sort of music, Burning Man would be an oddly uncomfortable place to spend a week’s vacation time.

Count the crowds, and look where they are. A lot of crowds, all over the Playa, almost always around music, they always make sure to use the best speakers, you can get more Info about them on soundmoz.com. It is clear that electronic music is what made Burning Man so popular, and if the Ten Principles mean anything at all, it means we should welcome people who come to enjoy that aspect of Burner culture at least as much as we welcome anyone else. Not try to shun and shame those who made Burning Man what it is, out of some weird ideal of “what a Burner should be” – presumably some sort of submissive, compliant, social justice virtue signalling volunteer freak. Burning Man was HUGE before the Ten Principles were thought up.

BURNERBITCH

Image: Leila Moussaoui, The Bold Italic

 


Burning Man: Radical Inclusion Party Foul

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Anyone who follows Burningman culture year-round probably stumbled across a recent article titled “Burning Man’s Culture Is In Danger – Tales from the Global Leadership Conference.” The wildly popular article at burn.life prominently featured a picture of ne’er do well young party bros in unfortunate festival attire, with the caption “Ultimately, the worst case scenario is that we end up with an event dominated by idiots like this (not sure where this was taken or who took it, but it’s not at BM….yet.) they all used Houston limo service to get to the party”
Before I get into any more details, I am going to both embarrass myself and brag a little bit… here is a picture of me, as a young man in my early twenties, out on the playa in 1992, right after I played THE first DJ set EVER at Burning Man.

Terbo Ted at Burning Man, 1992, Black Rock Desert, Nevada
That’s what I wore for my set. Note the visual similarities in how myself and the four young men are dressed; literally, I could stand next to these fellas being portrayed as ‘bad guys’ 25 years into the future and fit right in.
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But let’s look at the history of Burningman. When the collectives I associated with brought rave culture out there- electronic dance music- whatever you want to call it, many of the early burners treated us like pariahs. ‘Ravers’ were blamed for just about anything that went wrong in early 90s burns, and some of it was deserved, and some of it wasn’t. But there were three key BM organizers in the early years on the playa who were the glue that made Burningman stick. Larry Harvey, Michael Mikel (aka Danger Ranger) and John Law were all very supportive of our efforts to bring a new facet of culture into the Burningman experience. Those three understood the concept of radical inclusion well before that was even a stated principle of the event. The written ten principles came to the playa much later than the DJ sound systems. Today there are all kinds of arguments going back and forth regarding the virtues or failures of the music culture at Burningman, that’s another discussion for another time.
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Let’s look at the attire everyone is so scared of. When I was in my early 20s I was living on something like $500 a month or less in San Francisco. That is impossible now but it wasn’t really possible then either. I had no money for fancy clothes. The neon hat I had was a free giveaway from the liquor store, it had a cigarette brand sponsor. I used to smoke cigarettes back then. I used to go over to Larry’s house for coffee and talk about plans for the upcoming MAN year-round. At times I would take two packs of cigarettes (buy-one-get-one free quality you understand) and give one of the packs to Larry, who also was living on next to nothing as far as money goes. The shirt I had on in this picture was something you’d get out of a free pile somewhere outside of a thrift store, or for a dollar at a garage sale (they used to have those in the Mission, believe it or not). That was how we lived. If you had told me back then that people would be expected to wear elaborately hand made outfits that cost thousands of dollars to the burn I would not have believed you. If I had any costume at all for Burningman back then, it was because I got it for free somehow.
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Let’s apply that to the ‘party goons’ in this picture. I was able to easily find those garments they’re wearing online. The neon green RAGE hats are $10, you can buy them online here. The shirts with garish slogans are also in the $10-$20 range. The point I’m getting to is that young people don’t have lots of excess money, and you’re going to see these sorts of fun and low-cost things being worn. The young kids don’t have $800 for a handmade steampunk top hat with hand distressed goggles sewn in, and the entire outfit that goes with it, do you understand?
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And let’s decode the messaging in their attire:
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RAGE. Hey, it’s kinda close to BURN. Party on.
ALL I DO IS FUCK & PARTY. I think many people at least fantasize that’s what their burn is going to be about, if not in fact acting it out for real. I know that I do those things out there (when not busy MOOPing of course). I’m hoping you get to do those things out there as well, if you choose to.
SHOW ME YOUR TITS. This is absolutely perfect male attire on Thursday afternoon for Critical Tits Bike Ride. I am going to order one for myself this year. Easy to find online in multiple colors and fonts and at low cost!
PARTY WITH SLUTS & ME GUSTA WHORES Burningman does take place in Nevada. Not Berkeley. Prostitution is legal in Nevada.
LET’S GET FUCKING WEIRD. Heck, this could be an official theme for one of the coming Burns for all I care. I approve.
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After twenty-five years of watching Burningman grow from less than 1000 people to selling out tens of thousands of tickets in half an hour, I’ve seen it go through many growing pains and phases, some of which were gut wrenchingly awful, some of which were transformative in a beautiful way.
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When we were first going out there, I remember Larry explaining to me that when you put yourself into that void out there on the playa, whatever it is that is you- your inner self- is going to emerge because there’s nothing else there as a reference point. Everything you do out there is your inner self projecting itself into the world. The experience there is real. Something like that. The concept of Radical Self Expression undoubtably rose out of these beliefs.
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Today, I can’t help but cringe at all of the Burner fashion conformity that happens. You can find websites in China selling ‘Burner’ style goggles now. And you know the look I’m talking about, the ‘Mad Max Muppet Pirate Clown on Acid’ get-up or whatever it is you see tens of thousands of times out there. We didn’t have a dress code at early Burningmans (although that’s not true, there were cocktail parties and theme parties with dress codes out there as early as I can remember). It’s great that the culture has developed some sort of visual ontology- maybe- but that we’ve seen that culture start to move toward exclusion of chosen costumes is a step in the wrong direction, a step away from inclusion, away from expression, it’s a push toward conformity and rule following. Early Burningmans were populated and created by pranksters, they pushed the boundaries of what was socially acceptable, comfortable, or- in many instances- lawful. They weren’t conforming to anything. Unlike today’s Burner culture. Shame on you people.
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After the burn.life article was getting heavily forwarded around social media I had started making light hearted and favorable comments about the photo with the party bros on the Facebook group called ‘Official Unofficial Burning Man Page’ or whatever it is. I posted links where you could buy RAGE hats or some of the shirts in the comment threads, jokingly (and not for profit or anything like that, not as a commodity) as a commentary. And one of the admins banned me from the Facebook group. Shame on you people.
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And let’s pretend those four party bros are out there this year in their chosen attire everyone wants to make fun of. Neon RAGE party hats and all. Having them time of their lives. Maybe they’ll even have some Whip-Its™ to share at sunrise, and you could do some with them and teach them about MOOP in the process. Remember, virgins are very welcome at Burningman. And once virgins get exposed to the culture, they can’t be unexposed to it. Who knows what great new and heretofore unthunk inspirations from the playa might transform those young bros’ lives. Hopefully they wouldn’t instead get forced down a path of derisive hierarchical conformity from the experience of going out there. The default world does that well enough, thank you.
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About the storyteller:
Terbo Ted first visited the Black Rock Desert in 1992 when there was no gate, no perimeter, no road, no trash fence and you could drive your car as fast as you wanted in any direction. Terbo was the first DJ to play in Black Rock City, with no one there to hear his set on a dusty Friday afternoon. Later, in the early years he was the only one ever to be called “Mayor of the Techno Ghetto.” His playa self and default world self can be remarkably similar these days.

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]"

Radical Self Expression, Meet “No DickHeads”

2015 burning seed

Baron de Merxhausen just posted this on the Burning SEED Australia Facebook group. It’s interesting to see the Regionals struggling to get to grips with the Tin Principles That Are Just Guidelines, and very real issues like Consent and Decent Standards of Behavior to each other that don’t even appear in the principles. There were also some serious health concerns at this year’s event, which I will discuss at the end of the post.

 


by Baron de Merxhausen

I’ve noticed that the Radical Self-Expression principle has been getting a lot of air time, and as someone who likes to talk about anarchy, I thought I’d drop in my two cents about ideas of freedom and liberty and how they relate to RSE.

I’ll try to keep it as succinct as I can, but I’m a very flawed person so it will probably be very long and there may be some ranty bits. You might enjoy reading this if you ever find yourself wondering about what any of this hippy nonsense actually means.
* Feel free to interrogate any and all assertions made.

My feeling is that Burns tend to adopt a ‘liberal’ model of operation – people enjoy both positive liberties (I can fulfil my own potential aka freedom TO) and negative liberties (I won’t be interfered with aka freedom FROM). Liberties are like freedoms, except freedoms do not imply a limit, obligation or boundary while liberties acknowledge that we are social and therefore have to reconcile our obligations within a community. In other words, liberties have implied *potential* limitations. RSE would be positive liberty- the freedom to express yourself in whatever way you please. That it is a liberty and not a true freedom, the implication that it has boundaries remains.

Image: Nomakim Photography

Image: Nomakim Photography

There seems to be some tension where RSE is unclear on how much it is restrained by other people’s negative liberties – what exactly are we entitled to be free from? Which is another way of asking what non-interference actually means. How safe are we when people can express their inner psychopath?

There seems to be some consensus on consent being key, but where is the line drawn?
Consent was a really big focus this year, because consent is essentially about establishing where we are placing the boundary between what we don’t have to put up with and everything else.

There’s an added complication on this boundary when we take into account the tension between what is ‘offensive’ and what is ‘harmful’. That’s a really big discussion, and it varies from person to person, though for the sake of our community (principles 6+7) we need to try and do our best to make these lines consistent.

My personal feeling is that although there seems to be a strong call-out culture, emotional resilience is a trait we should try and cultivate so that the world isn’t quite as big and bad. I think many of you will agree that letting kids build cubbies and play in the dirt is a good thing for their development, despite it containing elements of risk. The same is true of our psychology; a little bit of muck, confrontation, repair and tolerance builds a versatile character.

So we have to ask ourselves when something is happening to/around us – is this thing *really* harming anyone? Is what I am doing going to hurt someone? We do these kinds of little calculations all the time, but there are times when we’ve got to dig a little deeper because of some nagging doubt, or someone shoots us a certain kind of look or gesture.

I do not subscribe to the position that a sense of a trigger alone is harm, and I think part of fulfilling our negative liberty is to allow others their space if we can see it’s not going to do any real or significant harm to ourselves or others, in which case our communal obligation might be to just walk away. With that said, I think the fundamental rule should be that if someone tells you to leave them alone, you should do just that.

This kind of discussion is especially relevant to issues such as ‘inappropriate’ jokes, cultural appropriation, et al. For example, a rape joke does not make you a rapist, they are seriously and qualitatively different things, and despite the cultural impact of such utterances (normalising, victim-blaming, etc) are bad, they are not in-and-of themselves particularly harmful. Does that mean the person should be treated like a rapist? No. Does that mean they’re good? No. Can you talk to them about it? Of course.

So in the context of a Burn, Radical Self Expression is there to try and say in a fun way, ‘do whatever the fuck you want so long as you don’t hurt anyone/thing**’.

This can be a double-edged sword because people have a fair degree of liberty to be dickheads within this framework. Of course this can be a bad thing, but it has a tendency to favour those who are positively expressing and cause those who are negatively expressing to both lose cred and see better examples. Compare this to the Meredith Music Festival’s model of ‘No Dickheads’, which, when someone is officially called out, will see them booted from the festival after a single warning. Not much opportunity for the kind of rehabilitative learning we’d like, but then, there’s also less dickheads (relative term).

I think the most experienced failure of RSE is where people aren’t (what others might think) just being jerks, but when they’re genuine creeps. That seems to me to be an intentional misinterpretation of RSE made by creepers, and why consent became such a big issue after last year’s Burn.

It’s a hard argument to make when your Expression, Gift or Effort harms someone, that it’s really coming from a positive place. We’ve heard stories of people given drugged food, without consent, and we’ve heard stories of people aggressively ‘sharing’ their personality with others-that did a lot more than offend someone.

In my view, Civic Responsibility is about acting on a considered and communicated negotiation between how we let people be their fullest selves and how we get together as a community to prevent ourselves from harm. This negotiation is an ongoing thing that changes along with the needs and desires of the community… but what do I really mean by this?

Is this is a Tree Wizard with a magical pied piper flute? Image: Nomakim Photography

Is this is a Tree Wizard with a magical pied piper flute? Image: Nomakim Photography

One of my serious peeves is with fucking *Tree Wizards*.
I apologise to those wonderful Tree Wizards out there for using this as my pejorative term for people (usually men) who espouse an esoteric way of life full of peace and love, but do little to critically analyse, engage with, or otherwise act upon the stuff they are talking about. Further, they act in ways that are fundamentally opposed to what they’re talking about.

In a vacuum, this problem of mine should be for me to grow up and deal with, but in my experience (and I’ve said this before) all the people I’ve met who’ve claimed to be gurus or shaman I’ve found to be not just charlatans, but genuine creeps.

There’s something both deluded and dangerous tied to the solipsistic belief that your word is the most profound around. It’s why they avoid any real critical evaluation within any proper or even basic philosophical or scientific framework – because it would expose them for what they really are: the hollow sophists and politicians of the hippy community, caught up in a massive ego trip, and using a few flowery tricks to snaffle sparkle ponies. It’s like the Game for Confest dudebros.

We allow these wolves-in-sheep’s clothing far more passes within our community because they don’t speak like, or look like, your serial Stereosonic fare, but my feeling is they are much more dangerous because they are insidious.

In my opinion, Civic Responsibility is helping both giving people tools to see if people are full of shit, and also responding appropriately to behaviour that is fucked.

What do you think that would look like?
If people can come up with responses, that is the community negotiating.

Soz for the long post.


Burners.Me:

Thanks to the Baron for that thought-provoking piece, and for giving us the term Tree Wizards. You can follow the discussion on Facebook, there are some great comments.

Burning Seed, one of two Australian official Regional events, opened this year with a deadly disease scare. Many people are reported sick after the event. Some attribute this to swimming in a dam, which apparently was prohibited in the Survival Guide. The organizers are emphasizing on Facebook that swimming in the dam is explicitly against the rules in their use of the property.

BMOrg, with their nearly three decades of experience in throwing events at remote locations, could offer a lot to their Regional Network in helping them deal with biohazard and consent issues. More established doofs in Australia like Rainbow Serpent and Earthcore don’t seem to have these problems, but they have little incentive to help an emerging competitor.

Screenshot 2015-10-11 11.48.09 Screenshot 2015-10-11 11.50.09

Screenshot 2015-10-11 11.52.27

moat interesting man burning seed

The Techno Ghetto – the History of Dance Music at Burning Man

Recent announcements from the Org make it seem like Burning Man is trying to deal with Electronic Dance Music like it’s a new problem. In fact, this is not the case. Burning Man has been taking place in the desert since 1990 and ravers started playing there in 1992, the third party. Since then, rave has grown from a few DJs to more than 5,000 different sets listed in Rockstar Librarian last year.

Not only was it fine to post the names of DJs on flyers from the very beginning, it was also personally endorsed by Larry Harvey.

burning man 1992 djs and lasers

Burning Man Flyer Advertising DJs, 1992

DJ Niles recalls:

I was DJ Niles and organized the first rave at Burning Man. I met with Larry Harvey in his kitchen to pitch him on the idea and he thought amplified music would be awesome at BM though warned me that any of the old timers wouldn’t like it and made us set up a mile from center camp with our speakers facing away from camp. We had about 20 people that came specifically for the party and about 50 people that came from BM camp. We had The Fly hotsprings to ourselves.

From Edgecentral (writing by Graham St John):

What was then known as “rave” music was first amplified at Burning Man in 1992 when a small “rave camp” appeared a mile from the main encampment, “glomming parasitically…onto the Porta-Johns.” The camp was organized by Craig Ellenwood of the early Oakland acid party crew Mr Floppy’s Flophouse. The headline act was Goa Gil, who played from Aphex Twin’s “Digeridoo” on digital audio tape to no more than 25 people. Also playing to hardly anybody were Brad Tumbleweed, Dave Synthesis (aka “Dsyn”), Craig and Terbo Ted. Terbo Ted has the mantle of being the first person to DJ at Burning Man. Ted informed me that in 1992 he “played on Friday afternoon to literally no one, with only ten miles of dust in front of me. It was awesome”. While he can’t recall it with precision, the first track played was some “spacey stuff” from a Jean Michel Jarre 12 inch from Craig Ellenwood’s record pile, “a record he was willing to sacrifice to the elements … it was literally a sound check” (ibid). Here is a link to a short excerpt from Terbo Ted’s live acid techno set in 1995, which was the first electronic music recorded at Burning Man to be released on CD (“Turbine time” on Shag).

The period was primitive to say the least. As Charles A. Gadeken reported in 1993: “I remember going out to the rave camp, it was five guys, a van, a couple of big speakers, a card board box covered in tin foil, colored lights and a strobe light. It was all cool.” But the reception was generally less than enthusiastic. Ted recalls that the punk (add your own prefix: anarcho, cyber, steam, shotgun, etc.) sensibility predominating at Burning Man held DJ culture complicit with “consumer society and a stain on an otherwise anarchistic, art-oriented event.” 

Even in the early days, this was an issue for the hippies – one they were ready to get all “stabby” for…

On one morning near sunrise in 1993, a hippy dude came up to me while I was playing music on the sound system and he holds up a knife towards me and yells “are you crazy?” And I say “no, you’re the one with a knife”. And then he says he’s going to cut me or the speakers. So I turn it down, ditched the decks and circled far and wide off into the desert. He tried to cut the speaker cones with his knife but they had metal grills on the fronts, he looked like a fool and gave up and wandered off. I put on a cassette of Squeeze’s Black Coffee in Bed as he was walking away. 

As early as 1994, there was an “official rave” listed in the Burning Man brochure.

Burning Man forced the techno reservationists to maintain their isolation a mile from Main Camp between 1992 and 1998, during which time the camp evolved into a kind of outlaw satellite of Black Rock City. Over the following two years, San Francisco’s DiY music and culture collective SPaZ (itself co-founded by Ted and D syn, along with Aaron, No.E Sunflowrfish and various others) orchestrated the sounds exclusively. It was extreme, eclectic and haphazard…Listed as the official “rave” in the Burning Man brochure for 1994, SPaZ would effect a great influence on sound system culture at the festival. 

It was the ravers who encouraged Burning Man to let anyone bring their sound, big or small. A number of music collectives then converged on the Techno Ghetto. This was the first expansion of Burning Man’s crowd beyond its San Francisco Cacophony Society roots that kept numbers steadily in the low hundreds for the first 7 years. After the rave camp was established, Burning Man’s population started doubling every year.

SPaZ, members of which later initiated the Autonomous Mutant Festival, were effectively encouraging Burning Man to be “more like the UK festival vibe where anybody could bring their sound, big or small”. So, in 1995, while SPaZ set up their small system at four points amplifying everything from minimal techno and drum-n-bass to psytrance under a four story three-cornered scaffolding with lights and “variously garish and random streamers, banners and tarps, from punk to dayglo-indian-balinese-cybertrance-batiks to outright monstrosities” visible from Main Camp, Wicked (the famed UK derived outfit who held full moon and other parties on beaches and in parks around the Bay area between 1991-1996) arrived with their turbo rig and scaffolding supporting their black and white banner. SPaZ hosted artists including Minor Minor (Gateway), Theta Blip, Chizaru and Subtropic. Featuring himself, among with DJs Markie and Bay area guest’s Spun, Felix the Dog, Rob Doten and Alvaro, Wicked co-founder (and now running Grayhound Records) Garth stated to me that they “played for 4 days and nights through hail, wind, rain and electrical storms”. North America’s first free party tekno sound system, Pirate Audio, also made an appearance that year. On the windblown frontiers of techno, in this nascent vibrant ghetto accommodating the eclectic, experimental and inclusive sounds of SPaZ, the house sounds of Wicked, and other sounds besides, Burning Man had begun to attract a variety of socio-sonic aesthetics, paving the way for the mega-vibe it would later become  

Poop was being MOOPed at dance camps even then: by BMOrg, who were dropping it on rave camps from the sky:

shit apple laheyIn this period, besides differences between the habitués and proponents of varying dance aesthetics (from the inclusive to the more proprietary) there was considerable conflict between those who regarded themselves true Burners and those they held as little more than raving interlopers. As Ted remembers, “ravers were always pariahs at Burning Man …. it’s like we were the poor people on the wrong side of the tracks and the wrong side of the man”. At one event, a bag of human excrement was dropped on the dance camp from a low flying aircraft. According to Garth, Burning Man had the porta-potties removed from the rave camp before the festival ended. “When people started crapping on the desert for lack of options, someone carried over a bag to main camp …. Burning Man was so enraged by this they flew over and apparently dropped it on one camp.

From the beginning, Rave Camp was a mile away from The Man, but back then it was still possible to drive your car around the Playa. That all changed when tragedy struck in 1996: a stoned driver ran over a tent, sending one person into a coma for months.

techno-ghetto

In 1996, the year of Helco, they tried to re-integrate the rave camp with the rest of the city – creating the Techno Ghetto as an outer suburb. The plan failed:

But, things didn’t go according to plan in the ghetto. According to Garth, “the honeymoon ended that year. The theme was “Hellco” and that was what they conjured up… by this point there were too many [sound systems], all bleeding into each other…. it felt more like a super club on the playa”. As Terbo Ted recalls, the “ghetto” was an “abysmal failure … DiY gone mad… Music snobbery and cliquishness and DiY anarchist tendencies prevented an orderly camp from forming and the resulting spread-too-thin sprawl proved to be dangerous in an era when cars were still driving at every vector on the playa at high speeds in dust storm white outs”. Both Garth and Ted are in part referring to a tragic incident in 1996 when three people were seriously injured sleeping in their tent near the Gateway sound system, one in a coma for months, after being collected by a stoned driver.  

It looks like ravers got the blame for the incident. An “unofficial anti-rave policy” was formed, to appease the complainers:

Together with an apparent perception that the “rave” was giving Burning Man a bad name within official circles, and the likelihood that techno was perceived as disturbing electronic chatter for many participants…this incident generated an unofficial “anti-rave policy”, which was effectively countered through the compromise entailed in Gosney’s innocuously named “Community Dance” in 1997.

We have an unsung Burner hero to thank for rave surviving at Burning Man in the face of this early anti-EDM sentiment from the old-timers. BMOrg, predictably, tried to ban doof – saying that only 100W systems were allowed. Luckily Mark Heller, Raver Marine, saved the day – and Burning Man was able to grow from 4,000 in 1995 to 70,000+ in 2015.

Ironically I was looking for info on Global Underground – looking to see how or if Narnia was still going on, and something of a TRUE RAVE which I attended 90-94, before moving to SF…. And of course hitting Burning Man 95-02… However I have news for you in the context of BM and raves… And not the stuff you can copy out of wiki..

Burning mans ‘community’ was, and IS rather anti-raver… They are just not openly hostile any longer – yes you heard me – hostile!

Let me explain the experience this stems from. I first heard of BM in San Diego in 94, with some irony at Narnia a much different ‘music based’ event. Much of my set, after finding that I was headed to SF decided to hit ‘The Man’, and we did. As I had an inordinate amount of time off that day and age, I volunteered and went early. (As I did following as well for a number of years.)

Anyway, a little correction of view and history is in order. And I’ll provide that for you here. In ’95 and years prior, were just tagging along, to the “Art Festival” that is BM, 95 being a clear demarcation of that. With two clear and distinct camps seperate and litteraly 2 miles away from each other. I’ll explain, upon arrival in 95 I got early and full access as a volunteer, as well as insight in the controversy of the time. The ‘Art crowd – Organizers’ were sick of the noise, and relagated “Rave Camp” to be at a distance, with a connecting road, and was seperately organized and paid for by an asphalt paving company to boot.

This distance proved FATAL, as a couple were run down in their tent along the ‘road’ I planted flags to demark. These were deaths #2&3 of 3 that year. (The other being vehicular suicide of sorts.) In response, driving, apart from art cars was banned the year following in 96. Also of interest in this context. [Clarification: 3 people were critically injured, 1 person died from vehicle accidents before the gates opened in 1996]

96, came no cars, and with it, NO RAVE CAMP! And a full blown discouragement of the rave community to attend by the BM authorities that be to this day. Find a ticket and map for that year, and you’ll find the typical desert death disclaimer on the back and with the hand outs, and also an interesting RULE, the first of many. “No sound systems over 100 watts allowed” yes you heard me! Where did 100 watts come from? – it was the biggest boom box you could find… Generators were also not encouraged, and a “centralized power system” would be provided for the limited center camps. (I have a unique perspective here as well…)

In 95 through 97, I volunteered with the guy running the generators in the BM base camp, which was very similar to what I did in the Marine Corps. (Yes, I was a Raver Marine – put your finger on that – try…) Anyway, on arrival in 96, the animosity was high, most of the art community was pleased with no rave camp & sound policies, thinking they could finally get some sleep…. I kid you not! HOWEVER – there were a lot of familiar faces from Rave Camp from the year previous and I got to know them much better this year as they were trying to fit into the new BM mold. And here’s why. I was the guy going camp to camp to find out your ‘power needs’ and drag the cables to many of them. “Hey how many amps you need?” And this is when the REVOLUTION began! And likely the only reason BM survived and grew! 95 was TOO BIG TOO LOUD TOO DANGEROUS! 96 was to be smaller quieter – but more people showed up…. To include a lot of ravers upset about what they helped build shunning them. 1/2 of the base camps requested 50A to 100A. And of those, almost all had HIDDEN DJ BOOTHS AND SPEAKERS IN GIANT PAPER MACHE ART! 10-20 THOUSAND watt systems. Right in the middle of the main camp.

In the few days prior to the first official night, the running joke was ‘don’t call the cops, my boom box is over 100w’. The first official night – THE SOUND CAME ON! AND IT WAS AWESOME!

You don’t have ME to thank for still referring to Burning Man as a “Rave” I was just a cog in a wider revolt that I did not even know was happening until I was trusted to help in the effort in an exchange of winks and nudges. An enabler…

But it was then, that the “Art Festival” known as Burning Man, embraced the chaos and the Rave community that helped make the event what it was at the time. (IMO it’s not what it used to be, and maybe that’s good too – different topic)

[Source: Burners.Me]

Burning Man flyer advertising DJs, 1998

Burning Man flyer advertising DJs, 1998

bm flyer 1999

Burning Man flyer advertising DJs, 1999

In 1998 Burning Man was described as “the ultimate meta-rave”. This year saw the integration of EDM and big art burns, with 2000 people at the Temple of Rudra (yes, they had Temples there before David Best’s first one). BMOrg shut it down on the first night, pulling the plug from the generator:

In 1998, a community sound system featuring New York’s Blackkat collective, The Army of Love, SPaZ and Arcane was unpacked on the playa. Holding their own desert dance gatherings over the previous five years in the Mojave, Moontribe also set up that year, with artists performing for three consecutive nights next to The Temple of Rudra, with the final party drawing 2000 people following Pepe Ozan’s opera. Symptomatic of the ongoing tensions, as Ozan apparently neglected to inform the Burning Man organization about his deal with Moontribe (they were providing the soundcheck for his opera), the event’s unique peace keepers, the Black Rock Rangers, unplugged the generator at dawn on the first night. With the all-too-familiar experience of having “Rangers” shut them down, Moontribe’s Treavor successfully pushed for an agreement for an all-night party after the opera on the Friday night, which also happened to be a full moon. According to Treavor, with himself, Petey and Matthew Magic performing: “we kicked in with some full on Psy Trance/Techno madness and tons of people came over and stayed in front of our system until around noon when it was about 110 degrees and time to end”

The anti-raver sentiment went beyond just BMOrg and the Rangers.

That known DJs were being targeted by Burning Man organisers was a circumstance endured by Paul D. Miller (aka DJ Spooky), who was apparently pursued on the playa by “Pipi Longstocking” in the mid 1990s. But the tension between ravers and Burners seems to have been appropriately dramatized in a performance which saw a standoff between Goa Gil and a giant peddle-powered flamethrowing drill and Margerita maker called the Veg-O-Matic of the Apocalypse—or, more to the point, anti-rave crusader Jim Mason who was peddling the beast. Mason’s Veg-O-Matic is described by Robert Gelman in his article Trial by Fire: “It’s straight out of hell, suggesting engineering from the industrial revolution transported to Fritz Lang’s Metropolis. Part vehicle, part flame-thrower, part earth drilling device, I envision this machine being used to battle creatures in a 1950s monster movie, or to torture souls of the damned in the realm of satan”. With a pressurized gas-charger spurting flames as far as seventy feet from its barrel, and a gathering mob inciting it to greater acts of destruction, the Veg-O-Matic was known to burn installations in its path following the demise of the Man. On its post-Burn rampage, when the Veg-O-Matic rolled into the first Community Dance camp in 1997, Mason found Goa Gil directly in his path:

The crew of the machine is tilting the flamethrower’s barrel up at the console. Gil is staring down the 12-foot barrel of this jet powered char-broiler. I had to remind myself that this is theatre, or is it? I’m still not sure. “Burn it!” the mob chants, “Burn THEM!” Like an opposing pacifist army, the ravers are standing their ground, some shouting in defiance of the threat, some in disbelief that this could really be happening. Chicken John, like the demented circus ringmaster that he is, issues his now-familiar warning over the bullhorn [“Stand Aside”]. We seem to have travelled back centuries in time. I don’t remember ever feeling farther from home than this.

Ravers have been far more effective at bringing Burning Man culture back into the Default world than any other group. What have the hippies done to spread our culture, other than a few panel discussions?

The spirit of Burning Man is raised throughout the year in San Francisco at events such as the pre-Burn Flambé Lounge, the annual Decompression Street Fair, the How Weird Street Faire, the Sea of Dreams New Year’s Eve events and numerous sound art camp fundraising events held between May and August every year. The Decompression events have become hugely popular multi-area dance parties, and attracting many who’ve never been to Burning Man. The San Francisco “Heat the Street Faire” Decompression party is a reprise of the Burn held on 8 city blocks two months after the event.

[Source: Edgecentral]

So EDM has been at Burning Man pretty much as long as there’s been a Burning Man. This is nothing new. It hasn’t turned into Coachella or Glastonbury in 23 years, so why are people suddenly afraid that it’s going to now?

edm artistSurely a bigger problem is the miraculously consistent quota of 40% Virgins – every year it just gets harder and harder for Veteran Burners to get tickets, and more safari tourists come. BMOrg is trying to blame EDM for this, but we had EDM 20 years ago. What we didn’t have back then was a Ruling Group determined to promote themselves in the mainstream media: The Simpsons, Wall Street Journal, New York Times,  Inc, Entrepreneur, Business Insider, Fast Company, Town and Country, Bloomberg, CNN, CNBC, PBS, the New Yorker, airline in-flight magazines – not to mention all the celebrities and politicians encouraged to name-drop Burning Man and give media interviews from the Playa. I think if anyone is to be blamed for ticket scarcity, it should be the promoters who did this massive PR push into Default society so they could sell more tickets at higher prices – not ravers, who have been gifting awesome experiences at Burning Man on their own dime over the past 3 decades.

If ravers were there 10 years ago, and not creating huge amounts of MOOP ; and they were there 20 years ago, and not creating huge amounts of MOOP – then it is false to blame ravers now for MOOP. What else has changed, over all those years that EDM has been at Burning Man? Perhaps the entitled attitude of the Millenial generation who think they’re making the world a better place just by being in it is more of a factor.

The philosophy that has been promoted by the official propaganda channels in the past week is that if someone sees Burning Man on The Simpsons on FOX and wants to visit once to have a drug experience like Marge, they are a good person and coming for the right reasons; but if someone sees that Lovefingers is going to be on the Mayan Warrior on the art car’s Facebook page and wants to go because they like that DJ, that is a bad person and we don’t want them at our festival. Which isn’t a festival.

You can’t have this AND Radical Inclusion.

See also: Ranting and Raving

Burning Man Creates Dance Music Zone [Updates]

MadMax4set1small

BMOrg have created a new area for art cars with Level 3 sound systems called the Dance Music Zone (DMZ). A mile from The Man, between 10:30-11:15 & K. They will be setting up portapotties at each end of the DMZ – so, if you need the toilet at night, head towards the loudest sound system.

Of course, in typical propagandist fashion, they have to tell us that rules aren’t rules: they are giving new permissions, not creating new restrictions. They should just go full Yin/Yang, and create half the party as a music zone, and half the party as a yoga/TED talks/early to bed zone.


from DMV:

DANCE MUSIC ZONE (DMZ): LEVEL 3 SOUND MUTANT VEHICLE PARKING

———————————————————–

This year we are establishing a deep playa zone where level three mutant vehicles can park for more than 3 hours.

The zone will be 5,340 feet from The Man between the 10:30 and 11:15 clock positions with banks of toilets at each end. This distance out follows the arc of Kook Street. The length of the arc is 1,747 feet. Art placement will be modified to accommodate this zone.

The new experimental zone will allow for a longer stay, up to 12 hours as well as provide sanitary stations at this fixed site. The area is large enough for several level 3 sound vehicles to occupy the zone, where their speakers must be turned out and away from the city. The restriction no “encampments” still applies: no camping or setting up speakers or other type of structures on the ground. Of course leave no trace practices must continue. In this effort we are reacting to the rise of edge cases with a spirit of giving permission whilst supporting all aspects of the community, rather than creating new restrictions. We hope this experiment is successful in limiting the impact of deep playa gatherings on other members of the community including art installations, sound camps, the temple and other non-partying participants, and that it will additionally promote public safety and sanitation, while holding to our leave no trace principle.


[Update 7/19/15 2:15pm]

One question: who picks up the MOOP? The Burners, right…but if they don’t? Who’s gonna get the blame?

A consequence of this policy, is there will be no more major parties at art installations on the Inner Playa. No Embrace burn, no Control Tower white party. The Inner Playa is being made more of an EDM-free zone, like the city itself.

All the major mobile sound systems will just have to line up together, pointed away from Burning Man, and compete with each other. The idea of “music and big art being combined” seems to be downgraded by this move.

[Update 7/19/15 8:48pm]

Burner Karl has pointed out that this latest move from BMOrg comes only a few days after Opulent Temple – in response to being denied placement – published an update which mentioned they will throw their annual White Party on Inner Playa around 4 o’clock, near Marco Cochrane’s R-Evolution art piece.

[Update 7/20/15 1:15am]

Thanks to Captain Trips for this reminder. BMOrg’s latest move was suggested by Burners.Me in 2012:

https://burners.me/2012/02/11/burning-man-announces-new-sound-policy-for-art-cars

Why not just have an “Art Car Loud Noise Zone” on Deep Playa. Super-loud art cars are encouraged to go that way. If an art car offends the noise police and has to be punished, rather than taking away their right to drive, put them on the “Naughty Step” and make them stay in the Loud Noise Zone for 24 hours.

Just because you call yourselves “The DMV” doesn’t mean you have to act like The DMV.

[Update 7/20/15 10:42am]

Thanks to Burner Bart for creating this. A picture paints a thousand words!

2015 edm mpa

 

Some Burners have expressed the view that the red text on the map above should also read “for more than 3 hours” – implying that Level 3 systems can play on the Inner Playa for less than 3 hours. BMOrg’s updated Mutant Vehicle Sound Policy shows these claims to be false and misleading. The only places that loud art cars can play loud music are the DMZ and next to the loud sound camps at 10 & 2.

Of course, the art cars are “allowed” elsewhere. They just can’t play their Level 3 systems at Level 3 volumes anywhere else.

 

[Update 7/20/15 3:50 pm]

Mobile sound stages will now be fixed in position, in the Dance Music area. This will make BM less like a music festival, where certain styles of music are playing at certain fixed areas. Ummm, what???

mad_max_4_fury_road_speaker_truck_wtf___2_by_maltian-d5okx0d