Dancetronauts: Too Loud For Burning Man? Part 1 [Updates]

The Dancetronauts Strip Ship is one of the most popular art cars at Burning Man. The vehicle rises vertically on a scissor lift, and shimmers with a rainbow wall of LEDs. The entire thing is a giant light installation, and easy to spot. It sometimes tows behind it a custom made sound stage called the Bass Station – DJ booth, speakers, amps, dancing podiums, all hand-built, home-made, and self-contained.

Image: Curious Josh

Image: Curious Josh

 

Dancetronauts/Opulent Temple White Party, 2013

Dancetronauts + Bass Station/Opulent Temple White Party, Control Tower 2013

For seven years, Dancetronauts have been bringing their show to the Playa. Not just DJs – a whole uniformed crew, lights, and beautiful dancers the Dancetrohotties. To help raise the funds required to put their show on every night for a week, they have also been taking the Strip Ship and Bass Station to other festivals: including EDC, Coachella, and even NASCAR. Sounds good, right? Promoting Burner culture to a wider audience is the entire purpose of Burning Man, now that it’s a non-profit – isn’t it?

Image: Raphael Vandon/Flickr (Creative Commons)

Image: Raphael Vandon/Flickr (Creative Commons)

Well, the Fun Police at BMHQ have banned Dancetronauts from Burning Man and related events for at least a year. Why? For being “too loud”, and because one of their lineup of scores of DJs got on the mic and tried to gift the crowd his music.

Let’s take a look into the details of what happened. For the TL;DR crowd:

The main complaints were:

1. Dancetronauts was too loud on Burn night, drowning out the drums for some fire performers in the LA Fire Brigade, part of the Fire Conclave located at 6:00

2. They had a DJ who got on the mic, said his name and that he had a new album coming out he wanted to gift to the crowd for free

Dancetronauts acknowledges that these things happened, and have taken full responsibility for these screw ups, and they’re very sorry.

They spent half the year negotiating with DMV, trying to work out how to do better next time, and how to restore themselves to “good standing”.

The main guy from DMV quit during the negotiations.

The DMV Council banned them for at least a year – they can’t even bring their art car without the sound stage. The were also banned from the SF Decompression.

Too loud at Burning Man? Is there such a thing? Isn’t the whole point of going hours and hours away from civilization, spreading a city out over 1000 acres, and having miles of Deep Playa space for art cars, that we can all make as much noise as we want? If there is one place in the world you can go to turn your stereo up, surely Burning Man is that place? If not Burning Man, then where?

In the city, it seems that there has been a distinct shift in recent years – and the direction they are going is more yoga and TED talks, less parties. Noise volume is now officially limited to 90 decibels and stereo power to 300W. This is about the sound of a hair-dryer, and the power output of an iPhone speaker dock.

Philips 300W Mini Hi-Fi

Philips 300W iPhone dock

decibel threshold

decibel-chart-ear-plugs

Is there music as loud as a bar or nightclub in Black Rock City? Ummm, yes! Like, everywhere…It’s not a festival, it’s a whole city, and there’s stuff going on in the city itself at 1000+ camps –  not just out on the Playa. At least, that’s the Burning Man I remember.

The Fun Police will no doubt say “your radical self expression doesn’t over-ride your civic responsibility, if your neighbors want it quieter turn it down”. This is one of the classic battles in the Default world. Young people who want to boogie down and whoop it up to their favorite music, face the wrath of irate neighbors and police knocking on the door.

Don’t we go to Burning Man to get away from all that?

A very interesting discussion on this topic has been going on recently in the Burning Man Theme Camp Organizers facebook group. It highlights the difference between this new Burning Man 2.0 and the former pre-shark Burning Man that many of us “After Burners” so fondly remember. Jennifer says:

We know at least from all the years past that LOTS of theme camps threw events throughout the week that had loud sound – we’ve been to some of them! They are some of our very favorite camps even…people like Red Lightning, Sacred Spaces, District, Entheon in the old days (I was camped there when they were on F), lots of others. These people had loud music and drew crowds and made the whole city fun because you could always find something awesome to do in every neighborhood….not just at 10 & 2.

So I know we aren’t the only theme camp not at 10 & 2 who throws an event with Sound. Are you having similar issues? What are you doing about it? Is the city going to be literally silent and dead everywhere but 10 & 2 and deep playa?

It’s an impossible choice for us to make….no party but the placement we want or throw the party and a placement that no one in our camp is on-board with.

Many in our camp are considering not coming back in 2016 to burning man with how it’s going now given how so many of us can’t get tickets anymore (50+ people so far w/o tickets many of who are speakers performers and team leads) and now we can’t throw a party that hundreds of people say is an event they look forward to and can’t wait to attend. Doesn’t burning man want camps like ours to throw events like this? Events like I imagine many of you also throw? Isn’t that what makes burning man so amazing? I thought burning man was wanting to support theme camps doing this kind of stuff? Since when do people go to burning man expecting to have complete peace and quiet? I’ve always had it that when I hear loud stuff going on all the time it’s part of the fun and magic of a city that never sleeps and has something for everyone at any time of day or night.

Very well put, and very good questions. She follows it up with another great set:

Question about the city though….Is it the intention of the BMORG to be fairly silent within the city and have all sound only at 10 & 2? Will there now from this point forward not be any camps within the rest of the streets having parties and events? It used to be that 10 & 2 had the larger sound camps that had musical programming day and night every night and then other camps within the city also had events throughout the week day and night but at camps whose whole purpose wasn’t sound/music all the time? Is this what’s happening? Just curious if this is their intention given we aren’t the only camp that isn’t a big sound camp that has events? Is there a moratorium on all that now? I’m curious if anyone knows the intentions and if the old days of music and events happening throughout the city all over are over and being replaced with quieter day time only programming? Is District going away? Sacred Spaces going away? Others who do events but aren’t strictly a sound camp (like we are not really a sound camp with only 1 event)? Curious if anybody knows their intentions.

And this, I think, is something all Burners want to know. Are they trying to “turn down” Burning Man? Stop there being so much music? Take the life out of the city, to force people onto the Esplanade and the Playa? Or is there some sort of war on against EDM at Burning Man?

If we’re lucky, we’ll get a blog post explaining it all on Voices of Burning Man. Until then, us Burners have to try to figure it out for ourselves.

In reply, Lana says:

It’s hard for anyone to say what the ORG’s intentions or plans are, unless they put it out officially. There’s always speculation, rumor and conspiracies out there. But right now it seems everyone off the esplanade, portals, plazas And 10 and 2 are just expected to have their noise relatively limited to the confines of their own camp, in the wee hours especially. To your neighbors it should sound like a radio on volume 2 or 3 in their bedroom, not 6,7,8,9 or 10.

And Elias says:

It is officially published —
“Within the city, a maximum power amplification of 300 watts is permitted, producing sound amplification not to exceed 90 decibels, when measured at 20 feet from the source.” <http://burningman.org/…/black-rock-city…/sound-systems/>

Nobody is accusing the Dancetronauts of EVER playing too loud in a residential neighborhood, they have always been super-respectful of all of Burning Man’s rules and principles. But what about Art Cars on the Playa in Burning Man 2.0? Can they still play music when the Man burns? Or is the Man burn supposed to be like the Temple burn now, silent. Respectful. Instead of howling and cheering and screaming, finding an art car with good music and settling in by it for a few hours as we wait for the show to get started and the Man to finally burn down…we’re all supposed to just hold hands and sing kumbayah?

If an Art Car points its speakers towards Deep Playa, what does the volume have to be? How do they measure it – is there a standard distance? Who decides what is “too loud”?

Here is the official Mutant Vehicle sound policy:

Mutant vehicle sound systems can be classified into three levels.

  • Level 1: Normal car stereo / average living room (under 90dB at 30 ft)
  • Level 2: Dance Club or Theatre (90dB and up at under 100ft)
  • Level 3: Large Dance Club, Arena, Stadium (100dB or more at 100ft or more)

Note:
All dB levels refer to maximum potential DBA.
The important thing here is the impact of the sound itself. The numbers (dB) are guidelines and the important thing is the impact your sound is having.
Vehicles with Level 1 systems may play anywhere playa, but must be mindful of your volume and surroundings, especially in quieter areas in the city or later at night.

Vehicles with Level 2 systems may only play at high volume on the open playa (not in or pointing right into the city streets) and must be mindful of where you are playing — e.g. around art pieces, burns, etc. — and turn it down when appropriate.

Vehicles with Level 3 systems may only play at high volume at 10:00 and 2:00 by the Large Scale Sound Camps, with speakers pointing out to the deep playa.

If you get more than two warnings about your sound system, you may lose your MV license and the right to drive it for the rest of the event.

What level is “High Volume”? It is not stated in the sound policy. Who is responsible for letting the Mutant Vehicle operator know that there has been a noise complaint? Rangers? DMV? That is not clear, but it seems that no-one actually AT Burning Man last year was tasked with this. Or if they were, they didn’t get the “punish Dancetronauts” memo – because there were no complaints to Dancetronauts at the event itself.

The Mutant Vehicle Sound policy states quite clearly that noise levels get measured, and if a sound system volume is in violation of the agreed noise level, they will be warned. After they have received 2 warnings, if there are any more problems their Mutant Vehicle license will be revoked for the rest of the event.

That’s the policy. If Dancetronauts caused any problems under the Mutant Vehicle Sound policy, then as the policy states, they would have been notified of this.

Dancetronauts were cautioned about their noise level after 2013’s event. That year, for Cargo Cult, Opulent Temple took a year off as a major sound stage – but teamed up with Dancetronauts to throw a massive White Party at the Control Tower. This year, Dancetronauts threw an even more massive party at Embrace. Featuring DJs Diplo (Grammy-nominated) and Skrillex (6 Grammies, #9 DJ in the world on the Forbes list), it was one of the biggest parties on the Playa of the whole 2014 burn, creating memorable moments for a major segment of Burners. At least 20 art cars came to join them, using FM radio to synchronize everyone’s music together. Another 30 art cars came and joined in the party too. So 50 art cars, and tens of thousands of Burners over the course of the night. Basically creating the celebration for the gigantic Embrace art installation, which everyone got to see burn the next morning. This amazing Burning Man experience was not brought to you by the Ruling Group of BMOrg; instead, it was thanks to a lot of hard work and Gifting by the artists – including the musical performers.

These are some good Burners, right? The kind we want? They brought all that for free, put on huge shows, entertained hundreds of thousands of people over seven years. Isn’t that what makes the party, a whole bunch of art cars getting together around an amazing mega-sculpture, celebrating next to it before we burn it? It’s not just me thinking the raves at Burning Man are great, these dance floors are packed with people.

dancetronauts embrace 2014 dancetronauts embrace

In this video of the Thursday night party at Embrace, the music sounds loud, but not excessively so – you can clearly hear the cameraman talking. Dancetronauts have hand-built a custom system that can play loud, but not so loud that you can’t talk to each other in the middle of the dance floor. An audio accomplishment they should be praised for, not punished for.

And no-one complained. Are you kidding me? These people are all rocking, watch this or any of the other many videos of Dancetronauts Burning Man 2014 on YouTube. No-one measured their sound levels and found a violation at any time during Burning Man 2014. No-one contacted a ranger, to say that Dancetronauts was causing a problem. Dancetronauts didn’t hear anything the entire week – which surely would mean that their noise levels were fine, right? Especially since they were under extra scrutiny after the previous year’s caution?

The complaints that led to the Dancetronauts ban were almost entirely around an incident on Burn night. One of the Fire Conclave groups, LA Fire Brigade, found it hard to hear their drums because the Dancetronauts art car was playing music. No-one informed the Dancetronauts of this problem, although by some accounts people close to the fire conclave tried to get the DJ’s attention by booing.

Then, the DJ got on the microphone, and told people that if they liked his music, they could get his latest album for free. He did this either 1, 3, or 5 times depending on the various accounts of the complainers.

Now, it’s important to note at this stage that Dancetronauts have completely acknowledged that this happened. They are very sorry. They were in the same 6 o’clock area that they had been for the past 5 Man burns, and nobody had ever come to them to let them know there was any issue with the music – if that had happened, they would have immediately addressed it. They had no idea they were affecting any fire performances, they are huge supporters of fire dancing.

They have apologized in person to the members of the LA Fire Brigade who were in that part of the Fire Conclave’s performace, and resolved the issues going forward to stop them happening again. They have gone out of their way to make personal contact with every complainer they can identify, to share how sorry they are.

They have gone to great lengths to try to make amends for this mistake, and put things right. Their whole crew care deeply about Burning Man, it is a huge part of all their lives and they are just devastated to be told they can’t come back this year.

So what is BMOrg trying to achieve here? What motivates a decision like this, to PUNISH? I am really struggling to comprehend it, and that is why I asked Nomad to write his guest post on NPD and the BOrg – thanks, Nomad.

In this case, we don’t even know who the decision makers are – or what their process was. The “DMV Council” are officially the ones who made the decision to ban Dancetronauts. So who is the DMV Council? Good question – there’s nothing on the Burning Man web site about it. Most of you probably don’t spend a lot of time going through burningman.org looking for stuff, but I do – and I find it incredibly hard to navigate. So if I missed the section where the DMV Council is listed, please point me to it. I used the Search function on the site for DMV Council, nothing comes up in the last 8 years. I can find nothing in the Afterburn report, there’s nothing in Jackrabbit Speaks. We don’t know who’s on it, how they get appointed to it, and who’s watching over them to ensure that decisions are made properly and impartially – if indeed that is the motivation of this Council. To all intents and purposes, to art car owners the decision making group is a “black box”. Do they operate independently of the Burning Man Organization, make their own decisions? Are they guided by the Ten Principles? What powers of punishment do they have? Is there any ombudsman, any oversight, any way to object if these decisions made in secret seem unfair?

We do know that the head of the DMV Council, Chef Juke, just up and quit in the middle of Dancetronauts trying to work out what they needed to do to maintain their good standing. Another long time Burning Man team member out the door, not making the transition to the Brave New World of Burning Man 2.0.

Here’s some video of the night in question. You can see how far away Dancetronauts were parked from the perimeter, and how many people were happily rocking away in front of them. Sure, the music is loud in front of it, but they are by no means the only art car playing music when the Burn happens.

In this video you can clearly hear people talking while the music is going and the:

 

You can clearly hear the drumming here over the music:

Here’s some other video of the night in question. Fire conclave is happening, you can’t hear any music from Dancetronauts. This is at about 2 o’clock.

BMOrg told Dancetronauts that they had received “hundreds” of complaints, but when they actually handed over the entire set of feedback comments they had received, there were 32. Leaving aside (for now) any questions about the legitimacy of those complaints, let’s look at their composition.

6 didn’t even mention Dancetronauts, and were just about loud art cars in general. That BMOrg would even consider throwing these in – 20% of the complaints – smacks of scapegoating. Dancetronauts are being held up as an example of something many others are doing, because they’re the convenient target du jour. Some of the complaints were for more than one problem. There were 25 complaints for the DJ plugging his album, no matter that it was free. This is considered a “Decommodification Violation”, despite the fact that there is no commercial transaction involved.

There were 11 complaints for noise on Burn night. Every single one of these also complained about the DJ plug. 4 of them specifically mentioned other art cars in their complaints also.

So we’re now down to 7 complainers who had an issue just with Dancetronauts volume on Burn night.

Is that how Art Cars that are loved by the majority of Burners get banned? And parties for thousands of people get stopped? Because of 7 people? Is this the city we want to call “Home”, a city where a few complainers get to call the shots?

The complaints show very clearly that the real problem was the guy on the mic, not the volume. So why not just ban the mic? And not just for Dancetronauts, for every art car? Why do they have to single out these guys?

Sure, I get that rules are needed to make the city work, particularly now that it’s this big. In this case, what rules were actually broken? The Ten Principles aren’t rules. OK, so a DJ offered his art for free with a microphone. It’s Gifting, it’s Self Expression, it’s Immediacy, it’s Participation, but I’ll grant you that it doesn’t appear quite so great on Decommodification or Civic Responsibility. Which Principles count more than the others? Do people, Mutant Vehicles, and entire camps get banned from Burning Man now, for Ten Principles violations?

The Mutant Vehicle Sound policy is a set of rules, but there is no indication Dancetronauts violated any of them. Their speakers were pointed towards deep Playa, if they had been at the 10 o’clock or 2 o’clock positions for the Man Burn then they would have been pointed towards the city instead. In the policy, it is suggested that Level 2 systems be turned down for Burns, for all we know they did turn their system down that night. I’m sure it was capable of going much, much louder. Nobody measured a noise level or gave Dancetronauts a warning that their Mutant Vehicle was “too loud” – whatever that actually means.

It’s not the first time this sort of thing has happened – the example a few years back of Freebird at the Temple springs to mind. Did anyone get banned from Burning Man for a year over that? No. There was no punishment whatsoever.

Is this really the way to make Burning Man better? Art cars that entertain thousands of people, with no problems for years, get instantly banned the moment there is one slight fuck-up? No-one bothers to mention to them EVEN ONCE at the event, that there’s any kind of problem. No-one is interested in working with them after the event, so that they can establish foolproof methods of preventing these incidents from happening in the future. The thousand people merrily dancing to the Dancetronauts for every disgruntled Burner complaining doesn’t matter, 1 complainer trumps 1000 Burners.

Even if the only way that BMOrg can make Burning Man better in the long term is PUNISH BURNERS based on complaints, couldn’t the rules and consequences be more clear? Couldn’t BMOrg follow their own Mutant Vehicle Sound policy, and give them a caution? If not, if there was such a history of problems from a group that nothing was working and the only recourse was therefore punishment:  couldn’t the punishment just be “don’t bring your sound system for a year”? Why does it have to be “your whole crew should take a break, we don’t want your art car back”? Why do all of the people who contribute to the camp have to pay the price for a single DJ’s actions over a few seconds, where is the Radical Inclusion here? Where is the loyalty and gratitude for their Communal Effort, Self-Expression, Gifting, Participation, and Immediacy? They are valued members of our community, a camp and car and crew much beloved by the majority of Burners. BMOrg should treat them that way.

Banning Dancetronauts for a year won’t stop art cars playing loud music on Burn night, or otherwise breaking the Mutant Vehicle sound policy. Dancetronauts pled guilty, immediately stood up and accepted responsibility, apologized, made peace with the LA Fire Brigade, and promised that they had learned their lesson. They seem to have tried really hard to put this right, rather than taking the attitude of “fuck you we do what we want”. What more could they do? They made suggestions like “banning DJs from using the mic” or “don’t bring the sound system to the Burn on burn night, keep it in Deep Playa only or even leave it at camp”. Surely either of those would have shown that they had acknowledged the problem, and had made concessions to reflect their understanding of it.  Would it really have hurt so much to say “OK, apology accepted” and give them the benefit of the doubt?

There will now be hundreds of other noisy art cars to take Dancetronauts’ place in the complaining ears of the few grumblers who go to Burning Man seeking peace and quiet and tranquility, but can’t be bothered Radically Self-Relying on earplugs. Instead, they expect 20,000 people to leave the dance floor immediately, so these Special Burners can take a nana nap. Some of the Founders might be coming up on their Seventies, but most Burners are in their Twenties and Thirties. People go to Burning Man to party all night long until the sun rises, this should not be a newsflash to anybody. The entire city is aligned to the sunrise, FFS!

“TOO LOUD FOR BURNING MAN” is a losing battle. Silence is not going to make Burning Man better. No problem gets solved by this, just more ill-will and resentment being created against the Borg. Maybe a dozen or two people got pissed off by Dancetronauts on one or two occasions this year – but there were hundreds, if not thousands, of people dancing to their music when they played it. They sure look happy to me! And there are hundreds of thousands of Burners who have been entertained by the Dancetronauts over the last 7 years. Don’t the happy Burners count, too? 

Read Part II here.


 

For those interested in this story, here are some further details from the Dancetronauts themselves:

Dear Terry Schoop, We want to work this out with you guys but your not really giving us a chance to.How about working along with me and throwing some options out on the table instead of telling a group of dedicated burners that have been participating in your event for over a decade that the are no longer allowed to come as a group and release the art form that resides within our hearts.This is not sitting well with any one person in our group and all in all is not fair to us at all.Whats this really about??????????    Honestly!  Sound?Facts:
1.) For the duration of the week we are always out on deep playa playing our music where we are supposed to be!
2.) When we come back to camp from outer playa our volume levels are extremely low when were inside the “Inner Circle” and always have been for years. (we know what we are doing)
3.) We NEVER play by the Temple or anywhere near it and never have, That is extremely disrespectful, distasteful and absurd to even think we would do something like that!
4.) Our group is made up of solid respectable professionals age 40+ ER Doc,US Marshal,Veterinarian,Acupuncture,Engineer and so on, we are (Not Punk ass Frat boys or scumbags)
5.) We do not go into the inner city or even the inner playa we are always out past 2 and 10 unless we are driving out there at “The correct reasonable volume”
6.) Dancetronauts are drug and alcohol free and have always operated that way.
7.) 100% perfect safety record. We have no history of hazardous behavior, recklessness, or accidents.What does this all mean? We bring an element to your event that is needed at BM now more than ever (Its called contentiousness of earth) Inviting and supporting participants like us that actually abide by and follow your commandments is beneficial to the event. Dancetronauts setting examples for all the new participants that are not understanding just what BM is about is us doing exactly what you would want.
Now don’t come at me like “How, by blasting Music?” because I’m getting tired of the snide comments we as a group have been receiving from the BMOrg. We do our thing out there as do many others. We also do a good job at safely running a huge mobile artistic performance stage and we have for years. We have built the stage up year after year to be bigger and better and now we are at a point where our show might have been just a bit to big for some of those at the burn. This does not mean we should be banned this just means we should figure out how to accommodate both parties so that everyone is happy and nobody comes out a looser. Well your not being fair and your punishing a bunch of hard working and loyal burners for no other reason except sound complaints that can be handled easily. Face it, your not putting the energy in to come to a resolve.I read every single complaint on the sheet you sent us. 70,000 attendees and we upset the 100 that were in front of us at the burns. It’s apparent that almost all the comments were from people that were at the Man Burn. In fact it was only one DJ that played way to loud and only one, it was the same DJ that was promoting “FREE” music. This will never happen again I will make sure of that! I have no control over what people could say so I believe it would be better to just not have a microphone. You have my apologies if this upset people.
As for the sound being to loud at the man burn “and” the other art burns I completely agree that we were so loud that we in fact ruined other groups performances. I feel terrible about this and now that it has been brought to my attention I would do everything in my power to make sure we never did anything to disrupt another performance experience. I did not realize that we were being so disruptive and you have my sincerest apologies. Again please note that none of the complaints were from us being in the outer playa or anywhere else inside the event at all or any times during the event. It was solely at the art burns and we understand what we were doing  that was wrong. Please understand that we are now very aware of our stages ability and will never let our sound disrupt elements of the BM event.Answers to Untruths written:
We don’t go anywhere near the Temple at all nor attend the Temple burn.  (any claims to us being there are false)
We don’t sell anything or promote sales of anything.
We don’t touch or move peoples bikes.  (we kindly ask people not to put bikes in the dancing area, this is for safety)
We don’t throw up on people. (personally my favorite comment we received)
We don’t argue, fight or get violent. (Every issue we encounter is dealt with in a respectable professional manner)We as a group have dedicated our time money and energy into building this art car and the performance that surrounds it solely for the purpose of attending Burning Man.
Way to much blood sweat and tears have been put in for this vehicle and its creators to not make it to its purposeful place.Resolve is easy:   1. We leave the Sound System at camp for all of the art burns and attend them quietly with just the Space Ship.
2. We do not allow any MC’s or Microphones on our art car anymore.
3. As always keep our sound facing outer playa.

I am humbly asking if you will please take this apology and understanding letter from me into account and please grant us the ability to bring our art vehicle to the most important event in our lives. We live and breath Burning Man and have been positive participants for over a decade please allow us to continue to grow and be a part!

We are only human, mistakes are inevitable, its what we do to correct them that matters.  Let us show you this year please allow us to attend with our car we have so much invested in.

Sincerely, Captain Philip  lead for the Dancetronauts.


 

Ok I totally understand and really do want to settle everything.
As you know the Dancetronauts have been doing there thing with passion and professionalism for several years now and as we have grown we have learned many things. We always listen whenever we have made mistakes or made someone unhappy and make the changes in our lives to help accommodate the widest range of demographic we can. This is no easy task as you can never make everyone happy. But what we do try and do is minimize any negative impact we may have along our way and I feel that this is a case of that. We are very apologetic of the fact that we disturbed a several peoples experience at Burning Man with whatever we were doing as a group in our chosen area. We have been doing the same things each year at the same places so that our followers and people that are not have a really good Idea of where you might find us. For an amazing or not so fun experience depending on how you view us. There are things I don’t like at Burning Man, I let them be, That’s what its about right? Social acceptance? I have been attending BM since 1999 and know just about every aspect of how it works, Including having made very close friends with Larry Harvey and his entire family and the people that have been around him from the start. I should know more than many about how Burning Man works in entirety because I know things that the average person does not by being around the family of people that have created it.In our defense: I choose to stay away from those “Art Cars” or “Camps”. that I do not wish to be around. The Playa is an outrageously huge place and everyone has the “Choice” to be effected by something. I don’t go and scream at peoples Camp gates about how “plug and play camps are wrong”
Or many of the other things that some of the people complaining about us have been doing ( when I did my research I’d found out that many of the bloggers speaking about us and causing a stink were actually attacking almost everything, even at many times contradicting there own selves.)
First off we are SOBER when we operate at all times! That means everyone representing us in a suit or hottie outfit is in any way under the influence.Dancetronauts play it safe, we have a 20 person dedicated team with a US Marshall, 2 EMT’s,3 Fire Dpt and an ER DOC! To add we also have 10 spotters with CB radios reporting at all times. Our fire effects are certified by the Las Vegas Fire Department and nationwide our record with the Sheriff, BLM, Rangers is spotless and impeccable. In fact we have won their award for excellence every year since we have been on the Playa with this set up and get visited by them all every year to show us their support by shaking all our hands and taking pictures with us.We work for the utmost in respect for what we do as a group.What we did wrong?
We did promote ourselves as a group,as does OT,APEX,White Ocean,Charlie,Question? and all others. We know our limitations and stay within them.
We did promote our music. It is available for free as our gift!  again there is nothing wrong with promoting our art for free.
We did play loud dance music, as does the car right next to us (Kaliope 100,000watts, Robot Heart 100,000watts, The Mayan warior 200,000WATTS!)
We did make thousands of people come together and dance and have a powerful experience that they came to Burning Man for.
We did our best to be observant and execute everything we do in a professional manner.
We did follow all the rules of Burning Man as we have done for years.I hope this response sheds some light on how me, “Philip Plastina” the Creator and Father to all of these Dancetronauts, moves through life with concern and a genuine heartfelt passion for everything around me. You have my sincerest apologies towards anyone we did affect in a negative way, Regards.

 


 

Dear Chef Juke,Thank you for sending the complaints. The majority of which are practically copy  & pasted from blogs, posts & many of the same authors. Many we received most personally on our social pages and personal inboxes as well.
Which all boils down to, IF, one DJ hadn’t made some poor word choices on the mic, you would be left with what any large art car with sound is… A few sound complaints.The majority of the complaints, repetitive, exaggerated, inaccurate and all sighting the exact same incident, which is factual, just in their own words. Yes we have many complaints, but they are all about the same thing, we had several thousand people out front our vehicle who experienced it that night. This was not an ongoing thing throughout the week or were there multiple
Incidences. One night, one burn, one DJ…Too loud? Not any louder than any other large sound vehicle.Obnoxious, big yes, we win EDM and own that.Anyone who says their burn was ruined or affected by us, had the right and freedom to move and go freely. I imagine this happens all the time, all week, which is why we all choose to go, stay and be during out burn. No Victims at the burn. I am sure this will only result to people avoiding us in future years to come. Just like I personally avoid the ‘Black Hole’, Mayan Warrior or the crazy loud obnoxious punk hardcore metal camp that exists and handful of others. Hard to call some of those very harsh opinions and judgements that people want to express as actual valid complaints. People want to rant about what they like and for like and be a critic for you guys, lol. Or the additional false info like our dancers get paid or any of us for that matter. Dancetronauts, rather than douchetronauts, most deservingly should be ridiculed as ‘Debtronauts’. I don’t need to defend anymore erroneous claims.I personally, before all this, had already reached out and resolved the communication gap with the fire brigade. And that has been resolved and future resolve with the fire brigades before hand to ensure they have their show, music etc that we can help accommodate. Just like we always do, just like we did with Flameology this past weekend in Las Vegas. And if this had been communicated before and or during and not AFTER, this would have never been an Issue at all.So let’s talk RESOLVE. And obviously we are a part of a possible Larger problem when it comes to people complaining about large art cars and their Mobile sound systems. Whatever you guys decide, let it be across the board, not just single us out. We are already the scapegoat, that’s fine, but we do expect everyone to be held to the Resolve.We weren’t anywhere we weren’t supposed to be.There is no safety issues. And by the way the caution tape was in front of Boogie Man Castle because of SAFETY and his large fire effects that we team up With him for Burn Night. Other than one persons plug, we didn’t do anything we shouldn’t have.So…
No mics on burn night?
No music burn night?We we’re never near, aimed at Temple or even in attendance for Temple Burn.Alien Siege complaints is the same group of bloggers jumping on. There’s no other complaints nor do we have a history or record of ruining art installations, burns etc. Thursday night/Friday morning we demonstrated this for Embrace burn. I think there’s a slight difference between this years complaints and any previous years, which is funny for a group and art car which has been doing the same thing, with the same group, same art cars, same sound system, in the same spots for 5 years on the playa now. This is not a right or entitlement on our part, I just want to point out not much has changed and what has, has only improved.

Guilty of loud noise, specifically on burn night.
Guilty of a dj promoting his album on that same burn night.

We are awesome and in-compliance and want resolve so we can live up to the perfect image we have created for ourselves. We already have our own work cut out for us to win back the many we let down in the such a ‘forgiving’ community. We are mindful, conscious burners who do a very good job of as hearing and respecting all rules and burners. After all we are contributors who do a lot for nothing at this event, so if we are not wanted, please make it public so we can start planning next years new camp and artcar. Because you can take away our privilege of this art car, but you can’t take away the burner. The BORG are partly responsible for this and this culture and now we are being punished for living it.

What would you like us to do?

 


 

Hi… Nice to meet you Terry.And yes it has been sometime. We have been patiently awaiting to hear back from DMV to work on resolutions with full compliance on OUR part. Since we had already been punished and banned from our art cars attending the 2014 decompressions (even our ‘Strip Ship’ vehicle which has no sound or violations). Now further denying us Is maximum punishment without any resolve. Pretty disappointing this is the BORGS resolution, without even working out any solutions with it’s artists.Sincere thanks for solely picking out items you could belittle and disregarding any attempts to resolve anything. Those items you highlighted were not said in our defense, or in anyway, not acknowledging our mistake. Which is why my clearly stated informal response to Chef Duke since, I am not the registered art car owner. Was to clear up the that the overwhelming number of complaints could be summed up from the couple hours they came from, specifically after we had one of our Dj’s promote his free album (yes, shameless self promotion, we know) & when you have 1000’s of people in attendance ENJOYING themselves and 100’s who are not within listening distance, it pissed off a lot of folks and sent a ripple through the crowd for the next couple hours of ‘F-this guy’ and who is this guy and ‘Dancetronauts’ takes the hit, no excuses.Our famous Dj’s are award winning Grammy artists who choose to play on the sound, art and stage we have hand built and created. We have thousands who appreciate it and just because some may not like the; music, style, artists, etc of what we do or offer because it doesn’t fit their ideal of what should and shouldn’t be at Burning Man, that we should no longer be invited? Hey, some people don’t like steampunk! But that’s the beauty of Burning Man, or so I thought?And my continued points of what we bring to the community is part of our civic responsibility that I was only trying to show some positive light on. That 99% of the time, we do a great job! And we do and we give a lot to the community and that the civic responsibility is not in question. There should be no impression or should we be punished by your board members that we are out of control, unsafe, maniacs and no longer invited. We are a collective alike. Conscious, mindful, intelligent, talented, responsible artists and like to have fun, again, sorry if ‘Dancetronauts’ got carried away for a moment with volume level and if we need to agree to certain parameters around our sound, time, placement etc. Then we are all ears?Otherwise this is obviously personal by your elite group of BORG members and somebody’s  bruised ego has now made the impression of Dancetronauts that this hard working group of responsible strangers, you’ve never had any personal interaction with, are NOW some rampant liability or have really ruined or harmed anyone?We are guilty of the the infraction that our sound was too loud at Burning Man, on burn night, of all places, which we admit was indeed being played loud, yet at a safe volume (among dozens of others). We built this for burning, the only fully hand built custom sound system on the playa, this is our art. if you can’t bring music and play our art at burning man, then where on else on earth can you? We live and are a part of this community and EDM, which does this and supports Burning Man year round.There are no victims here. 65,000+ other people on this night who had no clue or could hear about our presence. The Art Car gets there hours early and stays hours after, year after year, we don’t move for 6+ HOURS and we are a registered as a SOUND VEHICLE. We do apologize if was overpowering to anyone else and who also couldn’t move, if it had been properly communicated we would have turned it down. And something we could resolve or work with fire conclaves in the future about. But no surprises and yes anyone who felt so entitled to their ‘spot’ could have stayed, suffered and complained OR they could have walked 100ft in another direction and been inconvenienced for that short amount of time to then enjoy the rest of their burn however they felt was best for them. I feel like I am explaining freedom, so I will stop. Since this can and may be disregarded or meaningless excerpts taken out of context like my previous email.We have ALL taken full responsibility and accountability that our mutant vehicle was being played too loud at a particular time that many felt was inappropriate. The sound has volume, which is something we can control and feel 99% of the time we do. There is solution and resolve, we can and have played at appropriate times and levels for hours, days and years. Now ONE DJ, his set and these hours, have completely jeopardized everything we’ve been working on for the past 7 years on the playa. We are a part of Burning Man & bring something that nobody else does. So many solutions and resolutions, yet our efforts for resolve go neglected for months and an email from a stranger just saying no and that we haven’t presented enough resolve is much easier? Please don’t take this away from us on account that DMV refuses to work with us on the numerous solutions that can prevent this from happening in the future;- No microphones for DJ’s or emergency announcements only
– All music off at Burn Night
– Or just Dancetronauts silent on Burn Night
– Separate Art Car or Sound Perimeter that all cars to be behind if they are playing music.
– Since Borg has their ideal ways of how everyone should burn, why don’t they just broadcast what they want to hear and all sound vehicles could play it? Sad our passion and amazing sound system and creation isn’t being utilized or there is no organization to prevent this by taking control of the entire 3hrs we were so disruptive. You want Burn to be and sound a certain way… then let’s make it happen! Rather than denying creations to YOUR event.
-We would have loved to work with the fire conclave and play their music so people could hear it for their performance.We know how, when and where volume and sound needs to be, because we have been doing it successfully for 7 years and this last Burn on Burn night we pushed the limit and thank you for working with us and informing us of these occasional mistakes when they do occur. We have already discussed some of the further steps of our own to set certain volume levels that can’t be exceeded. As well as, let our Dj’s, artists and crew know ahead of time of these very important differences of playing at Burning Man compared to the default world and so on.To error is to be human,
TravNasty

P.S.
Last and final time. The indie gogo fundraiser was set up by a 3rd party and that small typo was taken down within 24hrs of it being posted. WE ARE FULLY AWARE and it was immediately resolved. No such offering or exchange actually took place. But thanks for bringing it up every chance you get and pinning us to the cross relentlessly about it. Wish we didn’t need to do fundraisers to raise the $$,$$$ we need to get our camp, infrastructure and art cars to the burn, but it’s either that or our tickets go to more spectators instead.

 


 

[Update 6/14/15 5:55pm PST]

This post is blowing up within our community more than usual. And rightly so.

This situation with Dancetronauts is a great chance for BMOrg, Larry & Co, McLarry, DMV Council, BMHQ, BMPBOD, whatever group it is, to show some leadership and wisdom. Say “we realize this decision made by a volunteer team who changed their leader in the middle of it all was just a bit too harsh, so we’ve vetoed it”. They could easily just step up and show all of us Burners that they are on the same wavelength that we are – rather than that they are broadcasting on their own bizarre wavelength, and trusting that we’ll tune in and follow any commandments we hear, whether they make sense or not.

The wavelength of Burners is: Dancetronauts rock. Art cars rock. Art cars playing great music rock. If they light up and have dancing boys and girls, even better. Free parties rock. Free parties with internationally recognized award-winning musicians rock.

We get this stuff for free, people. Think about how amazing that is for a moment.

Then think about the kind of asshole you would have to be to hate on that, to punish it: not just “turn the music down”, but exile, banishment, slander, public humiliation.

Are these supposed to be the values of Burners, now that the Tin Principles are just guidelines? Is this where burningman.com wants to take us?

I have more to say on this issue, but I don’t have much free time right now to write another big post. So in the meantime I want to hear from you: YES YOU. The Burners. I don’t care if burningman.com labels you as “After Burners”, if you ask me: Burn once and you are always a Burner. I have met many people who have not Burned yet, who are clearly Burners. These Burnier-Than-Thous, though? I’m not sure about them. I’m not sure they deserve to be dignified with the sacred moniker of Burner.

Whatever your position, please share it: there is no other place for our community to have this conversation transparently. .

Is this blog I made to share my opinions about Burner culture free from any bias? DUH. It is a personal weblog. It is biased towards thinking that my opinion is correct. That is what an opinion is. Maybe yours is more correct than mine, if so: prove it. Give me some statistics, some references, some evidence, some proof: just like I am giving you here. Fight my logic with your logic!

If anyone thinks this post is biased somewhat on the side of Dancetronauts, and not really supportive of BMOrg and their various decision making groups, they are absolutely right. Even so, I have tried to stick to the facts. If anyone can refute any of the facts, please do so in the comments. Some Burners have done so already, and I thank them deeply for their contributions to this conversation that is open to all of us to participate in.

I do think Dancetronauts have been hard done by in this situation, and do not deserve this treatment from Burning Man 2.0 Inc Ruling Group. I do think BMOrg/DMV Council/McLarry/Ruling Group/Whoever the decision makers are/The Man are being unfair and unreasonable about this matter.

Is there even such a thing as “so and so ruined my Burn”? I mean, I have definitely had times out there where people – even friends and family – pissed me off, killed my buzz, negged my happy vibe because they thought their own needs were more important than mine. Their ego and desire to “do this now” butted heads with mine, and only one thing could be done – so it was either fight, flight, or compromise. HELLO! That’s frikking Burning Man. Isn’t it? Or is “fuck yer day” no longer appropriate? Instead, we must all say “excuse me, please gift me whatever you have, have a nice day, donate to burningman.org, here’s a wristband”


[Update 6/15/15 0:05 PST]

For those who are interested, or doubt the veracity of this story, you can find the entire archive of complaints here.

You can also watch the YouTube videos I posted in this article and see for yourself.


 

[Update 6/15/15 11:39am PST]

Several readers have commented that they thought this story was from The Onion. Sadly, not. This one is satirical, though:

soul train dance

One Burner has informed us that Chef Juke is still head of the DMV Council, he didn’t quit. So why did he hand-ball this interaction with Dancetronauts to someone else, after earlier suggesting he was open to compromise? He’s happy to just abuse us, rather than explain himself and help everybody get to the truth:

Screenshot 2015-06-15 12.03.40

Please correct any facts we have wrong, Chef. If you can.

Now that it’s Monday in San Francisco, and the paid employees of BMOrg are waking up, this post is collecting the typical Kool Aid response. This includes:

1. Burners.Me is lies, virtiol, half truths

2. Burners.Me is like Fox News

3. Burners.Me has a hidden agenda

4. Burners.Me is part of Dancetronauts

None of these Burnier-Than-Thou haters ever bother to suggest which media property they would prefer this blog to be modeled on instead. If the most successful news channel in the world is not credible enough to discuss Burning Man, then the Wall Street Journal, perhaps?

The only agenda anyone has suggested for me is hate, which doesn’t make a lot of sense. I love Burning Man, that’s why I have been writing this blog for years. There is no person on earth who has promoted Burning Man more than me. If I hated it, the stories would be very different.

People who never even went to Burning Man before 2010, don’t get to lecture me that they are better Burners. There is no such thing as “better Burners” or “special Burners”, who is telling you this? If you love Burning Man too, why not write your own blog? If you can’t be bothered, then don’t say “I get Burning Man more than you do” and then dismiss me. Explain yourself. Prove your claims. Give us some references and facts, like we do.

Let me state this unequivocally: I am not part of Dancetronauts. I’ve met some of them, and they were all lovely people. Kind, welcoming, inclusive, genuine – good souls. They do not deserve this hate campaign, no Burner does: “Radical Inclusion” should not mean “except for all the ones we decide to hate”.

radical inclusion cult

When I ask these people who accuse me of all this bullshit to “please give an example of the lies or half truths”, they all vanish from the conversation immediately. “You lie all the time, but we can’t find any examples; so you should just provide them to us to support our accusations”. Good one! I have spent years now asking the people who say we’re not speaking the truth, to provide even one example of that. Still, nothing.

Others have said “you only looked at one side of this story”, which is not true. I have spent a lot of hours looking into this particular story. I guarantee you I have done more research than anyone else reading this! I have now posted the entire list of all complaints. I also posted multiple pieces of video evidence, some favorable to Dancetronauts, some less so. You can see for yourself, or, if you find other recordings, please share.

Still others suggest “you should reveal every single confidential email sent by BMOrg to Dancetronauts”…and maybe I will, in a future post when an Anonymous Burner source emerges to give me those – like Decibel has done in the comments here, sharing a single email (not a chain like they claimed to have) that did not support their point in any way. Am I supposed to just throw my sources (at BMHQ and elsewhere) under the bus and create potential legal/career problems for them, just because some trolls demand it? If I don’t give readers the name and address of a source, does that mean I’m just inventing it? What would motivate me to do that? NPD?

 

Any regular reader of this blog can see that we have always protected the confidentiality and anonymity of our sources.

Some are saying “why don’t you look at ePlaya, that’s where the facts and evidence are”…I find this idea hilarious.

Do people really think I just woke up one day and decided to write a bunch of lies, just to spite people? Even when the trolls ask me for Further proof and I provide it, they spin that to somehow be their example of how much I am lying: WTF!!! This is non-sense. No-one at BMOrg would ever lie, of course not, a Minister of Propaganda is the same as the Ministry of Truth. Their statements are only for your own protection and to showcase BMOrg’s exemplary integrity, to truly make this Art Festival wonderful. Excellence and entertainment are the motivation, and of course making the world a better place with Propaganda.

propaganda write what youre told

Imagine if instead of saying “Burners.Me is lying because I have all these emails that they didn’t share”, these haters actually shared them with everybody?

What if they said “here are some details Burners.Me didn’t mention” and offered some proof of these details they’re referring to?

Would the world end? Would Burning Man be “ruined”? Or could everything be transparent and open, a discussion for the entire Burner community to have – frankly, honestly, constructively? I am all for critics making points against us, if they can back it up with something. A quote, a story, an example: ANYTHING! They seldom do, though. Above the pay grade of the cyber-trolls, perhaps. Slander, yes. Name-calling, no problem. “Give an example of the accusation you’re making”, never.

Is it a sin to publicly discuss BMOrg’s decisions now? “Oh Burners aren’t capable of talking about Burning Man with facts and information, they should just shut up and get their facts from ePlaya.burningman.com and Jackrabbit Speaks, these are the only true facts”.

BMOrg has just told us “concierges are welcome” and “concierges are banned” at the same time…nothing inconsistent about that, is there? Only the “Fox News of Burning Man” would highlight to readers that this is contradictory, and encourage them to make up their own minds – with links to all the evidence.

If you don’t like this story, and want to challenge the facts, then please share your proof. What have I said that you think is wrong? What have I said that has been misconstrued? Did Dancetronauts not get banned from Burning Man events for at least a year? Are they still welcome at all Regionals? Please share eyewitness accounts, emails, or whatever else you have. The more sources of information we have, the better! This is what transparency is all about.

 


[Update 6/16/15 3:47pm PST]

Decibel, Randy, Let’s Talk and others have pointed out that Dancetronauts have not been banned from any of the Regionals and Decompressions that still operate outside of BMOrg control – only the Nevada burn and the SF Decom, which is the only one put on by BMOrg.

Randy has said Dancetronauts would be welcomed at any of the Texas regionals. He has specifically invited them to “freezerburn this winter and to mscvhevia this fall”.

Valdemoort informed us that they played last month at unSCruz, the Santa Cruz regional.

One reader reports that BMOrg have previously paid $5000 to Dancetronauts to play at Decompressions, so at some point BMOrg were perfectly fine with the art car financing itself by performing at events outside of Black Rock City.

I have updated this story accordingly, although I don’t think it changes the substance of this situation in any way – banning something at Burning Man loved by thousands because of a couple of dozen complaints about 2 minor incidents is just wrong.

This is a great opportunity for various Regionals to step up and invite Dancetronauts, to show them that the Burner community still loves and welcomes them even if BMOrg doesn’t.

Let’s Talk has suggested that Dancetronauts could come to the Nevada burn with their uniforms but no art car, and participate by teaming up with someone else; and maybe they will end up doing that. Or maybe we will be lucky to ever see them at Burning Man again, given the way they have been treated.

Another reader complained that my iPhone dock example was not really a standard 300w stereo because it cost a lot. So here is a picture of a more regular looking 300w stereo.

M298-Panasonic-Mini-Hi-Fi-Component-Stereo-System-300W-SC-MAX770-m6fcpzt6twg05amtt81ntoubvlnut1sl90sx5h2q2gThe good news is the haters are now saying “Burners.Me is full of half truths” rather than the old “Burners.Me is full of lies”. A step in the right direction! Next will be “Burners.Me is usually true, occasionally they get something wrong but they correct themselves when evidence is presented”…

Horizontal Collusion and Other Alternative Universes

brand-psych

Are the algorithms working for us? Or against us? Automatic colluding bots are a much bigger problem in your life than you’re probably aware of. This episode of the Keiser Report offers a solution to fight the system – with itself. Max interviews David DeGraw, one of the Founders of the #occupy movement who coined the term “the 99 Percent”. They discuss the Revolution that Russell Brand and Ron Paul have been trying to kick off. David is trying to create a “psychological underground railroad” to help people navigate the propaganda system.

18:18 ” it’s about empowering people to follow their passions and do what they love. People are so dominated by fear. They are so mentally enslaved. They are thoroughly propagandized and embedded in the fear-based consciousness”

At 20:00 Max pitches his idea. A truly brilliant idea.

http://www.maxkeiser.com/2015/04/kr751-keiser-report-fighting-algorithmic-bots/

Who’s to blame, if computers did it?

Screenshot 2015-04-30 16.29.21
Screenshot 2015-04-30 16.31.23
In a holocracy do-ocracy, and volunteer oligarchy…who’s responsible for the decisions? Are the ticket algorithms responsible for the 40% virgins, or their programmers? Or hackers? Maybe no-one is responsible, it’s all just chaos, computers acting randomly…

Screenshot 2015-04-30 16.37.09

Have you set up your Burner Profile yet?

Screenshot 2015-04-30 16.37.46

Russell Brand’s current affairs show The Trews is well worth subscribing to on YouTube, as is the Keiser Report which also airs on RT. Here’s a recent interview with him about his ideas for non-violent Revolution, and speaking truth to power and the “invading forces” like Amazon, Starbucks, and Google. It’s rather long, but it’s quite interesting. There aren’t that many people putting themselves out there on the world stage and expressing original ideas, that don’t involve purchasing something.

“Whenever power concentrates it creates a dickhead” – classic.

You may also want to consider this Situationist conspiracy theory which paints Russell Brand as a pied piper, confusing and diffusing the occupy movement with the 60’s radical tactics of the Society of the Spectacle. In the interview above, he does bring up Adbusters at 40:00 as an organization he admires and follows.

russell brand revolution

28% Veterans: Virgin Import Continues [Update]

Figures often beguile me, particularly when I have the arranging of them myself; in which case the remark attributed to Disraeli would often apply with justice and force: “There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies and statistics.” – Mark Twain

Have you been to Burning Man before? For many people at Burning Man, the answer is NO.

Last year we presented analysis of the Burner breakdown from the Census: 60% Veterans. In retrospect, the title is a little confusing. You see, according to the OFFICIAL presentation of numbers, it was 40% Virgins, meaning that everyone else had been to Burning Man at least once before. But looking at the number in a different light – defining “Veteran” as you’ve been to Burning Man twice, not once – gave us the surprising result that only 29% of people at Burning Man were Veterans.

Well, guess what? 2014’s numbers are out, attached to the now heavily redacted Afterburn Report. I must praise the BRC Census team for producing the most comprehensive and useful interpretation of Burner data since statistics collection began in 2001. There are some interesting nuggets within the 45-page document.

The most interesting is the % of Veterans. Has it improved on 29%?

Nope. It’s almost exactly the same. At least, it was…until the Statistics were “adjusted”.

I am not an expert in Statistics, but I did study it in my first year at college, so I have more than just a passing knowledge of the field. The main thing I know is that modern statistics have been designed to be easy to fudge. That’s why Obama can claim “unemployment at 6%”, when the real unemployment rate is over 12%. The statistics can be manipulated to come to whatever conclusion is most politically expedient.

In the case of Burning Man 2014, Burners filled in the Census results after the event at Burning Man’s web site. They received 11,909 responses, 1 in every 5.5 Burners. This puts the sample size at almost 20% , which is definitely large enough to be useful.

The Census takers then “corrected for bias”. This is a process in which statistics turns from a science into an art, and the number wizards can work their magic. Always justified in the name of “making the numbers more accurate”, a whole bunch of mathematics and other variables can be brought in, to shift the results in whatever direction is desired.

In the case of Burning Man, a random sampling from the gate was mixed with every person on Burner Express. They used 8 different variables for the data reconstruction bias adjustment:

Day of arrival versus number of participants arriving – Gender – Age – Virgin Burner or not – Foreigner or not – English Speaker as a first language or not – US Party Affiliation (if eligible to vote in the US) – Voting Behavior

The theory is that Burners who answer the survey, may not be representative of all Burners; whereas Burners on Burner Express are. We could debate that all day long, at least the natural and adjusted results are shown for us to compare.

Screenshot 2015-04-05 10.54.27

According to the pollsters, the adjustment had a major effect on the % Virgins number: “Improvements in Weighting Procedure Impacted this Measure Significantly, Virgins -6% From Preliminary Results”.

Screenshot 2015-04-05 12.07.03

Unadjusted: 28.1% Veterans, 71.9% newbies, 37% Virgins

Adjusted: 37.8% Veterans, 62.2% newbies,  35.1% Virgins

That is quite a swing – nearly 10% in the participation of Veterans. The results came in from 11,707 Burners – the most who had ever participated in the Census. The numbers were pretty much just the same as last year – just like Burners.Me has been saying. And then, a whole bunch of “adjustment for bias” is applied to the numbers, and all of a sudden, the results are completely different!

Not only that, there is a large discrepancy between the unadjusted number, and the 2014 “preliminary” number that was announced in September last year:

Screenshot 2015-04-05 12.34.32

This post reflects information collected from 1,367 entering participants randomly sampled at Gate Road from Friday pre-event through Wednesday mid-burn and 1,239 riders of BxB entering from Reno and San Francisco from Saturday, pre-event through Wednesday.

So if the preliminary results were MORE Virgins, how can it be that the adjusted results are LESS Virgins? In the past, members of the Black Rock City Census team have commented here on our stories, so I invite them to #pleaseexplain.

Whether it’s 35% Virgins, 37% Virgins, or 41% Virgins, doesn’t change my general point: every year, magically, mysteriously, it’s around 40% Virgins. And only 29% Veterans.

Some have accused me of being a “conspiracy theorist” for thinking that this massive correlation in supposedly random numbers suggests something is going on to ensure that the distribution is not entirely random. The system of Burner profiles was only introduced in the last few years. It makes you state how many times you have been to Burning Man, before you get through the definitely not First-In First-Out queue to get tickets. If you fail, you then take a place in the STEP queue – which we are led to believe is First-In, First-Out, but have absolutely zero information or evidence about. All we can go on is past behavior: if they have lied in the past, why should we assume they are telling the truth now?

I liken it to playing Roulette, and betting on Red vs Black. In theory, if you had 50 blacks in a row, it’s the same as if there was just 1: there’s still a 50/50 chance of it being Red or Black. At what point do you say “this machine looks like it’s broken, it lands on black every time, it can’t be just random”? After a million blacks in a row, do you still assume the machine is fine and it’s all just random chance? At some point it either shifts from “accident” to “miracle”, or from “accident” to “planned”. We now have 3 years in a row of 40% Virgins.

Whether you look at the biased or unbiased numbers, the fact remains: it is much harder for Veterans to go to Burning Man than Virgins. And every year, the population of Veterans increases. Presumably most Veterans want to go back. So over time, it should be the other way around: it should be getting harder and harder for Virgins to get tickets. Instead the influx of Virgins seems to be fixed, and not influenced by the massive growth in the Veteran population over the last few years. It is not easy for Veterans to go, yet it still seems very easy for newbies to get there.

In 2014, 3 out of 4 Burners in Black Rock City had not been there more than twice before.


 

The rest of the statistics show what most Burners already knew: Burning Man is a white, educated, affluent, liberal, gay, Californian event.

15% of Burners were from outside the US, 4.4% from Canada. French, Spanish, and Russian (in that order) were the most common first languages spoken, other than English.

44% of Burners were from California, 5% from Nevada.

Screenshot 2015-04-05 11.04.06

 

The income of Burners has been increasing. 2.7% earn more than $300,000 a year – that’s 1800 people, supporting my previous assertion that there are thousands of millionaires at Burning Man. Nearly a quarter of Burners earn six figure incomes.

Screenshot 2015-04-05 10.56.31

 

The average Burner spent $639 in Nevada. A staggering 40% managed to attend Burning Man without spending more than $1000.

Screenshot 2015-04-05 11.36.53

STEP came through for almost 4% of Burners: 2573 tickets.

Screenshot 2015-04-05 11.38.03

This seems to add up with BMOrg’s claims, which suggests the unadjusted statistics are pretty accurate.

Screenshot 2015-04-05 11.40.23

So 73 STEP tickets came from Burners selling back to the queue, and the rest came from the “surprise” find of tickets that BMOrg released once their VIP Donation promotion was over. Unless BMOrg add another 2,500 tickets to STEP again this year, I think it’s safe to say Burners in the STEP queue this year are unlikely to get tickets.

Nearly 60% of Burners were in camps of 20 people or more.

Screenshot 2015-04-05 11.43.28

Only 5% of Burners didn’t have access to a bike. A third had some sort of solar, 44% had access to a camp generator and 19% to a vehicle generator. A full 6% of Burners were plugged into the BRC grid – nice action if you can get it.

42.1% of Burners report being worried about judgment or unfair treatment based on their participation in Burning Man.

Three quarters of Burners have college degrees, with a full quarter having a graduate degree. It also looks like a good place to get spa treatments…

Screenshot 2015-04-05 11.02.36

According to their “weighted” statistics, it’s a sausage-fest – 60% male, only 40% female. More than 1% identify their gender as “fluid”, which must help with those portapotty lines. 69% are heterosexual, and 72% have no religion.

Screenshot 2015-04-05 10.58.05

Screenshot 2015-04-05 10.53.04

 

If Burning Man was a State, its 1.3% black population would rank it at #42 for racial integration. It would make #11 on the white population list, just beating Kentucky.

So much for Grover Norquist’s Dream Team and the Mainstream Republican Values of Burning Man. Black Rock City is full of left wing liberals, and skews heavily towards the democrats.

Screenshot 2015-04-05 11.33.28

Screenshot 2015-04-05 11.35.13

 

18% of Burners came in RVs. That is 12,000 people. 0.9% flew into Black Rock City airport, 593 people.

Screenshot 2015-04-05 11.20.02

 

In 2007, the theme was The Green Man. As part of the celebrations, The Cooling Man did an analysis of greenhouse gas emissions from Burning Man. Their calculations went quite deep, estimating international and domestic air miles as well as use of generators on site. They estimated the average road miles per Burner as 654, which led to 16,500 tons of CO2 emissions based on a population of 40,000.

Cooling Man’s assumption was 0.0128 tons CO2e per gallon. Using BRC Census’s 320,000 gallons, that is 4,096 tons – so despite the population growth, Burning Man is getting greener.

Most Burners are Millenials – about 50% are in the age bracket 20-35.

Screenshot 2015-04-05 12.25.30

According to the unweighted numbers, 0.5% of Burners were 19 or younger. Applying the bias adjustment nearly tripled this, to 1.4%. It is still an incredibly small number, given how much Burners have to sacrifice for kids to be there. Almost half of Burners are completely opposed to kids being at the party, nearly 60% when it comes to kids under the age of 5. A whopping 15% of Burners do not think that the Playa is a safe place for children, and only 20% think that it is.

Screenshot 2015-04-05 11.30.46

Finally, it looks like more than 80% of Burners are using social media to get their Burning Man information.

Screenshot 2015-04-05 11.46.31

 

They might as well give up on ePlaya, most Burners have never even looked at it. And if they did, they probably never went back. Burning Man Facebook pages and blogs are being visited by Burners more often than Burning Man’s own site.

There is more interesting information in the full 2014 Black Rock City Census Report.


 

[Update 4/8/15 1:24pm]

The Black Rock City Census site originally published these preliminary findings for 2014:

A vast majority (2/3) purchased their ticket this year from the Burning Man organization either directly or through the STEP program. Nearly 25% purchased their ticket from someone known to them. The growth of STEP coincides with a 50% drop in purchases from Strangers (potential scalpers) when compared with data from 2012. Additionally, 92% obtained their ticket for face value or less. Though the remainder who weren’t lucky enough to receive their ticket this way may feel frustrated, the data indicates that the issue of scalping has been mitigated significantly.

Where did you buy?

BM 60.57%
STEP 6.37%
Someone_known 24.56%
Stranger 3.26%
Reseller 1.46%
IDK 0.56%
No_ticket 0.68%
Other 2.55%

This would put the number of STEP tickets at 4200, meaning 2500 from BMOrg and 1700 from Burners. This seems a more probable number to me. So why the big swing – 6.4% from initial data, to 3.9% in the adjusted data? In a similar fashion, “Third Party reseller” went from 1.46% (963 tickets) to 0.7% (461 tickets).