“Top Model-douche at the World’s Weirdest Fashion Cluster f*ck”

Benjamin Guest has written a post at the DJ List, reviewing Burning Man. Click here for the full original story, here are some of our favorite highlights:

Burning Man 2014: Skrillex, Snark and Senioritis.

30 September 2014 – Benjamin Guest – The DJ Listhttp://thedjlist.com/news/2014/09/burning_2014_skrillex_snark_senioritis/

Article and Photos by Benjamin Guest
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This was my fourth year at Burning Man (2011-2014), so I guess in the American educational sense, that makes me a senior. Like seniors in any academic institution I feel like with the years since I first set foot on the Playa, that I’ve gained some perspective and maybe even a tiny bit of wisdom. So, what’s my advice?

Don’t go. Just don’t. Its hot, dusty, and played out. Everything you read about Burning Man jumping the shark is completely accurate. The Safari camps, the number of virgins who never bothered to read the survival guide, the severe spike in MOOP (Matter Out Of Place), it’s all true.

Or maybe I’m just mistaking my wisdom for another quality that Seniors the world over posses; jadedness. Am I jaded? Probably, even the shiniest of festivals has lost some of it’s glitter, but just because something has lost its overall shine doesn’t mean that there aren’t diamonds waiting to be uncovered.

Lots of people will tell you that every burn is different; my jaded response is: Really, you mean 70,000 people build a whole city and they don’t build it the same every time. Maybe they should take a hint from Coachella and just do the thing on repeat, that would be nice; it would certainly solve the ticket scarcity problem.

…Burns are always new and different and this burn for me was about acknowledging my jadedness and the fact that things that were amazing in the past lose their luster and so I searched out and found some great diamonds in the rough, and it’s those diamonds that will keep me coming back year after year.

So without too much fanfare, here’s a list of things you will hear about, my jaded opinion of them and maybe some things that will still be awesome next year.

…A person wiser than I said that you should schedule your burn around sleep, here’s what I have to add to that: Go to bed at 9pm and wake up at 3am. Here’s why: The two greatest times on the playa are sunrise and sunset. If you crash out after the sun goes down, set an alarm and wake up for sunset, [you’re] not missing either. From 9pm to 3pm it’s cold and you’ll sleep comfortably in your tent with a sleeping bag.

Also, Burning Man like anywhere else has it’s share of macho frat bros, they are not pros. They drink beer, and by 10pm they are drunk and annoying and they will continue to be drunk annoying until they crash out at 2am per their default world schedule. At Burning Man the party never stops, so when you wake up at 3am all the yahoos are gone and you are left with the pros, who you can continue to party with till the sun comes up and into the next day. You’ll be energized for the rest of the day, you can go hit up Pink Mammoth, go to workshops and won’t feel like a zombie having been up for a day and a half.

Bring or make a MOOP bag, while you’re at it bring one for a friend. I made one out of an old pair of jeans and tied it to my camelback. If you see stuff on the ground, pick it up and put it in the MOOP bag, doesn’t matter where you are. Pros will notice that you are doing your part. Instant burner cred.



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There is was so much amazing art out there. Burning Man is first and for most an art festival and the art out there is way more interesting than any set from any DJ will ever be. I’d go into detail on every piece, but it would take too long. Google Burning Man Art and prepare to be amazed. Better photographers than I have taken thousands of pictures of all of it. Some notable other photographers that never fail to disappoint: Trey Ratcliff and Cliff Baise.

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In 2011, not that long ago, I remember coming across Robot Heart on a friday morning, and there was maybe 100 people there… Oh how the times have changed. Last year and this year Monday through Saturday morning, Robot Heart was a mad house. I stopped in several times throughout the week. Their sound system is super impressive. Less impressive is what a scene it has become. Forget about good house music, the Mobs of Furbros and Furbies all seem to be much more interested in vying for top model-douche at the worlds weirdest fashion cluster f*ck. The music was top notch, but suffice to say I never stayed very long. photo burningman2_zpsccc5cec6.jpg

That being said, Monday morning at the Bus was a completely different story. A common theme this year was people leaving the burn Sunday before the temple burned. Maybe they were trying to avoid Exodus, maybe they thought the party was over or maybe they were just so green they didn’t know that the temple did burn. By Sunday evening our block was kind of ghost town. Many of those early abandoners must have frequented Robot Heart, because when I woke up at 3am to go check it out the, the crowd was maybe a tenth of what it had been early in the week. The music and vibes were awesome and it reminded me of going to Robot Heart in at my first burn. True to form, the pros had stuck it out till the end.

For the record, I didn’t hear SKRILLEX play at Robot Heart, but I heard from reliable sources that It was actually a pretty good techno / tech house set.

Usually a shit show, can be fun if you catch the right act, I saw STANTON WARRIORS play at Opulent in 2012 and it was amazing, this year I had the not so good fortune of randomly stopping to Opulent Temple during Skrillex’s set, I could tell it was him by his little screechy voice, I didn’t stay long, but yes, I witnessed SKRILLEX at Burning Man, it was hardly memorable. I’m scared to know what his presence there this year will do to the ticket scarcity problem.CELTIC CHAOSceltic chaos indie
They built a full on Castle over on the 2:00 side. An impressive two story castle wall enclosed a bar and dance floor. More impressive was the massive fire poofer mounted over the DJ booth that startled everyone when it would go off. The amount of heat that it put off seemed to be carefully calibrated to almost singe hair and eyebrows of the dancers below. I wasn’t expecting much out of this camp but was pleasantly surprised by the type and quality of their music. The bartenders and others involved with the camp were incredibly friendly, definitely worth checking out.


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“Thank God for Disco Knights”. I spent the majority of my sunrises at Disco Knights and for good reason. They had an unbelievable lineup that never failed to disappoint. Their sound system delivers a hard punch that makes deep house and tech house sound amazing.

Anthony Mansfield is the force that runs Disco Knights and a hell of a DJ to boot. He and GUY GERBER played sexy, sexy music Wednesday morning into sunrise. I was enhanced by the vibes and the music and all I kept thinking was, “damn, Disco Knights is the classiest sound camp on the Playa.”

Disco Knights keeps that classy reputation being honest upstanding people, playing sexiest house music, and respecting LNT and other BM ethos: I loved their MOOP for drinks exchange program, also, for the amount of traffic they had it was encouraging to see that their entire front area was green on the MOOP map.


VBC was the next camp past Camp Question Mark on 2:00, I’ve know about this camp at 2:00 and K for several years and I’m pretty sure they get better every year. I try to make at least one pilgrimage there every year and try to bring along as many lovey raver virgins as I can. VBC is a punk rock camp, they have a skateboard ramp and three sided plywood house / bar, the insides of which is covered in vial sharpie graffiti. They have their own radio station that plays nothing but punk rock and other weird music, the DJ uses a dell desktop from 2004 to play tracks from the hardrive. It’s stark contrast to the rest of Burning Man makes it a welcome relief to the constant huggie hippies and the constant unce unce.

This years trip to VBC was no different. After an epic sunrise at Disco Knights we corralled a bunch of VBC virgins and said that we were going to show them something awesome and they better come now. We walked over, did shots of bottom shelf whiskey, and attempted to remember how to skateboard. 15 minutes into our excursion the DJ started into the “My Dick Power Hour” which was essentially a bunch of classic karaoke songs in which the singer had thoughtfully and skillfully replaced the lyrics with “my dick” at every opportunity. I forgot my camera, but sitting on the half pipe, laughing my ass off to “panio dick” with old and new friends is something I will never forget.

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The girl with the giant arrow pointing down that said “Awesome Spot.”
The giant “BORING” sign art car. I wish I had thought of that.
The crew who brought a fully stocked cooler of alcohol to the center of the dance floor at Pink Mammoth and started making drinks. You guys rock.
Bleachers art car. So much awesome.
The Petting Zoo Zebra striped dive bar of sorts over on 2:00ish side, I’ve managed to stop by at least once a burn for a beer. I don’t think they are going anywhere soon. 


If you should learned anything from my ramblings its that you need to seek out and make your own burn, avoid the crowds and the things that were hyped on social media for months in advance. Go against the flow, avoid the sheep, go seek out the hidden treasures. There is tons of super fun amazing and authentic things happening in the city.

Finally, live by my three rules of BM
1) Don’t Die: We love you and we want to see you again.
2) Don’t Suck: Certain caveats apply, but generally be awesome and conscious of your actions.
3) Don’t Let it Hit The Ground: Seriously, it’s one of the great things about Burning Man, if you see MOOP on the ground, pick it up, use that MOOP bag you brought.

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Burner Benjamin’s original post is worth a read in its full glory.

Sexual Experimentation, Psychedelic Drugs and Futurism

Emily Witt from the New York Observer is going to have her first book “Future Sex” published next year. Presumably, there’s a bit of a buzz about it, because the London Review of Books has just published a 4000 word essay on her experiences at Burning Man. It’s a really good read, here are some highlights:

emily wittI wanted to go to Burning Man because I saw the huge festival in the Nevada desert as the epicentre of the three things that most interested me in 2013: sexual experimentation, psychedelic drugs and futurism. But everyone said Burning Man was over, that it was spoiled. The event, which requires those who attend to bring their own food, water and shelter and dispose of their own trash, was overrun with rich tech people who defied the festival’s precious tenet of radical self-reliance with their over-reliance on paid staff. Burning Man, which started in 1986 when twenty people burned an effigy on a beach, was turning into a dusty version of Davos. Old-timers lamented the rise of ‘plug and play’ culture. There were too many LEDs now, too many caravans, too many generators, tech executives, and too much electronic dance music. There were TED talks. There were technolibertarians. You couldn’t see the stars.

I would decide for myself. I rented a caravan with six other people, a group organised by a friend in San Francisco. If someone were to draw a portrait of the people who were ‘ruining Burning Man’ it would have looked like us. With one exception the six all worked in the tech industry. The exception was a corporate lawyer. None of us had been to the festival before. We paid a company from San Diego to drive our caravan to Nevada and get rid of our trash afterwards.

I ordered the items from the packing list online: dust goggles, sunscreen, sun hat, headlamp, light-emitting diodes, animal-print leggings. I arranged delivery of a bicycle. My friends would bring food and water from San Francisco. They all delayed their planning with the flexibility of people who don’t worry about money. They bought plane tickets at the last minute, and then changed their flights. One of them still hadn’t got a ticket two days before he was supposed to go. One of them ordered a bicycle from eBay Now and had it delivered to his office within an hour, like a taco. One ended up flying the hundred miles from Reno to Black Rock City in a chartered Cessna.

This year 68,000 people came. Fifteen years before there had been 15,000. The festival is organised in circles, like Dante’s Inferno.

london review of books…He lived in San Francisco, worked in tech and made lots of money. He was always ‘slammed’ at work. He had subscribed to a DNA mapping service that predicts how you might die, the results of which are posted to an iPhone app, so that your iPhone knows how likely you are to get heart disease.

When the subject of the festival first came up we both talked about how we wanted to go, how we knew people made fun of it but that we were drawn to it. He said he saw it as a good ‘networking opportunity’, but we also saw it as something that was happening right now and only right now, and we were both interested in things specific to the present. Now he put on a reflective jumpsuit and a fedora. We ate some caramel-corn marijuana bought from a California medical dispensary, went out until dawn, then came back to the caravan and had sex, despite the other occupants.

…The greeters at the gate had given us a guidebook; the lists of events read like mini prose poems in futurist jargon: ‘NEW TECH CITY SOCIAL INNOVATION FUTURES … Creative autonomous zones & cities of the future … resiliency, thrivability, open data, mixing genomes and biometrics with our passwords and cryptocurrencies. What’s your future look like? Social entrepreneurs and free culture makers, hack the system and mash the sectors.’ For someone interested in sexual experimentation, the possibilities for self-education here were endless: there were lectures on orgasmic meditation, ‘shamanic auto-asphyxiation’, ‘ecosexuality’, ‘femtheogens’, ‘tantra of our menses’, ‘sex drugs and electronic music’ and the opportunity to visit the orgy dome.

I went to a lecture on new research on the use of hallucinogens in treating illnesses. I listened to someone describe her research on ‘Transpersonal Phenomena Induced by Electronic Dance Music’.

…We made plans to meet at noon the next day. I didn’t keep the rendezvous. Instead I went back to my caravan and took a synthetic hallucinogen on blotter paper called 2CB. (Later, a friend suggested it was a chemical in the family of drugs known as NBOMes, which the administrators of the website Erowid call ‘the defining psychedelics of 2013’. They were invented in 2003 by a PhD student in Berlin and first hit the market in 2010. Ours had been ordered from the website Silk Road and paid for with bitcoin internet currency.) It was like acid but without acid’s dark side. It was acid re-engineered to be joyful. We each put half a hit under our lips and went out into the night, the chemicals leaching from the paper as the Mir space station was set on fire, the wedding chapel set on fire, the Facebook ‘like’ set on fire. We wandered through the LED-infused landscape, its colour palette that of the movie Tron, a vision of the future that had now become the future, a future filled with electronic dance music.

The drug hit us when we were playing beneath an art installation of rushing purple lights. We ran and danced in the lights, laughing and gasping. We boarded mutant vehicles. One shaped like a giant terrapin, one a post-apocalyptic pirate ship called theThunder Gumbo. We danced on top of the vehicles. Below us the burners on bicycles orbited like phosphorescent deep sea crustaceans. The memory of my day kept coming back to me. I kept thinking I was seeing people having sex, then realised I had just seen a pile-up bike crash. I kept thinking I had met the people around me before. We put more paper under our lips.

photo credit: Mike Orso

photo credit: Mike Orso

I began to see conspiracy. A mutant vehicle pulled up alongside us. On top I could see several people in their fifties and sixties. I saw them as aristocrats. They seemed to be wearing Aztec mohawks and Louis XVI-style powdered wigs. Their vehicle, which was shaped like a rainbow-coloured angler, was called the Disco Fish, and was self-piloted by programmable GPS. Its scales were the colours of the Google logo. I saw the Disco Fish as a secret plot by Google to defy Burning Man’s anti-corporate ethos with its self-driven cars, the project overseen by the executives on the second tier. 

…No wonder people hate Burning Man, I thought, when I pictured it as a cynic might: rich people on vacation breaking rules that everyone else would be made to suffer for not obeying. Many of these people would go back to their lives and back to work on the great farces of our age. They wouldn’t argue for the decriminalisation of the drugs they had used; they wouldn’t want anyone to know about their time in the orgy dome. That they had cheered at the funeral pyre of a Facebook ‘like’ wouldn’t play well on Tuesday in the cafeteria at Facebook. The people who accumulated the surplus value of the world’s photographs, ‘life events’ and ex-boyfriend obsessions were now celebrating their freedom from the web they’d entangled all of us in, the freedom to exist without the internet. Plus all this crap – the polyester fur legwarmers and plastic water bottles and disposable batteries – this garbage made from harvested hydrocarbons that will never disappear.

To protest against these things in everyday life carried a huge social cost …and maybe that’s what the old burners disliked about the new ones: the new ones upheld the idea of autonomous zones. The $400 ticket price was as much about the right to leave what happened at the festival behind as it was to enter in the first place. Still, I’d been able to do things here that I’d wanted to do for a long time, that I never could have done at home. And if this place felt right, if it had expanded so much over the years because to so many people it felt like ‘home’, it had something to do with the inadequacy of the old ways that governed our lives in our real homes, where we felt lonely, isolated and unable to form the connections we wanted

Full article here.