How to Survive Burning Man

Image: Scott London

Image: Scott London

Elyse Romano at D’Marge has published some tips on what to expect at Black Rock City. This could be some useful background information for Virgins. Here are some highlights:

For years you’ve heard tales of a wild utopian wonderland in the Nevada desert. For one week, the blank canvas of that barren wasteland turns into something magical.

You’ve envisioned a world of hot hippie women searching for their spirit animals, of chemically-enhanced sex fests, of all-night raves and socially-acceptable nudity. You’re ready to take that dusty plunge and rage until you can’t even remember what planet you’re on.

Slow down, tiger. I’m not saying Burning Man isn’t those things, but I am saying it isn’tonly those things. I’m also saying that the back of every Burning Man ticket warns that you might die at the event, so maybe you want to show up with your shit together. One of the Burner mottos is “Keep Burning Man potentially fatal” for a reason.

So how do you drop into one of the least hospitiable places on Earth and have the most wild, weird and wonderful week of your life? Allow me to be your tour guide…

The Burning Man Living Quarters

Expecting cabins? Prepare to be deeply disappointed (and relentlessly mocked). This is roughing it in the most Bear Grylls sense. You have three best bets: a tent, an RV or a yurt. The tent is classic, but make sure it’s tough enough to withstand a windstorm and know it will be hotter than the inside of a mouth by 9am. Sleeping in is not an option…

The Naked Truth

When it comes to Burning Man style, pretty much anything goes. The more outrageous the better, but skip feathers, sequins and anything else that’s likely to detach and cause litter in the desert. Those things are strictly forbidden.

Have a tutu on hand for Tutu Tuesday – the playa collectively celebrates (yes, even the men) and it’ll let you skip the line for free pancakes at the Pancake Playhouse camp. On the practical side, goggles and face protection (think masks and bandanas) are a must for dust-storms, have warm things on hand for the cool evenings, and don’t forget your sunglasses.

Make sure footwear is comfortable. The event spans many miles and you’ll do a lot of walking. Plenty of Burners ditch the shoes entirely, but take care of your toes because the alkali dust can cause playa foot. And yes, if you’re feeling extra free-spirited, you can leave the clothes in your camp and go totally nude.

Burners are some of the nicest, nakedest people you’ll ever meet, unless you’re shirt cocking – wearing nothing but a shirt with your pants canon out. In that case, we will silently (or loudly) judge you…

Hello, Hedonism

It’s time to talk about the sex, drugs and rock ‘n’ roll. It’s all out there for you to enjoy (not as much the rock ‘n’ roll – Burners tend to prefer electronic music), but it has to be done responsibly.

Dying to dance? There’s a party to be found 24/7. Dying for a drink? You’re constantly surrounded by bars serving free booze. Dying to get down with the cutie you just met? There are camps designed solely to facilitate such salacious shenanigans.

Dying for something more dubiously legal? It’s out there too, but remember that, as much as it seems like an autonomous entity, Burning Man is still governed by state and federal laws. Undercover cops are out there and they’re ready to seriously eff-up your day.

What it all comes down to is this: have fun, challenge your boundaries, but don’t be a dick about it. There’s a right way and a wrong way to do everything, and you don’t want your poor decisions to land you in the hospital or a Nevada jail cell.

Read the rest of the tips at DMarge.com

 

 

Fire-Dancers-2014

The Positivity In Popularity

A guest post from reader Shifty Fox.


1507464_f520Good ol’ Black Rock City. Home sweet home, am I right? I stand in awe at how much it has grown over the years. These days it’s rare to find someone who hasn’t heard of this magical and idyllic temporary city in the desert. A dusty Shangri-La of sorts, in which tens of thousands of people flock to each year and tens of thousands more attempt to but can’t as a result of a population limit which in effect creates a ticket supply and demand. The good word is out and it seems like everybody wants to see what this place is all about. Now, there have always been opinions of the event becoming too popular even well over a decade or two ago. But ever since 2011 when the event first sold out, these opinions seem much more prevalent. Could it be true? Has Burning Man become too popular an event, or a victim of its own success that is simply too big for its britches? We have all read the articles and heard the opinions about how it isn’t what it used to be, and how “it was better back in the day…” Though personally I generally find it hard to agree with these viewpoints because I feel they are somewhat narrow-minded opinions that only stem from the individuals perspicacity and lack of insight, in relation to the popularity of Burning Man.

557227_10201150757269734_1559314795_nAnd fair enough. If we look at the effect that popularity has on a lot of things, it doesn’t always lead to the most desirable end results. There are small intimate venues that gain popularity and over time become the next hot bar or club spot. Small bands and DJs that start out in a garage or a bedroom make it big and are often considered sellouts once they attain fame. And there are the music festivals that started out as fairly small events and go on to become annual massive music festivals with hundreds of thousands of people in attendance, complete with corporate sponsorship and all. The state of popularity as it pertains to events such as Burning Man and other similar festivals is often shaded with negativity. There is this feeling that when so many people become privy to something great, it takes away from the unique and magical qualities that made it so special to begin with. Though a part of me can’t help but think that this feeling is somewhat selfish in its existence. After all, if something is so wonderful and positive, shouldn’t it be shared for all to enjoy? Not hoarded by a few?

Image: Trey Ratcliff/StuckInCustoms

Now what I mean when I say selfish is that I feel people often don’t look past their own disgruntled feelings of dissatisfaction over minor issues that really only directly affect the individual and their ability to have a good time. For example, the thought that because of the progressive popularity of the event, there are increasingly too many virgin Burners attending annually. Or the issue of ticket supply and demand, which is directly related to the events popularity. Often fueled by ego, an individual can become irritated because they didn’t get a ticket and someone who they feel is less deserving, actually did get one. Or the thought that with the events popularity comes what is believe to be the wrong kind of crowd. Those that are said to spectate and not participate; ‘the bro, the weekend warrior, the wealthy 1%er, or other types of people that some individuals believe should not be in attendance. But all of these things are selfishly only an issue to the individual because they believe it interferes with their standards of the burn experience as they see it fit for them. They are possibly not seeing the bigger picture and how popularity affects more than just them and their good time. And I believe these feelings and opinions do not accurately reflect the very real and positive effects that come from the popularity of the Burning Man event. Perhaps it is difficult for some to see past their own comforts and desires.

believeI am convinced there is a bigger picture to it all. I believe Burning Man to be an exception to the idea that popularity allows for negative results to culminate, and subsequently end an entity’s golden era. I believe there are direct and indirect ways that the popularity of Burning Man is positively changing individual’s hearts and minds, as well as affecting families and communities around the world for the better. I truly believe there is positivity in popularity.



Over the years Burning Man has given way to a number of great organizations that are doing wonderful things locally as well as worldwide. The seemingly endless streams of inspiration, creativity, and motivation that emanates from these wonderful organizations, cannot be denied as a positive force. Some of the more prominent organizations that are a direct consequence of the Burning Man event include:


brs_header 4
Black Rock Solar – The mission of BRS is stated as “promoting environmental stewardship, economic development and energy independence by providing not-for-profit entities, tribes and under-served communities with access to clean energy, education, and job training.” This is done often by donating hours of labor, solar products, and professional installation of solar products to these under-served communities.



bwbsmall
Burners Without Borders – The objectives of BWB are to “promote activities around the globe that support a community’s inherent capacity to thrive by encouraging innovative approaches to disaster relief and grassroots initiatives that make a positive impact.” The Philippines, Haiti, and the United States are few of the places they have offered disaster relief for various unfortunate catastrophes such as fires, hurricanes, and floods.



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Black Rock Arts Foundation – The folks at BRAF have made it their mission “to support and promote community, interactive art and civic participation.” This is done through a process of presenting grants to a number of artists and arts programs. BRAF works with various communities all over the globe to produce creative and often unusual works of public art that serve to conjure the inspiration in people, and create a sense of community.



BurningManNLogo1
The Regional Network – This is the most prominent byproduct immediately stemming from the popularity of Burning Man. The event has inspired others to organize and create events with a similar ethos to the Burning Man event. Currently there are roughly 130 regional families spread across 6 continents in 31 countries around the world that are officially affiliated with the Burning Man Organization. There are also an untold number of non-affiliated groups and events as well.

These organizations are byproducts directly related to the popularity of the Burning Man event, which is a melting pot for like-minded people, that gives them the ability to network and become inspired to create these types of organizations, families, and events. These are only four listed examples but there is a plethora of other small groups and organizations that have come into existence all around the globe as a result of the growth of the Burning Man event, community, and culture. These are undoubtedly examples of positivity in popularity.



playa

Open Playa

Aside from all the positive effects emanating from organizations and regional groups, we also have the individuals themselves and the profound and life changing experiences that are often had while attending Burning Man. The capacity for positive energy that the individual radiates back out into the default world long after they have returned home is something that should never be allowed to reach a maximum limit. I refuse to think we need less people sharing in a culture that produces such untold amounts of utter positivity.

Image: Unknown/DustToAshes

Image: Dust To Ashes

There is an infinite list of constructive things to be gained by the individual while marinating in this playa pool of positivity; whether it is a sense of family and community, the feelings of impassioned closeness with others, emotional purging and sense of spirituality, the use of social skills in an unconventional world, the networking, the friends, the fun that never ends, the projects, the laughs, the cries… the self-discovery sunset and tequila sunrise. It is virtually an endless source of positive energy, ideas, and knowledge. And it is largely (if not completely) due to the growth and popularity of Burning Man, that all of these things have the ability to thrive there and continue to inspire others who visit our dusty home, to appreciate, motivate, create, and then take these values home with them, so that they can be injected into the veins of life, and the individual can and go on to inspire others to do the very same thing.

For most of us who have attended it is easy to understand the harmonious and magical way in which Burning Man touches many peoples lives, and how it continues to directly effect most of us on a daily basis. But it may be more difficult to imagine the even higher untold numbers, possibly in the millions, of people that are indirectly affected by the Burning Man community in roundabout ways, without ever having known it. I was once one of those people.

Image: Hanna Mumper/Shifty The Fox

Image: Hanna Mumper/Shifty The Fox

About 17 years ago I was a completely lost and irresponsible kid who really had very little direction and even less drive. Always feeling like a lone black sheep I carried around a lot of weight and stress with me from various things in my life. From family issues, to the deaths of loved ones, and throw in a handful of other destructive devices, they were very confusing times indeed. On top of that I was still trying to find out what my worth was to the world. Over time I had tried various things to alleviate this weight but as a young adult back then, I really had no idea what I was doing. Who really does anyhow? Things were pretty obscure and uncertain at the time. But it was by chance, (or fate?) that I would soon make friends with a few Burneresque types in a small town up in the Sierra Nevada Mountains. Through my friendships with these great people I would eventually go on to participate in the creation of small events and get-togethers that carried a similar Burning Man ethos and vibe. I had yet to attend Burning Man at the time, and wouldn’t for some years. The clueless kid that I was, I had no idea that at the time my life was already beginning to be affected by the Burning Man community in this second handed sort of way, years before I had ever attended the actual event.

 

Image: Dust To Ashes

Image: Dust To Ashes

cropped-La-Contessa-just-before-sunrise

La Contessa

I eventually moved to the land that originally gave life to the Burning Man event, the beautiful and unique city of San Francisco. I fully immersed myself in the Burner culture and community. I finally attended Burning Man, as well as other events and began volunteering for little projects here and there. I tried to educate myself as much as I could on the history of this fascinating experiment of a not so conventional community in the desert. I had been turned on to this seemingly endless world of ideas and creativity. I found a number of people whose life stories were similar to mine, people who had imagination and ingenuity, and radiated positivity. I fell in love with it all. And over the years as I continue to bask in these pools of positivity and meet new and interesting people, I can’t help but see all the wonderful things that have been created by Burners. It makes me curious about all the great things that have yet to come in to existence by the many potential Burners of the future.



 

Image: Hanna Mumper/Shifty The Fox

Image: Hanna Mumper/Shifty The Fox

So now here I am, having done this dance in the dust year after year for over a third of my life. I have undoubtedly evolved mentally and grown as a human being, for the better. I feel eternally grateful for the things I have learned in that desert, and the experiences I have had. I have a stronger bond with my family and have forged close relationships with a number of great people that I may have never met otherwise. All of these people that I relate to have seen the changes and the effects the event has had on me, and in that, they have felt the effects themselves. In the desert I have learned to let go of the things that stop me from living my life and I have taken those lessons and reflected them back out to the rest of the world. I shudder to think of the road I may have traveled had this community not diverted the direction of my life and pushed me down a different path. I can honestly say that Burning Man has changed me as a person. It has transformed my interactions with people, and has forever broadened my horizons and the outlook that I have of this magnificent world on a daily basis.

Image: Ari Fararooy/Vimeo

Image: Ari Fararooy/Vimeo

In a way it can be said that Burning Man inadvertently affects every single person in the default world that we Burners come in contact with, without them ever even knowing it. The same way it did to me when I was younger. Before I had ever stepped foot on that desert floor. Now I pose the question, if Burning Man can have such a strong and profound effect on me, and I am just one person, how many others has it affected in this way? And even more importantly, how many others have the potential to be affected by it in the future? Only time will tell. As the event grows in popularity, so does the community. And subsequently the culture, the networks, the families, the art, the love, and most importantly the human individual all grow with it.

So now, every time I hear someone say that Burning Man is too popular or too big for its own good, I can’t help but laugh a little on the inside and think to myself, “if you only knew…”

-ShiftyFox

Image: Michael Holden

Image: Michael Holden

Video

“I’m Up For A Sherpa Myself”

CBS News did a video story on “Silicon Valley Elite Accused of Ruining Burning Man”. Larry insists that they’re not, that people have been saying “Burning Man is ruined” since the beginning, and in fact every demographic migration enriches the culture. So the culture should be awesome in the future, once politicians, Broners, and Safari tourists fill the spots formerly held by the artists and techies. It seems this Sherpa idea is a real drawcard for Virgins.

2014 Census Results

black rock city censusThe preliminary results are in from the 2014 BlackRock City census. Some key highlights:

  • 62.41% Virgins or Noobz
  • 37.59% Veterans  – up from 29%, reflecting the population surge of the last couple of years, or the discrepancy between counting “number of years since first” and “number of burns”.

The number of kids was 4.1% of the population when we first started raising awareness about the unsuitability of this event for children. Now it’s down to 1.4%. That’s still 1000 kids too many, taking tickets away from sherpas Burners.

Re-blogged from BlackRock City Census:

census centaurThe online survey is now live at http://census.burningman.com and we encourage all 2014 citizens of Black Rock City to complete a survey as soon as possible so that your voices are represented in the 2014 report. Results won’t be ready until after the online instrument closes.

For the burning-data curious, we have some preliminary results for you! For the past 3 events, the Black Rock City Census Lab has randomly sampled entering participants through Gate Road. In addition, for the first time this year, we surveyed riders entering through Burner Express Buses (BxB). From these shorter, demographic surveys we get a baseline demographic profile that helps us weight the online survey. This post is a preliminary insight into the participants who attended the event in 2014 taken from this data.

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.

Though these results are preliminary, they do provide some new insights into the steady evolution of the event.


 

70% of Burners are in the highly marketable 20-40 age demographic. 20% are from another country (BMOrg lacks the ability to mail tickets to other countries, so all of these Burners have to go to Will Crawl).

A quarter of Burners are over 40, I wonder what percent of these are in RVs.

 

Demographics

Age

The median age this year is between 32 and 33, a little younger than last year.

_0_19 1.41%
_20_29 38.15%
_30_39 33.60%
_40_49 14.18%
_50_or_more 12.66%

Age


What with all the Broners and Next-Gen Tech Gurus, it’s becoming a bit of a sausage fest.

 

Gender

Percentage of women at the event increased another percentage point to 41%

female 41.12%
male 57.99%
fluid 0.89%

Gender


“Time Since First Burn” is different from “number of burns”. We define “Veteran” as having been more than twice. Substitute “years” for “burns”, and we have 62.41% noobs, 37.59% Veterans.

Time Since First Burn

Virgin population continues to increase up from 36% two years ago, to nearly 41% of the population in 2014.

Virgins

virgin 40.69%
_1or2years 21.72%
_3or4years 12.66%
_5to7years 9.90%
_8to11years 6.14%
_12to15years 6.45%
_16or_more 2.44%

Half the Burners are from California. There are as many from Canada, as from Nevada.

 

Language and Residence

Where do you reside?

California and Nevada residents continue to dominate the event.

NV 6.49%
CA 47.44%
US other 26.57%
Canada 6.12%
Other 13.37%

Residence

Foreign residents

After declining from 2012 to 2013, foreign participants rose to 19.5% in 2014.

Foreign


Supposedly, 6.37% of Burners got their ticket through STEP. At 68,000 paid participants, that would be 4332 tickets. Official numbers are 1500. Of course, not everyone at Burning Man did the census, so this shows you the sort of errors there can be in these statistics, which are simply estimates.

0.68% of people were there without a ticket, this is 476 out of the maximum peak population (including volunteers) of 70,000. Workers like LEOs may have done the survey, feeling they are Burners too.

With 2624 tickets bought for above face value, the Census claim the data shows that scalping is not an issue. Which it never was. About 5% bought tickets from a reseller or stranger. 25% got their tickets from someone known, which is 17,000 people. That’s a lot of Burner to Burner sales going on, did every Burner purchase an extra ticket? There were only 38,000 available in the “individual” sale.

 

Purchasing your ticket

Nearly 4% bought tickets for more than face value. Presumably this includes anyone who paid $650 to BMOrg for a scalper Exception ticket.

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%

 

How much did you pay?

Less 6.51%
Face value 79.15%
More 3.86%
Gift 6.52%
IDK 0.98%
Other 2.98%

 Where did you get your ticket (2012 vs 2014)?

 .

 


Politics

Almost 10% of Burners support “alternative” political parties. Only 4.4% vote Republican. Now we know why Larry was so keen to bring Grover Norquist out, and the PR blitz around it was so strong. Perhaps by associating themselves publicly with Burning Man, Republicans can seem more “hip” to the political base that voted the Democrats into power.

 

Politically, burners have historically been significantly more likely to vote than the default US population. This year, we again see that 85% of those eligible to vote in US elections actually do. Moreover, a 51% majority voted in at least 3 of the last 4 federal elections, significantly above the US population.

Another interesting fact to note is that, for the first time, US voting participants, when asked about party affiliation, chose “unaffiliated” (nearly 41% of eligible voters) in larger numbers than any other political party, reflecting a broad trend of dissatisfaction with US political parties. The combination of being such a strong voting population and also being unaffiliated may imply that politicians need to pay attention to their Burner voters in their district. This maybe especially wise in Nevada and California where Burners represent a non-trivial portion of their constituencies.

Political Party Affiliation

 Not_eligible 23.27%
 Democratic 30.86%
 Republican 4.40%
 Libertarian 3.74%
 Green 2.36%
American_Ind_Party 1.58%
 Other 1.60%
 Unaffiliated 31.57%
 Multiple 0.62%

1st world problems