What is Burning Man?
- Hurtling down the road to the Black Rock Desert, the colors paint themselves like a spice cabinet — sage, dust, slate gray. Maybe you're in your trusty car, the one that takes you to and from work every day. Perhaps you've got a spacious RV, your Motel 6 on wheels for the next days in the desert. Or you're driving your glittering art car, complete with poker chips and mirroring to do a disco ball proud.
- The two-lane highway turns off onto a new road. You drive slowly onto the playa, the 400 square mile expanse known as the Black Rock Desert. And there you've touched the terrain of what feels like another planet. You're at the end — and the beginning — of your journey to Burning Man.
- You belong here and you participate. You're not the weirdest kid in the classroom — there's always somebody there who's thought up something you never even considered. You're there to breathe art. Imagine an ice sculpture emitting glacial music — in the desert. Imagine the man, greeting you, neon and benevolence, watching over the community. You're here to build a community that needs you and relies on you.
- You're here to survive. What happens to your brain and body when exposed to 107 degree heat, moisture wicking off your body and dehydrating you within minutes? You know and watch yourself. You drink water constantly and piss clear. You'll want to reconsider drinking that alcohol (or taking those other substances) you brought with you — the mind-altering experience of Burning Man is its own drug. You slather yourself in sunblock before the sun's rays turn up full blast. You bring enough food, water, and shelter because the elements of the new planet are harsh, and you will find no vending.
- You're here to create. Since nobody at Burning Man is a spectator, you're here to build your own new world. You've built an egg for shelter, a suit made of light sticks, a car that looks like a shark's fin. You've covered yourself in silver, you're wearing a straw hat and a string of pearls, or maybe a skirt for the first time. You're broadcasting Radio Free Burning Man — or another radio station.
- You're here to experience. Ride your bike in the expanse of nothingness with your eyes closed. Meet the theme camp — enjoy Irrational Geographic, relax at Bianca's Smut Shack and eat a grilled cheese sandwich. Find your love and understand each other as you walk slowly under a parasol. Wander under the veils of dust at night on the playa.
- You're here to celebrate. On Saturday night, we'll burn the Man. As the procession starts, the circle forms, and the man ignites, you experience something personal, something new to yourself, something you've never felt before. It's an epiphany, it's primal, it's newborn. And it's completely individual.
- You'll leave as you came. When you depart from Burning Man, you leave no trace. Everything you built, you dismantle. The waste you make and the objects you consume leave with you. Volunteers will stay for weeks to return the Black Rock Desert to its pristine condition.
- But you'll take the world you built with you. When you drive back down the dusty roads toward home, you slowly reintegrate to the world you came from. You feel in tune with the other dust-covered vehicles that shared the same community. Over time, vivid images still dance in your brain, floating back to you when the weather changes. The Burning Man community, whether your friends, your new acquaintances, or the Burning Man project, embraces you. At the end, though your journey to and from Burning Man are finished, you embark on a different journey — forever.
Black Rock City
- Burning Man is a week-long annual event held in the Black Rock Desert in northern Nevada, in the United States. The event starts on the Monday before the American Labor Day holiday, and ends on the holiday itself. It takes its name from the ritual burning of a large wooden effigy on Saturday evening. The event is described by many participants as an experiment in community, radical self-expression, and radical self-reliance. Black Rock City, often abbreviated to BRC, is the name of the temporary city created by Burning Man participants. In 2010, 51,515 people attended. Source
- Synopsis of the different facets of BM.
- Estimated Dates: August 27 to September 3 (official dates will be released soon)
Mission Statement from the Organizers
Our mission is to produce the annual event known as "Burning Man" and to guide, nurture and protect the more permanent community created by its culture. Our intention is to generate society that connects each individual to his or her creative powers, to participation in community, to the larger realm of civic life, and to the even greater world of nature that exists beyond society. We believe that the experience of Burning Man can produce positive spiritual change in the world. To this end, it is equally important that we communicate with one another, with the citizens of Black Rock City and with the community of Burning Man wherever it may arise. Burning Man is radically inclusive, and its meaning is potentially accessible to anyone. The touchstone of value in our culture will always be immediacy: experience before theory, moral relationships before politics, survival before services, roles before jobs, embodied ritual before symbolism, work before vested interest, participant support before sponsorship. Finally, in order to accomplish these ends, Burning Man must endure as a self-supporting enterprise that is capable of sustaining the lives of those who dedicate themselves to its work. From this devotion spring those duties that we owe to one another. We will always burn the Man. Source
I've been alive on our beautiful spaceship earth for 26 years. Ever since first learning about Burning Man many years ago, I have continued to be completely in love with its philosophy and people. Hoping to attend for the first time, I imagine the atmosphere is fresh and raw because everyone knows its temporary. I've thought hard about the fact that at Burning Man, there is no audience. You must create the experience you desire along with everyone else. So let me share with you all the ideas I've come up with!
Ideas to Act Upon
Here are some games and happenings I want to organize on the fly. Some of the ideas will be performed out among the masses. Other ideas will be among small groups or with an individual.
- I would love to do quick abstract drawings of people and then give it to them to keep. (more drawings)
- Give out samples of honey and hot sauce. Feel the desert in your mouth!
- Give one wish per person. Within reason, I will grant it.
- Form a group of zombies, that hand out candy hearts and have face-painted hearts around their eyes. As it spreads, those new people get hearts around their eyes too (if they want).
- Create a rainstorm. But only the sound: Fingers snapping, hands clapping soft and loud, slap on cheeks to make that hollow sound. Create different groups of people and orchestrate it so that it goes from a drizzle to a full thunderstorm. Complete with thunder claps, which could be everyone jumping up together.
- Give out chocolate for hugs. But ask the receiver to make a ritual out of it. As I will also.
- Play tag. Play i-spy game. Play 20 questions.
- Hold a meditation session. A stream-of-consciousness session. A laughter-yoga session.
- Bring sharpee pens to give out as gifts. They are always useful! Ear plugs too.
- Ask a group of people to hold hands. Just share the moment.
- Treat everyone like a long lost friend. An honest effort to walk up to anyone and just be excited to speak with them. To wander and share my memories.
- Offer to face-paint simple geometric patterns.
- Sing with people. Recite e.e. cummings poetry and other fav poets. Improv poetry. Make a chorus of people where each person only sings one note and together we sing a melody.
- Talk in slow motion as a group. Walk backwards and only receive instructions from others. Play the trust game: fall into another persons arms.
- Play telephone with as many people as possible.
- Act like a bunch of monkeys. Cats!
- Everyone gathers close together, grab someones hand, and get untangled until you are finally in a circle... without letting go.
- Blow zubbles.
- Gather a large group of people to scream 'love' in unison 10 times. Maybe even 100 times so everyone starts in sync and then gets out of sync.
Here is an special idea that I want to offer every night. I work at the Charles Hayden Planetarium and I want to give night sky presentations. Speak about the history of the constellations from different civilizations perspectives. Discuss the differing western and eastern philosophies of the cosmos. Use a powerful green laser pointer to pinpoint the different stars and such. It would be great to ask others to imagine their own constellations and then point them out to everyone. I would end the presentation by giving out little earths.
I admit my plans are not grandiose or in need of funding. But I want to share personal experiences with others. I've found that it is so difficult to connect with others as we grow older. We carry more and more baggage and judge our experiences based on that. So I want to try and create experiences that allows others to more easily break down those walls and enjoy what it means to live in the present. To be a child again. When you think back on your memories, it is those pains/joys with people that stand out. So I aim to organize lots of little simple tangents to foster the serendipity of the playa. To focus on others. Empathy. Altruism. Not a focus on my satisfaction, but seeing it in others.
Behind the Idea
- What is Burning Man? - quick thoughtful approach to describe BM
- Principles of Burning Man - why everything is different
- Burning Man Revealed - birds-eye view of BM
- Travelogue of Burning Man - personal thoughts and memories
- Burning Man FAQ - helpful bits you might be wondering about
First Timers Guide
- THE First Timers Guide - direct from the BM organizers
- eMailing List - BM organizers broadcasting the latest info
- List of events at BM2011 - Just so you can get a taste of the wild variety
- Bunch of random helpful info - Scroll down to 'Perennial Guides'
- Camping Tips - List of possible supplies
- Taking kids to BM
Jason's Collection of BM Photos
- These photos are from all the years of BM. Found from many different sources around the internet.
- The Sights
- The People
- The Art Cars
- The Panoramas
Videos from BM
- BM and the Evolution of Consciousness
- Great BM perspective tips
- Oh the places you'll go!
- Fantastic shots from BM2010: Dripping with Gold
- Collaborative music video made at BM2010: Home
- BM2011: Ten days of festival experience
- Tilt-shifted and fast-forwarded timelapse footage
- Time-lapse of the whole BM2010
- Huge zoom-able panorama photo
- Billion Bunny March vs. Animal control
- BM 2011
- The Fertile Desert
- A week with death guild thunderdome
- TEDx talk about the BM temple
- The Universe Revolves Around YOU: an interview with Zachary Coffin
- People In Motion - Documentary
- Burning Man 2011, The OFOSHO Movie
- Rites Of Passage - Day
- Rites Of Passage - Night
- Personal video with highlights from Burning Man 2011
- BM 2012
Because of the variety of goals fostered by participatory attendees, known as "Burners," Burning Man does not have a single focus. It is governed by 10 principles, which are radical inclusion, gifting, decommodification, radical self-reliance, radical self-expression, communal effort, civic responsibility, leaving no trace, participation, and immediacy.Participation is considered required.
- Radical inclusion - Anyone who can afford a ticket is gladly welcomed and there are no prerequisites to be part of Burning Man. All participants are expected to provide for their own basic needs and follow the minimal rules of the event.
- Gifting - Instead of cash, event participants are encouraged to rely on a gift economy, a sort of potlatch. In the earliest days of the event, an underground barter economy also existed, in which burners exchanged "favors" with each other. While this was originally supported by the Burning Man organization, this is now largely discouraged. Instead, burners are encouraged to give gifts to one another unconditionally.
- Radical self-reliance - Because of the event's harsh environment and remote location, participants are expected to be responsible for their own subsistence. Since the LLC forbids any commerce, participants must be prepared and bring all their own supplies with the exception of the items stated in Decommodification.
- Radical self-expression - Participants are encouraged to express themselves in a number of ways through various art forms and projects. The event is clothing-optional and public nudity is common, though not practiced by the majority.
- Communal effort - Participants are encouraged to work with and help fellow participants.
- Civic responsibility - Participants are encouraged to assume responsibility and be part of a civil society in which federal, state and local laws are obeyed and communicate this to other participants.
- "Leave No Trace" - Participants are committed to a "leave no trace" event. They strive to leave the area around them in better condition than before their arrival to ensure that their participation does not have a long-term impact on the environment.
- Participation - Burning Man is about participation.
- Immediacy - Participants are encouraged to become part of the event, to experience who and what is around them and to explore their inner selves and their relation to the event.
- Decommodification - No cash transactions are permitted between attendees of the event, which is in accordance with the principles of Burning Man. Cash can be used for a select few charity, fuel and sanitation vendors as follows:
- Café beverages such as coffee, chai, lemonade, etc., which are sold at Center Camp Café, operated by the organizers of the event.
- Ice sales benefit the local Gerlach-Empire school system.
- Tickets for the shuttle bus to the nearest Nevada communities of Gerlach and Empire which is operated by a contractor not participating in the event: Green Tortoise.
- A re-entry wristband, which allows a person to leave and re-enter the event and may be purchased at the gate upon exit.
- An airport use fee, payable at the airport upon first entry.
- Diesel and biodiesel sold by third-party contractors
- RV dump service and camp graywater disposal service.
- Private portable toilets and servicing, which can be arranged with the official contractor.