One of the biggest and most famous festival/events every year in the United States is Burning Man, an annual cultural event but even more than that, a thriving philosophy that is now practiced throughout the year.
Burning Man takes place the entire week before Labor Day in the Black Rock Desert of Nevada and, during the festival, the Burning Man organization gets together to create the complex infrastructure of Black Rock City. People who go to Burning Man aren’t called attendees but instead “participants” who don’t just attend the festival but instead dedicate themselves to a bigger spirit of community as well as self-expression, self-reliance and human artwork.
As they do every year, one week after Burning Man begins everyone leaves and not a trace of them is left behind. It’s been said that trying to explain Burning Man to a person who has never attended is a bit like trying to tell someone who’s blind what cloud looks like. In other words, it’s a bit difficult to explain and, in order to really understand the event, a person needs to simply go there and experience it for themselves.
For many people Burning Man is not just a festival but a culture and, as part of that culture, many who attend the festival also help with a number of other groups and associated nonprofit organizations that embody the ethos of Burning Man in the “real world” throughout the year.
Burning Man started rather small in California at San Francisco’s Baker Beach but, since those early days, has moved to the Black Rock Desert and grown into what can only be described as a global culture of individuals who want to express themselves and live their lives in a more meaningful way. In other words it’s become more of a philosophy than a festival and even has its own “10 Commandments” if you will, called the 10 Principles. These 10 Principles reflect the values and ideas of Burning Man and, since it started, have more or less organically developed into the major tenets of what Burning Man stands for.
More than 60,000 people attend Burning Man every year on an ancient lake bed in the Black Rocket Desert known simply as “the playa” which is Spanish for beach. Unlike many festivals Burning Man is held for an entire week during which participants become part of the “community” that forms there for seven days, rely on themselves more than a person normally does in the “real world” and also express themselves in whatever way, shape or fashion that they happen to choose.
The founder of Burning Man, Larry Harvey, believes that art is integral to the human experience and has made it a part of the festival since its inception. Every year a new art theme is created in order to bring participants together in a new and more meaningful way. All of them are encouraged to do whatever they can to help bring the theme to life, including creating large-scale art, costumes, gifts and even a “theme camp” where people get together and talk about how to best contribute to the year’s theme.
If there’s anything negative that can be said about Burning Man it’s simply that getting a pass to the event is extremely difficult. For example, the 38,000 tickets that were available this year sold out in under an hour, leaving many people who wanted to attend the event very unhappy.
There is good news however in that Burning Man’s security exchange platform is another way to get tickets to the event and they even have a “low income ticket program” for those people who wish to attend but don’t have the cash necessary to do so. At the end of August there will also be what Burning Man calls their “OMG Sale” where the 1000 remaining tickets to the festival will be put on sale.