The other day I was invited to hear the ‘founder’ of Burning Man speak about the festival, its origins, and why it has captivated so many over the last 25 years. If you have not been or heard of Burning Man, it is a city that grows overnight in the Nevada dessert of 60,000+ people who come to explore the arts and music, let down inhibition, and search for their soul in the harsh late summer sun. For the first time in the event’s history, tickets have completely sold out.
So what is it about Burning Man? There are abundant theories of course and I do not pretend that my insight is unique. Is it the ‘gift econony’? The thumping music? The incredible art installations that liter the sand? The overall freeing spirit of the dessert? I would say yes to all the above and much much more.
Last year was my first experience on the ‘Playa’ and nothing can prepare you. Photos. Stories. Pre-parties. You can do all the research possible but this is just an experience you must know. Out there everyone is on equal footing whether a media mogul, a flight attendant, a technology baron, a teacher, a lawyer, a parent, a child – it matters not and, further, no one cares. The idea is to strip everything away (except the crazy gear of course) and think of a time in the past or in the present when life was this simple and we all helped each other through.
Burning Man 2011 – the 25th anniversary year – remains just a few weeks away now and this city is abuzz with preparation. For those who have been the excitement builds daily and for those who are on their first journey the nervousness grows. In the end, it is a wonderful alternative to our current social construct and one worth experiencing in my humble opinion.
However if you would like to go this year you best be served by hunting down a ticket on Craigslist or similar; that said, don’t pay more than face value as the act of charging more defaces the spirit of the event altogether.