Burning Man 2011

An event that started in 1986 on Baker’s Beach, San Francisco, moved to the Black Rock Desert, Nevada a few years later and has grown by a big, old chunk every year, becoming, perhaps, the world’s best festival of its kind. Well, it’s the only one of its kind, of course.

We were just happy to be there and pretty lucky to be there seen as it had sold out a few weeks before for the first time in its history. Many people, regular Burners and star DJs, ahem,  had been caught out without a ticket and unable to get in. Or, so was the talk. And would the unprecedenated  numbers of people facilitate or muddy the festival’s evolution? Of course, we wouldn’t know – compared to the thousands of dollars to rent an RV out for the week, and looking at the thousands of rented RVs queuing up to get in, we were just glad to be there for the first and only time in our own truck.

The Rainbow and the Burning Man. Both share many similarities that differentiate them from European festivals. They both seem Utopian and identify themselves as Other places to the Outside, everyday world. At both, you will be ‘Welcomed Home’ regularly until about halfway through the event when some mysterious, communal command switches off that particular greeting. Indeed, at both events, there are very many mysterious, commands that everyone seems to follow, rituals observed by everyone and commonly held beliefs. They are not cults but they do look a bit like cults.  Also, and as a product of this perhaps, no commercial activity is allowed to take place. The Rainbow is all about trading and swapping stuff – at the Burning Man, they call it the Gift Economy.

 

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