View Full Version : Burning Man

04-02-2014, 09:17 AM
Has anyone been to a Burning Man festival?

I was looking at a post in Custom Glassware (http://forum.alchemyforums.com/showthread.php?3922-Custom-Glassware) by MarkostheGnostic in which he put a link to look at the facebook page of Stubby Glass. When I visited the link there was this pic below:


Not knowing what this pic was I Googled it and found it was an aerial view of the Burning Man festival. I have heard of this but never looked into it; now I have I have to go...it looks fantastic.

Check out this link to an aerial video of the event Burning Man (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=woOHbbaj6fM). The reason I put it as a link is so you can look at the other YT videos there too...it looks amazing!

I would love to read a first hand account from someone who has been there.


04-02-2014, 10:32 AM
I've known about this, but my view is that it is all hippie bullshit... but I can't really judge as I have not been there. Considering the fact that I don't like parties (I loath them), I don't think I'd enjoy burning man. And even if the drug of choice might be psychedelics I don't consider it to be such a good setting to do it in. But if you go you can give me a report, just be aware that it gets sold out so you have to get your tickets early (so I've heard).


04-03-2014, 07:07 AM
mmm.. you got me thinking Dev...you could be right.

I may still look into going though


04-03-2014, 11:46 PM
Well I can't judge if I have not been there. Just my initial feelings...


04-04-2014, 01:56 AM


$25,840,000 in revenue for ticket sales for 2013. $380 per ticket. An attempt was made to cap attendance at 50,000 in 2011, but in 2013 attendance was 68,000+.

Additional revenues ... 35,000 vehicle passes @ $40, $1,400,000.

This is an elitist event.

04-04-2014, 06:21 AM
My health has not been such that I could easily spend 10 days or so out in the desert for a lot of years so I have never been able to participate, the formative years of Burning Man. My ex wife has attended multiple times until it got so over crowded that they award ticket purchase by lottery. It's an art show. It's a reasonably anarchist community for the week of the show and up to 10 more days or so if one volunteers for setup and cleanup. The cost of tickets is small compared to the effort and cost for gifts or exhibit or whatever ones gift is.

Certainly there are strictly enforced rules, no littering, leave nothing behind. Feathers are not allowed as they shed and leave a mess. There is music, dance and arts of all kinds. Alex Grey has an annual exhibit, the full size panels of the paintings seen in his books, especially his metaphysical work. Virtually everything is a gift. Ice and water and coffee can be bought on site. Nothing else is bought or sold. Dirty water from bathing or whatever is evaporated or trucked out.

There are groups, like in New Orleans that spend the entire year preparing for the next years exhibits and gifts. It is neither "hippy" nor "elitist". I know a lot of "burners" locally in Utah. "Eccentric", certainly not mainstream, is probably a better description. Nudity is rampant. The only vehicles allowed driving around there are the many extraordinary and often bizarre works of art. Many ride bicycles. There are days of dust storms and everybody is wearing goggles and dust masks. There are many theme camps there and an Alchemical camp with some sort of suitable exhibits or gifts would of course be appreciated and well within the norm for the event.

There is a lot of fire art, where no scorch marks can be left on the desert but there is also no chance of fire spreading.

It is no place for the easily offended. There are adult only experiential arts. There is the human carcass wash. There is lots of body painting and costuming only seen at nude friendly events. The is the Opulent Temple of Venus, music, light show and dance at night and tantric massages for ladies so desiring in the daytime. There is a "chill" tent to lie down and rest in air-conditioned comfort in the daytime. Many of the groups camp together and have a group kitchen wherein each person only has to cook one day. All the food for the entire time has to brought in to begin with. It takes a lot of planning to do all this all effectively.

It's a week of sensory overload. Sure there is a lot of partying, lots of cannabis and psychedelics. And by midweek a cold beer is a sensory delight. Things get going in the evening and run most all night. I've heard lots about it and hope to participate at least once. The people I know that go spend a good part of the year before preparing. It is very much a participatory event, not a passive observational one. It is very intense.

I was asked one time to price out a camp out for 200 people for a week for a large metaphysical gathering on private land where we had to provide for sanitation, a first aid facility and security with no fires allowed. Sufficient portable toilets and sanitation washing stations and all that were costly. And when the site is 90 miles out into the desert, say 140 miles each way from where all the stuff has to be trucked in from, costs go way up. A $2 bag of ice at the supermarket costs a whole lot more 140 miles away out in the desert.

04-04-2014, 07:04 AM
It's sounds like I would need the week before the event just to prepare for it, and that is if I could even get a ticket. :(


04-04-2014, 10:06 AM
This is an elitist event.

Could be true, but 300 dollars for a normal music festival is not elitist IMO. In northern Europe such a price for a week long music festival is the norm, and none of the people at those festivals are either rich nor elitist... usually poor punks or hippies (to speak general).

But I guess we have to count in the currency aspect, and the dollar is pretty worthless these days. Also the USA is soon a third world country so in this sense, for an American, it is pretty expensive.


04-04-2014, 02:07 PM
I was curious to see what the reaction would be to my use of the word "elitist."

Naturally, everything in perspective.

Even living locally, I doubt you'd be able to attend for less than $500-600, accounting for food and transportation.

But being self-employed for 35 years, cost accounting and logistics, even on-the-fly, is almost like breathing for me.

I'm East Coast near Philly. Immediately, I've eliminated flying due to the logistics on the back end ... food and shelter ... unless I'm attending with a group that's providing it, and then I'd have to pay for that. I do not know such a group, but needless to say, a round trip ticket to Reno is something just shy of $500. Then, I'd have to get from Reno to the Black Rock Desert, so at a minimum we're easily at $1,000 to $1,200 already.

Then again, flipping over to a car, 5,000 miles round trip would be about 200 gallons. At 25 mpg and average $3.70 per gallon, that's $740. Even with the advantage of being able to haul food and camping gear, costs are cracking the roof, and the car adds 5-6 days to the trip.

Now, one could argue that "you have to eat anyway," but at home I'm not paying tourist prices, and nothing close to stuck-in-the-desert-a-hundred-miles-from-a-refrigerator prices.

So no, I don't know a lot of people that can throw away ten to sixteen working days and something like $1,200 to $2K on naked binging at a bonfire party in the desert. That's an Upper Crust thing.

$2K is groceries (@ $12 a day) for 133 days (four months). I think I'd rather eat. In many cases, particularly these days, most people don't have it to spare.

Then again, there's that "Life is Short" thing.

I'm in my ninth year of participating in WWII reenacting as a correspondent and combat photographer, most of that time flat broke, but attending some events that are 7-8 hours away and last 3-4 days, and that's not counting the cost of uniforms, photographic equipment and supplies and the period gear. I know what it's like to stretch the budget because life is short.

I've diverted (probably too much) funding from practical things in my life to building an Alchemical lab because life is short.

Now, that's also a matter of perspective since I've targeted living to a-hundred-and-fifty, so I'm not even middle-aged yet.


04-04-2014, 07:32 PM
I'll give an example of how "local" most of the people are. The Salt Lake contingent have a 9 hour drive to get to the turn off into the desert. Probably 2/3 of the people are within a 2-3 day drive. Many people will go as a group and rent an RV complete with generator. Those are the elites if any are. You have to have enough fuel for a 200+ mile round trip at low off road speeds. Each person needs plenty of water and food. If setting up tents the stakes need to be 2 foot long pieces of rebar to be hammered into the playa, and removed again when you leave. 70mph winds should be expected. For a lot of people it is their vacation. Instead of going to the beach or the mountains, they go to the desert. I used to go to half a dozen group medical conferences per year as participant, exhibitor and often presenter. That was expensive. Lodging and food was often 200+ per day plus $500-$1500 for the ticket. As an exhibitor we had to ship all the stuff, the exhibit, and so forth. I also used to do Comdex. I always got a press pass for that and sold several articles. I also helped clients locate new products that could solve their computer needs. I had clients who had a company condo in LV or it would have been very expensive.

If I were going to do Burning Man, I might do so as a photographer and expect to sell pictures and picture collections afterwards. I would need generator and printers and everything needed to produce prints on the spot and my gift would be good photos of the people in costume or body paint or whatever themselves. And postcard size prints with address and so on for giveaways, art as advertising. Or I might throw an Alchemical or Goddess spin on things and do invocational circles with small numbers of suitable people.

I could be in some thousands of dollars on the photographic angle to be able to produce prints on the spot. Many groups have their accommodations and truckloads of their exhibit, both permanent and for supplies for temporary burn art. Taking a massage table and giving tantric massages would be less expensive and not take all the work beforehand but would occupy the afternoons for the week. Or maybe do vulva portraits. There are all sorts of possibilities.

I'm not into civil war re-enactments but that sounds like a lot of effort and highly participatory too. Burning Man is participatory. I can't imagine going to that as a spectator.

04-04-2014, 07:55 PM
Now, one could argue that "you have to eat anyway," but at home I'm not paying tourist prices, and nothing close to stuck-in-the-desert-a-hundred-miles-from-a-refrigerator prices.

You can bring a portable cooker. As for all the other costs you mention that is the same for a music festival in Europe. I said 300 USD but that is for ticket only... add drugs, food and travel. I used to go to Roskilde Festival for 15 years straight and I usually averaged about 2000 USD for ten days. And during those years I was certainly not in any economical advantage whatsoever... but I saved a little and had ten great days.


04-04-2014, 11:08 PM
I'm with you on this Dev. Everybody has a budget for recreation. Burning Man, like a music festival, which often costs about the same as Burning Man, if they run for a week, I would consider to be a suitable price. One of the major differences is that there are no vendors at Burning Man. You can't buy a meal. You bring it yourself or get invited to a meal. Everybody brings cooking gear, either as an individual or member of a group. Some of the largest groups' kitchens feed hundreds of people every day.

I spend on total about $150/month on recreation. I eat out only a couple times per year. I go to movies a or plays a few times a year. And I spend 2-3 months at a seasonal RV site in the Front Range west of Denver. My daily living costs on site are about the same there as at home, so all the cost goes to membership and site fees and improvements. I could do Burning Man, complete with postcard sized pictures for Alchemical theme photos of one kind or another, done with artistry, as gifts for the same price. $200/day for a ten day event is quite realistic and isn't elite. And if you slept in an 8-10 person RV with 8-10 people the cost is comparable to tent camping for 1 or 2 and you get cooking facilities and air conditioning too with a great deal of storage space and some refrigeration and can't blow away.

There is a whole lot of educational material for the first timer at Burning Man. I've read through it. You have to be prepared or your tent can blow away or run out of food and so forth. To me it sounds like a great deal of fun. I'm fine with camping and cooking. I don't expect room service at the Four Seasons when I'm camping. I got through Katrina in a tent once it reached Indiana. We got more than a foot of rain and high winds. We literally could not hear each other shout in the tent. I had come prepared for severe thunderstorms so we stayed dry and intact. It's important to be prepared for the almost sure to happen wind storms.

Dendritic Xylem
04-05-2014, 01:42 AM
I would have liked to go back in the old days. When there were fewer drunken frat boys.

There is a small regional burning man festival in eastern U.S called "Transformus".
It is MUCH smaller and is hosted in the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains instead of a desert. So water, food, and medical attention is more readily available. I would like to go at least once.

04-05-2014, 05:02 AM
My friend has gone twice now... And I haven't made it yet...

From what I hear it sounds like a celebration Dionysus style ;)

But, the good news is my friends and I annually get together on Red Mountain and burn things to the ground. You're all welcome to join :cool: