The Burning Man is a “yearly week-long experiment in a temporary community dedicated to radical self-expression and radical self-reliance”. “Burning Man” was established in 1986 when San Francisco craftsman Larry Harvey assembled a little gathering of individuals on the Summer Solstice to consume an 8-foot wooden structure of a man at Baker Beach. Today, it takes place on a vacant lake bed in Nevada’s – Black Rock Desert. For six days of every August, the magnificent “Black Rock City” exists as a self-managing network.
Mind you, though all of this does NOT get any cheaper cost-wise with every year passing by. The festival costs over $8 million dollars to function optimally. Most of this money is collected usually via ticket sales.
Fun Fact- in 2006, a single ticket was selling at about $350.
A group of six individuals, driven by organizer Larry Harvey, plan and direct the entire celebration. The collections from the occasion are pooled as the capital financial resource kitty for organizing the next year’s celebration. Burning Man is very often confused for a music festival – nothing could be farther from the truth. Quite like Coachella, it’s rather like a temporary city made just for 7 days where the people AKA the “burners” can enjoy all forms of art, meet and connect with people, and roam around freely near the central location which is called the “playa”. While every and any thing is allowed at the Burning Man, the attendees must however religiously follow 10 core principles – which were drafted in 2004 by co-founder Larry Harvey and include guidelines regarding “radical inclusion”, “de-commodification,” and “leaving no trace”.
The bigger picture of Burning Man has transformed into a global phenomenon, and in essence it is intended to create a safe haven where anything is possible – with the noble resolve of returning the land back to how it was when the week is done and over. The most interesting concept at the week-long expedition is that money is not used at all during the week, anything you need can be bartered for or gifted. In the daytime, burners can check out new art, watch movies, explore the playa, or participate in a variety of other activities. While at night, the playa completely transforms into a club like atmosphere gaily lit up with psychedelic lighting, DJs, and dance parties. The downside and probably the only sad part is that no cell phones are permitted for the entire tenure of the festival. However, there are pay-phones all through the playa. So all the Instagram stories and Twittering has to wait till it’s all finally over.
Burning Man 2018 started on August 26th and went on till September 3rd. For people who missed it this year, the next year event is scheduled from August 25 – September 2, 2019, in the Black Rock Desert of Nevada. Participants join in the effort to co-create Black Rock City, a temporary metropolis dedicated to art and community.
Well, Burning Man is not exactly a festival! It’s a city in itself wherein almost everything that happens is created entirely by its citizens, who are active participants in the experience. The 10 Core Rules of the Burning Man are as follows-
- Radical inclusion – anybody can be a part of Burning Man.
- Gifting – it is the premise of Burning Man.
- Decommodification – there is no sponsorship or publicizing at the Burning Man.
- Radical independence – you are urged to depend on and find yourself.
- Radical self-articulation – emerges from the extraordinary endowments of a person.
- Collective effort – cooperate with one another.
- Civic duty– society ought to be affable and regard every single outside law.
- Leaving no trace – tidy up after oneself and leave the space better than it was when you arrived.
- Participate – change happens through profoundly close personal participation
- Promptness – look to beat obstacles.
The main event happens on the second last night, when the Burning Man statue, or “the Man,” burns. It’s been a tradition since 1986 when the founder Larry Harvey and his friend Jerry James lit up an improvised wooden figure on a San Francisco Beach and just watched it burn. The statue, which is in the center of Black Rock City, has grown over the years, from eight feet tall in 1986 to 50 feet in 1997 to 105 feet in 2017. This tradition is followed the next day with something known as “Burning of the Temple”. It’s said to be quite different from the burning of the man statue. It is marked by pin-drop silence and is quite intriguing to watch.
In conclusion, I think the Burning Man is another one of the human races’ effort to find peace and solace from their everyday humdrum lives. To remind them of simpler times, of a time when hate wasn’t prevalent as much and all the world cared about wasn’t money and power. The Burning Man is definitely on my Bucket List, how about YOU?
Written by Arundhati Bhatia (4th year)