Rolling Out the STEP System

The Urban Stoop by Craig Cooper and James Dufour, Photo by Jay Faulconer

Burning Man’s Secure Ticket Exchange Program (STEP) launches this week. STEP is an online system that facilitates the safe resale of tickets that have been purchased directly from Burning Man, and is designed to provide a hassle-free, secure way of buying and selling Burning Man tickets while avoiding scammers, counterfeits and scalpers.

We’ve created a comprehensive FAQ about STEP that will answer any questions you may have about the program … but we wanted to let you know how it’s going to roll out this week so you can plan accordingly. Here’s how it will go:

On Wednesday, February 29 at 12 noon PST, STEP will be opened to those who have tickets they want to sell. We’ll be emailing everybody who bought tickets through our Pre-Sale or Main Sale in the next two days, inviting you to sell your extra tickets into STEP. If you’re one of these people, watch your inbox for that email (if you don’t get an email by Thursday, visit and select “Missing STEP email” from the drop down menu). People selling tickets into STEP will be credited the face value of the ticket and any delivery fees, but not the original service fees; Burning Man will cover the credit card merchant fees for the refund. You’ll be able to sell your tickets into STEP anytime until August 7, 2012 (if they are being held at Will Call), after which STEP will be closed.

On Friday, March 2 at 12 noon PST, we’ll open up STEP to those wanting tickets, inviting those who registered for the Pre-Sale and Main Sale but did not receive tickets to join the “want tickets” queue, on a first-come first-served basis. If you are one of those people, watch your inbox for an email containing sign up information in the next few days (if you don’t get an email by Thursday, visit and select “Missing STEP email” from the drop down menu). When you opt to turn your original Pre-Sale or Main Sale registration into a sign up for the “want tickets” list, you will be signed up as requesting the same number of tickets through STEP as you originally requested.

When a ticket becomes available through STEP, the person at the front of the queue will be sent an email giving them an opportunity to purchase the ticket(s). Tickets will be sold at face value of the original ticket, plus service ($6/ticket + $1/order) and Will Call delivery fees ($12/order). You will only be offered the next ticket(s) available; unfortunately, we’re not able to maintain three queues for three separate ticket price points, so you will only have the option of whatever price point comes up next in the queue. If you decline the ticket(s) or don’t purchase them within 72 hours of their becoming available, the next person in the queue will be given the opportunity to purchase them. If you decline a ticket, you will lose your place in the queue and will not be able to sign up again.

All tickets purchased through STEP are non-transferable, and will be held at Will Call for pick up. If you purchase a ticket through STEP but then decide you cannot attend the event, you can sell it back into STEP for somebody else to purchase, as long as you do it before August 7, 2012.

If you have any questions, please review our FAQ.

Burning Man’s Secure Ticket Exchange Program (STEP) Policy Change

Photo by Gina Hansen

Last week we announced (in “Rebuilding Black Rock City 2012”) changes to the sales process for Burning Man 2012 tickets, including adjustments to the Secure Ticket Exchange Program (STEP). At that time we announced a policy of allowing people to purchase only one (1) non-transferable ticket per person through STEP.

However, after further consideration and much feedback from you, we’ve decided that this policy is unfair to people who originally registered for two tickets in the Main Sale, one for themselves and one for their significant other, family member, friend, or campmate.

We hear you, and we’re listening. That’s why we’re adjusting this policy to allow people who originally registered for two tickets in the Main Sale to request a maximum of two tickets per person through STEP. (If our records show that you originally registered for only one ticket in the Main Sale, you can only request one ticket through STEP.) All tickets purchased through STEP are non-transferable, and will be held at Will Call only. These tickets should be for you (or you and an identified guest).

Also, it’s important to note that STEP will have only as many tickets available as there are people who sell their tickets into it. We believe that people will also be selling/giving tickets within their immediate circle of friends and local community- and we aren’t trying to change that. It’s likely that few will find themselves holding “extra” tickets without already having a friend or camp mate in need, so we don’t anticipate STEP will have a high, regular flow of tickets; we anticipate an early influx and then a trickle as people’s plans develop, though we’d be happy to be proven wrong on this. We also know that in any typical year, there is a fair amount of summertime turnover as the event gets closer and life events cause Burners’ plans to change. We encourage you to first seek out tickets from your immediate community of friends and cohorts, as well as any other avenues for acquiring face-value, legitimate tickets as you can find, without patronizing scalpers.

If you are eligible to participate in STEP, you’ll be receiving an email at the end of February with information about how to sign up. For more information about Burning Man tickets and STEP, please see our ticket page.

[UPDATED: 2/23/12] Burning Man will be staffing up the on-playa Box Office to accommodate however many tickets are being held at Will Call in order to keep wait times to a minimum.

Ticket Update: Rebuilding Black Rock City 2012

Marian Goodell is a Founding Board Member of Black Rock City LLC, and Burning Man’s Director of Business and Communications.

PARAGRAPH UPDATES (2) below: 2/15/12: 9:15 PM PST


We promised we would get back to you by February 15th with our plans to resolve the ticket situation for Burning Man 2012. We all know there aren’t enough tickets for everyone who wants to participate in Black Rock City. However, it’s clear that the current situation has created holes in our social fabric. Many of the core volunteers, major interactive camps, art car projects, performance groups, and funded and unfunded art projects do not have enough tickets to bring their works to the playa. Here’s how we will remedy these challenges as fairly as we believe possible:

  1. Burning Man organizers and staff will issue tickets to major theme camps and art projects using a process outlined below.
  2. We will launch the STEP program on February 29th. Only those who registered and did not receive confirmation of tickets will be given access to STEP.
  3. Low Income ticket applications will be accepted beginning February 29th.

There’s no way to sugarcoat this: the hard truth is that there are a lot of you who want to come to Black Rock City to celebrate your participation in the Burning Man culture this year, but not everyone will be able to attend. That sentence is about as painful to write as it is for you to read. We dearly wish we could just welcome everyone who feels drawn to Black Rock City. But, as we have explained in Andie Grace’s blog post: “Radical Inclusion, Meet the Other Nine,” it’s not possible to simply increase the number of tickets available for Burning Man 2012.

And unfortunately, the random draw of the Main Sale left inordinately large numbers of our core contributors — art teams, theme camp creators, mutant vehicle builders, performers, and Burning Man volunteers — without tickets. In fact, the ratio was so unexpectedly large it has punched significant holes in Black Rock City’s artistic, civic and functional infrastructure, putting the integrity of the event itself at risk. If we let market forces play out as they could with the remaining available tickets, it’s likely that Black Rock City would be functionally untenable for many of the collaborations that comprise our desert event. (more…)

Ticket Update: Radical Inclusion, Meet the Other Nine

First things first:

For all the frustration, anxiety, stress, and heartache this year’s ticket lottery has caused, please accept another humble apology.

Photo by John Curley

This is no time for issuing statements or putting a spin on anything. The system may have worked, but the cultural outcome sure didn’t, and even though some of you saw that coming and said so, we didn’t, and for that we are sorry.

The current trajectory is not acceptable. Even people who did get tickets aren’t cheering right now, since so many of their camps and friends are standing out in the cold. Entire groups are worried they’ll have to scrap all their plans. Burning Man is a participatory and collaborative event, and many collaborations are perilously close to falling apart.

Clearly we must reevaluate, but first we want to say more about what we’ve heard, how we got here, and what our next steps will be.


Ticket Thoughts (Part 3)

There is still much to be figured out. And much to be learned.
Tons has been written about in comments and blogs. In addition to the official statement, Maid Marian spoke with NPR on Feb 9.

For the record, my intention is not to offer solutions to the situation – only to help see positive aspects of any situation – just like the Playa taught me. If my optimism has upset you, my apologies.

Here is yet another installment of my thoughts on the 2012 Ticket Situation – including the story – & lessons – of “The Fall of Xara” at Burning Man 2000.

And an extra video with a message for Burning Man Virgins:

**NOTE: I AM NOT AN OFFICIAL REPRESENTATIVE OF BURNING MAN. I am merely a Participant with a passion for the event, people, and Principles of Burning Man. **

Feb 22 – Secure Ticket Exchange Program (STEP) opens
March 28th – Open Sale (10,000 additional tickets)

2012 Ticket Trials 2.0

Whoa. Yep, it seems worse than expected.
“Radical Inclusion” + Awesome Experience + [Supply < Demand] = The reality of our current situation.
And ya know what? This may not be a bad thing.

**NOTE: I AM NOT AN OFFICIAL REPRESENTATIVE OF BURNING MAN. I am merely a Participant with a passion for the event, people, and Principles of Burning Man. **

Feb 22 – Secure Ticket Exchange Program (STEP) opens
March 28th – Open Sale (10,000 additional tickets)


The sun heats up my tent like an oven, awakening me from my deep sleep. I am comfortable and content, but my feelings of comfort do not come from my old worn down cot or my dust covered blankets. As I sit up and inhale, I feel the hot, dusty air dry up my mouth and throat. I look to my right and see my best friend, an unshowered “burner girl” with a bandana covering her mouth and nose, sitting up on her cot. She hands me my water bottle and tells me to drink some water, I tell her to do the same. I feel my insides soak up my first sips of water like a sponge. I surrender myself to water, knowing that without it, I wouldn’t survive half a day marinating in the desert’s hot sun and inhaling its dry and dusty air.

I roll out of my cot and prepare myself for the day. The luxury of a shower is a distant memory, but I do not miss it as I wash my sticky skin with baby wipes. I put on my clothes for the day, a floral corset paired with lace underwear, and step outside of my tent. The sun is already high and the blue sky is bright and endless. I share a quick breakfast with my friend, who is new to the city and intoxicated with its indescribable perfection. We get on our fur-covered bikes and begin our journey through the streets of Black Rock City.

The streets are wide and busy. There are no lanes and people on bikes and on foot move freely without direction. I smile and wave to everyone I pass, as if seeing an old friend for the first time. I am connected to each person in the city. It is the city that connects us; we are all children of the desert. I smell hot coffee and breakfast cooking, and a bare-chested woman in a tutu and a sunhat offers my friend and I a meal. We want to stop and chat, but this morning, we are on a mission, so we continue to pedal down the road.

The roads finally end and we stop to look at the open playa. I squint my eyes as I look at the miles of desert, scattered with mountainous art installations and flowing with the childlike people of Black Rock City. My friend and I are speechless as we watch the heart of our city. I hear its heartbeat, an indescribable combination of sounds that make up one flowing beat. In the distance, I see our destination, the temple of Burning Man. Even from far away, the temple is beautiful and serene. It is large and isolated from the hustle and bustle of the city. I see a dust storm ahead and my legs are sore and weak from pedaling, but the sight of the temple encourages me to continue on.

We finally arrive at the temple and park our bikes among the hundreds of others. My friend and I smile at one another and walk separate ways. I walk around in silence, feeling in sync with each person around me. I look at the walls, which are covered with pictures and words expressing the sorrows and joys of the city. I pick up a pen to write a small message to my pain from the past year and my fears of the future. My message seems small and insignificant to others. I look around and see men and women mourning deaths, divorces, and loss. I also see uplifting celebrations of growth, new love, and various rites of passage.

As I enter the largest and most central room of the temple, I am greeted with a beautiful fusion of bells and drums creating a harmonious love song. The people sprawled out on the ground create a labyrinth of still bodies. Beneath the bells and drums I hear prayers and chants. I lie down among my brothers and sisters of Black Rock City and close my eyes. The ground is hard and rough, but I only notice for a moment before sinking into the earth. As I surrender my frantic mind to the temple, I feel a peaceful stillness radiate through me. I feel safe and secure within the walls of the temple, and experience a connection to my surroundings and myself that I have never felt before. I know this is where I belong.

A few days later, I celebrate my last day in the city by watching the temple burn to the ground. I stand in perfect silence with the 60,000 residents of Black Rock City as we watch our fears and sorrows burn. We release them together as we watch the smoke rise and the temple fall. A structure that once looked so delicate and simple now appears strong and sturdy, as it fights to stand tall against the flames.

I close my eyes and remember my first day in Black Rock City, just one week prior. As I entered the gates of the city, citizens of Black Rock enthusiastically greeted me. “Welcome home!” they exclaimed, before embracing me in an excited hug. I open my eyes as I hear a section of the temple crash to the ground. My face is hot from the massive flames and I momentarily turn away, allowing the cool air of the desert night to calm my burning cheeks. I play back the words I heard my first day in the city. Welcome home. I am sad knowing that tomorrow I will have to return to my life of normalcy, but my weeklong stay has left something powerful and magical inside of me.

While I am only able to experience Black Rock City for one week out of each year, it is where I feel most at home. In times of frustration and confusion, I close my eyes and recall my home. I remember inhaling the dusty air and the soft breeze cooling my sun soaked skin. I remember the tranquil feelings of peace and harmony I felt at temple, and the heat I felt as I watched it burn. Most importantly, I remember the people, my brothers and sisters of Black Rock City. While we only assemble for one week of the year, it is comforting to know that I have 60,000 soul mates spread all over the world who share the same home.

by madison boscole

Burning Man Addresses 2012 Ticket Situation

Marian Goodell is a Founding Board Member of Black Rock City LLC, and Burning Man’s Director of Business and Communications.

[UPDATE: The last paragraph of this post was updated on February 6, 2012.]

Participants, friends, Burners, community:

The Burning Man organization recognizes that the ticket registration and random drawing process has caused many participants frustration and concern over whether they can attend the event this year.

Black Rock City 2011, Photo by Luke Szczepanski

A team of Burning Man staff and organizers, who have been working on the ticketing process since August 2011, met Thursday to review what happened and what can be done moving forward.

The organization is looking at short term fixes and long term solutions to improve the ticketing process to make it work as well as possible for as many people as possible.

Following phone conversations with major theme camp and art group organizers, we determined that only 20%-25% of the key people needed to bring those projects to the playa had received notifications for tickets. A number of people also told us they’d used multiple credit cards and asked friends to register for them as a way to increase their chances of getting tickets. Those who received more tickets than they need said they are considering how to redistribute them.

We believe we need two weeks to let the dust settle to see how much redistribution happens. Even with that redistribution we know that key people and projects may not get confirmations in time to move forward with their plans. We are looking at options to keep that from happening.

Burning Man’s most important priority is to make sure the community stays intact in the face of the current challenges. Combining what we learned from the phone conversations and what we’ve heard from the Burner community, we’ve come up with some ideas to address the short term issues. We will continue to gather information and listen to your feedback as we work towards announcing our plans within two weeks.

In the meantime we urge our community not to buy from scalpers or from large resale sites. We will have the Secure Ticket Exchange Program (STEP) activated on February 22. This is the most secure and hassle free way to enter the re-sale system. Please use it.

Those registrants who received rejection letters should keep an eye on your email as information about STEP and any other options will be made to you first.

Not everyone who wants a ticket this year will get one, that is clear — the demand clearly exceeds supply. But we are going to do everything we can in the coming days to ensure that we preserve and respect the community that supports and creates this event both in the short term and long term.

We will be reaching out to you and working with you to make that happen. We recognize that we have work to do to repair the faith in the organization. We are very sorry for the frustration, anxiety and deep disappointment this year’s ticketing experience has caused for so many citizens of Black Rock City.


All of us here at the Burning Man Organization