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

About the author: Maid Marian

Marian Goodell has been a member of the 6-person ownership structure of Burning Man since late 1996. Goodell has been Burning Man's Director of Business and Communications since 1997; and in 2003 she added oversight of the Department of Public Works. The Communications activities under Goodell’s jurisdiction include media relations, print production, and the Jackrabbit Speaks email newsletter; her Business duties include management of accounting, legal, government relations, and administrative processes. Her oversight of the organization's technology infrastructure has included the development of an internal document repository, the Burning Man web site, several blogs, and an image gallery. In 1997 she worked with Burning Man participants to create the Burning Man Regional Network. Goodell holds a BA in Creative Writing from Goucher College in Baltimore, Maryland and an MFA in photography from the Academy of Art University in San Francisco.

1,150 thoughts on “Burning Man Addresses 2012 Ticket Situation

  • People, if you don’t want scalpers buying tickets then quit putting out press release for publications like todays NY Times. Scalpers can read!!! When they (ok WE ) do read and the article says how it sold out last year and most certainly will again this year AND tickets EASILY sell for hundreds more then they cost it attracts attention.

    The article directly quoted Marian Goodell (maid marian) and some other long time burner from lexingon KY. Both went on and on about the scarcity of tickets and the high demand. We scalpers love finding out about events like this.

    Yes i have been brokering (sorry, Scalping) tickets LEGALLY at Burning Man for several years. We would much prefer a non sellout in which there are extra tickets to be bought from artists, participants last minute cancellations etc then resold to to people in need at the last minute. we would always make a little off a lot of people and at prices BELOW what they would pay at entrance box office. We don’t like very few transactions as was the case last year.

    What the BM community doesn’t need is any more publicity about how hard the tickets are to acquire and how “hundreds can be made by people reselling there tickets”

    You have a very good communication media in JRS and this website. Keep Bm for Burners and not the casual or trendy curiosity seekers or the garage ticket investors. Don’t speak to outside media and increase the demand and therefore scarcity of the tickets.

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  • My boyfriend put in a request for one ticket this year. I was upset with him. “What if you win and I don’t??” I put in for two. I won. We now both have tickets. I don’t regret putting in for those two tickets, for the peace of mind that I wouldn’t be going without him (or vice-versa), however I am sorry to hear of all the individuals now lacking tickets or stranded on their own. I also know that it’s not my fault, or any burner looking out for a single friend or significant other, that could cause such a catastrophe.

    This will be my second year going, his fourth. We haven’t been involved in “official” theme camps but certainly participate rather than spectate. We have attended a number of local events and made friends with Burners outside of the event, from all over the country and the world, and have been discussing plans for our own camp since the end of last year. Whether that camp will now come to fruition is still unknown.

    I am not sure that we would have gotten tickets if an application was required to demonstrate our past involvement, however I agree that there has to be a better way to distribute the remaining tickets and dissuade scalpers. I am also in favor of non-transferable tickets and distribution of the remaining tickets to theme camps and organizers.

    If it takes extra time to get through the gates, then so be it. It would be a shame to spend less time getting through the gates, only to arrive at a barren, uninspiring burn. I will gladly volunteer to check tickets against IDs if more man-power is the only obstacle.

    I will also keep my ears out for any theme camps that need an extra hand, and promise to volunteer as much time as possible from now until August, to ensure that the Home I discovered last year will be preserved for this year and many years to come.

    Much love,

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  • hhmmm

    My post from yesterday stating that I won’t be attending because of the lottery system even though I DID get tickets was removed.

    Wow! Guess you guys only want feedback to a point.

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  • As a long-time burner with a minor, one of the biggest challenges is always getting additional tickets for kids 13 and over. I suggest raising the age limit for free admission to 17 and under with proof of age required. This is a very small segment of the population, perhaps only a few hundred in total, but those tickets could be a huge help to the camps who need tickets. My $.02 :)

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  • The bitter sense of ‘veteran’ entitlement is a baffling response to the ardent freedom of creativity, spontaneity, and the amorphous landscape of the playa…it is the antithesis of radical self expression–upon definition of ‘What is Burning Man?, or in this case, (insert theme camp foot stomp here) “THIS IS BURNING MAN!!!” the very definition changes. It’s all very existential, really.

    The grounds upon which Burning Man grows is fertile with abundant possibilities! Fertilize Your Mind and fret not!!

    )*( Stand your ground BMorg! )*( Keep it Fresh! )*(

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  • “This is the end.”

    “All good things must come to an end.”

    “Noting here move on.”

    “Should I stay or should I go.”


    “We blew it”

    “Hind-sight is 20 20″

    “Larry new are car will be armored”

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  • If the general perception is that demand is just so much higher than supply why do BMorg think the STEP system will solve some ticket issues? If in all camps only 25% of people have tickets, even if 1 person had an extra, wouldnt they give it to their campmates?

    I am not mad, just disappointed and worried that we won’t get tickets, i ll lose the money i invested into the flights to NV, vacation time and my yearly friends reunion.

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  • Just fix it. I want tickets. Been attending year after year. Very disappointing. I work hard all year, sacrificing all other holidays in hope to unleash and express at Burning Man. Looks like I’ll be bottling all in this year with the current ticket situation.

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  • I guess all at 6th and market have all the volunteer helpyou need since my offers to help are now discarded. Sorry no one has the time. Chippermel in Marin. still going to reno and gerlach next month.

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  • when the cool people stop going, it will be embarassing to be there. Can you imagine the whining if expectations don’t meet reality? Grown up 39 year old three year olds stomping their feet in the dust and slamming up and down the front wheel of their utila trikes. oh my. It will be hilarious if no one goes. There is plenty of local cool stuff, like furr purr express going on to sate your desires for this kind of thing. Guess its time for everyone to grow up and stop expecting to be entertained all the time.. as Elton John once sang.. “you gotta grow some funk of your own, amigo”

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  • Hello dear dancers at Bmorg and community;

    I have to say, i just sat here and actually read through almost all of these comments, when i realized, a couple hours had gone by. Wow!! This torrent has washed over me like a wave of emotion. Thank you! It’s really nice to hear so much from everyone.

    Burning man makes me incredibly happy. I choose love. And so i trust that i will be there, along with every single living bean who makes it as well. It is a journey after all right! F U N !

    Things seem to have been thrown in a big soup bowl and mixed around. What will come out of it? Random is okay. It may not be what were used to or comfortable with. But it’s okay. Which is my message. To everyone. If you all want an apology, on behalf of All, i am deeply sorry. I am. Honestly, listening to these stories of camps filled with magic and art and teamwork, not being able to come together and cascade your love upon the playa is heartbreaking.

    I’m sorry.

    I personally do not have a ticket. But i never have. Yet, i make it, and always have a story to tell the likes of greatness. I have faith that whomever makes it will share their gift of presence and contribution in their own special way. Even if it’s a bunch of ageless kids naked in the sand, using the natural resources to create sound, dance, play and … really just have fun.

    So… remember. That it’s just for fun. And you’ll have that no matter where you end up this August. : )

    Trust. There is a large possibility that the organization actually cares and is going to do something about it. I promise i would. All of these comments share the same ideas. Which are amazing. YOUR IDEAS ARE AMAZING. maybe they will listen. So keep telling them how you feel. If not. I’m here to remind us. that everything is okay and All is full of Love.

    I agree with pricing the same and simple. Though, i do not agree, with naming tickets and ID’s, my heart says, that’s most of the fun… because i have been gifted a ticket and still believe in gifting greatly. I stand by it. Keep it simple ;)
    xx Blessingas

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  • There is plenty of room on the playa to expand the fence, if necessary. And as one can see from any aerial BRC photo that p l e n t y real estate was left unused within the fenced area after permit limit was reached.
    If the traffic seems too thick and slow – that is a good thing. The inexperienced speedsters should slow down and be preconditioned with outdoor advertising billboards showing wrecks from previous years.
    Tickets could be issued with staggered arrival times and dates.
    While we can be grateful that Gerlach appreciates the influx, consideration could be given to approaching the BR desert from the east end, Rt 140.
    If the scull digging is happening now one hopes that all is considered.

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  • Wow…..is all we can say….we have been active participants, volunteers, and city builders for the past 13 years in a row. We have returned from obligations in Europe, Latin American and many other remote locations to be part of, and create, the experience that is (was?) BM. We started as 2 reserved and ‘suspicious’ participants…..then we fell in love. We created employment contracts that assured that this time of year could not be questioned or prevented. We have arrived early to set up the city, we have stayed late to clean up the city, we have thrown what we believe is somewhat of a playa famous event….hand crafted martinis for a couple hundred of our newest family members every Wednesday for the last 13 years. We have grown to feed hundreds of people on a couple of days of the event, a road block bar that people search out to participate in. Over the years we have been asked to join this “formal” theme camp or that one…..we all chose to be the GDI Sunset Camp….we have served tequila shots at sunset to 10,000 or more that either planned their day around the poems and friendship or were just lucky enough to be passing by. Two years ago we projected and suggested that BM needed to decide if there was going to be any loyalty to those that made the event. From 2 we have become, depending on the year and economy, as many as 35….what did we get for this…..left out in the waiting line with the scalpers…and let us be very honest that is the biggest problem with the tickets this year; SCALPERS….and BM did everything but personally enable them through the poorly thought out and executed ticket practice. Last year one of our daughters desperately wanted to attend…..we tried every BM appropriate way to obtain her a ticket….could not happen….although for a price…a high price in dollars and morals, a ticket could be had….bless her, she was not going to play that game!

    So BM, we are not a formal theme camp, although we have camped in virtually the exact same spot for the past 13 years, we are not formal artist, but we have created many projects and contributed to many others, we are not performers, however we have brought joy happiness and altruistic joy to 10s of thousands through our interactions and activities, we are not a camping camp, but over the years we have housed and fed dozens and dozens of those that needed assistance, we don’t have an art car, but our extra bikes have been loaned out every year…..I could go on….would you like me to….or do you understand that some should receive tickets even if they do not fall within your definitions of who BM thinks they need. The basic fabric of BM is NOT just the formality of the camps or the structures of the city….ask around…..many (most?) would tell you it is about the those small things that all added up to one incredibly huge life event. Our youngest participant is 16 and our oldest 70….camping and making the event an event. I await your solution to the 12 of us that did all of the right things over the years to make BM BM!

    I await your solution….. Sincerely, TnT of Tracey’s Nightstand

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  • The fact that somebody is removing certain posts from this page is very disturbing. If you only want certain types of feedback, put that at the top, so people posting opinions you don’t agree with don’t waste their time typing up a post.

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  • tron nee here! Attention Burning Man.org,

    Art Camp Ticket (x2) Request:

    6x Burner.

    My art camp-mates and myself, always wait untill the last sales-tier-period to purchase our camp tickets, to help defray the costs for those who can’t afford the more costly tiers, isn’t that what has often been promoted as the community-thing-to-do? However, it appears, this year, this Burning Man ‘family’ style tradition now “belongs to the ages” along with all the other great but deads.

    So the question becomes, how do I get my two member electro-optical art camp into Black-Rock City this year?

    I should mention, I suppose, that I’ve presented (shared) my art with the various Burning Man events in the New Mexico and California areas.

    My humble electro-optical art structure, “The Light Chime”, took root in these ‘local’ Burning Man community events:

    Los Angeles Decom, 3 years,
    San Diego Decom, 1 year,
    ‘Leave No Burner Behind’ Burn Party in Los Angeles, (hosted by LA Artist Dale Youngman)
    ‘Leave No Burner Behind’ Mohave Party, (hosted by Athena Demos, LALA.org),
    ‘Burner Bake-Out’ gathering, Mystery Mtn, New Mexico (hosted by NM artist ‘Transit’)
    Elysium Festival, 2 years, San Diego, California area
    Sacred Gathering, 3 years, Mt Shasta, Ca, area
    and other underground Burner parties as well.

    Burning Man Years I’ve attended and Art I’ve shared

    Ridiculus & Dogma, BRC, 2003 (I was a horny clueless virgin hee hee)
    3:45 & Earth, BRC, 2004, I brought the ‘Playa-Stars’, fiber-optic LED buried street art
    8:30 & Catharsis, BRC, 2005, I brought the LED ‘Blinky-Camp’, burner-von-tron
    2:30 & Guess, BRC, 2006, I brought my !Long-Stryder! (750 feet) El Wire art
    9;30 & Coral Reef, BRC, 2007, I brought my 30’x30’x30′ ‘Light-Chime’ art structure
    2:15 & Bonneville (Bombed, somebody changed it, heh heh), BRC, 2008, Light-Chime & El Wire art
    ~8:00 & DNA, BRC, 2009, Light-Chime, +ten thousand LEDs and El Wire electro-optical art
    ~2:45 & Cairo, BRC, 2010, Light-Chime, ten thousand LEDs and El Wire electro-optical art

    This year, I’d like to present my ‘Trees-Of-Tears’ fiber-optical art and the Light-Chime, as well as my new LED hula-hoops I made for the Burning Man performance artists community.

    Re; my art….

    All my art structures are designed to be both safe and visually interesting, everything is powered from eco-friendly gel-cell batteries which do not out-gas nasty acidic fumes, while it is high energy, is fused, and all are recharged via green solar voltaic panels. While, and specifically, ‘The Light-Chime’ art structure is low voltage (3.6 Volts), and it is kiss-able safe, (I have photos of lovers kissing through the wires of the Light-Chime. BRC 2008)

    And as a side note, hula-hoopers and staff performers have been seen practicing their craft within the tron-curtain of the Light-Chime, they say, that it gives them visual boundary reference point, and they love being in the center of all the color refractions of the art. Hah! A yoga ‘exercise’ (bed and nine participants) was held within the tron-strings during the 2009 Elysium Festival. Looked like fun!

    Please consider including tron-camp in your selection process.

    Thank you,

    tron nee
    tronz ‘Light-Chime’ camp
    Los Angeles, Ca

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  • For weeks, our BM tribe has been fraught with worry, trembling with our tails between our legs, about ticket shortages and implications for the placed theme camp/time-share we keep in Black Rock City, our cherished Burning Man community, and the spiritual highs we experience in the dust. Anxiety, bad energy and blues permeated deep. We got down low.

    Enough. No good comes from it. For us, it stops now.

    Ganesh, for one, will rise to the occasion! (In part, because he got his front two legs lopped off. But he can still dance and pinch sparkle ponies with his proboscis.) We’re gonna stand tall, play the game on the table, and make it work the best we can. Ganesh overcomes obstacles. It will be.

    We invite Black Rock City to come play tennis on the Ganesh camp regulation court, enjoy cold drinks in a traditional desert tent from India, and interact with the Gifting Tree, old-timers and virgins alike! With or without a full crew, perhaps resorting to floozier booze, we commit to creating the best BM experience and camp we can.

    Burning Man is as much about trust, creative spirit, growth, joy and sharing as it ever was. We will not let go of that. We’re gonna party through the dust storm!

    We appreciate the earnest efforts of Burning Man organizers to take this crisis seriously, communicate candidly with the citizens, and come up with some solutions to help save Black Rock City. (Kind of like when Dr. Megavolt saved BRC from the Subjugator?)

    If we are still looking for ideas to encourage attendance by those who create or benefit more from attending Burning Man, announce the gates will close early, like noon on Thursday, so, in this period of privation, tickets will migrate more to those wanting more than just rolling in light for the peak. Announce an experimental policy of no RVs this year, unless medically necessary, so tickets will migrate to those game enough to create a camp, open up to the city, and experience the desert.

    Let’s open our minds and hearts to how we make this good.

    We’re gonna make it.

    All Good (aka James)

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  • oh crap, BMorg thinks picking up tickets at WillCall will be some kind of solution to dispensing tickets. Wrong!!!! One more line, more bureaucracy, more unhealthy mingling with disgruntled burners, more traffic issues, they are already charging for mailing in their service charges, why have people jump thru more hoops??

    don’t complicate things, mail all the tickets except for those who really want to get in another line or because of distance/timing issues feel that WillCall is a safe option for them. They will probably be mailing tickets to theme camp groups and artists, why can’t they mail to all who trust the postal system?

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  • To those who say theme camps are unnecessary… some theme camps provide truly valuable services. I read that one theme camp is entirely devoted to helping the disabled attendees get around the city. Black Rock Dept of Mobility is a camp run by attendees, NOT the LLC. They had 27 members lined up, and 10 clients already confirmed, along with golf carts, electric wheelchairs, and art cars with lifts. Of their 27 members, 3 got tickets. That means it is likely they can’t make it happen this year, leaving disabled participants without this service.
    the LLC and the community needs to recognize that numerous camps like this one actually provide services, not just djs. The fact that the lotto leaves these crucial camps out, shows the LLC doesn’t even know what services its own attendees provide.

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  • There was a meeting for Theme Camp Organizers at BMHQ on 2/15, which was streamed on-line to hundreds more theme camp organizers. The dept. of Mobility was specifically mentioned as a camp that needed to get tickets when it was said that many camps that provide critical services to the community needed to be protected. In fact, I would guess this particular camp was near the top of the list of reasons for holding back 10,000 tix. The criteria for the camps selected for getting tickets included service to community.

    Also, the placers have a really, really good understanding of what the camps in their sectors say they are going to do, and what they have actually done in years past. If you submit a plan for a registered theme camp and get placed, it will be your placer who actually takes you to your assigned space.

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  • Cindy, you are a troll, aren’t you? Not nice.

    Local residents get discounted tickets, not free. Or at least they did in the past. Some of the earlier comments here have been complaints about having to go to the box office and wait in line, starting last year.

    As I understand, all 10,000 tickets earmarked for the open sale are being diverted to theme camps and art cars. However, the Borg also came up with tickets for the volunteers (DPW, DMV, Lamp Lighters, Rangers, non-critical medical care, Center Camp Cafe staff, etc.), and they didn’t say where they came from. I’m guessing many of those were originally earmarked for local sale and diverted.

    Now, Cindy, how about apologizing for trying to stir up trouble? Hmmm. It’s 10:30. You probably won’t get this until tomorrow because mommy already put you to bed, right?

    Quick quiz. Should be easy if you really live in Gerlach. Everyone knows about Bruno’s and the Shell station. Name another bar and gas station.

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  • I have been wanting to go to burning man for years. I have helped with the art cars on vacation with friends for the past six years and have been saving money for two years so I could go this year. NOW you change the rules again at the last minute so the only way I can get a ticket is if I,m already registered or if I,m one of the privileged few. THANKS A WHOLE HULLUVA ALOT.

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  • Despite having no ticket for the first time in 14 solid years, I’m constructing new art & mapping my theme camp. Why? Well, back in 98 & 99, there weren’t many themecamps at all, just along the esplanade, but we had lots of block parties way back out along 8 & I. Though personally, I see hope as that last demon in Pandora’s box, I refuse to let this ticket dust-storm blow my dreams away. Never had a burnering plan work according to plan yet, but this one will take more than extra stakes & rope to fix!

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