Traffic at Burning Man: What YOU Can Do About It

Let’s get one thing out of the way right off the bat: this post will not reveal a magic solution to Burning Man’s traffic woes. There is no wand to wave to quickly transport you onto the playa and prevent you from ever having another exhausting Exodus experience. If I said that, you’d know I was lying, because getting 60,000 people in and out of Black Rock City using a two lane rural highway is no easy task. Traffic will, for the foreseeable future, be a part of the Burning Man experience.

Exodus 2005. Photo by Borealis Aurora

Yep, I said it. And I know you know it. So, let’s talk about what we can do to make getting in and out of BRC a better experience for everyone, and consider what constitutes reasonable wait times.

We are continually evaluating ways to improve the process of getting into and out of Burning Man. Some of these will require years of planning, while others can be implemented more easily. Here are some of the changes we are working on for 2012: (more…)

Behind the Scenes: DPW/Gate Work Weekend at the Ranch

When people say “I could put on a Burning Man event, you just need to draw some roads and bring porta-potties, right?”, I wish they could see what happens behind the scenes. The amount of work that goes into the event is staggering, yet much of it is completely invisible to participants. Take for example, the work weekends up at the Burning Man Ranch that start in the spring and continue into summer.

Photo by Miranda von Stockhausen

I attended the last combined DPW/Gate work weekend for the year and, not having a particular task to do, was adopted by Gate.

I spent much of the day in the warm desert sun, painting steps. From my central location, I got to watch the busy hum of activity in the common shop area, as well as a small crew building a small “shack” (which was remarkably well-constructed for something called a shack). I overheard one of the construction managers say to a volunteer: “We don’t care about getting this done fast. We want it to be good.” (more…)

Job Opening: BRC Event Operations Director

The Burning Man Founders are excited to announce a new open position at BRC: Event Operations Director. This person will oversee the event-related logistics and operations of Black Rock City and all event-related departments (ESD, Community Services, Playa Safety Council [Rangers, Gate/Perimeter/Exodus, DMV], DPW, Café and Ice, and Art) as well as all physical manifestations of the event.

This position will be taking on the Founders’ event-related responsibilities, which will allow them to transition to the Burning Man Project as their main focus.

We are taking applicants both internally and externally, so please send this to people who you think may be great for this role. The best candidates come from other Burners!

POSITION AVAILABLE: BRC Event Operations Director

LOCATION: Burning Man San Francisco office

Submit resume and cover letter by 6pm on Sunday, July 29th, using this link.


The BRC Event Operations Director will oversee and direct the ongoing event operations and logistics of the Burning Man event. This role will manage six event-related departments and oversee strategic planning and decision-making for the long-term success of the event. The Event Operations Director will consult with the Burning Man Founders on decisions, and will have full authority to make all decisions in fulfilling the responsibilities set forth in the job description.

The responsibilities of the BRC Event Operations Director will include but are not limited to:

*General management of event-related departments

*Event operations production and management

*Participation in the Executive Committee, the Leadership Forum, and staff-wide meetings, retreats, and processes

*Oversight of the Operations Team Committee

*Participation in External Relations

*Budgetary Oversight

For comprehensive details on the duties and essential functions of this role, as well as a list of qualifications and physical requirements, please view the complete job listing.

This is a full-time, regular position eligible for benefits in our San Francisco office.

Submit resume and cover letter by 6pm on Sunday, July 29th, using this link.

All the World’s a Stage – and Burners are hecklers

Photo by Kadellar

What do Burning Man and Stand-up Comedy have in common?


Hecklers in the default world share certain values with Burning Man:  participation, for one.  They’re not just sitting back and watching the show.  Immediacy is another:  very few hecklers are just going through the motions.  They have something to say and, goddamit, they care.

I’m going to suggest that this comparison is more than skin deep:  that stand-up comedy is one of the few default world art forms that frequently connects with the same energy Burning Man produces.  We’d like to think, in this comparison, that Burners are the stand-ups … the artists.  But what if we’re the hecklers?

The morality of heckling is a philosophical conundrum that emerges from time to time when a comedian really, really, tears into someone.  The most recent example is Daniel Tosh.  According to media reports, Tosh was doing a set at The Laugh Factory when he lapsed into an “extended riff” on how funny rape jokes are, saying:   “how can a rape joke not be funny?  Rape is hilarious.” (more…)

We Are All Magic!

I have a friend named Party Radar and I have known her for over 10 years in the Burning Man community. We have been on volunteer teams together, I have seen her dance on a bar (one of those things you see in movies but don’t really ever expect to see real people doing unless they are getting paid), and she sometimes lives in the world as a bunny. She sent me a little story the other day and asked if there were a way to get it posted on the Burning Blog. Well, who can say no to a bunny.

Once when I was at Burning Man I was working at my job at Volunteer Resources. This is when it was still behind Center Camp. This older gentleman comes up. He looked like this kind of nutty engineering type guy. He was wearing a plain white t-shirt that was horribly unfancy so I decided to help him. I took my sparkly t-shirt paint and wrote “Kiss Me” on his shirt. I told him that now not only does he look a lot better but now people will want to kiss him. He said something like ‘Yeah, now all I have to do is find someone to kiss me’, as if that would NEVER happen.  No sooner had those words passed his lips but some sassy little lady around his age turned to her right and said “I’ll kiss you” and she planted one right on him (a good one too) then they took off together. It was MAGIC.

Turnkey Camping Guidelines

Peter Doty’s “Christmas Camp”, Burning Man’s first theme camp, 1993. Photo by Gerry Gropp.

[Please note we’ve changed the nomenclature for these types of camps from “Plug & Play” to “Turnkey” to better reflect the way they function.]

Groups of people who set up a camp at Burning Man – or hire help to set up a camp – with the explicit intention of having things ready to go in advance of the arrival of others, are engaging in what we’ve termed “Turnkey camping” (see previous posts on this topic here and here).

In recent years, we’ve seen a rise in Turnkey camping services, and the Burning Man organization has decided to address the issue by providing guidelines for these camps and their organizers. We thought you’d like to see them.

We welcome your feedback on this topic in the comments section below. (more…)

What’s Up With Traffic at Burning Man?

[Kristy Evans is a senior manager in the Gate, Perimeter and Exodus Department, where she has helped manage the task of getting people in and out of Black Rock City since 2007.  The logistics of traffic, people movement, and staffing a huge department still fascinate her, and with an ever growing city there is always more work to do. She first made the trek to the Black Rock Desert in 2003 and began volunteering in 2005 with Gate. She is a member of the Burning Man Leadership Forum, and you can read the rest of her bio here.]

Exodus Traffic, 2004. Photo by Jocko Magadini

Getting participants in and out of Black Rock City is one of our greatest challenges, and we figure it’s high time to share our ongoing work on the traffic front with you. For most Burners it isn’t the most vibrant topic, except for some of us nerdy types who like to think about systems and logistics (which is probably how we found ourselves huddling around fire barrels drawing traffic scenarios in playa dust for fun).

After the 2011 event, we received more responses (through our Feedback Loop process via about traffic and wait times than any other topic. And we are listening. Those of us in the Gate, Perimeter & Exodus Department have been reading your feedback for years and have carefully considered the many suggestions put forth by the community. (more…)

En Los Barrios: Theme Camps at Nowhere

Pirate Shenanigans at Pillage Village

Like our annual event in Black Rock City, Nowhere 2012 is truly a global gathering. Now in its 9th year, Nowhere is one of the largest Burning Man Regional events and drew over 1,100 participants this past week to the desert plains outside of Zaragoza, Spain.  Over the past nine years, Nowhere has served as a nexus for the Regional groups throughout the world who keep the ethos of Burning Man alive year-round. For these international Burners, making the trip aboard to the U.S. for Burning Man is a major undertaking and it can often be quite challenging to gather the supplies and materials needed to build a theme camp or a large-scale art project. Most of the participants do make the annual journey to BRC but often join up with other U.S.-based camps and artists. Nowhere is their chance to go BIG in their creation of their theme camp homes at Nowhere and to do so in their own unique cultural style. (more…)