2013 Low Income Ticket Program Underway

Ticket cuddle puddle

The Low Income Ticket Program for Burning Man 2013 is now accepting applications!

The Low Income Ticket program provides 4,000 tickets (at $190 each) — while supplies last — to those who provide proof of financial hardship. Our Ticketing department reviews each application and awards tickets to those who are best able to demonstrate need. Applicants should receive a response within 4-6 weeks of submitting their application. These tickets are non-transferrable and must be purchased and picked up at Will Call in Black Rock City.

Visit our ticketing page for information about how to apply. We will announce via the Jackrabbit Speaks Newsletter when these tickets are gone.

Good luck!

UPDATE (4/15/13): The 2013 Low Income Ticket program is no longer accepting applications. The process of reviewing applications and awarding tickets is still in progress.

BRC Census: Were You Counted? Did You Count?

The Black Rock City Census team at work, dusty.

Hey, did you notice us while you drove up to the Black Rock City gate? We were the ones wearing white lab coats, asking you questions, and having tons of fun. One of us had a fox face, one of us had glowing green Medusa hair, and several of us had bunny ears and fishnet stockings. On some days, we were all coated in a thick layer of dust.

If you met us out there, then you already know what this year’s Census sampling team was up to. We recited our informed consent scripts, and let you know that your participation was completely voluntary and anonymous. We explained how our volunteer researchers would use a few tidbits of data about you to get a sense of who, exactly, comes to Burning Man. And then you took four or five minutes to answer eight questions on a paper form, and voila!, you had given your first gift to Burning Man. The gift of data.

The backbone of this sampling effort, naturally, was our extraordinary volunteers! We had five sampling teams that covered five sampling shifts, some of them pre-dawn (we got to watch the sun rise together!) and some of them in the full blast of midday dust. We welcomed you home, and most of you were happy to help us out. Thanks! Then our datatypistas set to work digitizing your survey responses, so we could analyze the data.

But why did we do this? This year we expanded our Census project to include data collection from a randomized sample, which was a first for us. Why you ask? (more…)

Why I’m going on a five month walk

My three-year-old niece has recently begun a cycle that myself, my mother, my grandmother, and my great grandmother all experienced around the same age. She dreams of snakes each night, wakes up screaming, still seeing them slither over her bed even as she regains consciousness. She never had a traumatic experience involving a snake. I’ve never even seen her shriek at the sight of one. In fact, I once placed a small snake in the palm of her hand, and she giggled joyously as it wiggled about in her palm. “He’s tickling me,” and then an uneasy look emerged over her face, “Okay, it’s time for baby snake to go home to mommy.”

It’s no secret that man has a natural enmity towards snakes. The serpentine form and vertical pupil is deeply ingrained in our psyche. It inspires fear from deep recesses of our primordial memory, wherein their jaws were mysterious threats to our species’ survival. But there is a reason the ancients used snakes as a symbol of power, wholeness, and health. The fact is that healing takes wounds, and overcoming the fear of their existence, looking in the depth of the bite marks, acknowledging the teeth and the flesh from whence they emerged—and not flinching back, is sometimes all it takes for the unification to begin.

My final full day at Burning Man I woke up an hour before sunrise, dressed in my favorite Victorian gown, grabbed my typewriter, neon arts and crafts supplies, a couple scoops of hemp hearts and almonds and made off for Center Camp. I had intended to write poems for people at Burning Man before this. My friend Margaret and I were hired to create wearable self-reflecting poetry for audience members as the TypewriterGirls for the Work of Art Awards Ceremony in Pittsburgh about five years ago. It quickly turned into one of our favorite activities. But somehow each time I planned to set up shop at Centre Camp, I was sidetracked—by Gnostic Masses, Sufi Whirling, Acro-Yoga, adjustable four story climbing structures, Elvis Espresso Camp, cinnamon toast stands, steam rooms, Old Testament story re-enactments, 10 am contact dance parties, etc. But this time, I had new vision and was determined to inaugurate it in the desert dawn.

I was inspired by a sacred stone ritual held at Nectar Village wherein a group of women wrote the most damaging stories they carried as a part of themselves on piece paper, wrapped gemstones inside them, and then burnt them in a pit full of playa dust after reading them out loud. It was a process intended to alchemize the words and stones into powerful amulets for future battles. This was precisely the kind of healing that I hoped to accomplish through the interview poetry writing sessions. Beyond writing out a short personal narrative or extended vignette packed with symbols snagged from dream recollection or intuited from conversation, I would attempt to write out each burner’s full-blown fantasy self, attempting to produce a condensed hero’s journey.

The interview process lasted about fifteen minutes or until I felt like I had enough material and structure to begin alchemizing. I asked each burner questions about powerful childhood dreams, their driving goals and fears, their most formative battles, the most important symbols in their lives, their earliest and most recent experiences of awe, other individual that shape how they view themselves, and their conflicts and contractions. In short, I guided our conversation so that might discover potent images and structures that could be used as powerful personal symbols to effect transformation. The most important thing in each of these poems was to create both a narrative that the individual could identify with and strive towards utilizing a system of symbols that could take on a myriad of layers of meaning. In as short amount of time as possible, I also tried to them aesthetically pleasing and accessible. This was not easy. It was exactly as draining as you would think it would be, but oh so worth it. After composing the poem, I typed it onto the colorful cart stock, punched a hole in the corner and strung it with ribbon to be worn as an amulet for protection in future battles or placed on their altars.

Perhaps due to the ethereal surroundings, but also due to the fact that merely having someone listen to you intently and bear witness to your most personal stories is powerful in-and-of-itself, each individual that heard these poems aloud for the first time was moved to tears. Half of them stated it was one of their best Burning Man experiences. Then around 2:30, I discovered that a fellow who I thought had been watching the acro-yoga going on around my station at Center Camp had been listening to my questions for the past couple of customers. “Are you a psychologist? You should join up with my camp. We have free advice booths.” “No, no. I’m just a poet. I’ve been writing poems for people like this for a few years with my performance group.” “Well, you know it’s very like narrative therapy. Have you heard of it?”

This doesn’t surprise me, but it cinches something. I’m suddenly certain of why I’m here. I’m trying to heal some of the wounds that our toxic society lays on our psyche with their damaging stories of “you’re not good enough” “that person is hurting you” “you have to be better than her at____” or “you have to defeat this____”, or that any such qualifiers should even exist in the ultimate reality that we should be attempting to build in our collective psyche.

It took a while to fully process this experience. I quit my job. I looked in a million different directions to fulfill this calling. I’m still not certain of my future, but I know where I’m heading now. I’m going to walk across the country doing what it is that makes me that happiest. I’m going to write poetry for people. I’m going to write new myths that break down borders and wash away the soot. And while I’m at it, I’m going to try to inspire others to do so, and collect them in what I’m calling The Poetry Pilgrim Project.

by Crystal Hoffman

The Transformation

In the last 4 years my uncle, my dad, my mom, then my brother had passed away. Up until the burn i had some pretty tough times in my life and i still do actually. That was all about to change. At Burning Man i was finally able to let go of them at the Temple. The night before the burning of the Temple i went into the Temple to write down words of love for my loved ones and said a prayer for them. The next night as the Temple burned i hug my fellow burner family as i cried. I then began to pray and meditate for my loved ones. Inside my minds eye i saw red lights transform into flowing blue lights that radiated throughout my body then bursting outwards in rays of blue light into the surrounding atmosphere around myself. When i finally opened my eyes again i knew that the rest of my life would be different and that i would be better. Burning Man has changed my life. The thing i love most about Burning Man is that i fell in love with the people of Burning Man. I may have lost my old family but i had just gained a new FAMILY <3

by Bill Ball

Why does Burning Man have no literary culture?


This dictionary has a lot of words in it, but picking a “word of the day” is not a literary culture.

John Curley once wrote that many of the world’s greatest photographers come from around the globe specifically to take pictures at Burning Man.  It’s obvious why.  Burning Man has pioneered a unique visual aesthetic.

Look at a picture:  there’s no question that it came from Burning Man.

It’s not just photography.  Look at sculptures, or installation art:  there’s no ambiguity which are in a “Burning Man” style and which aren’t.  Some people at Burning Man may do other things (God bless ‘em) but Burning Man has still pioneered a distinctive look in the fine arts that many imitate but no one else really owns.

Architecture?  Same thing.  Fashion?  You betcha.  Sure you’ll find people in all kinds of outfits out on the playa … but when we talk about “Burning Man fashion,” we all know what we’re talking about.

While the arts at Burning Man are very diverse, the fact remains:  for years Burning Man has been the center of major new trends in all the visual arts, and is still going strong, its distinctive influence only growing.

What about music, though?

That’s more complicated.  However many of us wish it were different, Burning Man definitely has a distinct sound:  a week of throbbing dubstep is practically synonymous with “Burning Man.”  Again, not the only thing you’ll hear out there (I for one sing sea chanties, and Adrian has been evangelizing mash-ups for years), but definitely a signature.  If someone says “Burning Man music” that’s what most people think of, and everyone knows it.

Unlike with the visual arts, however, I don’t think a serious case can be made that Burning Man is pioneering this sound.  In fact, it’s fairly derivative of rave culture and club music.  Sure, many of the world’s greatest DJs come to Burning Man to perform, but where the photographers are coming to take pictures that they couldn’t possibly take anywhere else in the world, the DJs are coming to do exactly what they do elsewhere for an audience.

It’s probably fair to say that Burner culture has an influence on that music, but we’re not leading the aesthetic.

That’s a pretty big jump down in influence from the visual arts to music.  And when you get to the written word the influence disappears entirely. (more…)

Workshop: Crowdsourcing & Fundraising for Art Projects

Want to build this? Get your fundraising engine in gear! Photo by Gabe Kirchheimer, 2007.

If you’re dreaming about creating a large art project — and don’t happen to be independently wealthy — you’re going to need to do some fundraising to make your dream a reality. And fundraising is an art as much as it is a science.

The Burning Man Project, as part of its ongoing workshop series leveraging and sharing the expertise in our community, recently offered a workshop on Crowdsourcing & Fundraising for Art Projects. The workshop was held at Burning Man’s San Francisco headquarters on December 13, 2012, and was led by Will Chase, who brings to the subject 10 years of experience in arts management, art curation, event production, art creation, and fundraising for art projects.

We invite you to listen to the audio recording of the workshop, and to download the accompanying PowerPoint presentation to follow along with as you listen.

If you’d like to propose a workshop topic for the Burning Man Project, learn more.

UPDATE: I recently came across this great post on crowdsourced fundraising for Burning Man art projects, very much worth a read.

Dancing the Wild Divine

Prologue: The summer preceding Burning Man 2007, I found myself taunted by periodic dreams, difficult to describe but having something to do with a mysterium tremendum pulsing at the center of Burning Man, some ominous vortex of consciousness that was drawing me into a rebirth canal before hurling me into points unknown. One dream in particular I remember clearly: Upon arriving at Burning Man, someone pointed at me friendly and demanded, “why are you here?” I awoke to the echoes of my unhesitant reply: “To completely let go of my former relationship.” As I was still recovering from the splinters of a broken eleven and a half year relationship, there was now no obstacle too great to prevent me from making the trip to Black Rock City. And so I did, and I could regale you with tales all night long and my eyes would sparkle and enthusiasm would strain my voice, but let me just tell you about the night of the burn itself:

The Night of the Burn Itself: Atop Abraxas the Dragamuffin, a brilliantly-realized art car, I had an excellent view of the burning of the man. I wish I could say that it blew my mind, but really it was just a big fireworks and laser show surrounded by the Zippos of the 21st century, thousands of glowing LCD screens as the assembled watched it via the viewfinders of their digital cameras, saving instead of savoring the moment. Fun, yes, but missing was the mystery. Of course, what I did not yet realize was that the burning of the man is not the climax of Burning Man. It is only the blast-off.

It was in the disorderly dispersion after the burning of the man that I began to feel the reverberant pulse I had known in my dreams, an emergent rhythm simmering beneath our feet, and we reconvened a couple of hours later on the edge of the open playa for the burning of Crude Awakening, a ninety-foot tall oil derrick bearing spiritless witness to nine gigantic steel humans in various poses of prostration and supplication.  Again atop Abraxas, I am huddled and cuddled with shipmates reincarnated from a glorious pirate ship, fireworks and lasers, oh my, and then… and then… I don’t know if I gasped or if all the air was sucked out of my lungs by the detonation of the largest controlled propane explosion in the world, a Guinness I guess, 900 gallons of NASA jet fuel and 2000 gallons of liquid propane and oh my god a thousand foot high mushroom cloud churning hellish red and demon black, 2.4 gigawatts of energy, just enough to power the entire Bay Area for one minute (or, come to think of it, two trips back to the future in Doc’s De Lorean…), and the only thing more wow fantastic than this is the firelit faces around me, fireshadows flickering across their wide-open eyes, transfixed in apocalyptic wonder.

And you know, the word apocalypse derives from the Greek word, apokalyptein, which means, “to unveil.” And there was indeed a renting of the veil that night, an opening into a realm where every encounter is authentic, and consequently, deeply meaningful. I had painted the word IMPULSE across my chest in fluorescent white, and as the night wore on I discovered that this was as much invitation as invocation. I was hugged, kissed, licked, squeezed, nibbled, massaged, hit on, and slashed with chocolate, and before long I became the impulse, daring the impulse from whomever chose my presence. During one extended moment, I shared an hour long shoving loving shouting kissing encounter with a woman bursting out of her chrysalis. She showed me how tightly our spirits are crammed into this life, how our bodies are but leotards for our soul, and how our soul just wants to dance, and dance we damn did and nighttime disappeared into blackness all around and there was she and there was me orbiting around one another like Shiva and Shakti growling and grinning across the galaxy, and this is not even the climax.

Finding my way to Opulent Temple, I’m aware of an uncanny sensation of familiarity, of recognizing everything that is happening, a sort of “oh yeah, this is the part where I share an extended shamanic dance on the open playa,” or, “oh yeah, this is when I kiss a pregnant woman’s belly,” or, “oh yeah, this is when I throw it down with a dozen other dancers at Opulent Temple,” as if it all happened in one bright shining moment, a big bang, and life is a vastly reduced awareness of that moment that is right now, and gods and goddesses are dancing the dance their bodies have been dying for, impulses pulsing timeless and tireless and oh yeah this is the part when the dance floor opens around me and surrounds me and eyes are so bright like stars of the night and I am between now and nowever and we are so fucking lucky to be alive.

A dragon breathes fire in the distance and I heed the call of my shipmates and make my way toward the mothership, noting the sky rosy on the horizon and thinking holy cow what a night but it has yet hardly begun. Abuzz with activity, setting the generator a-rumble, bolting into  place a platform for spinning, samurai warriors are striding about, preparing for the final assault upon the ego panting upon the periphery, for we have sailed out upon the dead calm of this dry lakebed to do battle only with ourselves, and we won, and we are a float in our own victory parade, and Bassnectar is spinning and people come together to dance the dawn awake and my are we alive today as the sunrise pales next to the light shining out of the eyes of everyone and how are we so beautiful and Seth good brother that he is grabs my shoulder and points to Crude Awakening and do you see how now that the derrick is burned they’re actually worshipping the sunrise?

And I would have wept but my grin would permit me only to dance for I was not yet done and oh yeah this is the part where I’m dancing on the catwalk and a sparkling woman joins me and writhes in close but then something in me closes imperceptibly and I humor her for a couple of minutes before dancing my way away and down the ladder I go and I take three steps and happen to glance back and she’s leaning over the railing and glaring at me in aggressive compassion and where do you think you’re going get back up here and I comply yes I do and regard the dance proper ‘cause you’re not really dancing till you imagine that you are making love and I clearly see how I have been breaking the circuit of sexuality in my life ever since my split and she doesn’t know how she healed me and I don’t know how I healed anyone around me but it happened all the same and the deejay lays down Frou Frou’s Let Go, and an exhilaration of epic healing gasps into atmosphere and we dance, and dance, and dance the wild divine.

Epilogue: The next night, during the Temple burn, I watched in somber fascination as it collapsed, sighing satisfied as a wave of cheers swept round and round. Later, I was having a snack with a friend and she asked me if I had let go of what I wanted to let go of and it occurred to me that my former relationship had not crossed my mind all week, not even during the Temple burn. I forgot to let go, I said, realizing that letting go requires no effort, no remembrance, and certainly no action. It requires only release, and acceptance, and that I forgot to let go only demonstrates my success in doing so.

Thank you to all who shared this experience with me. It is surely the morning we will return to upon our death.

by Temple von Impulse

Thoughts about being an asshole at Burning Man

This could be you.
This could be you.

After I read the paper Moze wrote about the development of the Temple and what it means, my first thought was: “Well shit, now I have to prank the thing.”

I get an itch whenever someone even talks about Burning Man’s “cosmology” (and Moze talks about it very well). I think one of Burning Man’s biggest strengths is that it actively resists hermeneutics. Given how Burning Man is experienced and the expectations of the community, a “correct” interpretation of Burning Man – or even a collective one – is difficult, perhaps impossible. I like that.

So being told what the temple “means,” even in very general terms? Having it explained to me that it’s a space that Burners define in certain ways and treat with a given set of protocols? Yeah, I want to fuck that up. Badly.

But I won’t.

Not because it’s sacred … not because I don’t think it deserves it … but because the asshole-to-comedy ratio is just too damn high. Because while you may leave all your preconceptions and inhibitions and all your sacred cows in the dust when that naked Greeter gives you a really inappropriate hug, the one thing you always take with you is your basic humanity. Burning Man does not burn that away. (more…)