BREAKING: Shameless Marketers are Shameless

Image by (Creative Commons)
Image by (Creative Commons)

While we were on playa this year, a certain restaurant chain decided to launch an advertisement clearly designed to go viral specifically by leveraging the creative efforts of Black Rock City’s citizens — in order to hawk sandwich-shaped products.

As creative and funny as it was (we had a good laugh, we’ll admit), clever unfortunately doesn’t trump our commitment to protecting our community from commercial exploitation. We’ve been fielding anguished calls and emails from participants and horrified artists whose creations were used in the video without permission, a number of whom who have issued take-down requests of their own accord. We can laugh at ourselves. But we’re not laughing when a corporation exploits the artwork of others under the guise of poking fun at our event.

The shameless flouting of our Decommodification Principle to hawk sandwich coupons is equally unfortunate (and unnecessary to the purported “parody”). The Burning Man name, and the designs of the Man and Black Rock City, are core affinity symbols of our culture that we protect precisely so they won’t be used in ad campaigns. So as we always do in these situations, we sent a letter to the company to explain Decommodification and ask that they remove the Man and our other intellectual property from their advertising. We hope they’ll quickly comply, as most companies do when they realize how antithetical this sort of commercialism is to our culture. (We’re dismayed they haven’t taken any action yet — but of course they’re trying to collect every last page view.)

Thank you to those who brought this to our attention. Given the increasing number of people (and we use that term generously) who can’t resist the temptation to exploit our growing community by using symbols and imagery of the event to promote their products and services, we appreciate when you help us find them. If you encounter another instance that doesn’t smell quite right, let us know by emailing

So while we appreciate the creativity, we sure do wish it wasn’t attached to a commercial product.

Black Rock City 2015 Traffic Update

traffic jam

We are experiencing significant traffic delays due to slow vehicles on Highway 447. Estimated delays are up to 8 hours to reach Gerlach from Wadsworth. We recommend participants wait in Reno or elsewhere for several hours until the congestion is cleared.

For your own safety, if you’re stopped on Highway 447, please remain in your vehicle. And do not park on the shoulder of Interstate 80 — find an off ramp and park on a side road.

We will update this message with new information as soon as it becomes available.

You can also hear updates by tuning in to BMIR or by following @bmantraffic on Twitter.

[UPDATE: 8/31/15 2:00am]

At this time, the drive from Wadsworth to Gerlach is taking about 5 1/2 hours. Stay safe out there!

[UPDATE: 8/31/15 9:00am]

Travel times between Wadsworth and Gerlach dropped below 3 hours sometime between 5 a.m. and 6 a.m. and we lifted recommended driving restrictions on Highway 447. C’mon out!

Get the Info You Need as You Approach Black Rock City

Traffic at the Gate, 2010 (Photo by George Post)
Traffic at the Gate, 2010 (Photo by George Post)

Want to know what’s up as you approach Black Rock City? Yeah you do. We’ll begin top-of-the-hour (because that’s what fancy news outlets do) news reports with traffic and weather starting at midnight tonight. Because these are the things you want to know.

Pro tip: Download the iHeartRadio app and tune into BMIR before turning on to Highway 447 so you’ll have a sense of how long Gate wait time is.

When you turn on to Gate Road, switch to GARS 95.1 FM for all the info you need to prepare, plus hear our latest public service announcements (PSAs, in the parlance).

Once you’re in Black Rock City, tune into BMIR 94.5 FM radio.

And remember: the Black Rock City gate officially opens at 10 a.m. Sunday — don’t arrive before then if you don’t have an Early Arrival pass. Yes, really.

We look forward to seeing you on playa!

BMIR is Now Broadcasting from Black Rock City!

BMIR sticker by JKanizzle
BMIR sticker by JKanizzle

Missing your playa? Want to feel a little more connected? Tune in to Burning Man Information Radio (BMIR), now broadcasting live from Black Rock City. Here’s how:

  1. BMIR website.
    There’s a flash player that will launch automatically, but you can pause that and click the Listen Now link that will launch in the audio player of your choice. There is also a BMIR iPhone app and a BMIR Android player, just search the Apple App Store or Google Play (apps are free and collect no user data). These are all 128 kbps streams so if you are using one of our mobile apps and are not on Wi-Fi it will eat data.
  2. iHeart Radio app – available for all mobile platforms.
    You need to download the iHeart app for a NO commercials broadcast, with no account creation required. Just search for BMIR or Burning Man. This is 48 kbps so it’s less of a strain on your data plan. (Only available in the US.)
  3. iHeart Radio website (Flash).
    Also 48 kbps, and only available in the US. Once again there are NO commercials and no need to create an account. Just search for BMIR or Burning Man.
  4. Over the air at 94.5 FM when you get to the playa. Bring a radio for your camp!

High Winds in Black Rock City Friday Night and Saturday

Playa Tornado, 2006 (Photo by Bowen Johnson)

Playa Tornado, 2006 (Photo by Bowen Johnson)

Nope, never a dull moment here in Black Rock City. The weather report tells us to expect sustained high winds beginning midnight tonight (Friday), peaking 10 a.m. Saturday morning, and continuing through 6 p.m. Saturday evening.

Winds are expected to gust up to 45 mph. Right, so what does that mean to you? Get ready and batten your stuff down! Like:

  • Batten down everything that could potentially blow away (furniture, camp chairs, folding tables, tents, shade structures, etc.)
  • Secure art pieces
  • Always travel with goggles and a dust mask
  • Use headlights and prepare to stop driving/riding in a whiteout

If you’re planning to come in tonight (Friday), definitely try to arrive before midnight.

If you’re planning to arrive on Saturday, consider postponing your arrival until later Saturday afternoon or evening. The way these things tend to go, your camp construction might be delayed due to the wind.

Keep an eye on the Voices of Burning Man blog, Facebook, Twitter, BMIR and IHeartRadio, cuz that’s where we’ll keep you updated.

We Lost Spoono Today

RIP SpoonoBurning Man announced today the loss of beloved Department of Public Works staff member Scott “Spoono” Stephenson. Spoono passed away overnight on the playa, in the city he loved most.

Stephenson was in his late 50s and died of apparent natural causes, according to Pershing County officials. Stephenson had been in Gerlach and on the playa since April supporting construction of Black Rock City. His passing will have an enormous impact on the Burning Man community. (more…)

BRC Street Plan Design Competition: Cool, but Totally Unofficial

(Photo by Ron Lussier)

(Photo by Ron Lussier)

We recently caught wind of a Black Rock City Street Plan Design Competition hosted by an experienced group of participants calling themselves the Black Rock City Ministry of Urban Planning (BRCMUP). The Burning Man organization has nothing to do with it, but we thought, hey, this could be fun to watch. And then an architecture blog called ArchDaily wrote about the competition on August 16 without doing its journalism homework, so now we have to clear a couple things up.

Burning Man is not involved with this competition, and we aren’t “select[ing] a winner”. The BRCMUP organizers never said we were, either. They say they’ll present their winner to us, and then it’s up to us what we do with it. So the ArchDaily blog post was in error, and it has since been corrected.

As for the contest itself, the official description is worded pretty strongly:

“The final choice of design will rest with bmorg [sic] based on a combination of popularity, logistics and space considerations (including the option to retain the current city plan).”

We love the ingenuity of Burners and are curious to see what they come up with through this competition. We will certainly take a look at all the top designs in this competition, not just the winner, out of curiosity and admiration. The ideas generated by this competition could also be useful to Regional Events, which are in various stages of growth and planning, each with their own location’s design challenges, and we think that’s great. But there are no plans to redesign Black Rock City.

Thanks to BRCMUP for starting an interesting conversation, and we look forward to seeing what comes of it.

Announcing the Burning Man Ticket Transfer Tool!

"It would please me very much if you were to have this ticket." (Photo by Fazlul Bari, Creative Commons)
“It would please me very much if you were to have this ticket.” (Photo by Fazlul Bari, Creative Commons)

We’re beyond excited to introduce you to the new self-serve Ticket Transfer tool, available through your Ticketfly account. Ticket Transfer allows you to assign any transfer-eligible ticket or vehicle pass in a Will Call order to a specific person. With Ticket Transfer:

  • you can assign items in your order to different people.
  • the need for any other name change request emails or paperwork or presentation of name change paperwork at the Box Office is eliminated!
  • once an item is transferred to someone, they can pick it up with their ID at the Box Office, no need to perform an in-person “hold” at the Box Office.
  • recipients are provided more security—transfers are one-way and once transferred, the recipient is the owner of the item. The recipient can transfer items on to others as well.

Hooray! You can find full details and instructions here.