Law Enforcement Officers in (and on the way to and from) Black Rock City are sworn to uphold the law. Just like in the real world, it’s up to Burning Man participants to know those laws and to follow them. Note that if you are stopped, the officer may choose to have a dog sniff the outside of your vehicle looking for contraband.
Here are the laws that you should be aware of to avoid being pulled over. LEOs particularly watch for the following in and around Black Rock City:
Speeding: drive the speed limit at all times … the speed limit on Gate Road is 10mph and within BRC (after the Greeters station) is 5mph.
Safe driving: drive carefully and safely, wear your seatbelt, don’t drive erratically, ride on the roof of your vehicle or hang off the side, or drink and drive … and use your turn signals.
Obscured license plates: make sure your rear license plate isn’t blocked by your bike, bike rack, dirt or anything else (you might consider attaching your license plate to your bike so it’s clearly visible, but if you do, make sure it’s illuminated with a clip-on LED).
Registration tags: have up-to-date valid registration tags on your vehicle AND trailer.
Non-functioning lights: make sure your license plate lights, tail lights, running lights, turn signals and headlights are all working.
Open container: don’t have an open alcohol container in your vehicle.
Load & littering: make sure your load is safely and reasonably attached, and don’t toss anything out the window.
Non-permitted driving: once you enter BRC and park your vehicle at your campsite, you cannot drive it in Black Rock City without a BRC Department of Mutant Vehicles-issued permit sticker.
Of course, always carry a valid driver’s license, vehicle registration and proof of insurance. Lastly, being nice if you do get pulled over makes things go much smoother.
One thing that keeps me coming back to Black Rock City each year is the ART.
It has been said many times that the playa is a blank slate, a tabula rasa, a seemingly infinite empty space that all of us who are the Burning Man community fill up for a week with so much art that it is bursting at the seams, and seeing how the playa challenges artists is a thing of beauty.
Our artists are playa hardened. They are well aware of how a massive, not unexpected dust storm affects agility of machinery and mechanics. They know how a rain storm stops all forward momentum and that a wind gust can topple the mightiest monument. In the environment of Black Rock City, just spending months building an art piece and transporting it is only a small part of the challenges that artists face to fill up that space. They are planning for an art show at the edge of the apocalypse, with insidious alkaline powder invading every electronic device, with huge and heavy sculptural forms being moved across the soft packed playa surface all using an infrastructure they and Burning Man set up for only a few weeks a year.
Our artists are aware of the vastness of the space they are attempting to fill up. I believe they are basically mad to even attempt to do what they do every year and those of us who are not building art out there are so fortunate to be at this point in history; to be a part of this thing we call Burning Man.
Sometimes on playa, we can take the art for granted. You will always stumble into something wonderful on your journeys to and fro and that is indeed planned. But for you art junkies out there who want to see it ALL each year, the ARTery is Black Rock City’s portal for Art Tours, and this year there is a panoply of options to explore.
A web page with all the information you need is in the works, but here are some details for now. You should stop by the ARTery at 6:30 and Esplanade, next to Everywhere, if you are interested in any of these tours. The ARTery’s hours are 9am to 6pm every day (closed for lunch from 1-2pm) and they would love to see you! Keep reading for all you need to know about Art Tours this year.
The last time a debate about children at Burning Man flared up, I asked one of the people I knew who had grown up as a “burner kid” what she thought about the question. Electra Carr went to her first Burning Man when she was 11. Now 21, she sent an eloquent response to my question … which got lost between inboxes for a year-and-a-half because I really am that bad at getting back to people sometimes.
So this is a horribly late addition to the debate, but is still worth reading.
Other kids of burners want to weigh in? Leave a comment at the bottom, or if you had a growing up experience at Burning Man and want to write a guest essay about it, send me a message. (Caveat at BurningMan dot com). I’ll try to get back to you a little sooner. I swear.
From here on, the words you read are Electra’s.
There has been endless discussion about the subject of children attending Burning Man. I have heard the many opinions scattered across the board, from people who do take their kids and think its vital part of their childhood and parents who can’t imagine bringing their children into the desert. People who think it should be each person’s choice, others who rally for a committee to decide. There are those who are uncomfortable with the thought of a kid wandering past while they may be doing something they deem inappropriate for young eyes and people who are fine with having kids attend as long as they’re cordoned off in Kidsville. And of course, people who really don’t care and wish everyone would just stop talking about it.
However, at the focal point of this topic there is an opinion that has been greatly overlooked. What about the children themselves who had grown up amongst the culture? It is a voice worth exploring, and as no two experiences are ever the same at Burning Man, I’d like to encourage everyone to talk to a Burner kid about it. I was such a child and while I’ve grown away from the Burning Man culture and rarely make the pilgrimage out to the Playa, I was there, I experienced, and I was changed.
“I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” -Thomas Edison
Now that we’ve reminisced on all the great times, dissected the State Of The Man and searched for videos of our favorite art in action, I’m wondering: What did you try to do that didn’t work out?
People pull off some amazing feats in the desert. Fellow burners inspire and encourage us to dream big and go big. But sometimes things just don’t work out. Sometimes we have too much to do and not enough time or help. And sometimes, well, who knows what went wrong.
For years I’ve wondered what was intended for the piles of lumber and building materials way out in open playa, roped off but obviously not complete (and sometimes not even started)? There are the partial domes, crossed-out cardboard signs and piles of “camp stuff” off to one side. What were you supposed to be, towering stack of palettes and rope lights? (more…)
As the Department of Public Works toils away building the infrastructure of Black Rock City, the law enforcement agencies who patrol our fair metropolis are also on site now, setting up their own infrastructure.
These law enforcement agencies — BLM Rangers, Pershing County Sheriffs Office — are there to enforce the Federal, State and Local laws that apply to us on the Black Rock Desert — yes, these laws still exist at Burning Man. While Black Rock City is certainly a remote and freewheeling place, it’s also a functioning metropolis. And just like in any other city, law enforcement patrols BRC day and night to keep the city safe and compliant with the laws that allow us to have the event in the first place. So yes, any illegal action on your part can lead to a citation (more common) or your arrest (rare).
The Burning Man organization works hard year-round and on playa to establish a solid working relationship with these agencies, and while there are always growing pains in a new year and with a new BLM crew, we’re committed to cooperative collaboration to create a workable and sensible environment for everybody to enjoy. To that end, we encourage participants to report all interactions with law enforcement — both positive and negative — by filling out a Law Enforcement Feedback Form at Ranger HQ, so we can use that information in our daily on-playa meetings with law enforcement.
Law enforcement officers have a difficult yet important job, both on and off the playa. Please respect the valuable work that they do. It is the duty of all law enforcement personnel to enforce the law, and they are there to help protect our citizenry.
That said, you should absolutely know your civil rights, as they are still in full effect on playa as well. For more information, please watch this video from the ACLU about protecting your civil rights at Burning Man:
On Wednesday, August 21st, a very powerful wind front blew through the beginnings of Black Rock City. There was some warning from weather services, and the staff communicated what was coming to artists and staffers. Most art crews were prepared, and afterwards the ARTery conducted a survey of the art projects for damage.
Many staff camps dove into action in the initial whiteout, strapping down tents and shade structures, despite the fact that most were secured the previous night. But this very powerful storm had higher winds and bent structures that only shook before.
So here’s the lesson: plan carefully for the prevailing winds, and use very long stakes and more strapping and ropes to secure your structures than seem necessary. You’ll be glad you did.