Count Me! Count Me!

Don’t be surprised if a group of lab coat-clad scientists descends upon your vehicle as you approach the Greeters station this year. You might just be one of the lucky ones selected by the Census Samplers! These eager burning nerds are keen to include you in a scientific probability sample of Black Rock City’s population. They’re gathering data to get a more accurate picture of who is attending Burning Man this year. Aren’t you curious to know?

Last year 42% of the people who participated in the Black Rock City Census considered themselves artists, and an additional 35% considered themselves artists sometimes (read prior stats from the Census). Do these numbers seem high to you? Low? We don’t know if the people who voluntarily filled out the Census were truly representative of the citizens of BRC. (more…)

BLM Issues BRC Permit for 2012 Event

Contact: Megan Miller
415-865-3800 x158

Black Rock City, LLC Gets Green Light from the BLM for 2012 Event

June 12, 2012, San Francisco, California. – Black Rock City, LLC, the organization that hosts the annual Burning Man event, is pleased to announce that the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) has authorized a Special Recreation Permit (SRP) for this year’s event, set to take place from August 27-September 3rd on the Black Rock Desert Playa, approximately 8.5 miles north of Gerlach, Nevada.

In addition to authorizing the one-year SRP, the BLM signed a Finding of No Significant Impact (FONSI) on the related Environmental Assessment (EA) of Burning Man’s proposed actions for 2012-2016. Black Rock City, LLC has been working with BLM and Aspen Environmental Group for the past two years to complete this EA. The document suggests environmental mitigations based upon a gradual increase in population to 70,000 over the next five years.

For this year’s event, the BLM has set a maximum population of approximately 60,900 participants, or “citizens” of Black Rock City.

“As we celebrate this milestone, we’d like to thank our partners at the BLM and look forward to working with them towards securing a multi-year permit in the near future,” said Marian Goodell, Burning Man co-founder and Black Rock City LLC’s Director of Business and Communications.

Burning Man is the largest permitted event held on Federal land. For twenty years, the Black Rock Desert, north of Reno, Nevada, has played host to the annual art event, which began on a beach in San Francisco in 1986 and has grown to attract more than 55,000 participants annually, from every state of the Union and twenty-three countries worldwide. The BLM has issued a permit for Burning Man each year since 1992.

Curious about how this will impact further ticket distributions for this year’s Burn?  See this blog post.

CameraGirl Speaks on BMan Tech at the MLOVE ConFestival

Why doesn’t Burning Man just provide the Internet to participants? Why doesn’t Burning Man encourage Cellular coverage? Why doesn’t Burning Man have an Official App?

Heather “CameraGirl” Gallagher, Burning Man’s Technology Dominatrix (or “director”, in default-world parlance) will be speaking on technology and Burning Man at the MLOVE ConFestival in Monterey, CA, April 24-26, 2012.  MLOVE invites 200 thought leaders and innovators to discuss the powerful and inspiring potential of mobile as a catalyst for change and opportunity. Heather will be speaking about technology in Black Rock City, as well as how technology is utilized to facilitate Burning Man’s year-round production efforts.

The MLOVE website describes the ConFestival as follows: “The MLOVE ConFestival brings together CEOs, innovators and entrepreneurs from across multiple disciplines to share, learn and cross-pollinate ideas with an array of scientists, artists and other thought leaders. The event exposes the mobile industry to the best minds outside of mobile to maximize the opportunity of creating life-changing services and applications that can impact us all for the better.”


A Blue Electric Thread

One year back in the last century, after our peculiar yet determined convoy made it to Black Rock City through gate, unpacked and set up enough of our tents and shade, we did what everyone does and found ourselves skipping off into the playa dust like giddy children and making our way out to see that year’s Man up close and personal. We walked up his hay bale steps and it was still early dark, just nightfall with a few people milling about and large red and black fireballs boiling up near center camp to faraway cheers.

the Man 1998 by Andrew Penn

The Man stood tall over us and I touched the steel support that held his leg and at that moment also accidentally touched my friend and shocked him. After a breath we slowly tried it again and realized that one of us could hold the Man’s leg and then just barely almost touch a finger tip with another and this tiny, delicate thread of light neon blue electricity would dance between our fingers. It was so beautiful and unexpected, like it came to visit us and wanted to play a while. We formed a chain of people almost touching out from the leg, adding one after the other until eventually the person at the end of the chain would say, “I don’t feel it.”

When that happened, we’d move that person to the front at the Man’s leg and another line of us would form and barely touch finger tips until this repeated and another person from the rear was sent to the leg. This went on for a time until some other sparkly thing distracted us and we set out with one purpose across the dusty playa to investigate, leaving our discovery for others to enjoy.

This, of course, was right before Burning Man was officially declared dead.

Turnkey Camping in Black Rock City

Photo by Lucas Swick

[6/25/12 UPDATE: We’ve changed the nomenclature for these types of camps from “Plug & Play” to “Turnkey” to better reflect the way they function.]

In the last few years, a new phenomenon emerged – an increase in “Turnkey” camping in Black Rock City. What is “Turnkey” camping? It’s a shorthand that has emerged around those camps where a group of people (it could be individuals, or a commercial outfit, we have learned) set up a camp not just for themselves, but in advance of the arrival for others to arrive in Black Rock City and have things ready to go for them. Depending on the camp, this could simply include camp infrastructure, or it could also include food preparation, or it could go so far as providing an art car, a decorated bike, or a schedule of activities, for instance. It’s most often for a fee, ranging from reasonably close-to-cost setups to high dollar luxury style RV camps.

Whichever way you look at it, it’s hard to precisely define Turnkey camping — because we ALL pool resources to survive on the playa, and we all have to take care of each other … so who is to say what someone should bring or how much they should or shouldn’t spend to experience Black Rock City? Paying someone to do your kitchen at the event isn’t new, for example; other camps collaborate on porta-potty rental or other efficiency services. And sometimes, it turns out, these camps are prearranging the setup of their living conditions so that they can focus other contributions -art projects, for example, or a wedding. Or, just having fun without all the sweat equity. (more…)

Ticket Update: Rebuilding Black Rock City 2012

Marian Goodell is a Founding Board Member of Black Rock City LLC, and Burning Man’s Director of Business and Communications.

PARAGRAPH UPDATES (2) below: 2/15/12: 9:15 PM PST


We promised we would get back to you by February 15th with our plans to resolve the ticket situation for Burning Man 2012. We all know there aren’t enough tickets for everyone who wants to participate in Black Rock City. However, it’s clear that the current situation has created holes in our social fabric. Many of the core volunteers, major interactive camps, art car projects, performance groups, and funded and unfunded art projects do not have enough tickets to bring their works to the playa. Here’s how we will remedy these challenges as fairly as we believe possible:

  1. Burning Man organizers and staff will issue tickets to major theme camps and art projects using a process outlined below.
  2. We will launch the STEP program on February 29th. Only those who registered and did not receive confirmation of tickets will be given access to STEP.
  3. Low Income ticket applications will be accepted beginning February 29th.

There’s no way to sugarcoat this: the hard truth is that there are a lot of you who want to come to Black Rock City to celebrate your participation in the Burning Man culture this year, but not everyone will be able to attend. That sentence is about as painful to write as it is for you to read. We dearly wish we could just welcome everyone who feels drawn to Black Rock City. But, as we have explained in Andie Grace’s blog post: “Radical Inclusion, Meet the Other Nine,” it’s not possible to simply increase the number of tickets available for Burning Man 2012.

And unfortunately, the random draw of the Main Sale left inordinately large numbers of our core contributors — art teams, theme camp creators, mutant vehicle builders, performers, and Burning Man volunteers — without tickets. In fact, the ratio was so unexpectedly large it has punched significant holes in Black Rock City’s artistic, civic and functional infrastructure, putting the integrity of the event itself at risk. If we let market forces play out as they could with the remaining available tickets, it’s likely that Black Rock City would be functionally untenable for many of the collaborations that comprise our desert event. (more…)

The Soul of Burning Man is Freedom…

Quinn (aka Ghost Dancer) is Burning Man’s Nevada Properties Manager, which includes the year-round oversight of Burning Man’s Ranch (our staging and production facility), located north of the event site. Apropos of this year’s Art Theme, Fertility 2.0, we’d like to share this wonderful piece he wrote:

“Free!” Photograph by Betty Emirzian, 2009

Beyond judgments and dogma, Burning Man is at its core simply a stage of opportunity for people of all the world’s cultures to come together for a single week of the year to explore, exchange and express ourselves without the shackles of fear within an arena free of judgment, free of repression, free of self denial in an open free environment which supports and encourages that very intention.

For 7 short days; some 50,000 human beings join together in peaceful self expression, passionate self exploration and joyful giving of themselves to their fellow man without expectation of return or personal gain. This organic stage of opportunity for potential enlightened self experience is unique in the world and it happens but for a single week right here in our small sleepy little town of Gerlach.

Long ago the Constitution of the United States was drafted, many wars have been fought and many lives tragically sacrificed to protect your unalienable Right to Life, Liberty, the Pursuit of Happiness and the Right to “freely express yourself” while doing no harm to others. Yet there are many who would deny you these Rights or who simply choose to live life in a self-imposed prison of conditioned fear while sitting brain dead in front of the Television vegetating on what Paris Hilton’s wearing today.

Not the Burner…

These human beings of ecstatic spirit and a lust for creative living who discover and attend the Burning Man event are not content to just sit and watch TV nor passively accept whatever soulless doctrine is currently being spoon fed by the media. No my friends, Burners are in my observation the Peaceful Warriors of today’s potential humanity who are inspired by confronting the lifeless face of the mundane, and who burn within to awaken and live life to the fullest with an open fearless heart passionately driven to create and explore meaningful and lasting relationships with their fellow man in harmony with the natural world which supports us all.

As the gate opens and the people join together to spontaneously create Black Rock City, each and every ongoing moment is a completely unique creative expression unlike the moment before or after it, each person is more clearly seen and accepted for who they truly are through the process of contributing their individual perspective while simultaneously giving birth to more and more beauty and art inspiring deeper and deeper self reflection for both the individual and the collective experience. Basically it’s freedom of expression giving birth to greater levels of freedom of expression and mutual respect as a result, for 7 days and nights.

At least that’s how I see it.
You may call me a dreamer, I hope some day you’ll join me…

Thank you, Quinn!

The Ephemeral Architecture of Burning Man

Long-time Burner Philippe Glade has completed his new book “Black Rock City, NV: The Ephemeral Architecture of Burning Man“. This photographic encyclopedia contains 196 examples of the various forms of rugged, functional and temporary desert architecture to be found at Burning Man.  Philippe has painstakingly documented these structures over the course of 14 years, from 1996 to 2010.  Even if you’re not (but especially if you are) into architecture porn, this book will make a great addition to your Burning Man library.

Visit his blog at This is Black Rock City.