In the wake of 2012 ticket sales, a number of people have called for Burning Man to implement an identity-based ticketing system (non-transferable, name-on-ticket). There are valid points on both sides of this question, and it is something we have thought about and discussed at length. Putting aside the many challenges inherent in executing an ID-based ticketing system, the case may certainly be made that not-transferable tickets might better serve the needs of ticket holders if they are simply regarded as individual consumers of a service or a product. But this approach ignores the complex and interdependent social fabric of our community.
As things stand now, participants are free to bestow tickets on their friends, lovers, campmates or family members — on anyone who they believe should come to the event. This form of ticket distribution often occurs spontaneously and is independent of any authorizing agency. It is an extension of the gift giving ethic that informs our culture. Furthermore, the chief argument advanced in support of identity-based ticketing is that such a system prevents profiteering by scalpers. But we have found that little more than 1% of ticket sales can be attributed to scalping in 2012. Even in the face of scarcity, a vast majority of ticket buyers appear to have honored a social compact that values persons over profit. Burning Man is an experiment in community, and in 2013 we will continue to invest our faith in that community.
[Editor’s Note: If you do sell your ticket, we ask that you sell it at face value, and if you’re buying one, to find one to purchase at face value.]
Here’s the deal: we don’t know yet what Black Rock City’s allowable peak population for 2013 will be. Some of the details of agreements that impact that number have not yet been finalized, which means we don’t have enough data to determine precisely how many tickets will be sold and at what price. We are working hard to get our permits and agreements in place, and will be announcing the full ticket plan on Friday January 4, 2013. That said…
We know you’re super curious about some big questions, and we’d like to put your mind at ease about a few things right now: tickets will be sold first-come first-served — that’s right, no lottery. Secondly, purchasing tickets will require pre-registration so that we can weed out known scalpers beforehand. We’ll offer a robust Low Income Ticket Program, as we have in the past, and we’re bringing back the Secure Ticket Exchange Program (STEP) to facilitate the safe, hassle-free exchange of tickets between people in the aftermarket.
So there are the big ones for you. We’ll have the rest — all the details — on January 4th. And with that, here’s information about the Holiday Sale …
Burning Man Tickets Holiday Sale
Early-birds can participate in our Holiday Sale, which allows folks to buy tickets in time for holiday gifting. PLEASE NOTE: Holiday Sale tickets are priced dramatically higher than our regular tickets will be and Black Rock City, LLC will donate 3% of the price of each ticket from this early Holiday Sale to the Burning Man Project, a new nonprofit dedicated to spreading Burning Man culture around the world. (In addition, Black Rock City, LLC makes other substantial contributions throughout the year to support the Burning Man Project, including contributing the proceeds from fundraising events and many other forms of support.)
So … here are the details for the Holiday Sale:
3000 tickets will be offered at $650 each for the Holiday Sale.
Registration is open NOW and will close at noon PST on Wednesday December 19th.
Those pre-registered will be able to participate in the first-come first-served sale on Thursday December 20th, starting at noon PST.
You may purchase a maximum of 4 tickets per person.
These tickets are not eligible for STEP, but are transferable (you may resell them on your own, if you wish).
The only payment types accepted are Mastercard or Visa credit cards, or debit cards with either the Visa or Mastercard symbols. If you don’t have one of these cards, you will need to obtain a one-time use card.
Physical tickets will be shipped between June 1 and July 15, unless you opt for pick-up at Will Call in Black Rock City.
When the peak population for Black Rock City 2012 was announced at noon on Friday of the event, the preliminary tally was 52,385, which seemed a bit low. We suspected there were more people in Black Rock City at its peak (which was actually Friday at 6am this year, by the way). So after the event, we went back and conducted a full and comprehensive audit …
After doing some pretty significant accounting and recounting, we determined that the actual peak population at the 2012 event was in fact 56,149. (Now, that’s not everybody who went to Burning Man, it’s just the peak population … a lot of people came late and/or left early this year, having planned ahead to avoid high-traffic ingress and egress times — did you notice the shorter wait times?)
Due to some new processes that were put in place in 2012, the count released on playa was low. For fifteen years we’ve had a great record of recording accurate population tallies, and we place a high premium on capturing and reporting this important data. We keep count because a) it’s really important for us to know how many people are out there (for a variety of reasons, not the least of which is production planning), and b) it’s required by our BLM permit requirement, as you’ve probably heard by now. Our population cap for 2012 was 60,900, and happily our peak population didn’t come close to bumping up against that total.
So there you are … we’re happy to be able to report the final population count for 2012 … and we’re glad we’ve worked out some kinks in our system to ensure proper reporting in the future.
Have you come up with a theory about how Burning Man should handle ticket sales yet?
If not, congratulations: you’re the only one.
My blogging colleague Jon Mitchell wrote about a pre-Halloween brain-eating session to discuss how Burning Man should handle ticket sales to groups – if it does that at all. I attended that meeting because there was an open bar, and am pleased to report that their signature cocktail was a combination of black vodka, blue Curacao, and Sprite. It was delicious. Especially when you really stirred it around so the layers mixed.
The other thing I noticed was that of the 30-some people in attendance, there were 40-some theories about how Burning Man could best handle ticket sales – it was as though “radical incompatibility” were the 11th principle.
My impression is that discussions were equally convoluted at the Burning Man staff retreat. I wasn’t there (I’m a volunteer), so I can only confirm that while the Org staff were out talking about the future of Burning Man I opened a bottle of 25 year tawny port which had a taste of leather and chocolate on the back palate.
There are no questions in this world as inflammatory and divisive as questions of identity – which is why what should be the bland and technocratic discussion of how to sell tickets gets so many people so worked up so fast. How we handle ticket demand is widely seen as an indicator of who we are. Burning Man is the participants – and the participants are the people with tickets. Aren’t they? (more…)
Addendum: We want to make sure you all know that our intention is not to screw over the buyers in this process, but rather to make sure they DON’T get screwed. Check the list for your ticket number. If you purchased one of these tickets, please contact email@example.com and we will assist you.
When our ticket office is alerted to situations where tickets are being sold for above face value, those tickets are voided and the ticket numbers are placed on our voided ticket list. If you’re wondering whether you might be holding (or are being offered) one of those voided tickets, you can find the (regularly-updated) list of them here on our ticket page.
Individuals selling tickets at above face value are notified that the ticket they purchased has been voided. If they can provide us with the original ticket and either proof that a sale wasn’t completed, or that a sale was reversed, they are considered for a refund. It’s also made clear to them that if they DID sell it, they should arrange to give a refund to the buyer, since they are now responsible for having sold something that is not good for its intended purpose.
If you’re holding one of these voided tickets, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
And now for some ticket news. At this point, ALL tickets have been mailed out to those who purchased them — or they’re being tucked safely away at Will Call, if that’s what you specified. (If you have not received your tickets and are expecting them, contact our ticket support folks for help.)
Thanks to the fact that the BLM increased our population cap to 60,900 this year, we’ve got one more limited open sale of 1,000 tickets coming up this Friday August 3 at 12 noon PST. You must sign up beforehand to have access to the limited sale, and you can ONLY sign up during a twelve hour window on August 1 from 10am to 10pm PST — that’s TOMORROW– so, get ready! These tickets are non-transferrable, Will Call only, and yes, they will go FAST. More information and sign up on our tickets page. (more…)
On June 12 we announced that the BLM awarded Black Rock City LLC a one-year permit to hold Burning Man on the Black Rock Desert in 2012. We’re happy to report that in response to growing interest in the event, we were able to work with the BLM to increase the maximum population of Black Rock City to 60,900 participants in 2012.
Counter to misleading media coverage of this announcement, this does not mean that there will be 10,000 additional tickets available. In preparing for this year’s event we were working with a peak population of 58,000. Through the pre-sale last December, the main sale in February, the low-income ticket program, and the Directed Ticket Distribution process, we have officially allocated 57,000 tickets.
And now that we have a permit that allows for a maximum population of 60,900, it leaves us with a little bit of breathing room and a welcome opportunity to get more tickets out into our community, while thwarting scalpers who hope to capitalize off of the popularity of our event (to the detriment of our participants). (more…)
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 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. (more…)