(Excerpt taken from the website of the Burning Man):
What is Burning Man?
Once a year, tens of thousands of participants gather in Nevada’s Black Rock Desert to create Black Rock City, dedicated to community, art, self-expression, and self-reliance. They depart one week later, having left no trace whatsoever. Burning Man is also an ever-expanding year-round culture based on the Ten Principles.
What Isn’t Burning Man?
Burning Man isn’t your usual festival, with big acts booked to play on massive stages. In fact, it’s more of a city than a festival, wherein almost everything that happens is created entirely by its citizens, who are active participants in the event.
This year’s Burning Man is from August 25 – Sept 1, 2014
I came across this video which captures the spirit and principles of Burning Man accurately: it’s by
KQED and it won an Emmy award recently. Here it is:
I want to be a Flaming Lotus Girl, and I want to go to the Burning Man so badly! But it would cost me thousands of dollars, which I don’t have. It will also be a trip halfway round the world, and I’ll have to get (child+pet+house)sitters in, more expenses I just cannot afford. SIGH. So, I’ll have to contend with living the festival vicariously through videos and photos shared by the lucky, lucky ones who get to go. If you DO go, feel free to post me some photos and I will add them here.
Watching videos of previous Burning Man festivals, out there in the desert with the strange lights, music and people in out-of-this-world costumes doing fantastically weird things, I’m reminded of the time I took my son to Disneyland Paris. One evening, at dusk, there was a musical troupe playing near the spaceship ride. They were dressed in layered burlap, and the instruments they played were modified saxophones or similar. On their heads they wore strange miner’s hardhats with attached (literally) overhead lights that moved as they played. The headgear was strangely reminiscent of angler fish. As it was dusk and the natural light was failing, I didn’t get any decent photos of them. But I remember that experience as if it was yesterday and not 6 years ago; the images are indelibly etched into my mind. It was, to put it simply, a magical experience.
It felt like a scene out of Star Wars, and I was transported to dusty Tatooine amongst its unwashed Jawas and Tusken Raiders. The musicians could have been a cross between the two races.
That is the sort of feeling I believe I would experience at the Burning Man festival.
Burning Man leans strongly on 10 Principles (excerpt taken from this link):
Burning Man Founder Larry Harvey wrote the Ten Principles in 2004 as guidelines for the newly-formed Regionals Network. They were crafted not as a dictate of how people should be and act, but as a reflection of the community’s ethos and culture as it had organically developed since the event’s inception.
Anyone may be a part of Burning Man. We welcome and respect the stranger. No prerequisites exist for participation in our community.
Burning Man is devoted to acts of gift giving. The value of a gift is unconditional. Gifting does not contemplate a return or an exchange for something of equal value.
In order to preserve the spirit of gifting, our community seeks to create social environments that are unmediated by commercial sponsorships, transactions, or advertising. We stand ready to protect our culture from such exploitation. We resist the substitution of consumption for participatory experience.
Burning Man encourages the individual to discover, exercise and rely on his or her inner resources.
Radical self-expression arises from the unique gifts of the individual. No one other than the individual or a collaborating group can determine its content. It is offered as a gift to others. In this spirit, the giver should respect the rights and liberties of the recipient.
Our community values creative cooperation and collaboration. We strive to produce, promote and protect social networks, public spaces, works of art, and methods of communication that support such interaction.
We value civil society. Community members who organize events should assume responsibility for public welfare and endeavor to communicate civic responsibilities to participants. They must also assume responsibility for conducting events in accordance with local, state and federal laws.
Leaving No Trace
Our community respects the environment. We are committed to leaving no physical trace of our activities wherever we gather. We clean up after ourselves and endeavor, whenever possible, to leave such places in a better state than when we found them.
Our community is committed to a radically participatory ethic. We believe that transformative change, whether in the individual or in society, can occur only through the medium of deeply personal participation. We achieve being through doing. Everyone is invited to work. Everyone is invited to play. We make the world real through actions that open the heart.
Immediate experience is, in many ways, the most important touchstone of value in our culture. We seek to overcome barriers that stand between us and a recognition of our inner selves, the reality of those around us, participation in society, and contact with a natural world exceeding human powers. No idea can substitute for this experience.
Anything goes at Burning Man. I recall Episode 1, Season 7 of my favourite comedy series, Malcolm in the Middle, where the entire family go to the festival in an RV. Each member of the family has their own epiphany whilst there. Malcolm, for one, gets born again…literally passing through an obstacle course simulating the contractions of a womb, complete with pink jelly.
Some Google images of past Burning Man (Men??):
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