Mythical, in this case, is metaphorical. Burning Man, a 9-day art and music festival located in the Northern Nevada the Black Rock Desert, is housed in a town that does not exist, and will not remain after it has concluded.

Almost kenning the rarely appearing Brigadoon, Black Rock City is a construct which is built to house the Burning Man Festival. This is just one of the fascinating details that make attending this one of a kind event even more tempting.

The festival itself is not about capitalism or money, being a “gift economy” event, but that doesn’t stop the visitors to Black Rock City from serving up a heaping helping of much-needed revenue to the whole area.

What Is the Burning Man Art Festival?

The event motto, emblazoned across the top of their official website reads, “A city in the desert. A culture of possibility. A network of dreamers and doers.” This network of dreamers and doers actually bring lodging, food, and entertainment out of thin air and desert sand. The cost of which also bolsters the local economy.

That is in stark contrast with other big events, like a decade old event in Laughlin, Nevada — the River Regatta — which was canceled in 2017 due to the resident backlash against the “trashing of the Colorado River,” by attendees. But not Black Rock. There, the surrounding community embraces the Burners (attendees, in Burning Man parlance). The economic impact of the event is such that the community at large relies on the Burners and their last minute needs, airline travel, and sundry purchases.

And the sustainable model of the “Hippie-ish” event makes it even easier to love: Each year, a team of volunteers meticulously cleans up the site and restores the Black Rock Desert to its pristine state.

Billed as an event in which the Burners are active creators of the environment, this is no ordinary festival. The city is literally the sum of those who populate it, and they determine the experience that they will have to a large extent.

The Vision Behind Burning Man Sets It Apart

“The Burning Man organization will bring experiences to people in grand, awe-inspiring and joyful ways that lift the human spirit, address social problems and inspire a sense of culture, community and personal engagement.” The fact is that if you collect people bent on radical hope, it will likely be a worthy and noble exercise.

It also explains why this event is welcome, at another level. These people aren’t “trashing” the desert — they are visiting her and sharing their joy with each other. The desert leaves a persistent, fine, white dust on those who are borrowing her space. That is no deterrent to participants, especially since there are washing facilities at the festival.

So, What Is This Clock-Shaped City Rising from the Sand?

A semi-circle appears as if summoned, housing the influx of music and art lovers. It is wiped out, even faster than it is built. All traces are erased, not only of the city but of the impromptu airport and the Burners too; all gone for another year to plan and dream for the next.

Black Rock City is a fully functioning miniature metropolis. It has infrastructure including city and emergency planning, law enforcement, a sanitary system and all the amenities of “home.”

What Should I Know About Burning Man as a First-Timer

As the countdown to Burning Man 2018 has already begun, there are things you should know about attending the festival if you are thinking about attending. While the anticipated man burning takes place August 26 – September 3, 2018, and that seems like a long way off, many significant events and dates are coming up. In fact, there are Burning Man meetings and preparation dates starting in November of 2017.

The Burning Man official first timer’s guide makes it clear just how much this event is unlike others. They “don’t book acts or entertainment. What happens here is up to you!”

“There is no corporate sponsorship. You are entering a “decommodified” space that values who you are, not what you have. You are expected to collaborate, be inclusive, creative, connective and clean up after yourself. Participate actively as a citizen of Black Rock City.”

Burning Man 2018 has announced the theme, “I Robot.”:

Many attend in costumes, but the entire point of this festival is to be yourself, be in a community, and follow stated community goals to make the event one to remember. The over the top artsy vehicles are called mutants, wouldn’t Mr. Magorium be proud?

The event is based on the following “10 Principles” written by Larry Harvey, a reason the man keeps on burning. Those principles focus on stripping away pretense and fostering community and radical self-reliance. Along with an emphasis on gifting and stripping the objectification from human beings for a short time. We are more than what we have, and this event is all about who we are.

The ten principles, explanations paraphrased:

  1. Radical Inclusion: all are welcome
  2. Gifting: the expression of giving without expectation of something of value in return.
  3. Decommodification: It is about who you are, not what you have.
  4. Radical Self-reliance: “Know thyself,” actively and deeply – then trust yourself.
  5. Radical Self-expression: respect who you are, use your gifts and talents – offer your abilities freely – the only caveat is that you also respect others in your expression
  6. Communal Effort
  7. Civic Responsibility
  8. Leaving No Trace
  9. Participation – this is what you make it, make it the best it can be.
  10. Immediacy – doing and being you in the moment, not the person that you feel is the best expression of you to fit in and melt into the background.

Still on the fence about whether the “The Culture of Possibility” is right for you?

If this kind of thing makes you squee, dream of costumes, and begin mocking up how you will pack up your gear and begin to figure out transportation on a limited budget – you already know this is for you.

Here is some vital information about the event:

The price tag is a little steep, but if you are low income, they do have applications for you to be able to attend too. The earliest tickets, in January, are $990 to $1,200 for the week-long event. The prices go down from there, with last minute “OMG tickets” running around $425.

Like a cross between an art commune, Woodstock of the desert, and the fabled Brigadoon, those who seek a positive, open, artistic environment that rises mirage-like from the sparse white sand only to disappear completely when it is no longer needed is the perfect moment. Black Rock City sounds like a fairy tale, and Burning Man the trip of a lifetime.

Pure eye-candy of the artistic kind, Burning Man is a unique, amazing experience that you will never forget:

The people are as varied as the desert rocks, all shapes, sizes, ages, and statuses. Humans, all.

You will be surrounding yourself with some of the best people on Earth. In response to the wildfires ravaging California, the Burning Man camp sent seven of their trailers to help their neighbors displaced by the inferno.

Featured image via Wikimedia Commons, Burning Man

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