Why Burning Man Is No Average Festival
What do you get when you put over 50,000 people in the middle of the Nevada desert with numerous art projects, entertainment, and an overwhelming sense of community? You get an annual festival known as Burning Man, and there’s nothing like it. The event that would end up becoming Burning Man (BM) took place on a beach in San Francisco, California when two men, Larry Harvey and Jerry James, gathered at a bonfire with a few friends and burnt a nine foot tall wooden man. Over the years, this ritual grew into a huge festival, and eventually moved to the Black Rock Desert in Nevada where it became a cultural landmark of sorts.
These days festivals are common, and widely known occurrences, but Burning Man is an entirely different beast, different from anything else that happens anywhere. While most festivals simply focus on music, BM is a giant gathering of radical self expression, community, unconditional acceptance, art, and in a sense is a reaction to the outside world, which most attendees hold in contempt. Burning Man is a week long event, and while it was once free, due to now requiring permits and other rather expensive things the price has grown quite a bit, but that doesn’t stop burners (people who attend Burning Man) from showing up every year.
The feeling people get when they go to Burning Man for the first time is described as shocking. People sharing everything with each other left and right, instantly accepting each other, as well as a lot of nudity. It is certainly a lot different in the desert than the world that exists outside of it. There are a lot of events, as well as workshops that take place during burning man. From playing music to a ton of art, all sorts of educational presentations and classes of sorts, and even an orgy booth (yes, it is exactly what it sounds like). There are countless things to see, and participate in for everybody who attends. It’s a nonstop party of epic proportions, and nobody can deny that, but there’s much more. BM is a gathering of people who truly want to change and better the world, and during that week everybody tends to try to be the change they would like to see happen. However, it’s no vacation, either. There are dust storms, some pretty crazy people, and dehydration is a huge issue for those unprepared. All that aside, the event is truly beautiful.
During the last day they set the giant statue of a man aflame, which represents “the man” a metaphor for everything burners see wrong with the world. BM is an expression of community, radicalism, acceptance, and love. Unlike other events in the world, it may not be something everyone enjoys. For those who do enjoy the event, it is truly a life experience that is hard, if not impossible to experience anywhere else.