Wow. What a big statement to make, huh? To claim that the festival has changed dramatically. That things might be over. That what had been isn’t what will be. Very impertinent of me. Very bold. But it feels like it rings true to me. I started going to the burn very recently, in 2008. It was something I’d heard about for a long time, and always wanted to do. I finally got things in gear, and went. And it was world changing.
I went again every year since then, and if I can, I’ll go this year, too. There have been tons of cool experiences. Loads of keen, interesting people that I’ve met, and some great friendships that I’ve spawned from the experience. I’ve let go at the temple of things that held me back, of things that weighed on my heart. I feel like the trip really meant a lot.
Like a ton of other burners I know, I lost the ticket lottery. There’s lots of confusion about what’s going on. Is it scalpers? Are folks sitting on a bunch of tickets and not saying anything? Did the community really grow to a hundred thousand in a year?
I think no one really knows what’s going on. There’s a lot of fear and pain around it. Fear of scalpers having taken a large portion of tickets to resell. Pain at not knowing whether your theme camp will be able to go. And doubt around what will happen. The BMOrg is doing a lot to try to figure out how they went wrong, and what to do about the situation. This is evolving, and what comes out of it, I don’t know.
But whatever happens, it won’t be the same. Burning Man has grown very large. It’s struggling against its own bonds of success. As Halcyon said, this festival has perhaps grown too large to be contained by a playa. So what does that mean? What does it mean to have outgrown yourself? To have gotten to a point where continued growth seems unsustainable and unlikely to be effective. Where do we go?
I think one place that we can go is looking to our regional events as an outlet for all those things we wish for so hard in the experience of the dust. I think that perhaps by looking again to our local communities, we can make local what we find remotely. That we can bring the spirit and quality of the experience out at the dirt rave here.
Maybe it’s time that things split up. That we have more events, spread out over more areas. Freezing Man. Drowning Man. Soak. Critical Massive. Flipside. All kinds of events, each with their own special character that leads us in new directions towards new dreams.
I don’t know where I’ll be this August. I certainly hope on the playa, but it may not be in the cards. I know I’ll be at my regional.