The toughest part of burning man for me now is trying to explain what it is to someone who hasn’t been. This year was my second trip to Black Rock City and I still find myself in awe and at a loss of words upon returning home for what the experience was.
I’m asked questions like; “is it just a party I’m the desert”…”oh it’s a music festival, like Coachella?”…”do people just go to have sex and do drugs”…”oh so you have to barter & trade for everything, right?”. No.
In the words of the Burning Man organization…”Black Rock City is a temporary metropolis dedicated to community, art, self-expression, and self-reliance. In this crucible of creativity, all are welcome. Burning Man isn’t your usual festival. It’s a vibrant participatory metropolis generated by its citizens. “
— Trey Ratcliff (@TreyRatcliff) September 25, 2017
— Paul Smith (@paulsmithuk) September 19, 2017
— Nicholas Sabalos (@nicholassabalos) September 19, 2017
— Miguel Franco (@MiguelFChef) September 18, 2017
The way I describe it is; imagine you give 70,000 people from around the world complete freedom of creativity and infrastructure to build a city filled with anything and everything they desire. Whether that’s art, music, structures, themed camps, workshops, skate parks, roller rinks, playgrounds, it’s there for you to create, participate, and experience.
In 2004, Burning Man co-founder wrote the Ten Principles, not rules of how to be or act, but “as a reflection of the community’s ethos and culture as it had organically developed since the event’s inception”. Those Ten Principles being:
- Radical Inclusion
- Radical Self-reliance
- Radical Self-expression
- Communal Effort
- Civic Responsibility
- Leaving No Trace
Each of these principles leaves and breathes each day you’re in Black Rock City and simply works.
— Trey Ratcliff (@TreyRatcliff) September 18, 2017
What I’ve learned from two years in the dust is…Burning Man is what you make it. It’s what you bring with you; energy, gifts, emotion, participation, survival. And it’s what you take with you when you leave; memories, interactions, enlightenment, and most definitely… dust.
Justen Barber is a Houston, TX native. He studied Mass Communication and Spanish at Sam Houston State University in Huntsville, TX. Living in Puerto Rico as a kid solidified Spanish as a part of his life. Former Marketing/PR intern for Pacha NYC. Advent festival goer. San Francisco resident. Music. Travel. Fuego. For more, view Justen’s LinkedIn or follow him at @JustenBarber.