Burners Take Festival Far Beyond The Playa

Burners take festival far beyond the playa

By Kristin S. Larsen ? klarsen@rgj.com ? August 23, 2008

Photo by ergoat.com

Photo by ergoat.com

Everyone loves a party.

Few festivals can boast of the dramatic growth and global appeal claimed by Burning Man, a counter-culture festival that attracts thousands to a barren playa north of Reno.
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What started as a small group of friends burning an eight-foot tall wooden man in 1986 on a San Francisco beach, has exploded into hundreds of regional events and tens of thousands of participants scattered across the globe.

The Burning Man festival attracted about 48,000 in 2007, but the number of events and social networks espousing the principals of Burning Man has blossomed beyond the Black Rock Desert. Spin-off festivals include Texas-based Burning Flipside, Burning Mooseman hosted in the Ontario backwoods, and Burning Toast in the Arizona desert.

Burners are creating their own unique gatherings and regional contacts to aid burner networking, which has spread to Europe, Asia, Australia and Africa.

?Burning Man is not a select club or a clique or a closed subculture,? Burning Man Director of Communications Marian Goodell said. ?It is a kind of tapestry, an ever-widening network of actions and relationships extending far beyond the place called Black Rock City. As a result, many of us have gained a way of looking at life that is similar.?

From 2000 to last year, Fred ?Hagey? Hagemeister, 55, has hosted the Black Rock International Burner Hostel from his home in Sparks to give world travelers a place to stay free of charge before attending Burning Man. He estimated he?s aided a few thousand over the years including briefly housing about 400 people in 2004 before scaling back his efforts because of neighbors? complaints and financial limitations.

To thank him for his hospitality, some of those he had hosted raised $1,100 in 2005 so he could attend the Nowhere festival in Spain, which he described as a ?lower budget? Burning Man.

?Since it was smaller (than Burning Man) you get to know fewer people better,? Hagemeister said. ?It has the same vibe as far as the dancing and the music, and less dramatic, huge art.?

After the annual festivals, the Burning Man Web site says many of the burners who returned to their home cities felt the urge to stay connected to other burners with some expressing trouble reintegrating into ?normal? society. This led to the creation of the Regional Contacts Network and a variety of e-mail list serves and forums for participants to keep in touch.

?I cry when I finally arrive on the playa to meet my (chosen) family, most of whom I haven?t seen for an entire year,? Hagemeister said.

Josie ?Capt?n Annebonny? Harvey, 22, of Seattle, who aided in setting up the infrastructure of Burning Man and New Zealand?s equivalent Kiwiburn for the last two years, said a cross-mixture of attendance is common.

She said a variety of Kiwiburn theme camps and attractions emulate the Burning Man exhibits, but it is held in the middle of a sheep pasture, surrounded by miles of farmland. Kiwiburn?s Thunder Ditch, equipped with foam weapons for play battle is a takeoff on the Thunder Dome, where bungee-corded combatants slug it out with foam-covered pugil sticks.

The Deep End, a popular daytime music camp at Burning Man, was mimicked by one Kiwiburn camper in 2007 who dubbed his site the Cheap End and played a CD of Deep End music over speakers mounted to his van. He turned on his blinking hazard lights for effect. The next year he attached a papier-mch� sheep head to the front of his vehicle and called it the Sheep End in honor of their rustic location, Harvey said.

Harvey said while it?s hard to describe a Burning Man style event, she said the people are what define it.

?It?s such a range of themes and ages and styles,? Harvey said.

The Burning Man Web site reads: ?It is clear that Burning Man is no longer confined to the Black Rock Desert. Dozens of satellites orbit the Mother ship; each and every one possesses a unique flavor and character. Burning Man as a cultural movement is still in its youth.?

Source: news.rgj.com

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~ by DarkLight on August 25, 2008.

2 Responses to “Burners Take Festival Far Beyond The Playa”

  1. Hey, thank you Dragonfaerie for posting this! I can’t believe Anne F’ing Bonny got press in Reno… it’s a crazy world. Alas that I will not see her on the playa this year. Have you been to Black Rock City?

    Did you enjoy my website?

  2. Hey, thanks for the comment 🙂 Nope, haven’t been able to get to the Playa yet, but we regularly attend regional gatherings.

    Enjoyed your website, keep up the great work!

    -DF

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