Burning Man, perhaps one of the wildest, surreal, idyllic and creative places on the planet. It could also be said that it is one of the sites with the highest concentration of energy, resonance, talent, magic and let’s not deceive ourselves, money, on the planet. As my friend, Víctor said in an Instagram post, maybe the most vivid desert on the earth. As I said in 2014, the first time I’ve attended this world that is born and dead in 8-9 days, explaining what Burning Man is to someone who has not gone is like telling to a blind man what color is like. It’s a pretty tricky mission.
What I’m sure of is that today, Burning Man is one of the most desired, lush and attractive destinations for millions of people. Especially after the appearance of social media.
What is Burning Man, simplified
To simplify, a place where more than 80,000 people meet in the Black Rock City desert, coexisting under ten great principles.
- Radical inclusion
- Generosity / gift.
- Radical self-sufficiency
- Radical self-expression.
- Common effort
- Civic responsibility
- Do not leave a trace.
- Immediateness / urgency.
Principles that many Silicon Valley companies have adopted as business values and philosophy. There begins what Burning Man is.
Experience after three years
It was my third year, 2014, 2016 and 2018. When you live outside the American continent, and in places like Europe or further afield, logistics become more complicated. Besides, in my case, doing it every year is somewhat repetitive. That’s why every two years or even every three is a good way to approach it. At least for me. The truth is that every year that I have gone, I have lived entirely different experiences, with their learnings, and their particular moments. It always changes, because you are never the same.
Burning Man can serve as a retreat, as a place of disconnection, as a place to open to any. A place to unite, free yourself, reconnect with yourself, do things you would never do. It serves to go partying until we go nuts or to learn things from fantastic people that you would not learn in other places and that you would not know otherwise. It serves and can be approached in so many ways that I think the combinations are endless.
This year, with what I would say that Burning Man (and Afrika Burn for example) are, I would say that they are places of absolute disconnection, where to flow, to enter very deep into myself. A place where to interact with nature and connect with very resonant people. It is, I repeat, for me, a super retreat where there is a concentration of massive energy.
Isra, what is Burning Man, well, for me, it is a vital experience, for some people it even changes their lives.
How to live Burning Man
There isn’t just one way; there are hundreds of formulas as I said above. I remember that the first year we lived it more as a discovery. Also, we were a good group, eight people. The second year was somewhat more relaxed but intense at the same time, lived mostly by day, we were three people. This one, the third, was more subjective, but at the same time much more open, since I knew many people that I was finding. On this occasion, I went with my friend Elena. The best part of it is that it’s thought of for all types of people from families, seniors, to teenagers, couples, etc.
When you’re there you forget everything else; it’s like living on another planet. It’s a utopia, it sounds exaggerated, but it’s not.
Living Burning Man depends on many factors:
- Who are you going with? I have tried groups, three friends, in a duo with a person of the opposite sex. If there is a next time, I will go alone.
- Where you are going: many choose free camping areas, many more choose “camps” with friends or new people. The experience changes differently, I have been to two camps, IDEATE for two years, and Camp Bang Bang this last year. Completely different from each other, with their own houses. Maybe the following year I would try camping, I don’t know yet, but I feel like it.
- How are you going to? You can choose between taking your tent, your Yurt, or going in a caravan if you have and want. However, you can rent any of these options. Although let me tell you, when the dates arrive, their prices multiply, especially the caravans. I went into Yurt the first year, with caravan the second and this third with a tent. Rented on all three occasions. I liked the last option. Which is the same as I chose the two years of Afrika Burn.
- What are you going to contribute: you can go to receive and hit the party, that’s fine. You can go and see them coming, and you can go and participate. In my case, the first year I helped with Burning Man Quest. The second one was organizing a party on top of the Anastroka with Squire and Alci, as well as, on another day, a massive sangria for hundreds of attendees. This third one I contributed with a new Burning Man Quest and with a series of talks that I organized for two days with more than 14 speakers. In addition to participating in kitchen shifts, bar, cleaning, etc.
Things that nobody tells you about Burning Man
It is something I think everyone should know, even if they don’t want to go, although let’s be honest, 98% of people die to go:
- Getting a ticket is extremely difficult. There is a demand between two to three million people. About 70,000 tickets are on sale. On its website, there are three times when they go on sale. First, you have to sign up as a “Burner.” Then sign up on the Ticketfly platform. None of the three years I have managed to buy one. Luckily I have had friends who have helped me get it.
- “At Burning Man there is no money,” they say. Exactly, it’s because you spend everything before going. A ticket can range between $450 and $1,500. The flights will depend on where you come from. The lodging option you choose, the means of transport you choose, the fees you pay to the camp (they vary from $600 to $70,000), the food, drink, and provisions that you take (you can spend $500 per person correctly), the days before, those of after. I estimate we could be talking at least between $2,500 and $4,000. No nonsense.
- The flashiness each year grows more. If you take a turn and observe, you will notice that there are more people taking photos than enjoying the moment.
- The “fashionista” trend is crazy.
- The first days during your first time are so hard, especially in the beginning, that you even want to leave. The integration is not as easy as it seems.
- Radical inclusion is one of the principles of Burning Man, but if you go, you will realize that you don’t preach with the example.
- It’s a place created for psychedelia, both works of art, as “art-cars,” lights, etc.
- The waiting queues to enter can be up to 10 hours. Especially if you arrive on the first day (Sunday) after 11 in the morning.
- You will never get to see everything, and there are so many events, workshops, parties, concerts, interactivity that it is impossible for you to see more than 30% of everything in those eight days. That’s why there is now an APP like iBurn. Super practical and useful to get where you want, find what interests you and see who you want.
More things you should know about Burning Man
The most essential of all is that you read and follow this survival guide, there you have everything you need to know and buy. More budget, yes. Then, subscribe to their newsletter, “The Jack Rabbit speaks.” There you will find all kinds of information, from time to traffic, last minute news, recommendations, etc.
Conclusion on what Burning Man is
If you’ve gone, you know what Burning Man is. If you haven’t gone, my unsolicited advice is that you go, at least once in your life. Everyone should try it.
This year I have learned a lot about myself, about my emotions. I have lived during the day, the only two nights I left, at 1 am I was sleeping. I have had two moments of introspection. And I’ve met fascinating people like Lucas, Toni, Miguel, Nico, Nouriel. Then I connected more with other people I already knew as Manny, Kevin, Doug, Martin, Elaine.
Burning Man is the perfect place to know what is inside each person. Everything stands out, everything contrasts, when you pass day 5, almost in survival mode, the true “I” of the people comes out. It’s great to test yourself in front of others, to show your real vulnerability. It is sensational to know people without shields, with all its nuances.
Have you ever been to Burning Man? What do you think I’ve left out? Do you have any questions? Leave it in the comments, and I’ll answer it as soon as I can.
May the trip continue.