03 September 2006

Yuppie Playfest or Woodstock Redux?

Has anyone here actually ever been to the Burning Man festival? (You can try this link to the official Burning Man site if you want, but when I last checked, it was down; maybe too much sand in the hard drive, or the webmaster is still crawling around somewhere out there in the stoned out trackless wastes of Nevada and/or his mind. According to this account, some 43,000 people ponied up the $250 entrance fee, and this has been going - if not on quite so large or expensive a scale - for over 20 years now. Yet rack my brain as I might, I can't think of a single friend or acquaintance who will admit to having attended the post-hippie playfest in the desert.

Since I've always liked to believe that at least a few of my contemporaries and colleagues were of the - do they still call it this these days? - cutting edge persuasion, I find this a bit curious. Could it be that the crowd I run with is far more bourgeois than I imagined? Or is it more likely that that Burning Man is, as this account posits, "a nudie dopefest...in which project managers play at being free-love hippies for a week"?

My instincts have always gravitated toward the latter explanation, but I'm hesitant to reach any conclusion without actually seeing the event for myself, and I'm unlikely to do that unless a) I'm on the guestlist; and b) they move it out of the desert and relocate it next to a large body of water. In the meantime I'll try to reserve judgment, a task made considerably more difficult by the enthused ravings of the SF Chronicle's boho-yuppie correspondent, Mark Morford, who has been touting Burning Man for many years now, and who, as far as I can recall, has never, ever been right about anything.


Wesley said...

I went once, in 1996.

There were some nudies. There was some dope. There was a lot of annoying "art rock" being performed, the kind that apparently is really good when you're high, which I wasn't.

It was all a lot smaller and cheaper, if I recall. I'd say it was something like what you might get if you crossed a rave with organic farming.

At that time, which was sort of the early days of the Internet boom, there was almost a techie vibe to the thing; you got the feeling that if you cross-checked with the subscriber list for Wired Magazine, you'd pick up about 80% of the crowd (myself included).

I guess this makes me either less bourgeois or more poseur-hippie than you may have thought...

jb. said...

My friend Neb was telling me about this one time. He said he went, took mushrooms, and became convinced he could "hear the mountains breathing."

I said, "Did it turn out to be two sunburned fat people having sex in the next tent over?"

He said, "Amazing! It's just like you were there!"

Brooklyn Kitchen said...

$250 seems to indicate that it's Burning Man that is bourgeois, not those who resist it.