Burning Man Rant
Eric has a reasonable amount of counterculture experience, and weighed in with some notes that brought up some interesting issues to consider.
Date: 8 Sep 1999 08:13:17
From: Eric Bradway
Subject: Burning Man Rant
Your rant about the vibe change sounds alot like:
- The end of the Grateful Dead parking lot scene in the late 80s
- too many people showing up just for the lot scene
- too many cops to have a good time
- too many people showning up with huge tanks of n2o and leaving before the show starts (selling small balloons full for $5)
- The on-going war among the A-campers (alcohol), rangers, and regular Rainbow folks.
- A-camp was always upset because of the exclusionary elements in the regular camp
- A-camp folks tended to start fights
- Rangers were usually cool but tended to invite their friends to come observe. OK if your an exhibitionist, but if you just want to feel natural, it's kind of rude.
- The political scene got really weird. I don't really trust consensus government anymore (consensus usually means who is the most charismatic)
But has this prevented me from wanting to go to Dead shows or Rainbow Gatherings? Not at all. Unfortunately the Dead are dead and I've lost touch with the Rainbow folk (not that it would be hard to find again). I do have a better understanding of the dynamics there-in and can ensure at least an enjoyable time by setting my own boundaries.
Sounds like BM will become a sort of four-phase operation:
- Pre-burn collusion on art
- Pre-weekend setup and more traditional scene
- Engineers hanging out with artists
- keep things low-key but high-energy to avoid attracting too much unwanted attention
- maybe put up a little bit of an aire: "If you are setting up your own art, you'd better be helping others, otherwise we are going to stick you in this one piece of art with the 7-foot amazonian dom." i.e., don't make people feel unwanted, just make them feel obligated to participate.
- Friday night and Saturday - Make it a scene for the media and public, after all, isn't the purpose of this art to expand the minds of those who need it the most? More participatory art may be good (especially 7- foot amazonian doms). Get people doing things they never would have dreamed.
- Sunday clean-up - in spirit, this is the real burn. Like camp-cleanup at the end of a Rainbow (or the next morning in the traditional parking lot scene). The people who are left at this point are the heart-and-soul of the scene. Use it as a time to explore what went right and wrong, what to do next time, and to learn more about who your audience is.
But for a BM virgin, I may be going too far... Leave room for me in your transport next year. I think my contribution may be a large closet full of dress-up clothes (ironic for an environment that encourages nudity - but just because you're wearing clothes doesn't mean you can't be exposed...).